Volunteer Spotlight

We appreciate all the work of our volunteers at KBOO.  We simply could not fuction without them.  

Our volunteer spotlight gives just a glimpse of some who stand out because of the amazing contributions they bring.


Spotlight: Frank Cobb Sr.

Volunteer Spotlight: Frank Cobb Sr.
March 2007
Jenka Soderberg, PM News and Public Affairs director

Sometimes a new KBOO volunteer arrives on the scene, and just hits the ground running.  Frank Cobb, Sr. is one such volunteer.  He arrived for Orientation back in January, and immediately got involved in the PM News Department.  Within a month, after coming to every training that was offered in the News Department, he was going out to the street almost every day, tape recorder in hand, to interview the homeless in Portland.
A homeless veteran himself, Frank wanted to help other homeless people tell their own stories in their own words.  He began work on a series he called 'Fallen through the Cracks', which focused on the stories of people who have been unable to get the help they need from the social services system.  He interviewed homeless people, particularly focusing on those with handicaps, and also interviewed the close-to-homeless, handicapped people living with disabilities and unable to get the support they need from the system that is supposed to serve them.
But he didn't stop there.  Frank took digital editing training, and began editing the interviews himself into fully-produced pieces to air on the Evening News.  He wrote his own scripts and read his own copy.  And he even began Engineering training to be the Board-operator for the Evening News.
He went out and interviewed peace protestors at the big Anti-War march on March 18th, talked to grannies getting arrested at the Army Recruiting Center, interviewed veterans of the Iraq War and even questioned Starbucks representatives on their 'greenwashing' events for World Water Day.  Frank even interviewed a mama and baby cow who were promoting vaganism for the Great American Meat-Out.
Well, Frank will be gone in April, to a residential program that will help him get back on his feet.  But we here at KBOO will sure miss his persevering spirit, his hard work, and his great down-to-earth interviewing style.  We hope he'll be back soon to volunteer with us again!

Spotlight: Jamilah Bourdon

jamilah bourdon is a KBOO board member and the host of  "guess who's coming to radio??!!"  She's an ever-present force at the station offering provocative views on race, class & the economy along with great music and a warm and engaging personality.


"A friend of mine was a guest on a Walt Curtis' show.  I brought some music, and that was my first introduction to the station.  At the time, I was working graveyard at Voodoo Donuts listening to KBOO until morning.  I stayed tuned for talk radio and called in, but when my call didn't get through, I came down to the station and they put me live on the microphone right then and there.  That was my inspiration to join this community."


jamilah's helped with mailings, membership, events tabling, front desk receptionist, and "substituting for a lot of shows; I have experience spinning music, so that was pretty easy."


She found many mentors at the station.  "Eduardo said, 'You need to be on the air.'  He and Rabia were really encouraging and provided training.  Jay Jay and Shaheed were instrumental in mentoring and encouraging me. Celeste, Ani…a whole network of people who encouraged me to have a creative outlet on the air, be it public affairs or music."


Why is jamilah here and on the air?  "Soul liberation: my goal is to truly form community, addressing issues of people of African descent who live in the United States. There isn't a space for people's voices to be heard on the air.  I talk about police terrorism, connecting with elders, intergenerationalism, the elders who I can learn from and the youth who I can learn from.  I volunteer with kids at the library who are primarily black and brown—some of them have been on the show.  Many souls are trapped in the labeling of what it means to be a black person or a brown person in this society, and we have to make those connections because we're all affected by it."


"I always open the show with Stevie Wonder because he is the guiding hand of everything I do in the air room.  A man who speaks out and stands for peace; he could never be boxed in, and has had an activist's spirit ever since he was young.  When black people speak out, people say, 'You're sensitive. What does this have to do with anything?  Get over it.'  But our issues aren't resolved.   Stevie brings people together to listen."


She grew up in the Bronx and Brooklyn and moved to Bellingham, Washington at 23 and then to Portland four years later.  "I looked for people who had lived here for more than 25 years.  I learned about displacement at the time of the Oregon Convention Center.  I made sure to find the people who really knew the community.  I found Reflections Bookstore and then KBOO.  It's a lot harder to get to know people in the Northwest than in New York. Here you can separate yourself and call it diversity. People in New York can coexist because they can find their own space with food, culture, etc.  In Brooklyn, you have the West Indian Day parade, the Puerto Rican parade, and all the other community events.  In Portland, people feel more comfortable on general issues like Iraq war, but not local issues like police brutality, Kendra James for example.  On the show, we were talking about police terrorism.  A woman called in to ask why we were 'down on the police.'  I'd answer that there are nice cops but a bad system.  People here want to stop the killing in Iraq, stop the killing in Afghanistan, but they'll step over homeless people.  A big cultural difference in this city is that people are usually upset at what they're far removed from."


For jamilah, KBOO has offered many opportunities for growth.  "I've learned patience to engage with people more than I have, to utilize my voice publicly.  I've always been very shy, and I have a framework where I really have to speak, to do it and not be afraid…I  learned a lot about how to read people through voice, how to really listen, to know everyone does not think like me, and being OK with that. As a board operator for talk shows, you have to learn when to cut people off: you have  to learn to listen to

people, but you have to learn about boundaries too.  It takes patience.  And it's been great learning modes of communication that are effective and pro-active rather than contentious.  It's something you have to do if you want a great on-air sound."


Creativity and collaboration are jamilah's favorite aspects of the station. "I've been fortunate to come before and after Hole in the Bucket, Circle A, the Youth Collective, and Drinking from Puddles.  The show I do is totally different, but we all share that space, and it's great when everyone's here to move it along and be positive."


At a station known for diversity of people and interests, jamilah's programming is exemplary of the ability to reach across music genres and out to many different people.  "For late-night programming, I play anything from Frank Zappa to the Buzzcocks , Meat Beat Manifesto, Cassandra Wilson to Teena Marie. On 'guess who's coming to radio??!!', any musician of African descent: Diane Reeves, Living Color, Joshua Redman, Stevie Wonder (of course!), Horace Silver...  Positive hip hop,  KRS-ONE, and even some jazz.  I try to stay positive."

Spotlight: Violet D’Alessio

Amazing Kids Part One: The Youngest DJ
Arthur Davis, Station Manager
March 2008

Did you meet our nine-year-old receptionist? Zoe, now ten, is awesome: “May I ask who’s calling? One moment please.” KBOO does amazing work with youth, and today I’d like to share the tale of another young volunteer who—at three years old—is our youngest active volunteer. First, let’s set up the story:

Years ago, back in the early eighties, I was wearing combat boots, slam dancing at punk rock shows and bringing cans of spray paint to bear on empty walls (let’s call it an informal neighborhood improvement program), so when I turn on the radio and hear the music of that era, there’s always a sense of excitement and nostalgia. During International Women’s Day on KBOO, I enjoyed just that experience. We had a women-in-punk special during the middle of the afternoon. It took me back to “the day,” and the program sounded great, so I took the opportunity to walk back to the air room and find out who was bringing us this exciting programming.
Violet D’AlessioAppropriately, there was a room full of people with leather jackets and blue hair, but imagine my surprise when I saw three-year-old Violet D’Alessio at the control board. Our own Erin Yanke was showing her as to what buttons and faders to push, but in Erin’s typical style, the session had the feeling of empowerment and mentorship rather than adult directives. Listening to the radio, you’d never imagine that this young kid was the “DJ.” After the program, I had a chance to speak with Violet’s mom, Heather. She’d been invited to put together a music special, and she in turn brought in friends from the music scene to assist. 
Heather came of age with punk rock, and she’s experiencing some life changes now with a young daughter: “She’s not angry disillusioned and full of angst, so I don’t really play that music anymore, but I have some punk friends.” In the spirit of punk and DIY, Heather says, “I’m trying to connect with other radical unschoolers and build community around extended families.” Violet’s dad was a tree sitter and an activist, so Heather is trying to extend that spirit of community activism, retaining the energy of her younger life while “moving on to hope, possibility and continuance.” It can be a challenge because, “We don’t have elders…or they square up and get jobs,” so Heather came to KBOO: “It seemed like a perfect environment for creating community with families.”
Heather and Violet D’AlessioBack to the radio show, Heather reports that in the first minute of the program, they got their first phone call: “That was shocking! I loved it! Who was that?” 
We enjoyed the great radio, and it’ll be wonderful to see Violet and Heather down here to continue on-air production and community building. I’d like to share in an upcoming blog entry about Zoe—who I introduced above—and her sisters who are part of another wonderful KBOO family, literally and figuratively. These are the people who make KBOO a great place to work!