Community Radio of Knoxville features gay musicians

KNOXVILLE – In the wake of the dismantled KFAR “pirated” radio station, shut down by the agents of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for operating without a license, the alternative voices that had found a home there looked elsewhere for opportunities to bring their message and music to their listeners.

The shakedown came in September 2004 when FCC agents from Atlanta accompanied by three U.S. Marshall confiscated the South Knoxville “pirated” radio station’s equipment. KFAR broadcast alternative news, music, and commentary for more than three years without the benefit of an FCC license. They were billed as the “only community-run station in Knoxville .”

These days you can find them online, Web-casting as Community Radio of Knoxville ( The big draw for the GLBT community on the CROK schedule will undoubtedly be “Late Night Knoxville with the Rainbow Rider,” heard weekly on Wednesdays from 10 p.m. until midnight .

Hosted by Tommy Higgins, a self-described bohemian, who recently moved to Knoxville from New York City . His roots run deep in the protest music of the last twenty years, and Higgins fondly recalls the days when he burned his draft card and protested George Wallace’s bid for the Presidency of the United States . His references to Maynard G. Krebs of the Dobie Gillis show, as the first bohemian to grace American airwaves, will bring smiles to the faces of all the Boomers listening.

“I am having a great time doing it, and with the help of Robert Urban I am playing some really good music,” Higgins notes.

This straight, GLBT-supportive, disc jockey first became interested in gay music after interviewing Robert Irwin, a gay guitarist he featured on similar radio show in New York . From there he developed an interest in gay artists and plans to showcase new talent along with news, commentary, and community service spots in “Late Night Knoxville with the Rainbow Rider.”

“We want our listeners to know that we are in the process of applying for an AM radio license,” explains Higgins. “We are going through a big time reorganization and are getting some low level radio transmitters so we will actually be over the airwaves again very soon.”

The hoped-for FCC-approved AM license will bring CROK to more Knoxville listeners, but their programming is currently available online through several applications including live streaming audio via your Windows Media Player. There will be interruptions in the near future as the CROK team gets things in order. Keep checking back in to hear more from this newcomer to the Knoxville airwaves.

Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

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