It was a virtual "lovefest" that was wild and crazy at times, yet poignant and moving at others.
KVMR 89.5 FM's holiday party featured the station's annual program awards as well as a Volunteer Appreciation Extravaganza for over 300 volunteers and friends at the Miner's Foundry this month.
At one point, you had outgoing KVMR General Manager Julie Chiarelli introducing the station's new GM, Ali Lightfoot from KVNF in Paonia, Colorado, to the audience and giving her a gaggle of goofy gifts for the job. "Every GM needs a screwdriver," she noted.
At another, a monstrous standing ovation greeted the late Wesley Robertson's wife, Mo Fitzpatrick Robertson, and his daughter Jaimie Robertson as they accepted the Bill Tuttle KVMR Lifetime Achievement Award for Wesley, who died from injuries in a car accident last March.
The very popular broadcaster's death had utterly stunned the station's broadcasters and listeners. Robertson was responsible for dozens, if not hundreds, of live remote music broadcasts from festivals, concerts and nightclubs during his 30 years of service at the station, including the beloved "Rockin' & Stompin'" Saturday afternoon show.
LARGER THAN LIFE
"We truly lost a one of a kind, larger than life, unique KVMR character and talent," Program Director Steve Baker told the crowd as he introduced Mo and Jaimie. "And we still miss him terribly."
Mo deeply thanked the audience, saying his KVMR friends have been incredibly supportive of her and Jaimie since the loss.
Robertson became the thirteenth broadcaster to win the lifetime honors, and the first to be awarded posthumously.
A new award -- called The Wesley -- was given in his honor to Eric Rice for "Excellence and Humanity" and Eric's inspirational leadership in live remote broadcasts.
Rice was in Mexico for a bluegrass festival. "Mexico is building a wall to keep American banjos and banjo fans out," Baker quipped. "Eric apparently got in before it was completed."
Plus Kim Rogers and all the Friends Of Wes received the Special Spirit of KVMR Award for "holding the space of grace, dignity and so much heart in the wake of Wesley's passing" by "subbing" for him each Saturday since his death. Rogers is also host of Thursday's "Good Stuff" roots music show (2 p.m.).
Radio Event Of The Year honors went to the Black Friday Day Of Giving, an 11-hour on-air fundraiser that raised over $45,000 for Camp Fire relief fund efforts the day after Thanksgiving, with an average of about 30 phone donations every hour, plus dozens of walk-ins.
KVMR Membership Coordinator Adriana Kelly and Development Associate Jessica Faulks received honors for masterminding and orchestrating the event on what was a holiday day off.
And GM Chiarelli also received the second of two standing ovations when the Program Committee named her "Honorary Broadcaster Of The Decade" for "her amazing dedication, overall excellence and supreme calmness on duty."
"(News Director) Paul Emery kept telling me being KVMR's GM was a big deal, but, actually, I'm just herding cats, conducting an orchestra...the volunteers are the big deal," she said. "They are the ones who make this happen, devoting their time, energy and passion to making this incredible jewel available for our community."
Added Chiarelli, "I've been so honored to serve and support this amazing group of people for these past almost-8 years. What a journey it has been."
Three broadcasters were named winners of the prestigious John Nichols Award for Excellence in Music Programming, named after Nichols, who helped mold the station's sound in the 1980s:
--Mark Leviton for "Pet Sounds" (10 p.m. Wed) and music specials
--Joel Brungardt for "Alone In The Dark" (10 p.m. Fri) and "The Other Side" (8 p.m. Tues)
--Music Director Sean Dooley for "The New Bleat" (2 p.m. Fri) and KVMRx streaming
--Jody Fenimore Public Affairs Programming Award to Arly Helm, "Best Of Health" (Noon, 4th Tues)
--Osborne-Woods Community Service Award to Ana Acton, "Disability Rap"
--Ralph Henson Night Owl Award to Russ "The Outlaw" Roy, "Blues 2U" (12 a.m. Thurs)
--Earlybird Award to Michael Babiarz, "Back 40 Radio" (4 a.m. Tues)
--Morning Programming: Lynn Heintz, "Morning show" (7 a.m. Wed)
--Afternoon Programming: Amee Medeiros, "Music Magazine" (4 p.m. Mon)
--Rookie Of The Year: Jeffrey Philpott, "Radio Nomadica," (10 p.m., Sat)
--Happy Trails Award: Leia Farrell, leaving "Bohemian Groove," (10 p.m. Fri)
--Week In, Week Out Award: John Keane, for his tireless duty hosting "Flip Side" each Sunday at 4 a.m. for two years, until an alternate host was found.