Imagining Community: Zephyr love

A love letter to community radio and a break for NaNoWriMo

The author with volunteers (and local musicians) John-Michael Sun and Susan Dobra during KZFR pledge drive.

KZFR is proud to be a listener-supported, people-powered community radio station for the Sacramento Valley, the Foothills, and Beyond.—KZFR General Manager, Grant Parks

Joining the KZFR (90.1FM) volunteer programming crew in April of 2015 is one of the most gratifying decisions of my life.

I remember the first time I experienced KZFR programmer Diane Suzuki’s vivacious love of interviewing people and sharing her infectious laugh on her “One World Music” show (alternating Wednesdays, 12:30-3 p.m.).

I remember Sanjay Dev walking through the broadcast door floating two-feet in the air proclaiming it the happiest day of his life at KZFR as it was Bob Marley’s 70th birthday and he was ready to shake the neighbors’ walls on “Devastation Sounds of Reggae” (Fridays, 3-6 p.m.).

I remember being in the broadcast studio on Saint Patrick’s Day, 2015, shadowing Stephen and Susan Tchudi while they performed an “Ecotopia” radio schtick as potatoes. I thought, “I like these two.” (“Ecotopia,” Tuesdays, 5-6 p.m.)

I remember changing my preferred name from Bill to Guillermo as a guest on Tamra Wichman’s former “Love in the 21st Century” program. It solved the problem of having two Facebook profiles, one as Bill Mash and the other as “Withouta Roof” (my community journalism FB profile). Facebook locked me out of my account until I gave them a real name: Voìla, Guillermo Mash. The rest is radio history.

My favorite “I remember” was when Alex Kokkinakis dialed into Ed Pittman’s final “Afternoon Reflux” show. Ed put her on air after confirming she was indeed the teenager he mentored, years earlier, on his long running KZFR program “Teen Talk.” His voice was cracking with reminiscent gratitude as the years of making broadcast memories were coming to an end.

Erik Mathisen is known as the Founding Father of KZFR. What he originally set out to do in 1981 was to build a translator service to bring the signal of KPFA from Berkeley to the North State. His project veered off in a new direction when a KPFA volunteer asked, “Instead of taking our programming, wouldn’t it be better to create programming that reflects your community?” At that moment Erik set his sights on building a community radio station in Chico. It took nine years to secure the necessary permits and finances to build the station. KZFR Community Radio began broadcasting July 6, 1990.

The amount of Zephyr dedication and creativity that’s flowed over North State FM airways (and online at since is breathtaking. KZFR airs 75 locally produced music, news and public affairs programs, and has over 100 volunteer radio personalities supported by five paid staff members.

Check the schedule at the bottom of this column (or at this link), find a show, and listen for yourself.

NaNoWriMo & Me

Our stories connect us as human beings. They are what make our life rich. — Grant Faulkner, Executive Director for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)

As a lifelong storyteller, I’ve used writing, photojournalism, short films, radio broadcasting and graphic arts as mediums. Of them all, writing has always been dearest to me—from my grade-school days scribbling horror shorts under bed covers, to writing adventure fiction in the back corner of my 6th grade classroom. With paper and pencil, I would cast my classmates as cavemen and cavewomen with storylines mimicking the movie One Million Years B.C., starring Rachel Welch (ooh la la).

During one playfully gruesome classroom reading, I discovered I had killed off a classmate twice. Her second demise was a runaway boulder, dislodged from a hillside by a rampaging dinosaur, squishing her like an ant. The class thought it was all great fun while I relished being a cult figure who did what I wanted in class!

I’m back doing what I love and want by using November’s National Novel Writing Month as a transport from non-fiction journalism to fiction. My NaNoWriMo Short Sides Project will be 50,000 first-draft words of flash fiction, shorts and poetry, with at least one story per genre. A portion of the word count will be a daily journal of my NaNoWriMo November, written in the comedy genre.

I’ll be stretching my wordsmith craft in surprising, frustrating and delightful ways. Having fun is the key …

Fun is the pun,
That makes my pen run.
Imagination unleashed.
Sets a table to feast.
Eating my words by the ton.

Bill “Guillermo” Mash is a Chico advocate, writer and radio personality, and one-man show behind Imagining Community, a grassroots media and civic engagement endeavor “sharing stories that make our collective imaginations sparkle and engage.”

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