KVMR Volunteer Goes 'Against The Grain,' Now Producer of Celtic Festival Broadcast

Now Allen Aastrom has a last name that pretty much guaranteed he'd be in the first seat of the first row in study hall. You know, alphabetical order...

"Oh, and detention hall, too," he laughed. 

No detention or study hall right now for Aastrom.  He's keeping very busy as live remote  producer for KVMR 89.5 FM's annual broadcast of the Nevada City radio station's Celtic Festival and Marketplace this coming weekend (Sept. 29-30), with a live broadcast 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday. 

"I think it's the fourth year I've been the producer, or is it..." Aastrom said, questioning himself. "No, I'm pretty sure it's the fourth." 

Time flies when you're having fun.

And Allen's life and times at KVMR already stretch back over 20 years since he took the 1997 Broadcaster Training Class. 

"When I decided to take the class, it was not my intention to get a show," he recalled. "Really, I just wanted to learn what it (KVMR) was all about."

And?

"Well, I got tired of calling up broadcasters and asking them to play songs I liked," Aastrom said. "After that, I decided to do something against the grain (for me)...be in the public eye."

 

NABS ROOKIE HONORS

Along the way, that led to Aastrom winning rookie broadcaster of the year honors and later an award for early morning programming while he was doing a 4 a.m. to 7 a.m. shift for seven years.  Later, he brought a jam band feel to 10 p.m. to midnight slots, first on Wednesday and later on Thursdays. 

He also got the live remote broadcast bug along the way about 2003, working with then-engineer Paul Paterson. 

"It sounded like fun and I knew it would require technical skills," Aastrom said with a smile "Besides, I got to use a soldering iron."

And helping out with things like NightLive!, On The Road Live At the Palms, a Green Party debate at the Crest Theater in Sacramento and a variety of music festivals (including the annual Celtic Festival) kept Aastrom busy. 

"There's a lot of excitement in live music," Aastrom noted. "It's a whole other ballgame than coming into the studio to do a show because you have to know how to roll with it when things don't go right."

And, hey, live remote engineering can be very stressful, he added. 

"There's tons of variables that can cause a minor problem or a major one, and you're always striving to get the best sound you can, no matter what."

 

WHAT A MENTOR

After ten years, Aastrom felt he'd "pretty much had done every kind of (technical) function in a live broadcast" and the parts he still needed to learn to be a festival broadcast producer?

"I had a great, great mentor," he said with a broad grin. "The people skills you need working with a large festival crew, well, I learned them from Wesley (Robertson)."

Robertson -- who died from injuries in a car accident this past winter -- was a legendary broadcaster and live remote festival producer who had turned over the Celtic broadcast to Aastrom around 2015 

"I watched closely how he did things, talked to people, got stuff to work and thought that (he) was good, very good."

Uh, oh. That made Aastrom wax a little. 

"You know, one of the joys of doing this job is I get to represent KVMR in the best way I can because KVMR deserves it," he said. "It's really fun, and there's so much satisfaction from people thanking you, from volunteers to people just attending the festival."

And then some. 

 

Allen Aastrom is KVMR 89.5 FM's Celtic Festival broadcast producer. The Nevada City radio station will air the festival Saturday and Sunday live from the Nevada County Fairgrounds.

KNOW & HEAR

WHO: KVMR 89.5 FM

WHAT: Live broadcast of 22nd annual KVMR Celtic Festival and Marketplace

FREQUENCIES: 89.5 FM Nevada City, 105.1 FM Truckee, kvmr.org streaming

WHEN: Saturday,, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

WHERE:  Nevada County Fairgrounds, 11228 McCourtney Road, Grass Valley

FESTIVAL TICKETS: kvmrcelticfestival.org online  Two Day: $72 adult, $22 child.  One Day: $55 adult, $21 child. Tickets also available at gate ($3-$5 per ticket higher). 

FESTIVAL INFORMATION:  kvmrcelticfestival.org online, 530/265-9073 weekdays only 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.