Radio Phoenix is a non-profit, online, public radio station serving the Phoenix, Arizona metro area. Launched on October 31, 2008, the station programs an eclectic format consisting of news, public affairs and adult album alternative (AAA) music programming during the day, along with specialty music, talk, and cultural programming at night and on weekends. Unlike other public radio stations operating in the area, Radio Phoenix is unique because it is entirely volunteer managed, and provides area residents with public access airtime to produce local radio shows.
The primary goal of the station is to serve as a vehicle for facilitating increased engagement of the community at large, with a special emphasis on engaging traditionally marginalized and underrepresented populations within metro Phoenix. Such groups include social and political progressives, persons of color, lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender (LGBT) persons, organized labor, and immigrants. A secondary goal of the station is to expose listeners to viewpoints, cultures, and music not often available from commercial or existing public radio stations.
A select amount of the station's programming can be heard Sunday mornings from 6am to 9am on KPNG FM 88.7 through a program sharing relationship with the East Valley Institute of Technology (EVIT). Arizona Community Media Foundation (AzCMF), a 501(c)(3) public media organization and owner of Radio Phoenix, was the original owner of KPNG until selling the construction permit to EVIT.
In 2002, local attorney Victor Aronow and other concerned residents of Phoenix's east valley grew concerned about a noticeable decline in the coverage of local civic events, airplay of music by local artists, and an absence of diverse viewpoints on the local radio dial. After discovering the change was in part due to a 1996 federal law called the Telecommunications Act, Aronow and his group set out to develop a community oriented radio station that would have a focus on promoting local news, current affairs, and music programming for residents of Phoenix's growing east valley.
A year later, in the fall of 2003, radio broadcaster Kaja Brown and indie music publicist Sheila Dean led an unofficial think tank made up of local small business owners, artists, musicians, and college students interested in discovering why Phoenix never got a full power, over the air, FM college music station. After spending a few months researching the topic via archived news articles as well as interviews with local media professors and public broadcasters, they discovered that Arizona State University attempted to obtain an FM license for such a station in the early 1980s, but their application was turned down due to a technical error. Since there were no other major universities in Phoenix at the time, and the community college district already operated the local NPR station, no other viable group existed in the area who could establish a college FM station. Some members of the think tank decided that the community should try creating its own indie music radio station, and in early 2004 formed the Arizona Community Media Foundation (aka AzCMF), as the vehicle for making this new station a reality.