This past summer, Jive Radio (KJYV-FM 101.5) went on air for the first time in the Columbia River Gorge. Formerly known as KDOA, Jive Radio is a non-profit station that plays jazz, zydeco and blues co-owned by Jeff Cotton, director of Open Sky Radio, and Steve Curly, a local radio personality.
Jive is part of Open Sky Radio, which owns other stations around the western United States such as KJIV 96.5 in Madras, KWNK 97.7 in Reno, Nev. and KDUP 88.1 Cedarville, Calif.
Cotton and Curly acquired the station from the previous company which was downsizing.
“I heard about the availability of the license. The same people we acquired the Madras license from had this license and that non-profit was shrinking,” Cotton said. “It sort of made sense to us since we had Madras, which we just put on the air, and we knew (Curly) from his radio show. He lost his gig at a second radio station after a lot of years. So, the pieces sort of just fit together.”
While other stations play rock, country and today’s hits, Jive Radio plays different, unconventional music that isn’t typically played over the airwaves.
“We’re just serving up Jive. Jive is for music lovers. We are decidedly eclectic, we use a term called ‘schizoclectic,’ we’re all over the map musically,” Cotton said. “Most of the other radio stations are commercial stations so they’re doing the mainstream commercial thing. We’re just trying to do what we do. We’re not trying to displace anybody.”
Curly is not only co-owner of the station, he has his own show as well. Squrl’s Blues Revue is on Fridays from 8 p.m. to midnight and plays artists like Kenny Blue Ray, Jimmy Johnson and Eric Bibb.
Stemming from his Friday show, Curly also organizes shows featuring blues bands which benefit charity. His latest show was Nov. 15 and featured Rick Estrin and the Nightcats.
This show benefited the Hood River Education Fund.
“There were close to a couple of hundred, I’d say,” Curly said. “We raised $1,650 for the education fund. I thought we’d get closer to two grand but $1,650 is better than $1,550.”
For over 30 years Curly has been promoting blues shows in the Gorge. Curly holds a high standard for bands he books.
“People know the caliber of music that I’m bringing to town,” Curly said. “(People) know they’re going to get their money’s worth.”
In his 30s, Curly would book 12-14 shows a year. He’s now slowed down to a few shows a year, primarily as benefits for local charities.
Future shows can be expected featuring more bands from Portland, who will also get air time on the station, Cotton said.
The next big step for Jive Radio is for its signal to reach a larger range.
Currently the station can be heard clearly in The Dalles but has trouble reaching Mosier and especially Hood River.
Mountains prevent the radio signal from traveling any further, said Cotton. The station’s transmitter is located on Stacker Butte.
“From up there you look down river and Hood River is tucked in behind that ridge west of Mosier,” Cotton said. “Terrain shading is the term, and there’s almost nothing you can do about it.”
Two ways that can increase the signal range is by increasing the signal strength and using booster antennas.
“I know our signal is very fuzzy around town. We want the Hood River folks listening as well as The Dalles, Goldendale, Mosier and all the communities,” Cotton said. “We’re still scouting and exploring our options on both fronts. I’m hoping we could get a better signal by this winter. If not, it’ll be right around the corner in the spring.”