Uh-oh. Nevada City community radio station KVMR 89.5 FM will honor Steve Baker, its longtime Program Director (1998-2020), with a special “Roast & Toast” party this Thursday (Nov. 9).
The event — for KVMR volunteers, staff and open free to listeners and the general public — begins with a community potluck at 6 p.m. at the Miner’s Foundry, 325 Spring Street, downtown Nevada City. That’ll be followed by a chance for folks to recall their memories of the highlights, hijinks and poking fun at Baker’s 25+ years as a staff member, the longest run of any employee in the non-profit station’s 45 year history.
“I only hope I’ll be able to remember half as much as the audience will,” Baker says with a smile. “This should be a real hoot and holler.”
A former manager of the San Francisco screwball comedy troupe Duck’s Breath Mystery Theatre, which became contributors to NPR’s “All Things Considered” news show in the 1980s, Baker joined KVMR’s volunteer morning news team in 1993 and got a weekly Morning Show assignment two years later.
In fact, in 1998, the National Federation of Community Broadcasters (NFCB) named the three best morning shows in the country as being in New York City (gold), Los Angeles (silver) and, ahem, Nevada City (special merit).
Now on Mondays 7 a.m. to 10 a.m., Baker continues to be its volunteer host “offering eclectic music, some humor and smiles, plus valuable information. It’s now a post-retirement way to stay active.”
That includes a weekly segment at 7:30 a.m. on Mondays with YubaNet’s editor Pascale, offering her take on the weather, fire and emergency situations as well as local government news and meetings. “She’s a real highlight for our listeners,” notes Baker.
Back in the day, Baker and his friend and activist/folksinger U. Utah Phillips also nabbed NFCB honors for their live public affairs coverage of the Nevada City Fourth of July Parade around the turn of the century, when they had some fun with colleague Joe McHugh’s sound effects.
Phillips once called Baker “straight on the outside, Frank Zappa on the inside,” while Baker says his work as co-producer and engineer of Phillips’ 100 “Loafer’s Glory” radio hours to be “the most important radio work I’ve ever done.”
“Bruce (Phillips) didn’t want to write a book, do TV or films, but he loved live radio,” according to Steve.
And the Nevada City Chamber of Commerce liked so much of what Baker has been doing as part of KVMR that Steve was presented with the 2018 Elza Kilroy Award for Outstanding Public Service.
“I gladly accepted it to share with my many KVMR colleagues,” according to Baker.
After the community potluck, the “Roast & Toast” of Baker begins. To register to join the fun onstage, email email@example.com or leave a message at 530/264-4164