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Christian FM station, Vertical Radio, airs last broadcast

Station was donation-supported
A memory board at Vertical Radio station. Vertical Radio was on-air for 41 years, but had its final broadcast last week. (Courtesy of Andy Kellywood)

FARMINGTON – Vertical Radio, 88.9-FM, aired its last broadcast May 27 “for numerous factors” after 41 years on the air.

KNMI-FM began serving Farmington and San Juan County in 1980 and until recently was owned and operated by the Four Corners Home for Children, formerly known as Navajo Ministries and Navajo Missions.

The station, Vertical Radio, was the first Christian music radio station in the Four Corners, according to a news release from the station’s spokeswoman, Annette Reich.

“Over the years, Vertical Radio has adapted its style of music and programming to best serve the market,” Reich said. “Currently, there are approximately eight radio stations broadcasting Christian programming to Farmington.”

Devin Neeley talks on-air for the station’s final broadcast May 27. Vertical Radio was on-air for 41 years. (Courtesy of Andy Kellywood)

The station was previously known as “Sonshine 89,” a play on the word “son” to mean Christianity’s Jesus, and was financially supported by donations up until the license’s sale to Educational Media Foundation.

“It is odd that a donation-supported radio station has been able to survive this long,” said Devin Neeley, who has worked part-time there since 2004. “The industry is not really set up for that, and stranger yet, it is that a Christian radio station would branch out to sports and even carry the Connie Mack World Series. But it all goes back to filling a need in our community.”

The Connie Mack World Series has been played in Farmington since 1965, with the exception of 2020 when the World Series was canceled because of the coronavirus. San Juan College’s licensed radio station KSJE-FM will take over that broadcast this year.

Neeley started working at the station part time in summer 2004 and was hired as the full-time general manager in 2010.

Neeley, who currently works as the spokesman for San Juan County, said he was “extremely excited” to be able to say goodbye to the station with a final broadcast of his own.

“It was a great opportunity to say thank you and goodbye to the community who has supported us for so long,” Neeley said. “While it is a sad moment, the actual ministry, and purpose of the radio station will continue with the new owners.”

The release from Reich said there were numerous factors that caused the sale of the license but that the terms of the sale were not made public.

“What I'll miss most is all the people. Listeners who have become friends, and many, many more who were faithful listeners and I may never meet,” Neeley said. “It is a sad day without Vertical Radio on the air, but for everything there is a season, and this season for Vertical Radio has turned.”

mmitchell@durangoherald.com

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