KVMR Goes To Quincy For High Sierra Remote Broadcast

It may be 115 miles from KVMR 89.5 FM's Nevada City studios to the Plumas-Sierra County Fairgrounds in Quincy, but that isn't about to deter the eclectic radio station from broadcasting two nights of this week's High Sierra Music Festival.

"Yes, you could say this is a very 'remote' remote," quipped the station's remote broadcast executive producer Wesley Robertson about the festival location.

"But advances in audio technology -- along with the ubiquitous presence of broadband internet -- have allowed us to broadcast from places that used to be impossible," KVMR chief engineer Dave Barnett chipped in with a smile.

KVMR will offer an unprecedented ten hours a night of live music on Friday's Fourth of July and Saturday as well, airing the festival each night 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. (89.5 FM, kvmr.org streaming), including intimate "jam band" segments around the midnight hour.

The acclaimed old-timey string band,  the Carolina Chocolate Drops, and the "newgrass" superstar ensemble The Punch Brothers (who call their music "American country-classical chamber music") will be featured Fourth of July night, among others, while Tahoe's Dead Winter Carpenters and Chico's Mother Hips will fill the late night/early morning spots.

And, once again, KVMR will be on top of the action, begging this question:

Have you ever wondered how a small station from Nevada City is able to provide this service while dozens of larger stations with huge budgets do not?

Easy, says Barnett.

"The answer is we have a pool of multi-talented volunteers who aren't afraid to think outside the box and try new, innovative ways of delivering the sound to your ears."

But the effort doesn't stop there, according to Barnett.

"KVMR gets a 'live' sound into our broadcasts, while so many other live recordings sound dull and lifeless." 

That's because of something called a "matrix mix."

"Sound engineers at a live event mix for the house to make it sound good in the venue," Barnett explained.

And that may or many not be the best mix for a radio broadcast.

"KVMR's volunteers have become adept at microphone placement and live, on-the-fly mixing to enhance the sound," he added.

Thanks to a Corporation for Public Broadcasting grant last year, the non-profit, non-commercial station was able to purchase a digital delay unit for live broadcasts.

"With this unit, we're able to employ an enhanced matrix mix," said the station engineer.

And Barnett notes it's a technique first pioneered by Dan Healy, the legendary sound engineer for the Grateful Dead.

What a long, strange live remote broadcast trip it's been.

FESTIVAL BROADCAST LINE-UP:

Friday:

4pm--Del McCoury Band
4:30--Avil Buffalo
5:15--Carolina Chocolate Drops, Jonathan Wilson or Scott Pemberton
7:30--Punch Brothers or Dopapod
10--Greensky Bluegrass
11:45--Dead Winter Carpenters
1:30am--Mother Hips

Saturday:

4pm --Stanley Jordan Trio
4:30--Bombino
5:15--Mother Hips or Del McCoury Band
7:45--Chris Robinson Brotherhood or Ernest Ranglin
9:30--Moon Hooch or Incidental Animals
11:45--California Honey Drops
1:30am--Lettuce

(Schedule may change.)