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Listening to the full spectrum
I never got 90.7 KFSR.
Not in any intellectual sense, I just lived too far south, and save for a few super clear nights, the signal never quite came through.
I had friends though, who lived closer, and would me stories about this glorious thing known as “college radio.”
For young music-lovers, this was a mind-blower — a station that played punk rock (before it was mainstream fashion). The place they first heard real jazz. It was where they found out about Voodoo Glow Skulls/Buck o' Nine show at Patterson Hall, to which they dragged me along for a sweaty night of mosh-dancing that changed my life, pardon the hyperbole. It was the station that connected us to a world that was larger and more exciting then we could have imagined.
Now, if only memories paid the bills.
The station, housed at California State University, Fresno, is holding its annual fund and membership drive, with the hopes of raising $33,000 by the end of the year. The money will help with operating expenses and keep bringing in the programing — cool stuff like “A Prairie Home Companion.” It will also cover expenses on a $13,000 transmitter to replace the old one that died in August.
So far they've raised $15,000.
The on-air pledge drive ends today. But you can still become a member (and you should) by going to its Web site, www.kfsr.org
Here, Famous find out more about 90.7 KFSR from station manager and man-about town Joe Moore.
You've hosted several in-studio performances as part of this fund-drive. Is this something that will continue? Can we expect a consistent flow of local bands through the studio?
Well, we've always had artists come through the studio to perform and do interviews. One of the problems always has been that the studio setup was too small to allow most groups to really perform in any comfortable manner. We now have a setup that allows us to bring in a whole band, and air it live, with excellent audio quality. You'll be hearing a lot more of these in-studio performances from now on. And not just from local bands.
We're also posting video from some of these performances online at KFSR.org so if you miss the live broadcast on the air, you can check it out on-demand on the Web. Eventually, we'll be releasing a “Live at 90.7 KFSR” CD.
For many the station holds some very strong memories. What is your earliest KFSR memory?
My first memory of 90.7 KFSR was in high school, listening to the station while we were in band class, and were supposed to be practicing in the practice room.
Earliest radio memory?
Earliest radio memory would have to be listening to the San Francisco Giants broadcasts with Hank Greenwald, Ron Fairly and Wayne Hagen on Oldies 1300 KYNO.
What is the importance of having a radio station like KFSR in Fresno?
We like to say 90.7 KFSR connects the Valley's creative community, and that means we're an active participant in Fresno's cultural and arts community. Not only do we provide unique programming that otherwise would be absent from the Fresno airwaves — such as our jazz and independent rock programming — much of it is very local, from performances by local musicians, to interviews with local individuals and groups that really showcase what's going on. People who complain about how there's a lack of things to do in Fresno probably aren't 90.7 KFSR listeners. There's a ton of things going on, which we talk about every day.
All of the local non-commercial broadcasters have very different and thus complimentary lineups, really representing the diversity of the community. Our primary programs are the weekday jazz and weeknight Evening Eclectic (independent rock and new music), and special programs like the blues, and “A Prairie Home Companion.” For the most part, those aren't represented on the other local non-commercial radio outlets.
What's the vision for the station?
I see more special programming that is “hyper local”— meaning that we're really tapping into the community and what's going on. That may be through a live broadcast from the Rogue Festival, or more live performances from local artists. But it's about creating programming that is uniquely “Fresno.” I also see an increase in multimedia content. You'll be able to watch these performances on your computer through our Web site. Localism is the future of conventional radio.
Since you've been at the helm, the station has added some awesome programming like “A Prairie Home Companion,” “The Maddy Forum,” and “Earth and Sky.” What's the balance between this programming and more traditional music fare?
Non-commercial radio exists to serve the community with important programming that otherwise wouldn't be heard. We take that public service role very seriously, and we seek to leverage our connection with the University to help create some of these programs. For example we produce “The Pulse,” our business roundtable program, in association with the Lyles Center at Fresno State, and the “Maddy Forum,” which is about public policy, is produced in association with the Maddy Institute at Fresno State. “San Joaquin Spotlight” is a weekly feature on local non-profits, the arts and education. These are some of the most important things we do. Our public affairs programs air on the weekend, so they don't really interfere with our weekday music lineup.
“A Prairie Home Companion,” is a good fit because it is a mix of just about everything musically, from jazz and folk groups to Nick Lowe and Wilco. And then the comedy and storytelling from Garrison Keillor is great. We've been able to find a good balance in our programming.
You guys play a lot of jazz. What's up with that? Seriously, I've heard complaints (and I'm sure you have too) about the amount of jazz. Do you care to comment?
When I began work here full time about four years ago, it became very clear that we needed to have a consistent programming format for both morning drive and evening drive if we were going to have any success at all as a self-sustaining operation. We had been switching formats at noon, which resulted in a loss of something like 90 percent of our morning audience at mid-day. There is no way to build audience when you change formats every six hours as we had been. We think the current lineup works very well.
With all of the other portals for music, is it tough for radio (especially non commercial radio) to remain relevant? And how do you do that?
Local programming, local people, local music. We have to be unique. Like Thomas Friedman says, the world is flat. With your computer, you can listen to any radio station in the world that has an internet stream. Soon, you'll be able to buy cars that have high speed internet connections built right into the audio systems. So we need to offer something unique and local that's compelling enough to cut through all of the clutter.
KFSR seems as much a community station, as anything attached to the school. Is this by design?
A number of years ago, Fresno State set a goal to become one of the nation's top “engaged universities.” That means we are engaged in our community, part of the community, working with the community, helping the community. This not only applies to students doing community service, but also to the way we look at 90.7 KFSR. We have a signal that reaches the homes of over 500,000 residents in the Valley. Radio is an incredible resource for our community and we're trying to utilize it to its full potential.
We program the station for the community. At the same time that allows us to give students more “real world” experience in broadcasting. It's one thing to learn broadcasting when the audience is just a few of your friends listening in the dorms. It's another when you know you have 12,000 people listening throughout the entire city. They are able to develop the skills that they can put to use immediately once they graduate.
If someone made a $1 million donation to KFSR, what would be the first thing you'd do?
Well, we'd probably use it to start an endowment, which would provide us a solid source of operating revenue. As far as immediate needs, we'd like to be able to hire some more students to work part-time on the behind the scenes things that go into operating the station. We're really understaffed right now, and most students work one or two jobs just to pay for college, so they don't have the free time that maybe students did generations ago. A longer-term project would be the conversion to high definition radio, so we could multicast two different program streams over the air at the same time, at least to those with HD radios.
And now, some personal stuff: You're also part of the DTA and a total downtown advocate. What's your favorite downtown spot and why?
I've got lots of favorite places, but one would have to be George's Shish Kebab. The lavosh is great, and the lunchtime atmosphere is like something you'd find in New York.
What's in your iPod/on your radio?
Beck, Dave Brubeck, Death Cab for Cutie, Merle Haggard, Miles Davis, Stan Getz, Herbie Hancock, the Kronos Quartet.
What does Joe Moore do to relax after a hard day at the station?
I don't get to do it often enough, but I'm an amateur photographer. So, that's a nice hobby.
90.7 KFSR Fund Drive, through Dec. 31
With the goal of raising $33,000
Tune in at 90.7 FM, or on the Web at www.kfsr.org