Sunday, January 25, 2015
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

KDVS marks five decades of freewheeling radio

kdvsW

General manager Renner Burkle, right, jokes with office coordinator Nicole Lesnett in the KDVS studio in April 2013. The student-run radio station, heard at 90.3 FM, is celebrating 50 years on the air with a concert Saturday. Wayne Tilcock/Enterprise file photo

By
From page A1 | January 30, 2014 |

Join the fun

What: KDVS celebrates 50th anniversary with a concert featuring the bands Big Sticky Mess, Whiskey Business, Genius, Beast Nest, Chad Stockdale and Robert, and Virga, with a special appearance by KDVS “mascot” Mr. Turntable Head

When: Saturday; doors open at 8:30 p.m. and show runs 9 p.m.-midnight

Where: Rock Band University, 720 Olive Drive, Suite H, Davis

On the air: Broadcast live on KDVS, 90.3 FM, and on www.kdvs.org

Admission: Free; all ages welcome (no alcohol)

KDVS — Davis’ charmingly unpredictable campus/community radio station — was born 50 years ago, in a laundry room.

The fledgling student enterprise, which initially had the call letters KCD, began broadcasting on Feb. 1, 1964, from a dormitory (Beckett Hall). Initially, the KCD signal was a “carrier current” on the AC phone lines and could be received on 880 AM by residents of certain dormitories. Legend has it that the first words broadcast were, “Watson! Come here! I need a quarter!”

The station eventually was granted an FM license and went on the air as KDVS in 1968, broadcasting with a measly 10-watt signal, barely audible on the edge of town. (The station now broadcasts on a more robust 13,000-watt signal.)

KDVS quickly gained a maverick reputation, presenting an interview with radical activist Angela Davis, and hosting a live call-in show featuring California Gov. Ronald Reagan. The first local sports broadcast was in 1969, and hundreds more would follow.

The station was one of the first in the region to program reggae music. Longtime volunteer disc jockey Gary Saylin recalls, “When I joined KDVS in the mid-1970s, I started out playing mainly reggae. And I remember there were many callers who asked ‘What is this music?’ It was very exciting, because it was something new.”

KDVS also has featured a Saturday morning folk show for some 38 years. Robyne Fawx, who co-hosts the program, said her interest in folk music began when she attended a Pete Seeger concert at Freeborn Hall (upstairs from the station’s studios) in 1978.

“It was the first big concert I had attended, my first concert outside a high school auditorium,” Fawx recalled. “I was a 17-year-old freshman. … I didn’t know anything about him. … He came onstage with a guitar, a banjo and a recorder. And he held us enrapt. He had us singing in harmony, and in canon. It was wonderful.”

(Fawx was nearly in tears as she shared this recollection on Tuesday; Seeger died Monday at age 94.)

After hearing that concert, Fawx approached KDVS about hosting a folk show, but was offered a classical show instead. She switched to folk a few years later.

Fawx recalls a phone call while hosting a traditional folk music show some years ago.

“The call was from a young man, living in the dorms, and he had just discovered this music, and was enthusiastic,” she said. “The way he spoke, he reminded me of when I was 18 and discovering this music.”

And it’s that kind of transmission — with a volunteer DJ sharing his or her enthusiasm for a particular kind of music, promoting interest in the minds of listeners — that has kept KDVS on the air for five decades, with volunteers coming into the studios even in the wee hours of the morning.

KDVS also carries alternative news — the station was the first in this region to broadcast radio news from Al Jazeera — and airs Amy Goodman’s syndicated “Democracy Now” program. The station also regularly presents live music performed by local and touring bands.

There also have been on-air interviews with unusual musicians. Longtime DJ Bill Wagman recalls interviewing the eccentric singer/ukelele player Tiny Tim in 1996, shortly before he died.

“I think he was a person who never quite fit anywhere and so built a persona for himself and became that persona,” Wagman said. “He knew a tremendous amount about popular music of the 1920s and 1930s.” (Wagman’s interview can still be heard online at www.secretsevenrecords.typepad.com.)

Wagman also interviewed guitarist/record producer Ry Cooder when he visited Davis last year.

The DJ added that the bottom line is, “I appreciate the great variety of music I’ve been exposed to through the station over the years.”

Saylin agreed: “It seems like the station just keeps getting more eclectic, which is great. I’m hearing more DJs exploring more styles of music, and not just different styles of rock. People are discovering the more traditional music — old jazz, blues, traditional country — as well as modern music.”

— Reach Jeff Hudson at jhudson@davisenterprise.net or 530-747-8055.

 

 

 

Comments

comments

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    Four days of unusual, adventuresome music

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Bridges of Yolo County: Wear, tear … repair?

    By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Spanish police arrest 4 suspected members of a jihadi cell

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Rockets kill 30 in Ukrainian city as rebels launch offensive

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Abe ‘speechless’ after video claims IS hostage dead

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    GOP presses state bills limiting gay rights before ruling

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Abortion opponents express renewed hope at California rally

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Fake schools draw federal scrutiny

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A3 | Gallery

     
    Winter produce available at Sutter market

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

    Vote for your favorites in Readers’ Choice poll

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Share your love (story) with us

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Sip wines at St. James’ annual tasting

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

    Speaker will share computer security tips

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Explore at the YOLO Outdoor Expo

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Pedal around Davis on weekly bike ride

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Donations to be distributed during homeless count

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A4

     
    Speaker will share computer security tips

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Logos Books celebrates 5 years, offers language groups

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Yolo animal shelter seeking rawhide donations

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A5

    Woodland Healthcare employees take Great Kindness Challenge

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

     
    At the Pond: Nest boxes give birds new homes

    By Jean Jackman | From Page: A6 | Gallery

    California ranks worst in nation for guidance counselors

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

     
    Words and Music Festival events

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A12

    Davis, Woodland are saving water

    By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A12

     
    .

    Forum

    Family isn’t keen on relationship

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: A8

     
     
    Caring for the aging mouth

    By Samer Alassaad | From Page: A8

    Rick McKee cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A10

     
    Big utilities’ nightmare begins to play out

    By Tom Elias | From Page: A10

    Mayor’s Corner: Let’s renew Davis together

    By Dan Wolk | From Page: A10

     
    We have the right to choose

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

    We don’t have to suffer

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

     
    City helped immensely

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

    When measles spreads from Disneyland, it’s a small world after all

    By New York Times News Service | From Page: A11

     
    From innovation parks to innovative buildings and planning

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11

    .

    Sports

    Lady Devils hold off Pacers, stay perfect in league

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

     
    Wildcats’ inaugural kids development league exceeds expectations

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Aggies get top 2015 gymnastics score, but fall short

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Loud crowd sees DHS boys win

    By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    UCD men take two tennis matches

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B8

     
    Watney in ninth at Humana Challenge

    By Staff and wire reports | From Page: B8

    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

    .

    Business

     
    UCD grad makes insurance ‘hot 100′ list

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

    Yolo County real estate sales

    By Zoe Juanitas | From Page: A9

     
    Davis man focusing on cannabidiol business

    By Will Bellamy | From Page: A9

    Marrone Bio’s Regalia approved for new uses in Canada

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9

     
    .

    Obituaries

    .

    Comics

    Comics: Sunday, January 25, 2015

    By Creator | From Page: B8