with Michael Young

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Sounding Fine at 39

KVMR celebrates its birthday with a BBQ and a potluck, but the community jam is the frosting on the cake.

Earlier this month KVMR sponsored a concert at Pioneer Park celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love. The event was wildly successful, attracting twice as many tie-dyed revelers as expected. The people at the gate ran out of wristbands and had to quickly rustle up some more.

Just four weeks later, KVMR returns to the same sylvan venue for yet another love fest. This one’s free, and a little more on the DIY side, but guaranteed to be every bit as fun. A Birthday Potluck, BBQ, Acoustic Jam & Singalong will celebrate the station’s 39th birthday from 2 to 6 p.m. Sunday.

Who could have known KVMR (89.5 FM) would survive into the 21st century when it began broadcasting in 1978 from a tin miner’s shack on Banner Mountain?

It’s come a long way from its humble birth, now ensconced in semi-palatial studios on Bridge Street in downtown Nevada City. But it still retains that folksy, funky vibe that’s as unique as the individual quirks of its more than 150 volunteer broadcasters.

There Will Be Cake

This year the cookout returns to its traditional venue, the picnic area at Pioneer Park. As a thank you to its faithful listener-supporters, the station will supply chicken, burgers, hot dogs and veggie burgers on the grill—and, of course, cake. Guests are asked to contribute to the massive potluck by bringing side dishes, including desserts.

Tireless KVMR broadcaster and board member Adela Wilcox is organizing the event for the second consecutive year. She notes that the community can always be counted on to bring a “wide array of dishes, from vegan to omnivore.” She recommends that potluck dishes be labeled with ingredients out of respect for individual food preferences.

Wilcox also asks that folks bring their own reusable serving utensils, place settings, cups and silverware, with a friendly reminder that glass is not allowed in the park. And no Styrofoam, please. KVMR always strives, says Wilcox, “to be eco-friendly.”

Beer, wine and drinks will be for sale, with proceeds supporting the non-profit community radio station. Sponsors include Szabo Vineyards and SPD markets.

The all-ages event will feature a kids’ table with crafts, bubble blowing and hula-hoops. Wilcox reminds attendees that horseshoe pits and bocce ball courts beckon, so bring along equipment if you have it. Lawn chairs are a good idea too.

Larry Miller of Peardale, a listener since KVMR’s earliest days, says the picnic is a great opportunity to meet up with longtime friends and put names to the voices of favorite broadcasters.

Voice of the Community Jam

One of the highlights of the day is always the announcement of the winners of CDs, tickets, gift certificates and other swag in the annual picnic day raffle. 

But by far the most popular part of the picnic isn’t the food, the prizes, or even the cake: It’s the community jam and singalong that just keeps growing throughout the afternoon as new instruments and voices join in.

“All are welcome to come jam, sing along or just kick back with the familiar broadcasters from your favorite community radio station,” says Cynthia Tweed, KVMR development director.

“It’s a way to bring the community together for a relaxed, family-friendly afternoon against the backdrop of the pines.” 

It’s a festive way to help KVMR bid farewell to its 30s. In 2018, the station will reach a landmark when it turns, gulp, 40. How will it celebrate? As they say in radio, stay tuned.


WHAT: KVMR 39th Birthday Potluck, BBQ, Acoustic Jam & Singalong

WHO: KVMR listeners, volunteers, broadcasters, staff and the public

WHEN: 2 to 6 p.m. Sunday July 30

WHERE: Pioneer Park picnic area, 421 Nimrod St., Nevada City

COST: Free

BRING: Potluck dish, musical instruments, voices, chairs

INFO: www.kvmr.org