Oregon writer, Rain Trueax, and Oregon painter, Diane Widler Wenzel co-author Rainy Day Thought. Diane generally posts on Wednesdays and Rain on Saturdays. There may be extra days or changes as situations warrant. Comments are always welcome and appreciated as it turns an article into a discussion.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

My guest blogger-- Jim Roberts on doing a radio show

Until my 50th high school reunion came along, I'd never gone to any of them. That one though seemed significant, and Farm Boss and I attended his and mine. What I liked about doing it wasn't so much the reunion, which was fine; but it was reconnecting with friends from those years, some I'd known since childhood. In my mind, they were all still 18 until that September. To now see them as my age was very cool.

 One of those was Jim Roberts. When I was a kid, with my mom, brother, and the neighbors, I picked beans and berries on the Roberts' farm. I have very vivid memories of being between the tall bean rows, eating a warm sack lunch when the break came, getting the beans weighed for how much I'd be making toward school clothes.

Jim and his wife Sally

At the reunion, I reconnected with several friends on Facebook and Jim was one. When I found out what he's been doing, I asked him to write a guest blog here because I thought others might find how public radio works and who does these shows to be of interest.

As a side note, it is also interesting what we can do, in our senior years, when the world might think we should be playing Bingo or sitting home watching TV. The following is from Jim:


Will start by saying I've known you since we were kids in the same grade and riding the same school bus.  You were really quiet and studious and I was sort of the opposite!  Fifty years later I see you at the first hi school reunion I'd ever attended and then connected through the magic of face book.

Don't know if this is pertinent, but I have had a life long love of radio as a means of learning things and enjoying music.  I remember being a little kid listening to my dad being interviewed on a Portland radio station that had something to do with farming.  Blessed to not have a TV until maybe a junior in hi school so consequently listened to radio and read.  Same stuff I do to this day with the recent increase with radio involvement.

We haven't had a TV since 1990 so know virtually nothing about of the current menu on the tube.  Stumbled across KMUN shortly after moving to Wahkiakum county from Anchorage.  Had just retired from 19 years as a staff RN at Providence Alaska Medical Center.

My wife Sally and I arrived to the Columbia-Pacific in February, 2010.  First thing that caught our ears was The Ship Report at 8:49 each weekday morning unless it's in 'dry dock', as the host and station manager Joanne Rideout describes.  NPR news and local interest programs mornings and evenings interspersed with local news covering Oregon and Washington issues.  And then the music starts.  Folk of one sort or another weekdays 10-noon followed by Fresh Air and then, depending on the day, will be two or three hours of music.

 I was listening Joey's Blues in the Afternoon on a Monday afternoon in September of 2012 when he announced that KMUN was looking to train new programmers and to call the station if interested.  He hadn't hung up yet and I was on the phone!

Shortly an application arrived in the mail and ultimate acceptance into the class of 5 that met five consecutive Wednesdays from 4-5:30. Elizabeth Menetrey is the program director and taught us well.  At the end of the five weeks each person had to produce a five minute show with a beginning, two sets with snippets of three tunes in each with a station break between and then an ending to the 'show'.

A committee then decides if you are good to go on air. I was paired with Todd Lippold on a Saturday noon-2:00 show called Cross Road.  I remember the date, 11/10/2012 as it coincides with the Marine Corps birthday.

Since then have hosted a variety of shows including Lost Highway, Blues in the Afternoon, both on Mondays with regular hosts John Stevenson and Joe Patenaude, Cross Roads, Stuck in the Sixties and the Saturday night party from 8-10.

This all leads to the recent major winter storm here with huge wind gusts and lots of rain.  I was enjoying the 50 mile drive from Cathlamet to Astoria to do the Saturday night show which I call The 420 Club/Trippin' with Jimmy when I host it.

I was about half way across the Megler bridge and listening to KMUN programmer Ellen playing her music on the Shady Grove program when there was white noise for less than a minute before the signal was back. Arrived at the Tillicum house studio with my box of CD's for my program and found that another programmer, Suzy McCleary, had already talked to Ellen. She asked me to call our engineer Terry Wilson and find out what happened.

Turned out that Coast Radio was the only signal going out in the local area.  Both TV and radio stations had lost power and were just gone.  The true beauty of our community radio is that it's all volunteer programmers and community supported.  This is why we have the pledge drives and have a propane fired generator which allows us to broadcast even when all else has failed.  People do call with updates on what is happening where they live.

Terry had just left the air room after announcing that power had been restored to a particular area and a person called and said not so.  That's why we do this and this is part of stated objective of serving our community; Ask any of the other programmers and get the same answer.  It's one of the most fun things a person can do is to be on the radio.  Knowing that the entire planet most likely isn't listening to you and your music but also knowing they could is really cool.

Being able to play music recorded by friends of mine in addition to music Sally and I have collected over our 25 years is also really cool.  But the very coolest thing of all is to be a part of this truly amazing family and endeavor we call Coast Radio.


And for me besides hearing an old friend on the radio, here is the cool part-- you can listen to this music and station from anywhere in the US. When I went on the trip down here to Tucson, all I had to do was click on the link and there it was coming through my computer. To hear music a friend has chosen, the kind you might not hear elsewhere, then it's on a station that is not tied to corporate masters, that's worth protecting, don't you think?



Celia said...

Wonderful, and what an interesting story. I linked to the station, may they last forever.

Rain Trueax said...

That's great, Celia and I agree. A lot of the public radio stations are too tied to commercial interests to be unbiased in what they cover.

Tara Crowley said...

This is so cool. Being on the radio IS one of the most fun things, ever. I was a founding programmer at KAZU, Pacific Grove, back in 1977. Got trained, had several shows, loved every minute of it. We had a live music jam in our tiny studio late into the night, and people would call in from all over with requests.

I will link to this station and see what they've got going on. Community radio rocks!

Rain Trueax said...

Sounds like the kind of thing you might think about doing again, Tara. I bet you would be good at it and your many interests would fit right in. What we need are more community public radio stations where there can be these independent thinkers, not owing to corporate masters but to the locals being willing to donate time and money.

Diane Widler Wenzel said...

I did not know how community orientated radio could be these days. I will certainly tune in now.

Rubye Jack said...

Listening as I write. Nice. Very nice!

OldLady Of The Hills said...

Terrific! And it sounds like so much fun to do....That would be something I would love to do---if it could be done from my home. (Confinement creates certain problems...).
I have an old friend that has a Jazz show from a station on Vashon Island---it can be heard anywhere, too....He Is In Music Heaven!!! LOVES doing Radio. Great Post, Rain...! Inspiring to all of us oldies....!

Mr. Natural said...

Great guest post, Jim! Over here in Ocean Park, it was very dark indeed during that horrendous storm. You are right. KMUN was the only thing on the air for quite some time. When listening to radio, I normally listen to KPLU from Tacoma/Seattle as it is jazz and blues all the time (except for those necessary (?) PBS things like click and clack). Often when in the studio, I will have KMUN on the box if I know there is programming I will enjoy. LONG LIVE PUBLIC BROADCASTING

My main blog is http://informiorium.blogspot.com

robin andrea said...

Love this guest post. Community supported public radio is an absolute treasure. I had the good fortune to work with the students and staff at KZSC at UC Santa Cruz. As the assistant director of Student Media, I took the broadcasting class and guest-hosted a show in order to fulfill my course requirements. I am not a natural "on-air" personality at all, so I actually recorded three hours of music complete with public service announcements. I wish I could have done it "live" but I was too nervous. Public radio is absolutely an essential part of our world.

Rain Trueax said...

Jim has a good voice for it and has gotten better in just the time I've been listening. The other thing is he has a lot of music that everybody won't have heard, some local stuff; so it's a show that is enriching. The best part is he enjoys it, and it shows. I can definitely relate to how you felt about it, Robin. I think it has to be fun for it to feel that way to the listener.

When Farm Boss was a kid, his father and a partner did a radio show in the morning in Portland. He was evidently good at it but eventually it was stressing him and he gave it up. There is a LOT to it with getting all the ducks lined up ;). It has to sound effortless but it sure isn't

Cristina Wilson said...

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