The following is the full text of an interview by Elaine Cheung of the UCR Highlander of KUCR General Manager Louis Vandenberg on the 2008 Saturation Festival
How did KUCR first get involved in the festival? 
First of all, KUCR has a long-time association with the downtown Riverside arts community.  Over the last 13 years or so, we have participated in, promoted and produced a number of film, arts, music (both live bands and dj’s) or spoken-word events in downtown Riverside, a number of them at the truly cool coffeehouse,  Back To the Grind, which is one of the venues traditionally used by the Saturation Festival.  Also, it should be noted that UC Riverside, as a campus, has a central role in the downtown arts community with the Sweeney Art Gallery, the California Museum of Photography and the arts block which is in development.   
But, the most important factor in KUCR’s involvement is the Saturation festival organizer, Stephanie “Alaska” Whelan.  She is the force of nature that makes the whole thing go and has almost single-handedly made downtown Riverside a real thriving arts community.  Alaska  is a longtime listener and fan of KUCR and first enlisted our participation back in 2000, with some of our staff people and dj’s involved in the first one.  KUCR took on a larger role in 2007, when we curated a full night of the festival. 
Participation in campus and community arts is important to KUCR, because part of our mission is to educate people about, and expose people to, music, art and ideas.   It’s a deeply creative station, where students create and produce their own programs.  Many students on the KUCR staff are musicans and artists, or are devoted to the arts in some form.  Certainly, the dj’s we have here are utterly devoted to and passionate about music. They like to bring to the public what’s new, different and cutting-edge in music.  That’s what a great college radio station does.  Good musical artists connect to artists in other media in exploring what it means to be alive in the world today.  And that’s right in line with what Saturation does.
Also, there is a DIY (do-it-yourself) ethos to KUCR, which, again, connects directly to what Saturation does.   DIY came up as a movement in the late ’70’s and ’80’s in punk and new wave.  The idea was that you can create, you can become, you can make make things happen.  If the music that the corporations are selling to you isn’t good, make music yourself.  If you don’t like the movies or tv that you are being fed, make your own.  In general, it means empower yourself to do what you want to do, or what you feel needs to be done.  The advance of technology has greatly propelled DIY forward.  The tools to make music, media, art and to distribute are in the hands of the public, with a great creative ferment now unleashed.  The alternative to corporate media uniformity is an everyday net-driven reality, and is only going to grow in size and impact.  The Saturation Festival is the ultimate DIY.  Stephanie “Alaska” Whelan saw artists and creative people downtown, without a focusing event to put them and their work on display, and created one herself.  She made it happen, with some friends, but no money and no powerful backers.  It’s mostly just her.  She’s rather impressive, in a number of ways: her taste, her knowlege, her political and organizational skills, but possibly most of all, her persuasive abilities.  The Saturation Festival is her DIY masterpiece.   The Festival rcognizes art and music, writing, video, web design, clothing, etc, as multiple manifestations of creative expression.  We’re happy to be a part of it, because it’s a very good thing and has now become established as a part of the Riverside experience.
What kind of events/program is KUCR contributing to the festival?
 As I mentioned, we are curating Wednesday evening October 15th at Back to the Grind (BTTG), which is an epicenter of the downtown arts community, and one of the venues for Saturation.  It’s a meeting place where people come to think, talk, write and meet.  At BTTG, we are featuring several KUCR dj’s in live performance upstairs, doing a variety of genres.  Downstairs, we have 4 bands, all of which are established in the IE and Los Angeles and feature performers who are KUCR-connected, with KUCR staff members.  Featured will be Biomass, MegaWand , Murky Water District and a secret surprise or two.  There’s a bit of a genre mash-up with these bands, but KUCR is nothing, if not diverse.
Do you think participating in this event will promote KUCR? If so, how?
        To some extent, yes.  Whenever we make any public appearance, and what we do is seen by people not already familiar with us, there will be publicity value.  But, basically, it’s us as part of a whole, participating in a very unique festival.  Everyone involved is doing so because they believe in in the virtue and value of art and music.  There is no money in the festival.  The admissions are free, bands play for free, everybody contributes their time to make it happen.  It’s artistic altruism.  We’re mostly just happy it’s happening and to be joining together with the other participants to make it a reality. 

Anything else you would like to add?
Again, Stephanie “Alaska” Whelan has to be credited with this amazing festifval.  We’re honored to participate.  We believe that art and music are not a trivial pursuits, but rather essential to the human experience.  I think contributing to a thriving arts community downtown, contributes to regional vitality, making Riverside a better, more engaging and more interesting place to live.  Also, according to Richard Florida, the acclaimed urban theorist, promoting what he calls a “creative class” regenerates cities and communities in every way, including economically.  The Saturation Festival is a celebration of the Inland Empire’s creative class.  It’s good all around for everybody.


Posted on Oct 17, 2008 by walter

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