(Left to right) Gracie Westphal, Parker Wilson (DJ Snow) and Charlie Hippensteel (DJ Montgomery) jam out during last year’s 24 Hour Takeover. Courtesy photo

It’s that time of year, folks, when the spooky, creepy crawly adolescents and teenagers of Andy Zanca Youth Empowerment Program (AZYEP) take over the airwaves for an entire cycle. That’s right, AZYEP’s 24-Hour Takeover starts Oct. 21 at 4pm and goes to the same time the next day. It all takes place on KDNK Community Access Radio’s airwaves. 

While it’s 10 days shy of All Hallows Eve, the AZYEP kids will be lurking around the station in costume and watching scary movies in the KDNK classroom between sets.

“The kids asked for a costume party and Halloween movies, so that’s what we are going to give them,” Executive Director Aimee Yllanes told The Sopris Sun. 

Each DJ plays for one hour, but don’t worry they won’t be there ALL night; previously recorded shows will fill the 1-6am slots. Some kids love the classics, like Queen, while others will introduce tracks you never knew existed. It’s an eclectic mix, with a few repeats, and all served up from local young people. 

The 24-Hour Takeover kicked off in 2021, so this is the third year KDNK has made space for the next generation to express themselves for an entire day of radio. The event started as a fundraiser for the organization under Beth Wysong, who moved on from her role as executive director earlier this year. 

“The AZYEP’s 24-Hour Takeover is a remarkable event with a dual purpose,” expressed Yllanes. “First and foremost, it’s about empowering youth voices by providing them with a platform to share their ideas, develop skills, and inspire positive change within our communities.” 

“At the same time, it’s a vital fundraising event,” she added. “You see, all our programs are offered free of charge to kids from Aspen to Parachute. By participating in the 24-Hour Takeover, you not only get to witness the incredible talents and passions of our youth, but also support our mission of providing these programs without cost.”

The event’s fundraising goal this year is $24,000, and, as of Wednesday, Oct. 18, reached $10,329. 

So, what’s not to love? Listen to good tunes from a plethora of genres each suiting a particular youth DJ’s taste, and if you feel inclined support AZYEP’s mission to “empower youth from diverse backgrounds to express themselves, build self-confidence, and develop leadership skills through community broadcasting.” 

People can support by simply donating to AZYEP by sponsoring a specific youth DJ spinning licks during the takeover. Visit www.fundraiser.support/AZYEP for a list of DJs and to donate.

People can also bid on items in the silent auction, hosted at the same website above, with items from local businesses — from a two night stay at the historic Redstone Inn to two 5Point Film Festival VIP passes, and lots in between. The silent auction closes on Oct. 23 at 5pm. 

It’s not easy to coordinate all of this each year, the AZYEP staff have been hard at work to make it happen, and so have its youth interns and DJs. 

“The students choose the content of their shows and our staff helps facilitate everything that goes along with taking over the airwaves, from the food and supervision to the fundraising,” said Yllanes. “In addition, we could not do this event without the support of KDNK who turns over the airwaves to the kids for 24 hours.”

“The 24 Hour Takeover is my favorite event at AZYEP,” said longtime youth DJ Mountain Maes. “I love to see DJs and mentors all coming together to create 24-hours of excellent youth radio.” Maes will be playing the latest live show, starting at 12am sharp on Oct. 22. 

“It’s an opportunity to celebrate our youth while ensuring they have access to these invaluable opportunities,” concluded Yllanes. “We invite you to listen to this exciting event and make a positive impact on our community!”

The annual occurrence embodies youth empowerment, what AZYEP stands for, so tune in and consider supporting the program. Visit www.fundraiser.support/AZYEP for more information. 

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