KVMR’s Washington named to Blues Hall of Fame | TheUnion.com

KVMR’s Washington named to Blues Hall of Fame

Derek Washington
Submitted photo |

When KVMR volunteer broadcaster Derek Washington was around four or five years old, he was a self-described “radio kid” who enjoyed hearing music artists doing their hits of the day.

But there was another influence as well.

“My interest in the blues dates back to early childhood with memories of my father singing tunes by the likes of Big Maceo Merriweather, Tampa Red, B.B. King, Louis Jordan and Muddy Waters,” he remembered.

Decades later now, Washington is a 2014 inductee into the Sacramento Blues Society Hall of Fame for a lifetime of service to the genre.

Maybe it was that decision he made around age seven to become a musician.

“That’s when I began listening to music differently than before,” he recalled.

And Derek took up the drums and the slide trombone by the time he got to high school, “playing the ‘bone” in both the marching band and concert band.

“As I began to develop as a musician, my interests in the blues expanded to include Red Prysock, Arnett Cobb, Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, J. J. Johnson and all the great rhythm and blues groups.,” he continued.

“Sam Cooke was very influential in my approach to singing, along with Solomon Burke, Ray Charles and Magic Sam.”

“As I began listening to all these music artists,” Washington said, “I was quite taken by the disc jockeys and their approach to playing records by these and other equally interesting and exciting artists.”

Just as easily, Washington can rattle off the names of hosts at Nashville radio stations WLAC and WVOL, as well as influential radio personalities in Miami, another stop along the way.

“They (the deejays) really strengthened my appetite and interest in broadcasting the blues,” he noted. “These folks continue to serve me in my approach to presenting the blues to the world.”

So it didn’t come as that much of a surprise that when Washington moved to Sacramento some forty years ago, he joined forces with the founding group of the Sacramento Blues Society.

A clinical psychologist by trade, he’s served as everything from Parliamentarian and Treasurer to President and Vice President of the organization, and you often see Derek emceeing society events.

“I’ve even provided my meager skills as a musician for a number of Blues Society benefits,” he smiled, noting you’ll now hear him on alto and tenor saxophones.

With his childhood love of radio still strong, Washington became “the blues doctor” on “Trackin’ The Blues” for a dozen years at KUOP-FM, the University of the Pacific station in Stockton, beginning in 1988. He’s also previously hosted blues/jazz programs at Capital Public Radio.

Since 2000, when KUOP became part of Capital Public Radio, Washington has been part of both a KVMR blues rotation (Sundays 1-3 p.m.) and jazz show (third Thursdays, 8-10 p.m., 89.5 FM, kvmr.org streaming).

Washington is the second KVMR broadcaster to be named to the Hall. The late longtime blues host Phil Givant was inducted in 2010.


Former Green Party Presidential candidate and lifelong activist Ralph Nader will be the exclusive hour-long guest on “The Undernews,” hosted by Sacramento social justice advocate Jeanie Keltner, Wednesday at noon (89.5 FM, kvmr.org streaming).


With KVMR’s “Be The Solution” fall membership drive starting Monday, the station is giving its listeners a weekend music festival as a special pre-drive treat featuring about two dozen bands.

KVMR live remote producer Wesley Robertson will be among those holding forth from Placerville’s “Hangtown Halloween” broadcasts, beginning Friday at 2 p.m., Saturday at 10 a.m. and Sunday at noon (89.5 FM, kvmr.org streaming).

(A weekly wrap-up of news and oddities about community radio station KVMR, a noncommercial station offering diverse musical programming, independent news and provocative public affairs from about 180 volunteer “citizen-broadcasters.” A video and other information about the station’s new building is available at bridgestreetproject.org Complete program listings are available at kvmr.org )

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