Eugene Weekly : Music : 11.15.07

Happy Birthday, KRVM!
The first FM station in the Pacific Northwest turns 60

Local radio station KRVM, which bills itself as “Keeping Real Variety In Music,” is turning 60 this month and throwing a party worthy of the diamond anniversary.

Many Eugene residents probably associate radio frequency 91.9 FM with the popular daily show “Breakfast With The Blues,” but in fact the station was created in 1947 only to serve students in the Eugene 4J school district, says KRVM Development Director Bobbie Cirel.

KRVM 60th Anniversay Celebration featuring The Conjugal Visitors (pictured), Saltlick, The Strange Tones and The Sugar Beets. 7 pm Saturday, Nov. 17 • McDonald Theatre • Free. KRVM 91.9 FM will broadcast the event live

Station directors are certain that KRVM was the first FM station in the Pacific Northwest, but they also suspect it was one of the first three FM stations west of the Mississippi. “We have trouble documenting some of that,” Cirel says, “but we began broadcasting December 6, 1947.” For four hours a day, the station served students with classroom instruction in broadcast journalism and provided listeners with access to school board meetings and sporting events. In the late 1960s, KRVM began broadcasting nine hours a day, and the mid-’80s brought more music formatting, but it wasn’t until the early ’90s that the station began airing 24 hours a day. Shortly thereafter, KRVM acquired the music library of former local station KAVE, and then began the focus on instruction and a variety of music which listeners enjoy today. “It’s taken us from being a small school radio station to a radio station that is probably one of the first three buttons on most people’s car radios,” Cirel says.

The station has sent out a call for broadcast program alumni to join them or send them messages about where their careers have taken them. Local KRVM alumni will be on hand as hosts of the birthday event, including KVAL television news anchor Jodi Unruh, KKNU country DJ Tracy Berry and rock station KNRQ DJ Al Scott.

KRVM’s celebration will feature music from four local bands, four cakes from Sweet Life (“because … we all want real variety in cake too!” Cirel says) and a scrapbook with KRVM memorabilia. One of KRVM’s young students will help create a time capsule with the theme, “Children are a message we send to a future we’ll never see.” The student who will help with the time capsule has instructions to come back and open it at the station’s 100-year anniversary. “We’ll just keep passing this along, because [KRVM] really is too precious to lose,” Cirel says.       

If you have previously been involved with KRVM or you know someone who was, email