By Garrett Estrada
Ely Times Staff Writer
Karen Livingston moved to Ely in 2006 to help her parents run the KDSS 92.7 Ely FM radio station. They had taken it over on May 1, 1996 and invited Livingston and her family to Ely to become apart of it as a way to help her financial situation.
“They threw me a rope,” Livingston said. “My husband and I were struggling a little bit, a lot of bit actually. They moved my entire household with my kids up here.”
After one short year of showing her how to run the station, her father passed away. Two years later, her step mother passed away.
“I only got to spend a year learning from them. I just wish I had a little bit longer,” Livingston said.
Saturday will mark the 18-year anniversary of “Coates Broadcasting,” the company started by Livingston’s parents when they acquired the local country music radio station. All these years later, Livingston said she just hopes to continue to keep the music playing to honor their memory.
“Between my parents, they had 50 years experience, and to keep this station running was there dream. It is an honor to continue to be able to do this,” she said.
The memories are still fresh of when she started out. She recalled freezing in terror the first time her father placed a microphone in front of her and put her live on the air. Shy and scared, she managed to get through the experience alive, and over time has come to grow more confident on air and now says she wishes she could be on more.
“The very first time I went live, I was scared out of my mind,” Livingston said. “Now I wish I could be live all day.”
Of course it helps to have someone to talk to. Frequent listeners of 92.7 FM might recognize Jodi McShane as the other female voice coming through their car speakers, but what they might not know is that McShane had to beg, pester and eventually volunteer just to get on the air.
“I kept showing up asking for a job. Every day I would come by and ask for a job and she would say they couldn’t afford it. So I eventually said well I’m just going to volunteer my time and eventually it turned into a job,” McShane said.
Since then the two have grown to be best friends. Their connection, ease at which they speak with one another and similar sense of humor has even led some to believe they are related.
“A lot of people think we are sisters,” McShane said. “Back when I first started, our hair was the same color, and when we turned around, our kids would get confused because they couldn’t tell us apart.”
Livingston pointed out that it is actually rare in the radio industry to have two female hosts on air, but due to the chemistry between them, it “just works.” The two often share laughs, usually at themselves, when hosting. Livingston said that she has learned that “humility” and “a sense of humor” are need to be able to put themselves out there for anyone to hear.
“I try to be as real as I can because I don’t know how to be anything else and I think that is what builds that connection with out listeners and keeps them listening,” Livingston said.
As for the station itself, country music is the theme. Though the two women have learned that in the genre, there have become distinct generational gaps in the types of country people want to hear and as such they have had to find a balance of the old and the new.
“There is a difference between country-western, country and new country,” Livingston said.
Currently the hottest country star is Luke Bryan according to the hosts, though they have tried to branch out on weekends to include more variety. Fridays are now “Fun Fridays” with a mix of any kind of up beat, “happy” music. Then at 5 p.m. the changes to the “Rock Show” playing classic rock on Friday night and harder rock on Saturday night. But even with the heavier stuff, Livingston still prefers to keep it fun.
“You are not going to hear any ‘hate music’ on the station. I like to keep it happy because if I can make one person smile, then I’ve done my job,” Livingston said.