Cranking the dial for radio fundraiser

Judy Salamacha
Judy Salamacha

Estero Bay Community Radio was a dream among like-minded radio enthusiasts — 97.3 The Rock switched live March 29, 2014, receiving instant on-air volunteer involvement and community support, including a matched $5,000 fundraising grant by PG&E.

This year’s challenge: To raise $10,000 by May 15, when insurance and licensing fees are due to keep the station on the air through the year.

Mark Tognazzini, owner of Morro Bay’s Tognazzini’s Dockside, has offered to help. A $10 or $20 donation for barbecued chicken or a rack of ribs can be picked up during a musical birthday bash from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday at the station’s studio at 695 Harbor St.

Assistant promotions director Steve McLellan, who produces “The Laughing Bear Comedy Show,” is taking preorders at 242-6112 or rockfundraiser@gmail.com.     

Hal Abrams, founder and president of the nonprofit station’s board of directors, said, “The FCC (Federal Communications Commission) requires eight hours of live radio for a community radio station. We had no trouble achieving that.”

Once the station was live, 45 community members volunteered to produce an eclectic program list.

“Most had no on-air experience,” Abrams said. “They learned the equipment and polished their programs. I thought it would be a hobby for most, but few dropped out.”

Several retirees repurposed their expertise to help manage station operations. Board, staff and “talent” positions are volunteer. 

For example, Joel McMickell retired from grocery retail management, and his wife suggested he consider joining the new station because he had radio experience. As director of programs, he coordinates the on-air talent and takes the morning shift from 6 to 10 a.m. weekdays. “Cuppa Joel” provides a wide variety of music, a community calendar update with Leslie Rae and an astrology forecast from Harry Farmer.

Operations manager Wayne Benham had management experience in radio.

“We’re unpredictable. I like to sign-off my (blues) shows by saying ‘We’re real music made by real people.’ Everyone brings something different into their music or talk mix,” he said.

Sandra Soodohnimm was formerly an executive assistant. Her recent travels to Guatemala enhanced her show that features world music. “Tuesday Lunch with Abe Perlstein” entertains musicians live or remotely and uses Perlstein’s connections as a former entertainment photographer.

Talk show formats are often musically themed. Lisa Ellman mixes pet information and music. Rachel Duchak and Carole Truesdale enhance their foodie shows with music. Ted Peterson stirs up political issues regardless of party affiliation. Mayor Jamie Irons previews the Morro Bay City Council agendas. A.J. Fudge gives updates on Los Osos news.

Bob Neill counts down hits from 1965. He hopes to play 1,966 hits in 2016.

Check the schedule at www.esterobayradio.org.