On the air: This radio outlaw is a wanted Blues DJ | TheUnion.com

On the air: This radio outlaw is a wanted Blues DJ

KVMR volunteer/blues deejay Russ Roy (left) and Rob Katz carefully "de-nail" some 100-year-old timbers for use in the station's new building.
Submitted photo |

If it takes a wild-eyed, smart aleck kind of character for you to listen to an overnight blues music show, Russ (The Outlaw) Roy may be just the guy you wanted.

Roy is one of maybe 30 different volunteer broadcasters at KVMR 89.5 FM who share midnight-to-4 a.m. “Red Eye Radio” music duties on the eclectic Nevada City station.

No, it’s not your glamor-laden primetime, but Russ couldn’t be happier to do it, as he will early Thursday, Oct. 23, beginning at midnight (89.5 FM, kvmr.org streaming) on the next edition of “Blues To You.”

“Sure, blues is not my only genre,” he revealed. “I like bluegrass, folk, spoken word…”

“But blues music is just where I wanted more education, more knowledge,” he said with a genuine love for what he was saying. “It’s now the thickest part of my music library with 2800 CDs in blues.”

That should cover quite a few overnight shows, only Russ prides himself for also playing new blues, both tunes and artists.

“I’m hear to please the listeners, I still take requests, and I’ll be doing artist specials.”

OK, OK, he lists performers like the late Muddy Waters and Pinetop Perkins, Buddy Guy, Guy Davis and Rod Piazza and the Mighty Flyers as some of his favorite blues performers.

“But that’s not fair to the rest of the artists,” The Outlaw continued. “I just do not have a favorite artist.”

The Pasadena area native and longtime Nevada County resident certainly has had a favorite radio station in KVMR from its earliest days when it was a trick to receive the then-low power station..

In fact, he was already an occasional KVMR volunteer when he was arrested with social activist U. Utah Phillips and dozens of others in downtown Nevada City in protest of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.

With a court-ordered 55 hours of community service in the wake of his arrest, Roy chose the non-profit, non-commercial radio station to help.

And then some. You name it, he did it for KVMR, both on air and off air…always with that trademark facial grin and giggle.

Within two years, Russ was named the station’s volunteer of the year and happily wore a king’s crown at a KVMR appreciation party.

“What volunteer job do I like?,” he now laughs. “The kind that pays…”

A lifetime construction worker and handyman, Roy left Nevada County in 2008 for employment in Montana, where he didn’t leave radio behind and volunteered as, surprise, the assistant music director for blues and a weekly host at college station KBGA in Missoula.

Now he’s back and, once again, volunteering like a maniac, in addition to his Red Eye Radio twice monthly shows.

Appreciation for his style has actually come from other continents, where an online European listener emailed that Roy’s Red Eye return means “there’ll be more great blues” on the eclectic community station.


Measure S, the proposed new medical marijuana county ordinance, will be debated Thursday night in a League of Women Voters campaign forum that will air live on KVMR 7 to 9 p.m. (89.5 FM, kvmr.org streaming)


Just when you thought it was safe, KVMR has added still one more music spectacular to its live remote broadcasting schedule.

In celebration of KVMR’s recent connection to the area, the station will broadcast live from the Hangtown Halloween music festival from Placerville Friday through Sunday, October 24-26. Live performances will air Friday 2 p.m. to midnight, Saturday 10 a.m. to midnight and Sunday noon to 9 p.m.(89.5 FM, kvmr.org streaming).

“Once again,” quipped KVMR Program Director Steve Baker, “you don’t have to be there to be there.”

The Nevada City station also has a sister signal at 88.3 FM in the Camino/Placerville area.

Railroad Earth headlines the festival each night, with additional jam bands including moe, Leftover Salmon featuring Little Feat’s Bill Payne, ALO, Jeff Austin and the Metermen, also including Nevada County performers Achilles Wheel and the Paige Anderson Band.

(A weekly wrap-up of news and oddities about community radio station KVMR (89.5 FM, kvmr.org streaming).)

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Grass Valley and Nevada County make The Union’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User