Big-city girl finds sunshine in a small town: Cynthia Tweed’s story of how she landed at KVMR in Nevada City
March 21, 2018
Four years ago, Cynthia Tweed was sitting in her home office, toiling away at her job selling software products and, no doubt, listening to KVMR. Working at home — every cubicle-dweller's dream, right?
"It was making me crazy," Tweed said. "I hated it. I needed that social connection!'
Fast forward to 2018. Tweed, now the Development Director at KVMR 89.5 FM, arrives for her day's work at the station's Bridge Street building with, say, the Allman Brothers blasting through the hallways. During her workday, she might hobnob with several of the station's 150 volunteers or its legion of donors and underwriters and, of course, its staff.
'It never gets old'
Tweed's isolation ended when she came to work at KVMR three and half years ago.
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"It doesn't even feel like work," she said. "No two days are ever the same. It's always something different. It never gets old."
In the quirky, messy, unconventional world of community radio, Tweed is a paragon of calm, efficiency and control. Mood lighting emanates from two Tiffany lamps in her tastefully decorated office. She keeps not one but two to-do lists to prioritize her many tasks.
"I'm pretty anal," she said.
As development director, Tweed is crucial to the community-supported station's financial health.
She handles the stewardship of business supporters and donors, writes grants and helms the station's marketing and public relations efforts. She is known far and wide as the station's social media goddess and queen of the hashtag.
As if that weren't enough, Tweed also coordinates and produces station events, such as Art in the Garden, which comes to the Miners Foundry on April 8. It's an art show and auction of garden sculptures created by local artists with the repurposed tin from the historic building where KVMR now stands.
"Cynthia has an amazing talent for simultaneously wrangling multiple unrelated projects with patience and a smile," said KVMR General Manager Julie Chiarelli. "We're so grateful to have her as part of our KVMR family!"
Tweed never intended to put down solid roots in a small rural community. Born in New Hampshire, she has lived in Boston and Las Vegas. Her husband, Russell, was born in Nevada City but raised in the Bay Area. They met in Arizona and, when they arrived here in 2008, it was just for a brief stopover at her in-laws' on the way to an exciting new life in San Francisco.
"As beautiful as it is, I thought it was a podunk little town," Tweed said. "I never in a million years thought I would fall in love with it."
But San Francisco's loss was Nevada City's gain. Tweed was drawn in by the beauty of the landscape, the friendly populace and the allure of KVMR.
Her husband's parents introduced her to the station, and during those lonely hours working in her home office, she said, the companionship of KVMR "saved my life. It was one of my best friends."
Love of non-corporate radio was ingrained in Tweed when she lived in Boston, where she was a devoted listener to 92.5 The River, "Boston's independent radio." Schooled by that station, she developed a diverse taste in music, with a love for Paul Simon, bluegrass, hip-hop and classic rock — "all over the map."
But, she said, the importance of independent radio extends far beyond just music. She loves KVMR because it champions free speech — "so important in this time we're living in" — and provides life-saving emergency information. She learned that lesson in a visceral sense a few years ago when she and her husband were evacuated from their home during a fire.
A unique forum
Further, Tweed said, the station is unique in that, "It provides a forum for the other nonprofits in Nevada County to promote their events and causes, and broadcasts town halls on issues that are so important to the community. It's information you won't get on CNN or KCRA."
As someone who escaped an island of isolation to work at a job that requires a constant smile and an outgoing soul, Tweed loves the people she works with, both in and outside the station.
"Everyone is so lovely. And the people who support us and are passionate about us are there for us. The generosity of the community continues to amaze me."
Said program director Steve Baker, "She always calls me 'Sunshine,' but Cynthia's the real ray that's brightened our offices since she joined our staff."
On the Air is a weekly irreverent look at KVMR 89.5 FM, a community-based Nevada City radio station with nearly 200 volunteer broadcasters. Complete program schedule at kvmr.org; hear recent shows at archive.kvmr.org.
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