Thursday, April 21, 2011

The KDVS 90.3 FM Annual Fundraiser, 2011

You know, it can be fairly easy to take a vital public resource like KDVS 90.3 FM for granted. For more than 40 years now, this local free-form, community-based radio station has been dutifully providing the Sacramento/Davis/Yolo County region with independent music, current events programs and community activities. Turn your dial to 90.3 FM, and you can largely expect KDVS' dedicated, all volunteer staff to be there providing you with 24-hour entertainment. I mean, it's a given that the station will be there forever, right?

Recently, another independent, community-based radio station was bought-out from under its staff and had its radio frequency sold to a corporation. KUSF, much like KDVS, provided the Bay Area with news, information and underground music (these two stations even shared shared the same 90.3 signal). Then one day this year, POOF! KUSF was off the air, it's signal changed to that providing classic music 'round the clock. The dedicated staff, volunteers and listeners were stunned. KUSF's bandwidth space on the FM dial was bought, sold and terminated just like that (the station still exists, but in an Internet-only capacity now).

In a way, those of us in the valley who appreciate having an independent source of news, information and (especially for this writer) independent music are pretty damned lucky to have KDVS. San Francisco and the surrounding Bay Area is a fairly large, progressive metropolitan space. If a radio station that should seemingly be able to thrive withing those feted Bay Area borders can be easily snuffed-out as in the case of KUSF, whose to say the same coudn't happen to KDVS?

Well, I'll tell you; I didn't know KUSF 90.3 very well. Sure, I enjoyed listening  to this radio station every time I'd go to San Francisco, and their DJ's played some pretty awesome records indeed, but my heart always belonged (and still does to this day) to KDVS. And I'm confident that I'm not the only one who feels this way. KDVS survives (solely it seems) on the persistent dedication of its staff and the listening community - both of which it can be said, could be considered one in the same.

This week KDVS is hosting another one of its annual fundraiser events. While a small amount of funding to operate this free-form community-based radio station actually comes from the UC Davis Board of Trustees, the bulk of funding comes from you, the listener. In turn, your monetary support goes to paying for things the station desperately needs, such as maintenance or replacement of equipment, boosting the signal output, hosting community events, etc., etc.

To show you their appreciation, KDVS is offering premiums for your pledges. And we're not talking water bottles or keychains with the KDVS logo splashed across 'em. Nope, we're talking records, CDs, DVDs, books, handmade crafts, T-shirts, airtime, mobile DJ's to cater your event, and dozens and dozens of more goodies. Honestly, you can spend an entire day perusing the premiums available for your donation. Receiving bundles of good stuff while supporting community-based, free-form radio? It's a win-win.

Now, speaking for myself, I honestly don't know where I'd be in my appreciation of music if it weren't for KDVS. More than 50% of the bands and songs I hear about were gleaned directly form KDVS and its crew of dedicated DJ's. And these aren't feckless DJ's who play disposable Top-40's hits (whatever those are these days). No, this is a crew whose tastes are vast and varied, playing everything from punk to indie to hip-hop to folk to Tuvan throat singing, and just about any musical genre you can think of. And unlike a certain Robo-radio station chain, the DJ's at KDVS play what you want. Go on! Call in and request a song. Not only will you talk to an actually live person, but you'll hear the song you requested played mere minutes later. A novel notion, no?

In addition, KDVS hosts a bevy of live music festivals and events, such as Operation Restore Maximum Freedom and Picnic Day. Then there's KDVS Recordings, an in-house record label which has produced recording by bands such as Art Lessing and The Flower Vato, San Francisco Water Cooler, Pregnant, and many, many more.

But KDVS isn't just about the music. News and public affairs broadcasts, both local and international take president. KDVS is the only radio station in the area that hosts Democracy Now and Al Jezeera America, as well as a bevy of locally produced and informative talk shows such as This Week In Science, Radio Parallax, It's About You, Local Dirt, KDVS Radio Theater, and many, many more. This station is, simply put, an information powerhouse.

And it belongs to you.

That's right. KDVS is your radio station. A point of pride, if you will, for those of us living in the Sacramento Valley. And it's not like KDVS 90.3 FM is some sort of cloistered, exclusive club which is inaccessible to the public; anyone can become a DJ or volunteer, and many in our community have. Those commercial breaks? Produced and featuring volunteer actors (which are, quite frankly, a lot more enjoyable, quaint and far, far less shrill than those "professionally" made money-tuggers on commercial radio stations.) Add to this, KDVS reaches not only folks here in the central valley, but listeners all over the world. Thanks to it's streaming radio feature, KDVS 90.3 FM is heard virtually any and everywhere. Yep, KDVS 90.3 FM is a global phenomenon.

So, what say? Ready to pledge your support for your local community-based radio station? KDVS has literally always been there for you. What do you say that we keep it that way?

(I'll be riding shotgun during my good friend Tim Matranga's fundraiser show, Kicksville 29BC. this Sunday, 4/24/11, from 10:00pm to 12:00pm. Tune-in to hear my melodiously nasal voice beg for change. This is the final show of this year's fundraiser. Should be fun!)

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