You’ve got the KLAP

As of this week, Gerlach’s one and only radio station, KLAP 89.5FM, moved physically from the garage in town to Mama Loella’s old hotel next door.

ye olde garage, now housing Quinn's new pizza joint
ye olde garage, now housing Quinn’s new pizza joint

KLAP 89.5FM sounds like KPIG — playing a vast array of cowboy, country, rock, roll, jazz, reggae, folk, Cajun, Latin, Dixieland, and soul music, in random playlists which skillfully ride the thin line between eclectic and familiar. And that’s because Jeff Cotton, who programmed KPIG, started the KLAP four years ago.

You could listen to KLAP 89.5FM right now, and forever, streaming here.

Maybe you’ll throw something in their 501(c)3 online tip jar if you become a fan? The guys at KLAP need a new amplifier and transmitter. They also have an IRL donation box at the station, and in the Miner’s Club bar next to the old hotel, on Main Street in Gerlach.

are you in the miner's club?
are you in the miner’s club?

Founded as a satellite station to Cedarville, CA’s KDUP (pronounced “Giddyup”), Gerlach’s KLAP 89.5FM broadcasts with the help of a 501(c)3 license designed to bring radio to isolated towns where there would otherwise be literal radio silence. To those for whom music is like breathing, this is a lifeline that can’t be underemphasized. Add the microphone for the DJ and interested parties from the community, as KLAP did this week, and suddenly, more community builds.

KLAP programmers set up a computer to run the show when people-bots aren't there
KLAP programmers set up a computer to run the show when people-bots aren’t there

On a clear day, you can hear 89.5FM from Frog Pond to Snoopy Rock and throughout the playa. No commercials, all music. Without the KLAP, many workers from Gerlach and from Burning Man both, toiling in the desert on projects by themselves, would surely have gone (more) insane (than they already are) by now.

Interested locals got their first how-to-DJ-your-own-show tutorial last week from owner Jeff Cotton, gathering around the small but hearty stack of A/V equipment and vinyl records which constitute the interior of the radio station. They’re practicing this week for when the hordes of Burning Man start to roll through. All night, back and forth from the Miner’s Club bar they run — Tommy Cosman, Flash Hopkins, Rachel and John Bogard of Planet X Pottery, Brian and Brooke Covey, and whomever else may get roped into a guest-spot on a station ID.

rustic but adequate accommodations for KLAPPY the mascot hand
rustic but adequate accommodations for KLAPPY the mascot hand

It’s hard to explain how much music complements a setting to those who have no ear for notes. But for music nerds, if you’re on your journey in the desert, imagining cowboys and Indians and cattle drives and gold rushes while sagebrush and gypsum whoosh by you on your vehicular odyssey to the playa, you’ll want to tune in to KLAP-FM 89.5 to complete the rustlin’ ropin’ vibe. Sometimes they play too much Van Morrison (yes, KLAPpers had a meeting about that), but most of the time it’s funky-to-“y’allternative” music, with moments of chaos and live, totally unscripted sublimity.

and Tommy says he has a collection of 45s we're not going to believe
and Tommy says he has a collection of 45s we’re not going to believe

For example, early Sunday morning, Burning Man ESD’s head physical therapist Miss Franny Panny stopped by to say hi to Flash, and he talked her into singing a Patty Griffin cowgirl song, live on the air, a cappella. And she’s a Singer with a capital ‘S.’ As the town was waking up, Franny’s honeyed, dusty alto voice spilled out onto our nervous systems like shock-red waves of her curly hair — and when she started yodeling, we melted.

It was perfect.

KLAP 89.5 FM. Tune in — you never know what you’ll hear.

Flash looks on while Franny sings a morning song. Tune in, and get the KLAP in your ear.
Flash looks on while Frannie sings a morning song. Get the KLAP in your ear.

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About the author: Summer Burkes

Summer Burkes

Summer Burkes has been rousting about at Burning Man since 1998. She first met her dusty DPW / Cyclecide / Bike Club fam-dambly on the back of The Bucket. A Cacophony Society enthusiast, Summer loves explosions and cake.

2 Comments on “You’ve got the KLAP

  • pat says:

    Is BMorg going to shut this station down durning the burn, like they have to every other radio station on the playa? I don’t know if you can hear this station on the playa, but maybe it’s a good idea to shut them down just in case.

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  • Cuddle Stud says:

    Its not a pirate radio station is has a real FCC licensed call sign. Only the FCC can shut it down. BMorg has not jurisdiction over these types of stations.

    Four digit call signs begin with K or W depending on west or east and denote FCC licensed radio stations, like KLAP, or WGBH.

    BMIR is a pirate station and is not operating under a FCC license and if it gets shut down from time to time that’s why.

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