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: Bryan Stevens

Bryan Stevens is one of the many remarkable volunteers who work behind the scenes to help KBOO succeed. For almost two years, he has been volunteering 20 to 40 hours per week in our Engineering Department. 

How did we come to have an audio professional with years of radio, computer and electronics experience under his belt investing countless hours at the station? Bryan answers that, “I’m damned lucky to be here after two strokes and one heart attack. I stopped working in 2002, sat for three months, and had a heart attack. It was time to get off my keester and do something. John [Mackey, our Chief Engineer] was looking for help down here.” 
Bryan continues by saying that his goal is, “keeping KBOO sounding like one of the top radio stations in Portland. One of the local broadcast engineers said that we are ‘one of the top three stations in Portland’ in terms of audio quality, and I took that as a compliment.” Working toward the goal of superior on-air sound and infrastructure, Bryan has rewired major portions of our studios, worked on the install of a digital studio-transmitter link and upgraded or replaced computers throughout the building. We often obtain computers and parts come from Free Geek, a local nonprofit computer recycling and training center, so we keep the costs low and work with sister organizations even in our information-technology arena. 
Bryan’s KBOO story is typical in some ways in that he utilizes and builds his skill set, but also finds a great social experience at the station: “It gets me out of the house and helps me stay active; going to parties and getting drunk at 51 just doesn’t do it anymore.” Working in a diverse environment full of passionate people has offered an environment where Bryan has developed positive relationships with “people who we might not have hit it off at first, and I enjoy working with volunteers.” 
His experience in radio goes back to KROQ “The Rock” in Los Angeles. “They had an old RCA transmitter with no lightening protection. When lightening hit, I had to go up and replace a capacitor each time. That led to studio repairs and other work.” Bryan also has run his own computer repair business, and that knowledge has been a blessing for KBOO.
One key to Bryan’s success at the station has been his excellent working relationship with our Chief Engineer, John Mackey. “I’ve known John since 1989, my first year in Oregon. He showed up at the coast and needed a bunch of radios that needed fixed. Later on, I moved to Portland and John and I have been close friends ever since.” Working with John at KBOO, “I learn something new every day. What I don’t know he knows, and what he doesn’t know, I know. We compliment each other really well.”
Many people are surprised to learn that the engineering demands at KBOO are actually higher than at other stations. We have hundreds of volunteers using five studios 24/7/365. Other stations use a small paid staff and satellite feeds. This means that we have to have a more robust infrastructure and more training and support. Bryan Stevens has been critical to helping us achieve success in this area, and we say “Thank You” to Bryan!


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: Judy Arielle Fiestal

It’s hard to believe, but at one time, we did not have a KBOO Youth Program. Volunteer Judy Fiestal changed that. She helped create “The Underground” youth-radio show and secured funding for the first year of our Youth Advocate position. Judy has now taken a leadership position as a board member where she is heading up several important projects.

Like so many volunteers, Judy heard the call to “come on down and get involved.” “I couldn’t believe that they would really let me do something like run the air-room control board. I engineered labor radio, did some reporting: It gave me skills that I didn’t have before.”oo
Along with on-air work, Judy got involved with youth at KBOO. “I wanted to do something more adult oriented, but I realized there wasn’t any real outlet for kids. My son Jacob put in a proposal for the youth show, The Underground, in 2002. I engineered the board, he got his friends involved, and that segued into The Youth Collective.” She had the idea to write a grant for a paid staff position, and through the Radio & Television News Directors Foundation, we hired Andrew Stelzer as our first Youth Advocate.
Judy has parlayed her KBOO experience into additional professional and volunteer opportunities. “When I volunteered for American Jewish World Service, they (delete: initially) said that they had no positions in my field. But based on my work with youth at KBOO, they offered to send me to Mexico to help start a youth radio program on sexual health and reproductive rights. I jumped at the chance.” She is currently working on a grant project with Renaissance Arts Academy at Marshall High School in Lents. She and music teacher Judy Rose have set up a Mac lab where students are taught to produce audio pieces that are aired on KBOO, based on interviews of local musicians who come and perform in their classroom.
Judy has served on our board since 2006. She has taken an active role in our strategic-planning process, coordinating our survey efforts and helping to create community meetings. “I’m also engineering for Carmen on ‘Buscando America’ and Mariane on ‘Africa on Fire, as well as the news.’ I meet all sorts of people here, and it’s very exciting to me.”
Judy moved to Oregon from the east coast in 1971. “I felt a strong affinity here, and I enjoy the natural areas—hiking, kayaking, cross-country skiing. The Cascades, the coast and the high desert are all so close.”
Beyond the technical skills of audio editing and organizational development, what has Judy learned at KBOO? “Hearing people express what’s important to them, giving them the time and space and being open in that regard…I was a lot shier, and I wasn’t willing to give myself much of a voice, but KBOO helped me to learn how to share how I feel about things…It’s been fun watching people who started with no skills develop into professional broadcasters.” What else has she learned at the station? “If I do something with a good heart and a good intention, even if someone is critical, I can move forward in a positive way.”


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!