Our Community’s Radio Show: “The Tenth Voice”

Over 17 years ago, John Korbelik, Greg Hanson, and some colleagues taped a 60-minute radio show based on ideas conceived by a committee of gays and lesbians interested in getting the voices of their community on the air. The tape was submitted to the then-new community radio station, 90.1 FM KKFI. The formation of the all-volunteer KKFI was itself a monumental achievement for those seeking to serve the underserved.
The taped show, a pilot of “The Tenth Voice,” was shelved by KKFI staff because the station’s lineup was filled. Months passed, and dust accumulated on the audiotape. It was only after a regular KKFI host ran into a scheduling conflict that the tape was rediscovered and broadcast.

Thus began “The Tenth Voice.”

The pilot program emerged from a group of local activists newly energized by the 1987s March on Washington for Gay Rights. The group began meeting shortly after Kansas City’s first Gay Pride Picnic (precursor to the Pride Festival). Among a variety of ideas suggested was the idea of creating a public affairs program for the gay and lesbian community. Hence the pilot program. To this day, you can hear John Korbelik’s voice over the opening theme: “Because you refuse to be silent.”

Once the pilot tape was aired in January 1989, the race was on to put together a weekly series of shows to fill the newly available time slot. Much of KKFI’s programming—then as now—consists of music not heard elsewhere: blues, jazz, reggae, Latin, and other world music. Indeed, “The Tenth Voice,” too, contains musical interludes rarely heard on other media.

One of the monthly hosts of “The Tenth Voice,” Linda Wilson, also hosts a weekly show called “WomanSong,” which airs right before “The Tenth Voice” each Saturday. Linda has been with KKFI since 1987 and has been a regular on “The Tenth Voice” since 1999. She came aboard to play women’s music, because serving women and minorities is part of the mission of community radio.

Wilson defines “women’s music” as cultural music that is not limited to one genre. The lyrical content is about women, for women, and tells the stories of women’s lives. She is heavily involved with Willow Productions, a Kansas City-based women-operated production company that empowers women by creating, producing, and sustaining women-centered culture. Willow received GLAAD’s Leadership Award in 1997. Playlists are available at willowmusic.org.

On a regular basis, the resident film and music critic for “The Tenth Voice,” Marion Merritt, stops by to enlighten listeners on her discoveries and favorites in cinema and song. She also reviews films for RazorFine.com. Merritt is the manager of the music department of Barnes and Noble on the Country Club Plaza, and her sense of music is keen.
Mark Manning is executive producer for “The Tenth Voice” and is host the first Saturday of every month. Manning came to Kansas City in 1986, working in local theater and eventually forming a production company called Big Bang Buffet (BBB).
Big Bang Buffet’s mission is to promote original works, especially for gay and lesbian performance artists, including performance art, theatre, spoken word, music, poetry, dance, and protest. BBB has presented scores of productions at venues throughout the area. In 1996, a BBB project called “The AIDS Radio Show” won the Silver Reel Award from the National Federation of Community Broadcasters in the category of Best Radio Drama.
A 1989 skull-cracking incident after leaving the Cabaret was literally the kick in the head that Manning needed to force him to get serious about public service. Shortly afterward, he began working with “The Tenth Voice.” Manning, whose vocation is to work with children, is excited about youth involvement in all things creative.
Jason Clinton and Diana Shattuck co-host the monthly “Youth Radio Edition” of “The Tenth Voice,” which features LGBT youth from Passages of Kansas City. Jason is a Passages graduate who has written a book about the programming language, Ruby, called the Ruby Phrasebook (ISBN: 0672328976)

Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

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