It’s no doubt that in times of quarantine and worry, a little ‘kefi; can lift the spirit, especially through the tunes that journey listeners to our beloved Greece. With different backgrounds but a common love of music and sharing with others, Christos Kalaras, John Ioakimidis, and Penny Meletlidis got together in 2017 to launch KefiFM (kefifm.com), the first 24-hour Boston-based Greek music station catering to listeners across New England and beyond.
In the midst of the pandemic, during which in-person events have practically disappeared, the KefiFM team uses airwaves to entertain and create awareness of Greek-owned business and church fundraising efforts, Kalaras said. “Listeners have increased as the pandemic and lockdowns created the need for some therapy for the soul,” he said. “As we all know, Greek music is our therapy.”
Predominantly playing new Greek hits throughout the day and older Greek Laika and Zeimbekika at night, the KefiFM team also features throwback hits from the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s that take listeners back in time. Aside from its 10+ radio programs including ‘Me Logia Ellinika,’ ‘Let’s Be Real,’ and ‘Without Taboo,’ KefiFM also hosts an online KefiHub, which showcases Greek and local businesses free of charge.
“KefiFM was designed from the get-go to cater to all Greeks living abroad with different backgrounds,” Kalaras said. “Traditionally, a radio station caters to one genre, either new Greek or Laika, etc … KefiFM chose to be two stations in one.”
Kalaras attributes KefFM’s success to the radio station’s committed producers and blend of new and old Greek hits, citing music as a way for Greek-Americans to stay connected to their culture and community. “Greek music is our connection to Greece, our heritage, our way to belong to our diverse pod in America,” he said. “Music is the way for the younger generations to be part of something special and to be exposed to the Greek culture and language through our talk shows and songs.”
The KefiFM family not only produces for its audience, but also listens to it. “We love new ideas and feedback from our listeners, as it is important to be engaged with our audience,” Kalaras said. “As producers, we are measured with continued listener growth, appreciation and support.”
With a passion for Greek music and talk, Boston-based KefiFM team’s Penny Meletlidis, Christos Kalaras, and John Ioakimidis use airwaves to entertain and create awareness of Greek-owned business and church fundraising efforts during the pandemic.
The National Herald spoke to the KefiFM team on their ongoing tribute to Greek music and Greek-American lifestyle.
TNH: What role does Greek music play in our lives as Greek-Americans or Greeks living in the United States?
Greek music is our connection to Greece, our heritage, our way to belong to our diverse pod in America. Greeks living abroad connect music with the experience they had during summers in Greece.
Kefi Team: Listening to KefiFM will always bring a smile as you will be reminded of a song while in Greece. Music is that therapy, that dream, escape while you work, play or drive.
Greeks associate identity and culture with the Kefi Life, our ability to come together share our opinions, ideas, taste, our culture through food, and finally dance to it with our music. Music fills the hearts and souls bringing Greek-Americans together.
TNH: What can listeners find in your 10+ radio programs?
Kefi Team: KefiFM offers a variety of music shows and chats to keep listeners of all ages engaged and entertained.
Producer Christos has his own weekday show called ‘Me Logia Ellinika’ (Με Λόγια Ελληνικά), oftentimes, you will catch him interacting live with listeners calling in and having fun.
Producer John has his own show called ‘Laika Kai Diafora’ (Λαϊκά και Διάφορα) where he plays all the traditional Greek songs that get listeners in the mood for good company and dancing.
Producer Penny has her own show called ‘Let’s Be Real’ where she brings in different guests each week to chat about work, advice, gossip, or anything to help support others.
Christos and John also have a show together called ‘Ellinikos Rythmos’ (Ελληνικός Ρυθμός) and together they entertain listeners with thoughts on the latest happenings wrapped with today's greatest Greek hits.
During the day, KefiFM and news editor Jim Zervos keep our listeners up to date with local and world news.
You’ll also find a variety of other shows by producers or music DJs from Greece, such as ‘The Number One Show’ produced by Lambros Konstantaras, ‘Without Taboo,’
Greek Top 20,’ and ‘Energy Mix.’
TNH: What is your listener base as Boston’s #1 Greek hit music station?
Kefi Team: In one of our Greek jingles, we mention that the Station was started in Boston, but heard around the world. We cannot overstate the humbling feeling to see and hear listeners from all over the world. It is a great testament to our hard work that listeners outside the Boston area choose us as their Greek station.
We know people have choices, and they choose us. We are now more America's Greek music choice, and we look forward to growing our listeners year after year. It is evident that our station is maturing with national and international brands like Krinos Foods and Delta Greek Foods from Greece.
Since its inception, our listener base has grown by the thousands year over year. The more important stat is that our listeners are loyal, with listeners found not only in Boston/New England, but the continental U.S., Canada, Bahamas, South Africa, Europe, and Australia.
TNH: Has the pandemic affected your work in any way? If so, how?
Kefi Team: From a positive perspective, listeners have increased as the pandemic and lockdowns created the need for some therapy for the soul. As we all know, Greek music is our therapy and with the lack of summer vacation (Greece), many yearned for the culture of Greece, aka music.
We cannot begin to tell you the stories of texts, emails, and Facebook or Instagram messages of listeners who said KefiFM keeps them company during the day, including nurses working night shifts, delivery drivers, work-from-home professionals, etc. Specifically, Christos’ show was an instant super hit on Fridays from 5–7 PM ET as he has been welcoming live guests, callers, and requests. It's like virtually toasting to the weekend with everyone!
From a negative perspective, it did not allow us to personally interact with our fans and listeners, and our team has not been in the same studio together.