Rita O’Connell is a busy woman and very hard to pin down for a meeting or photo shoot due to all the irons she has in her proverbial fire.
Bill Curry and I met her at the World Cup Cafe earlier this week and managed to keep her in one place for long enough to get these fabulous pics taken around the corner, in the Plaza.
Rita arrived in Taos in 2007 intending to stay for a few months. All these years later, she’s still here and travelling often only reinforces her opinion that there is no better place to be right now.
“I keep seeing that out there in the world, especially in the cities, everyone’s always talking about their longing for community, for some sense of belonging, about how they’re seeking a place where people really give a shit about each other — all the things we have going for us here.” Rita says.
“Now is an amazing time to be living in Taos, with all this great energy, all these new projects, all this collaboration and creativity and enthusiasm.”
Rita and I have been talking about the importance of alternative, indie media and marketing. After I launched my blog, my daughter Genevieve (a Live Taos and taoStyle contributor) suggested I reach out to Rita. I did and we plan to collaborate on many more stories together.
“LiveTaos was the brainchild of Max Moulton and Kevyn Gilbert of Gizmo Productions and myself, back in late 2012.” Rita explains.
“We kept hearing people say “I never know what’s going on in Taos,” or worse, “There’s nothing to do in Taos,” so we set out to build an independent media voice that could serve primarily as a hub for letting the community (and, naturally, visitors to Taos) know what’s going on around town.”
It worked. Live Taos is the go-to website for locals and tourists who want to discover what’s going on here at any given time.
“With my background as a writer and editor and their expertise in web development, graphic design, and all things audio/visual, it was a natural fit for us to develop something like LiveTaos,” she told me, “and too, there has been this great arising of community voices and opinions — we operate with an open-submissions policy, so we’ve received all sorts of things over the years that really span the full spectrum of Taoseno-isms.”
Rita grew up on the East Coast and has that big city savvy that comes with the territory, but her partners are local. The combination of their combined points of view is certainly a part of what makes their team work in a unique way and makes the website and its approach so current and hip. However, these days it’s not just the website they manage and run together, but their radio station as well.
I teased Rita that she was busy building an empire. She laughed but nodded as well. This woman is a dynamo and she’s slowly but surely, changing the media game here in Taos.
Rita and the KNCE team were getting ready to launch their Kickstarter campaign later that day and she was excited about the process and hopeful they’d raise the money they need for a new tower.
“There’s been this incredible upswell of grassroots arts and community activities in Taos over the past several years, and KNCE feels like a natural result of that energy.” Rita says, “it’s such a Taos-y project, with all kinds of people and opinions and tastes and musical preferences sloshing around inside that little trailer.”
The radio station’s trailer is currently parked at Taos Mesa Brewing but is not affiliated with the venue other than cross-promoting music events. It is already a favourite among locals bored with the alternatives.
“Every time I tune in,” Rita says,” I’m reminded how important this form of media is for the world. The more automated, commercial, and preprogrammed other media sources become, the more essential projects like KNCE are, to keep us rooted to the community stories and voices that make us who we are.”
Live Taos is included in my link love so please do visit them often, especially if you are planning a trip to Taos.
Rita was eager to get back to her office to get the Kickstarter site launched. She’d just returned from a trip to San Francisco and it was her birthday the following day. She was as always, up-beat, articulate and generous with her time and energy.
“The Kickstarter is serving first and foremost to raise money for our move to a new tower, which will allow us to significantly expand our local reach, which is critical for continuing to bring on local supporters and sponsors to keep us viable over the long term. But it’s also a great way to raise awareness about the station, let folks know who we are and what we’re up to and encourage them to tune in!”
Please support them by visiting the link below this post.
Photographs of Rita O’Connell by Bill Curry