By KEOL Staff
On the weekend of July 12 and 13, 2013, EOU’s student-run KEOL-FM celebrated its fortieth anniversary with a two-day music festival and a disc-jockey reunion.
Seventeen bands from around the U.S. and Canada performed. Many local bands also took the stage, including: Mike Surber from Eugene, Portland’s Bitterroot, La Grande favorites Sharon Porter and the Pale Ales, and EOU’s own Shades of Grayson. La Grande’s Forgetting Onward, Dredge and Salidity also performed.
Mike Surber rocked the stage during his Friday night set with his entire band. He then filled in at the Farmer’s Market stage Saturday, performing an acoustic set with harmonica and guitar.
Crowd favorites included: Johnny Unicorn, with his whimsical and comedic tunes; Sassparilla, with their crowd interaction and unique instruments; and Canada’s Current Swell, which drew the most people and entertained with Americana/folk, pop and blues tunes.
The turnout was less than expected, or hoped for; however, the fans who did attend appeared to enjoy the event. Dancing, singing and smiles were found all around. Several of the bands expressed a desire to return and perform in La Grande again.
In addition, KEOL supported the Great Circle Festival in September, a two-day music festival in Summerville that supports the Blue Mountain Conservancy. KEOL’s support allowed the addition of Boise-based band, Hollow Wood, to a bill including Greg Rawlins, Kory Quinn, Ghost Wind, and headliners Bitterroot.
The DJ reunion kicked off on Friday, July 12 with BBQ dinner at the New Town Square in La Grande. Several former KEOL station managers, engineers and DJs showed up for the dinner.
The reunion also included a meet-and-greet Saturday morning in Badgely Hall.
Jack Kemp, one of the more well-known and respected DJ alumni, said, “It’s good to see the old gang again and see what they’ve been up to.” Kemp served as station manager from 1990 to 1991 and worked as a co-faculty advisor from 1994 to 2001. He was a DJ from 1987 until he left in 2001. Kemp is currently head engineer for KBVR-FM and KBVR-TV at Oregon State University in Corvallis.
While stories flowed freely in Badgely Hall, it wasn’t until the DJs walked into the station that memories really began to surface. In “The Vault”, a room dedicated to the majority of the vinyl record library, some were in awe that their favorite albums were still on the shelves.
One DJ flipped through a row of albums, pulled out a tattered record jacket and said, “I played this album at least twice all the way through one term.” Another smiled and said, “Yeah, I know. I could never play it because you always did it before my show.”
Some KEOL alumni, such as Jack Kemp and Tony Marks, are still working in radio. Marks is currently a DJ at KWCW in Walla Walla, Wash. He said, “Anyone who has been on KEOL is lucky. I’m still doing it. It’s still fun.”
As DJs said goodbye, their short time together at a close, phone numbers, email addresses and mailing addresses were exchanged. Some talked of a yearly get-together. All who heard mention of another reunion smiled and nodded their heads in agreement.
The KEOL music library contains more than 25,000 CDs and 35,000 vinyl albums. The collection is owned by the EOU students and managed by the KEOL Club.