KVMR: Dave Olsen always put a Good Foot forward
Special to Prospector
You could say he always put a Good Foot forward.
That’s because “Good Foot Radio” host Dave Olsen, 77, RIP, and KVMR 89.5 FM were just about a perfect match, from the very beginning.
He “discovered” the station as he was unpacking and moving into his new Nevada City house in 2005, after his son Chris had encouraged him to move here for his “golden years.”
You see, he had a radio on in the background.
“I had no idea it was KVMR at the time, but they said they were pulling together charitable items to send to WWOZ, New Orleans’ community radio station, and were in desperate need of boxes,” Olsen recalled on his last radio show May 22. “This was in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.”
“I looked around and my house was full of empty boxes so I took them to SPD (Grocery Store) to get picked up, I already knew where it was,” he told listeners.
It wasn’t too long after that Olsen began volunteering at the Nevada City community radio station, where he became the Wednesday afternoon receptionist, a position he held until a year or so ago when medical issues pulled him off the job.
Olsen was known to many as “Front Desk Dave” during his decade-plus service at the station, according to current volunteers Sandy and Dave Brown. Sandy was a KVMR employee when Dave came onboard as a volunteer.
“I’d take a break and go and talk with him,” she said. “He was a true believer in KVMR. It was so sweet.”
Dave Brown caught Olsen’s last radio show and called him up.
“Hey, Front Desk Dave…” Brown said.
“He knew my voice right off and called me David,” quipped Dave. “No one calls me David but him.”
Added one KVMR insider, “the listeners loved him, volunteers and broadcasters adored him, and we (the staff) couldn’t believe our luck having him.”
AIR FORCE DAYS
Olsen has quite the background. After college, he worked in military intelligence for the U.S. Air Force because of his ability to speak Japanese, becoming a Lieutenant Colonel. Later, he retired in 1974 and worked in food sales for Diana Fruit, raising four stepchildren in addition to his son Chris and becoming part of a Bay Area social group called “The Foodsters.”
“Oh, how I remember the day Dave told me how maraschino cherries were made,” recalled KVMR Co-Volunteer Coordinator Edy Cassell with a laugh about his later occupation selling those cherries. “But, you know, he was always optimistic, never an ill word…”
KVMR broadcaster Connie Coale used to follow Olsen on air after his monthly vintage music show on Wednesday afternoons.
“’Hi, Connie, how are you?,’ he’d say,” Coale remembered. “Except he genuinely wanted to know how I was doing, There’s a difference…”
A memorial service for Olsen drew several hundred friends, family and KVMR volunteers June 28 at the Miner’s Foundry — and plenty more stories.
Like the time Olsen stood “shoulder to shoulder” with President Lyndon Johnson in a public bathroom. You don’t do that every day.
Two of Olsen’s sisters live on the island of Crete. They particularly enjoyed hearing Dave’s Thursday morning show, “Good Foot Radio,” from 4 a.m. to 7 a.m. Pacific time.
Well, noted one at the gathering, they got to hear their older brother in prime time — you see, that’s 2 p.m. in Greece.
Back to Pacific time now…”I remember turning on the radio as I was on the way to a sales meeting in the Bay Area very early in the morning,” added son Chris after the service. “And there was my dad on the air deejaying at that hour.”
“It was so strange and a thrill,” Chris added. “I’ll never forget it.”
Chris said his father’s “personal love was music.” Locally, Dave sang in both the Sierra Master Chorale and Music In The Mountains choirs.
“But it was KVMR that was his true love in Nevada City,” his son added.
In fact, Olsen donated funds to the radio station’s new building to name two, yup, two of the rooms. And his match challenges during KVMR on-air membership drives in recent years were practically legendary, according to KVMR Membership Coordinator Adriana Kelly.
“I met him when he was volunteering at the front desk years ago,” she recalled. “Dave was kind, generous, funny, sweet and a joy to be around.”
“He loved music and wanted everyone to have access to commercial-free radio. He was a joyful kind soul and a real human being.”
Volunteer broadcaster Eric Flaherty had a long association with Dave through KVMR, starting with Dave “showing me the ropes” of being a station receptionist.
And Eric helped Dave engineer that final show back on May 22, noting “What an upbeat, positive guy, all the way.”
Dave dubbed the show “The Last Playlist” — oh, he was meticulous about them — and he paused to reflect near the show’s end, following Johnny Cash’s poignant version of The Beatles “In My Life.”
“It’s been such a privilege to be part of KVMR and be part of the people who are KVMR’s family that gives and keeps giving to the community.”
“It’s just been a treat for me,” he added. “Thank you for all the phone calls today. My God, I couldn’t believe there were so many.”
Olsen passed away June 9 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.
A recording of that show provided the background ambiance after the June 28 service.
Oh, goodness, a gentleman who left us in style.
HIGH SIERRA ON AIR
KVMR 89.5 FM’s summer live music festivals continue this Fourth of July holiday weekend, with a four-day live broadcast of the High Sierra Music Festival from Quincy, starting at noon July 4 and running late mornings to late nights the next day Friday through Sunday.
The station will also stream the festival worldwide on its website, kvmr.org.
On The Air is a weekly irreverent look at Nevada City’s volunteer-driven, eclectic community radio station at 89.5 FM and streaming at kvmr.org. Complete KVMR schedule available at the station’s website, http://www.kvmr.org The station now features an easy-to-use archive at archive.kvmr.org KVMR also programs the new radio signal The Bridge 105.7 FM, including NPR’s “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”
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