Authentic ’50s/’60s-era radio show goes live at car show
September 5, 2013
Like a lot of kids in the '50s and '60s, KVMR 89.5FM broadcaster Brian Lee spent a lot of time listening to rock 'n' roll disc jockeys in the early days of Top 40 music on his transistor radio.
Only Brian also recorded some of his favorites on reel-to-reel tape so he could listen to them again and again, like Los Angeles-area deejays The Real Don Steele at KHJ, Art LaBoe of KRLA and fabled Border Radio host Wolfman Jack.
"Somewhere from that mix, I came up with the style I use," he smiles. "They talked fast. They were in control. Their shows really seemed to flow …"
The result for KVMR listeners has been radio that sounds so authentic you'd think it was 1956 or 1961 again during Lee's "Rhythm & Blues Revue" from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. each Saturday afternoon (89.5FM, kvmr.org streaming).
Lee's rhythmic voice and cadence, radio jingles from the era and, of course, classic R&B, doo wop and rock 'n' roll music, with a few novelty tunes tossed in for good measure. "Color radio" is another term for what he does on air.
"I try to keep the show moving quickly because that was part of the art of those deejays," Brian explains. "And I want to make it sound like fun, well, because it is."
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This Saturday, that creative radio era comes to 3D life as Lee spins classic tunes at the Dance Pad of the Nevada County Fairgrounds, Grass Valley, where he'll host his show live in person as part of the Roamin Angels annual car show during his regular 4-6 p.m. showtime. Even remote appearances like that were a familiar part of an early deejay's life.
But don't expect to hear the Beatles, Motown or much music "newer" than that.
"It's not that I don't like that music," he adds. "But I wanted to focus more on the early days of rock and roll, so I set some boundaries for myself that way."
Lee's unique style and knowledge of the music have built him a bit of a following on the Internet as well.
"There simply aren't many folks doing authentic radio of that era like this …anywhere," notes KVMR Program Director Steve Baker.
Because he likes filling listener requests on the spot, Lee used to lug a couple dozen boxes of CDs and classic LPs into the studio each week. Now he's moved his entire collection onto a small digital hard drive. In that way, ironically, he's keeping up with the times.
According to Brian, he thought about a career as a disc jockey when he was young.
"When I was in high school, I read about the profession, and it seemed like deejays only stayed at a station an average of six months, so I decided I better pursue something else.
"I mean, I still had the dream of doing it some day," he said.
That day came in 1987 when Lee joined the eclectic Nevada City community radio station as a volunteer broadcaster and deejay, his first actual time on radio.
Now, more than a quarter century later and a lot longer than six months, he's still on the air at KVMR, doing what he dreamed of as a kid.
Nevada City native singer-songwriter Alela Diane returns home this week for a Thursday (Sept. 7) night concert at the Center for the Arts.
Now based in Portland, she'll talk about her new album, "About Farewell," and perform live in studio this Thursday during the KVMR Music Magazine 4-6 p.m.(89.5 FM, kvmr.org streaming).
Looming in Loomis
After benefit performances for KVMR by Pokey Lafarge and a surprise Labor Day weekend show by Commander Cody, the next KVMR fundraiser (and fun raiser) at the Country Club Saloon, 4007 Taylor Road in Loomis, features Americana up-and-comers Mike Blanchard and the Californios 8 p.m. Friday the 13th (Sept.). Feelin' lucky?
A weekly wrap-up of news and oddities about community radio station KVMR (89.5 FM, kvmr.org streaming), a noncommercial station offering diverse musical programming, independent news and provocative public affairs from about 150 volunteer "citizen-broadcasters." A video about the station's new building is at vimeo.com/63303996 Complete program listings are available at kvmr.org.
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