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Eugene's oldest FM station may go off air.

Byline: Mark Baker The Register-Guard

It's "Breakfast with the Blues," "Country Classics with Jivin' Johnny Etheridge," and the "Doctor of Nocturnal Rock."

It's KRVM, Eugene's oldest FM radio station and one of the oldest in the nation.

It's an institution, and it could be history.

The Eugene School District's public radio station has been a place for students to get broadcasting and engineering experience since 1947, but come July 1, it could fall victim to the budget ax.

The station is on a proposed list of $1.4 million in expenditures slated to be slashed effective June 30, district spokeswoman Barb Bellamy said.

The district pays $100,000 annually for KRVM, which covers the salary and benefits of station manager Carl Sundberg and pays for operating costs not covered by federal funding and fund raising, Bellamy said.

The school board will consider all of the proposed cuts at its regular meeting Wednesday night, Bellamy said. And Sundberg plans to be there to plead the station's case. After all, the meeting, as usual, will be broadcast live on KRVM.

Employees and volunteers at the station, many of whom are high school students, have been busy in recent days getting the word out that contributions are badly needed, as always, but now more than ever.

"I feel a sense of great loss for our students," said Sundberg, who came to Eugene from Florida 10 years ago to run the station. "I have one interest, and one interest alone," he said. "To continue this for the students."

Much of the station's financing comes from membership drives where donors contribute from $5 to thousands of dollars and from businesses that underwrite programming, Sundberg said. So it's not as if an extra $100,000 couldn't be raised to save the station if the district does cut its funding, he said.

But here's the catch.

The station gets about $70,000 in grant money from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Bellamy said. However, the station qualifies for the funding only if it has five full-time employees. If Sundberg's position is eliminated, the station would have only four full-time employees and would lose the grant.

The four other salaries are paid for from donations, Sundberg said.

The $70,000 in grant money pays for the station's electricity, parts, attorneys fees, connection fees and its Federal Communications Commission license, Sundberg said.

The station must have a general manager, and a working studio to keep its FCC license, Bellamy said.

The station's main studio is at Sheldon High School. Other schools with studios are Churchill High School, North Eugene High School, Spencer Butte Middle School and Oakridge High School.

The station has inspired many students for more than five decades, even though the vast majority never end up in broadcasting, Sundberg said.

All students get a chance at KRVM, he said.

"We get these little faces in here and they get so excited," Sundberg said. "They don't get F's in broadcasting. They get a chance to be good at something. We're the sports program for the kid that can't run the 100-yard dash."

Friday afternoon, four Sheldon High students did their daily radio program - "Good Solid Programming" - during their usual time slot, from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Alex Richanbach, Chris Courtney, Mike Mohr and R.J. Matagora, all seniors, played some Lonnie Mack blues, some "Agents of Good Roots" and some America in the station's tiny studio.

And what afternoon would be complete without a tune from The Hatters album, "The Madcap Adventures of the Avocado Overload?"

Mack's "Oreo Cookie Blues" was a particularly tasty way to start the program.

I got them Oreo, cream-sandwich, chocolate-covered, cream-filled blues

They get me higher than I can get on booze

"I think it's unfortunate," Richanbach said of the station being slated for cuts.

"Because we just got in here this term. And we're getting an opportunity that a lot of other students might not get."

Mohr, who is considering a career in public speaking, said talking on the air "is a real confidence booster."

Perhaps the doctor himself, a 42-year-old Eugene man who goes by Doc and wishes only to be known as the "Doctor of Nocturnal Rock," summed it up best when he said: "KRVM's been on radio since radio was black-and-white."

The doctor's show airs from midnight to 7 a.m. Sunday and he's been doing it - for free - since he came to Eugene in 1988.

Where else can a guy play The Beatles and tapes of old Groucho Marx radio shows, he asked.

"They let me play what I want and go nuts. And I have," the doctor said.

"I feel like I should pay them."


KRVM is at 91.9 on your FM dial and 1280 on your AM dial.


Mike Mohr, a Sheldon High School senior, talks during "Good Solid Programming," a weekday segment of radio station KRVM at the school. Radio: Students disappointed at the prospect of losing station Continued from Page B1
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Title Annotation:Student radio is on a list of programs to be cut by the Eugene School District; General News
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Apr 5, 2003
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