Author: Alvira, Marco

Going Live

The red digital clock on the sound board blinks 6:57, …:58, …:59, the slider on mic is pushed up like the pilot of a 747 shoving his throttle forward, trying to gain more altitude. I lean into the microphone, “You’re listing to the Valley’s true alternative voice, 91.9 KCSS, California State University, Turlock.” That’s what’s going in my life most Tuesday evenings since the end of last May. For the uninitiated, I’m referring the beginning of opening moments of the CBA’s new radio show, “CBA Radio.”

There is nothing new about CBA members doing a radio. Peter Thompson, Uncle John Gwinner, and Dave Nielsen have been broadcasting live on the airwaves for years. Gene Bach has an Internet radio show. This show, however, is the first ever to officially be the broadcast voice for the organization. The concept was born as a confluence of two events. First, my daughter was a student manager there and had her own Americana show on Thursday mornings. The potential for an official CBA show seemed obvious considering we now had a good “in” with the station. Secondly, a plank of my miniscule campaign platform for the Board of Directors election was to reach out to college age students. The show now owns most my Tuesdays and I have learned to be more careful with my campaign promises!

While I have hosted most the shows, Dave Nielsen and Diana Donnely have begun to take over a slot every six weeks. Dave is a hero since he makes the trip from the southern part of SF Bay Area all the way to Turlock. He also brings to the show a wealth of bluegrass radio experience and class since he has been broadcasting since the 1980’s. Jason Winfree is now prepared to take a show every six weeks as well. Additionally, he is also the Philosophy Department Chairperson at the University. Watch out Brooks; we have a real bluegrass philosopher on staff! Jason and Dave has a wonderful collections of classis bluegrass vinyl. Annie Alvira is also taking on a show. Her on-air handle is Little Annie and her morning Americana show was one of the most listened-to shows at Stanislaus State when she was a student there. That eclectic mind of hers is a marvel. We also have the promise the Rick Cornish and Brooks Judd will take on a show slot as well. Being in the studio with these two chemically volatile dynamos is an experience in suspense.

We have had a plethora of guests and activity in the studio as well. Visiting the show in-studio have been , not only all those mentioned above, but Uncle John Gwinner, Christine Grimm, Tom and Elida Ickes, Chris Dunne, and the Man With No Discernable Musical Taste or Talent. Sometimes, other student DJ’s will sit in with me to learn a little about bluegrass and American roots music, or FAT music as they call (after the great KFAT radio). As it might be guessed, we also have our regular listeners, callers, and e-mailers. With all the talent we have on the air, the CBA is poised to be in a very good position when KCSS gets its new, powerful transmitter up and running. Our little station and show are poised to be very powerful voices in the Central Valley music scene.

It must be said that even though the show aims to focus on bluegrass, old-time, and gospel, the tastes of the hosts and guests is so varied that the each broadcast takes on its own character and texture. We have had a couple of shows with music full of cowboy swagger, another show featuring the music of Stephen Foster, another was filled mostly with great women’s bluegrass voices. Each host has his or her own formula. The blueprint for my show features the fathers of bluegrass the first fifteen minutes and for the remainder of the hour, straight-ahead bluegrass by classic and contemporary artists. The next half hour is filled first, by gospel and then old time. The last half hour pushes the envelope and contains a fine mix of bluegrass influences acoustic music.

Please join us Tuesday evenings at 7:00 P.M. on for streaming or 91.9 for a broadcast live ever the airwaves. During the broadcast, you can reach us in-studio at 209-667-3900 or email us at The students managers and professors at KCSS, the college station for Stanislaus State have been wonderfully supportive of our show and roots programming in general. Please do not forget to pledge to the station during their membership drive. Their membership pledges begin at $10 and include cool premiums. Don’t forget to tell them that you’re a member of the California Bluegrass Association and you’re pledging to support CBA Radio and their Sunday Americana programming.
Posted:  3/4/2012

Copyright © 2002 California Bluegrass Association. All rights reserved.
Comments? Questions? Please email