This interview is a part of Anthony Rimel’s continuing coverage of Eugene-based community radio station KRVM. View the first article here.
Q: Who are you and what do you do at KRVM?
A: I’m Bobbie Cirel and I’m the development director for KRVM, which essentially means that I support our fund-raising efforts.
A: Sure, First of all I’ve been here for about 14 years. I started in the Fall of 1996 and my job has really changed over the years. When we lost 4J funding in 2003, at that time my job was mainly interacting with business people to support our business underwriting programs. When we lost the funding in 2003 from 4J, my job also became promotions because we lost a couple of people. My primary work is with businesses to encourage their support of the radio station, but I also work in promotions. We do four live remote broadcasts per year. I help fund those by getting sponsorship, and I also help organize the remote [broadcast] and produce the show from the WOW Hall. We do three more remote broadcasts that are at existing festivals. We do a remote from the Oregon Country Fair on the Blue Moon Stage all three days. We also do a remote, I think this will be our second year, at the Willamette Valley Brews and Blues Festival. We’re going to do two days out there, and then at the Eugene Celebration the Broadway Plaza stage is essentially the KRVM stage.
Also, we do some print advertising in the Eugene Weekly and I oversee that. Clare Kolakowski is really the person who creates the graphics and I oversee that with her and probably almost anything else where we promote KRVM, that would fall into my purview.
Q: Tell me about the recent challenges that have been facing public radio with the current talks about reducing federal funding for public broadcasting.
A: The uncertainty that budget questions bring into play makes everyone nervous. It’s really hard to plan a fund-raiser and ask people to support KRVM when there is a threat that KRVM could go away. Of course we faced that in 2003 when we lost 4J funding. We were in the middle of our spring on-air fundraiser when we got word we could possibly be on that chopping block, so we stopped fund raising for an afternoon while we regrouped and then we went on air with a message that said this is what’s happening, 4J is pulling all of our funding and it may mean the end of KRVM. You can do one of two things as a listener: you can call in and pledge your support anyway, knowing that we might be going away, or decide not to fund KRVM, in which case we would most definitely go away. I had writers cramp, we called in more volunteers and the phones didn’t stop ringing. This community really stepped up and supported us.
The loss of Corporation for Public Broadcasting funding, is a little bit scarier because we’ve already gone to the listener and we continue to go to the listener three times a year asking them to help fund the station, the loss of CPB funding, which is to the tune of about 20% of our funding, would be very hard to make up.
I think funding is the greatest challenge we have. We are working with very old equipment that we’d really like to replace for a couple of reasons: it would be nice for our volunteers to have more reliable equipment. We’re always just holding our breath that something doesn’t snap on our board in our main studio. Also, for the kids who do have an interest in going into broadcasting, it would be nice if they were working with equipment that was more up-to-date, so that we could train them on the equipment they are more likely to use, so that is a challenge for us. Continuing to train students in the art of communication is a challenge and a delight. We are both in the oldest public radio station in the Pacific Northwest and the youngest. We’ve been on the air since 1947, but every year there is a new group of kids who walk through that door. 16-year-olds, 17-year-olds and at Spencer’s Butte Middle School, Middle Schoolers. It keeps us young. They don’t choose the music that we play because we really depend on listener support and we can’t go so avant-garde as to include the music that most young people would like, but each of those kids brings something new to this radio station because they have different listening habits and are tuned into different music and different approaches to what they think radio is. Helping them to express themselves is a challenge, but we are always up to it.
Q:One of the things that seems to make KRVM special is the relationship with students, can you tell me about your experiences with them.
A: I don’t work with them directly as much anymore. I did before Ken Martin became program director, I used to work with them more in the production room when it came to recording underwriting announcements, our version of advertising, so I can speak to what that was like because it was really a terrific part of my day. Kids would generally be pretty nervous walking into the production room, but I’d tell them we’re going to record this on a program that can be edited, it can be erased and redone, there is no reason to worry at all. We’d record and then I’d play it back for them and kids are sort of generally horrified to hear their voice when you play back, and we probably recorded a couple of times. When we got to a place where I was satisfied with what we’d recorded I always gave them the option to record again and it was great to get their reactions because they would begin to listen to themselves critically and many would say you know I think I can do that better. We would do it one more time, maybe even two more times and they would come out of that room with the kind of confidence that they didn’t walk into that room with and that was very gratifying from my point of view, to be able to be a participant in that process. It’s really so much of what we provide our students is confidence. I’ve heard that the number one fear that people have is public speaking, its even greater than the fear of death, but every one of our kids participates in public speaking when they are on the air, so even though the public that they are speaking to is a public that they can’t see, the confidence that they get from having this experience translates to standing in front of a group.
Q: If public radio stations like KRVM were to go away, what would the impacts be on the community?
It’s subtle and profound. It may not be felt immediately, but the people who remember it feel the loss and once community radio like KRVM is lost it’s very hard to recover. I really think that KRVM is a gift to the community and to our students and we’re a type of radio that is slowly going extinct and it is very unique in this country, so it would be particularly sad to lose. The programs that are going extinct, the arts programs are the things that make life worth living. I’m not putting down work that might be tedious, but what I’m saying is that an appreciation of the arts, of music, of art, of film, of theater those things that are going away in schools, and KRVM is definitely a part of that, those are things that make life worth living, and would be a crime to lose.