What’s next in KVMR fundraising? How about paper dolls? | TheUnion.com

What’s next in KVMR fundraising? How about paper dolls?

The Steve Baker dress-up doll, designed by The Union cartoonist R.L. Crabb, will be part of KVMR's fundraising drive as well as celebrating Baker's 20 years at the station.
R.L.Crabb |

Just how do you celebrate KVMR 89.5 FM’s longest running Morning Show host as he nears his 20th year on air?

That was the problem posed to the non-commercial station’s informal brain trust a couple months ago.

They’d heard that the late folksinger U. Utah Phillips once described the host as “straight on the outside and Frank Zappa on the inside.”

Then it just dawned to membership coordinator Adrianna Kelly and volunteer coordinator Edy Cassell…and, voila.

“I don’t even remember who, but somebody blurted out ‘Steve Baker paper dolls’ and we riffed off that,” grins Kelly. “They’re freaky deaky.”

So KVMR Program Director Steve Baker — a Morning Show host since October 1995 — will celebrate the two-decade mark this coming Monday (7 a.m. to 10 a.m., 89.5 FM, kvmr.org streaming) with paper dolls designed by cartoonist R. L. Crabb, himself a regular artist in The Union.

“And I’ve always wanted to be a cartoon character,” Baker revealed. “I’ve got the voices for it, and the Crabb drawing nails it.”

He’s a wild hippie in one outfit (in honor of the Phillips quote), a strongman in another, a gent in a tuxedo, plus there are references to his Iowa college daze, baseball tastes and his former career as manager of the anarchist, surrealistic San Francisco comedy troupe, Duck’s Breath Mystery Theatre.

“We’ve had coffee mugs, T-shirts, special CDs, even books for individual deejays,” notes Kelly. “But paper dolls? It’s so retro.”

Cassell, however, recalls they also wanted Baker “nudie pens,” but says they’re just too expensive.

“Now if somebody wants to help us out with that…” she mused.

Monday, too, is the start of the station’s first on-air membership drive in nearly six months, and, yup, 8 1/2 x 14 inch color prints of the dolls will be available as thank you gifts for new and renewing members or those making an additional gift, according to Kelly.

Baker’s show kicks off the drive, featuring co-host Dawn Fischer, the Yubanet Report from Pascale Fusshoeller, mile-a-minute “sneer artist” Ian Shoales (from Duck’s Breath), political analysis from Shawn Garvey and highlights from the past 20 years. Oh, and there’s a touch of humor and satire in there as well, including an episode of Canada’s native comedy series, “Dead Dog Cafe”.

“It may take us two shows to cover it all,” predicts Baker.

Guests over the years have included filmmaker Michael Moore, comedians Lily Tomlin and Dana Carvey, journalist Bill Moyers, plus hundreds of music artists

The midwestern native’s pretty steeped in radio, the arts and journalism. A onetime college editor at the University of Iowa, he hooked up as managing partner with Duck’s Breath when the quintet moved to San Francisco nearly 40 years ago “in search of fame, fortune and middle age.”

“So far,” Baker muses, “we’re one for three.”

Duck’s Breath toured nationally with its Monty Python-style screwball humor, and, through Baker’s persistence, became a mainstay on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered” before launching their own radio series, including “Ask Dr. Science” and the Shoales essays.

Other than a few reunion appearances, troupe members went onto individual work and projects by 1990 when Baker moved to Nevada City, where he got the KVMR morning gig a few years later, became program director in 1998 and won three National Federation of Community Broadcasters Golden Reel special merit awards, including one for the Morning Show.

“But the single most important thing I’ve done in my radio life was serve as producer to the 100 episodes of U. Utah Phillips’ national ‘Loafer’s Glory’ program,” he says with pride. “It’s an invaluable audio archive of that man’s genius.”

Even if it’s Baker who’s now goofing around with paper dolls on the airwaves.


The “Get Freaky” fall membership drive thank you gifts also include an “AM/BM” coffee mug in honor of Sacramento Bee columnist Bruce Maiman’s weekly conversation with Wednesday Morning Show host Mike Bissell. They’ll talk 8:30 a.m. next Wednesday.

And 30 free three month digitial subscriptions to The Union newspaper will also be available to new or renewing listener/members.

Plus local ceramic artist Brian Hayes has also contributed a limited number of collectible coffee mugs to help raise funds for the non-profit, listener-supported community station.

Membership and thank you gift information is available at the station’s website, kvmr.org or by calling 530/265-9073, extension 1003. Shows can now be instantly heard online for two weeks (music) or two months (talk) at the website’s archive. “On The Air” is 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 180 volunteer “citizen-broadcasters.” Complete program listings are available at kvmr.org )

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