How KVMR is like the Original KFAT

KVMR 89.5 FM's Saturday daytime programming has definitely been influenced by the legacy of the beloved KFAT radio station in the sleepy little town of  Gilroy during the late '70s and early '80s. KFAT offered a mix of roots music, Americana, bluegrass, country rock, blues, surreal humor and edgy comedy.

"It only lasted seven years, not long for the kind of legacy it has in the radio world," KVMR Chief Engineer Dave Barnett noted. "But there really wasn't anyone else at the time doing the adventurous, bizarre radio that KFAT was."

This Saturday,  broadcasters Wesley Robertson and Thomas Greener once again honor the "Fat" tradition in a three-hour membership drive special 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. (89.5 FM, kvmr.org streaming) -- only this time with a brand new twist.

They'll be presenting and offering actual recordings of KFAT music, humor and personalities as thank you gifts to their listeners who become new or renewing KVMR members, thanks to Barnett's collection.

"They're from cassettes off the (studio) board that have been copied, traded and eventually were turned into MP3 files," explained Barnett.

So now Robertson and Greener have turned the MP3  into an initial collection of 7 and 8 compact discs to use in this month's on-air fundraiser for the eclectic Nevada City noncommercial station. And the MP3 itself will also be available.

The shows reflect the era.  Music by the likes of Bonnie Raitt, David Lindley and many others. Fake ads touting Bear Whiz Beer and the DeLorean Snowmobile. And authentic KFAT voices like Laura Ellen, Dallas Dobro and current KVMR news producer/ broadcaster Felton Pruitt.

According to Barnett, the original owner wanted a program format that would fail so he could sell the station at a profit.  The reverse sort of happened.

"It ended up being sold to a guy who embraced the (KFAT) format and made money on it," he smiled.

"Legends definitely exist about it, since KFAT was so crazy and weird," Barnett continued.  "But that was part of its charm because you could be an active, creative listener."

"So much of radio now is background noise," the veteran engineer lamented.  "You don't pay attention to it.  It's just there."

Not, he says, like KVMR, which reflects the heart and soul of creative radio expression.

"And then some," he gleamed.

Literary Hike as Gift

Another thank you gift in the KVMR May membership drive takes you on a literary hike.

It's the "Pacific Crest Trail Trailside Readings," the brainchild of KVMR broadcaster Larry Hillberg, host of "Backroads," Saturday 7 to 10 a.m. (89.5 FM, kvmr.org streaming), and he'll feature it this weekend.

An avid hiker who has walked the complete trail, Hillberg and other volunteer broadcasters recorded stories included in the book anthology " The Paciific Coast Trailside Reader."

The new 4 disc recording -- which is only available  to new or renewing KVMR members -- includes stories and essays by John Muir, Jack Kerouac, Wallace Stegner, former Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglass and Hillberg himself, among others.

Legendary  poet Gary Snyder and photographer/author Suzanne Roberts (named "the next best travel writer" by National Geographic) read their own contributions to the book in the KVMR-produced audio collection, which also includes applicable music and songs.

The set is also available with a $120 gift to KVMR  from the station's membership department, 530/265-9073 extension 203 and email membership@kvmr.org

(A weekly wrap-up of news and oddities about community radio station KVMR (89.5 FM, kvmr.org streaming), a noncommercial station offering diverse musical programming, independent news and provocative public affairs from about 180 volunteer "citizen-broadcasters."  The station is currently holding its spring membership drive, and listeners can join KVMR at its website -- kvmr.org -- or by calling 530/265-9555.)