Broadcaster Cheri Snook has covered a lot of ground since she graduated from the KVMR Broadcasting Class in 2000.
From bringing Alaskan sensation, The Photon Band, to Nevada City last Fall, to co-producing the almost sold out Michael Franti concert at the Grass Valley Veterans Memorial Hall this past Spring, to producing KVMR's 5-day Live Broadcast at the Nevada County Fair 2002, to engineering for a variety of live shows and special programming--producing specials, introducing new artists from Alaska, along with shining the light on local artists here in Nevada County--to being on-call 24-7, to cover any dead-air time that may arise. Cheri devotes most of her spare time volunteering where needed at KVMR to support its continued success.
Born in Reno and raised on the beaches of Lake Tahoe, she followed her older brother Dean, the wood wizard of Alaska, to Alaska, where she encountered the music scene which she shares on the KVMR airwaves. "When you have all that time without modern conveniences and disturbances and so much unspoiled beauty, it's easy to find the words and tunes for creative expression.
"Musicians from Alaska tour the lower 48 but yearn to return home before long. Mostly you will find them touring outside Alaska during the winter. You can hear a variety of genres of music and stories on Universal Tapestry. Listeners that call in have stories and memories of Alaska and relive those memories through the music I play."
Cheri did not set out to become a broadcaster. In fact, after a period of time in New York, she turned off radio because of the frenetically-paced commercialism she encountered on stations there. She moved to Nevada City about 10 years ago with her children and found herself living next door to KVMR when it was based at the Miners Foundry Cultural Center. She and her daughters would gather together every Thursday evening to listen to Old Radio Theatre. Through those delightful evenings she learned what a rich communication experience community radio can offer.
About two and a half years ago, Cheri decided to take the Broadcaster Training Class and afterward did stints on Red-Eye Radio and subbed for other broadcasters whenever she could. Her first actual show was almost a disaster.
Scheduled on December 26, 2000, to debut with a special on Alaska, Alaska Music Magazine, she had ordered a large number of CDs from Alaska for her show.
KVMR had effectively promoted her post-Christmas special. When December 26 dawned, accompanied by the arrival of only one lonely CD in the mail, featuring Christmas music, Cheri panicked. Barely two hours before showtime, a special delivery arrived with CDs and "Best of Luck" from Alaska's Surreal Studios emblazoned on the package. Her broadcast career was launched with a successful special, and she's been busy ever since.
Cheri's favorite Alaskan performer is Larry Zarella, who has performed five times in Nevada County. Zarella has gained quite a Nevada County following due to Cheri's promotional efforts. Her ideal live broadcast would be to produce an Alaskan Music Festival in Nevada County with Larry Zarella, Grover Neely, Hobo Jim, the Photon Band, and new songwriter to Alaskan airwaves Shawn Zuke. Then tour to Alaska with Rick Kirkpatrick, TranceZenDance, Kipchoge Spencer and Isaac James, along with Michael Franti and Spearhead and more, to do a Nevada County Festival Concert in Alaska. This ideal has led to Open Door Productions, where a variety of artists from Alaska perform here, and the door is open for any local artist to play in Alaska.
She's already had a taste of this dream. When the Photon Band appeared at the Miners Foundry last fall, Community Radio of Girdwood, AK broadcast it live via the web. This past summer when Cheri visited Girdwood, she was invited to broadcast on Alaska Sunrise 6 straight hours of the Nevada City music scene in reciprocation.
What does Cheri value most about KVMR? The way its programming reaches out to everyday people giving them emotional support, the way it provides a reality network away from the mainstream sea of manufactured media hype. Cheri feels that the main challenge for community radio is to maintain good programming. "It takes a real knack to relay a message through music or discussion; it's a personal challenge for every broadcaster to express a theme or mood each time they broadcast." She is extremely proud to be associated with KVMR, which she considers a leader for other community radio stations nation-wide.
Cheri is often asked "What is Alaska music?" She simply replies, "It's Alaskans, who create music in Alaska". On KVMR she gets to educate the "lower 48" that Alaska is more than snow and ice for 9 months, through the stories told by diary entries, poems and song.
Tune in to Cheri and the Universal Tapestry
Written by Alexi Bonifield
Alexi Bonifield is the marketing and outreach director for the Nevada County Arts Council and writes arts features for Sacramento regional publications.