Sun: What’s a typical “day in the life” of a studio manager?
Bob Taylor: The KSVY radio hosts rotate in and out of the broadcast studio usually every hour, so there is a set of people coming and going constantly. This is one of my favorite parts of the job. The guests are always interesting. I am always seeking knowledge of happenings and opinions. In between all that, I answer emails, edit audio, plan TV productions, schedule volunteers and interns. A big part of it all is booking guests for The Morning Show. We bring in approximately 25 guests for that show each week. There are endless minor tasks that come and go. I’m doing the job of three people. I like to be busy. I like to work.
Worst-case scenario day?
When there is an equipment failure that cuts out the FM feed. That gets compounded when I’m tied up in a TV production. Most of the equipment is fairly stable, so it usually boils down to a power outage at the TX site, or an internet hiccup.
You’re on call 24/7, right?
That’s true, but my favorite part of the job, after the social aspect, is my freedom. I make my own schedule, and I can do almost everything from my computer. Nothing about the physical part of the job keeps me awake, but I lose sleep over the financial aspect.
So that began when you took over the license from the CommonBond Foundation, about three years ago, right?
Yes. My personal concern was that KSVY could be picked up by a nonprofit organization that would not respect the “community” nature that we’ve long worked to keep fair and open. The license is not specific to serve the community completely, only to an organization’s mission statement. We wanted it to continue to be community to the core.
What are the financial challenges?
Well, ironically, the 2017 fires are what really hurt us. The station played a really important role in keeping the community in touch and informed during that terrible time, but in the wake of the fires, our donors dropped off dramatically.
What is the role of KSVY here in Sonoma Valley?
KSVY is here to help educate the people of the valley. We are a 501(c)(3), and presenting all of the other nonprofits consistently is key. Not only the events that support these nonprofits, but opportunities for folks to volunteer and help out, and most importantly, letting people know what services from these nonprofits are available to those who are in need or need help with an issue. Also, keeping the valley informed on other events or services, including entertainment, culinary or other festivals, etc.
How many sponsors do you have?
Sponsors average around 45. We also have our Community Partners who donate on a larger scale. We couldn’t exist without all of them.
You’re a hometown boy.
We moved from Martinez to the Sonoma Valley when I was 10. I went to Flowery, Dunbar, Altimira and Sonoma Valley High. I love going back to the high school as an industry professional. I’m part of the Career Technical Education (CTE). I advise about equipment for the video department, working with Peter Hansen. Two or three times a year I speak to student groups about my career. I didn’t go to school to do this – I studied computer tech.
As a child, what did you want to grow up to be?
A musician. Since I was 13 that’s all I wanted to be. I was a Glen Ellian and I rode the iconic Bus 16. It was the only school bus with a radio, and our driver played AC/DC’s “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap.” Also on Bus 16 were comedian Brian Posehn, local winemaker Ty Caton, and Steve Lee, a UCLA ocean biologist who has come home to work at the Ecology Center. Anyway, I borrowed a guitar from my mom’s boyfriend, and I learned to play “by vinyl.” Guitar is my obsession. I’m currently in The Illegitimate AC/DC band. We played at the Glen Ellen Fair the day the town burned down. I play to keep the rest of the world on its toes!
How did you wind up working for the radio station?
It was my AC/DC obsession. I was playing guitar in a KSVY band in 2007. When they saw my “Frankenstein” (DIY) tube amplifier, they offered me a job as a tech engineer.
How has Sonoma changed?
The small town feel for me is really far less than it used to be. But, growing up here in the ‘70s and ‘80s gives a different perspective. I’ve learned that people that are coming from “real” urban areas do actually see this as a small town. And it is. You find this out when you say the wrong thing on the radio. The traffic is probably the most annoying change. Rent is insane. But my Glen Ellen, Tom Sawyer childhood was wonderful. I hiked in the hills, I played in the creek. That was enough. It was a great place to grow up.
What do you hope for Sonoma Valley in the next 25 years?
My hopes are that the valley remains smallish. That a reasonable cost of living would become a reality. My soapbox item is that we need to have the SRJC classes here in the valley. Whether that returns to the high school or if they can acquire some space out at SDC. Also, don’t shoot me, south valley train access.
Anything else you’d like the readers to know about you?
I am an extremely bashful person. Radio has given me the opportunity to open up and laugh without being self- conscious. Repetition is the key to learning anything. Not everyone can be born with Elon Musk’s intelligence, but they can have Edison’s perseverance.
–Interview by Anna Pier