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Basketball typically works better for TV than radio. Not in this case.

Wheelchair basketball brings excitement to Enochs High

The Golden State Warriors took on locals at Enochs High School during a fast-paced, exciting fundraising event helping bring a new community radio station (KCBP 95.5 FM). Sponsored by the NBA Golden State Warriors & Modesto Peace/Life Center.
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The Golden State Warriors took on locals at Enochs High School during a fast-paced, exciting fundraising event helping bring a new community radio station (KCBP 95.5 FM). Sponsored by the NBA Golden State Warriors & Modesto Peace/Life Center.

The Golden State Road Warriors won the game, but the Modesto Peace/Life Center won the day as athletes in wheelchairs faced off in a fundraiser for the nonprofit organization’s community radio station.

The Road Warriors, which began as the Golden State Wheelchair Basketball program in 1976, have been affiliated with the Golden State Warriors since the early 1990s and are the reigning NBA champs’ official wheelchair basketball team.

They faced off in the Enochs High School gym Sunday against a team made up of four local high school players, a couple of Peace/Life Center members and a few others. Dubbed the Modesto Radio Airwaves, they were led by team captain T.J. Walker Jr., a star at Modesto High who continued his basketball career at the University of the Pacific and Azusa Pacific, followed by a seven-year pro career in England.

Overall, though, the team was “determined but not too skilled,” Peace/Life Center board member Dan Onorato said. “We knew ahead of time this was not going to be a competition, but would be a lot of fun.”

The Road Warriors whipped their chairs around the court and are expert shooters, another Peace/Life board member, James Costello said. They gave a lot of breaks to the amateur Airwaves, who learned just how difficult it is to maneuver the chairs, let alone sink shots, he said.

The game benefited KCBP Community Radio, a project of the Peace/Life Center, which since late July has been broadcasting on 95.5 FM from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily. It’s an all-volunteer effort, said Costello, who is the station’s general manager. People have been trained to record and edit, and some have their own shows.

Local programming includes “Women of the Valley,” which airs Thursdays at 8, and “The Peril and the Promise,” which features investigative reporting on environmental issues. KCBP belongs to the Pacifica Network, Costello said, so currently downloads a lot of its content. “But as we develop, we want to get more local programming, cover local events, music, poetry.”

For example, Modesto’s Prospect Theater Project has recorded radio plays, he said, and KCBP wants to pursue the opportunity to air them.

As far as he knows, Costello said, no other radio station in the area is locally focused to the extent of KCBP. “Community radio stations run for the community are booming across the country,” he said. “There’s a lot of energy, and it’s a role corporate radio doesn’t do a lot of. It’s a way to give a voice to the community. There are a lot of groups whose stories are out there and can be told if we focus on them and if we find the right group of volunteers.”

He added that given the current political climate, community radio can be an important bulwark to protect freedom of speech.

The KCBP effort began in 2009 when the FCC opened up a local full-power frequency for nonprofits. Seven applied, and Peace/Life and a Turlock church tied. But the church dropped out, so KCBP has the frequency to itself, around the clock, Costello said.

The FCC allowed Peace/Life to erect a temporary, low-power mini-tower in Westley. “You can get us in Modesto in a car, depending on where you are,” Costello said.

But the group currently is having built a maximum-power, 6-kilowatt pole on a hill of a ranch west of Patterson. Rebar has been placed and is awaiting inspection, at which point concrete will be poured. If all goes well and weather permits, the station optimistically could be at full power by mid-December, Costello said.

The station studio is within the Peace/Life Center. “Ultimately, we’ll probably have to move to a studio that’s a little more professional, but there’s not the money for that now,” he said.

The station’s journey has been amazing, Costello said, from needing an attorney to make sure all the t’s were crossed in the FCC application, to finding just the right spot on the very narrow corridor along Interstate 5 where the tower would work, to getting the Turlock Irrigation District to survey the land and get power lines out to the pole. “The power has to come from a ranch house pretty far away, and it’s pretty pricey.”

Because as a public radio station, KCBP can’t run commercials, it needs donations and programming sponsors, Costello said. The station also seeks volunteers to host or create new shows and provide content and ideas. For information on donating or volunteering, go to www.kcbpradio.org or call 209-353-3066.

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