KCRW’s January Volunteer of the Month

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Sam_BlanchardKCRW has no bad volunteers.  All of them are smart, dedicated, passionate people.  That’s why it’s a little tough to single one out every month, but then there are people like Samantha (just Sam to us).  She just effortlessly stands out.  With her hard work and sunny disposition to boot, how could we not notice her?  Get to know her!

Where did you grow up and are you an only child?
I am originally from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. For the most part I grew up there, but I moved to Los Angeles when I was 16 to pursue a career in music.

What is your current occupation?
I’m a vocalist and songwriter. Most recently, I was featured on the posthumous album Eye Legacy from Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes. I run a small business called The Sambalaya Shoppe – a moniker under which I do freelance vocal and audio engineering work.

What is your fantasy occupation?
If I can continue to grow my business, and work for KCRW while doing it, that’s the fantasy. As an older woman, I want to own my own recording facility in New Orleans in the French Quarter, and sit on the balcony griping down at the young an unruly tourists.

When did you first discover KCRW?
I discovered KCRW right after I moved to Los Angeles about 8 years ago. A music technology instructor of mine mentioned that “NPR” played some really great music at night and that I should check it out. Ever since then, the dial has been permanently fixed to 89.9.

How did you find your way to our station for volunteering?
About four years ago I began my quest to volunteer for the station after moving close by for audio school. Naturally, I wasn’t the only one with the idea. After a random email to Henry Rollins, some cat and mouse, and a perfectly timed call back from Monika Scott, I finally was able to get my foot in the door. It’s now been six months and I couldn’t be happier.

What’s your current volunteer position and how long have you been at it?
I’ve been working the front desk answering phones since June. I progressed to sound intern on Morning Becomes Eclectic about three months later. Very recently, I started helping out a bit in the music library. And just this month I was designated to help organize content for Sonic Trace. I also volunteer for whatever events I can make. I basically camp out in the hallway until I’m forced to go home.

Favorite volunteer moment?
Every live performance on Morning Becomes Eclectic that I am present for is a favorite moment, but a highlight would definitely be meeting actor Tim Robbins in the hallway and chatting by the water cooler not long ago.

If you could get on the mic and say one sentence on the air, what would it be?
“I’m Sam Blanchard sitting in for Jason Bentley and this is Morning Becomes Eclectic on 89.9, KCRW.” – But I’d happily settle for pitching during the pledge drive, I would love to do that.

What song have you hit repeat on lately?
I’ve recently been struck by Susanne Sundfor’s “White Foxes” off of The Silicone Veil.

Favorite book, movie?
Tony Kushner’s Angels in America, hands down. Originally on stage in New York, HBO made it into a miniseries in 2003. It is the most brilliant thing I’ve ever seen/heard/witnessed in my lifetime, and I’ve yet to find anything that will top it.

Favorite thing to do outside the station?
I’m somewhat of a hermit, so when I’m not at the station or having to work at a studio, I’m typically working on something at home. I love to watch bizarre indie films or depressing political documentaries on Netflix, and spending time with my boyfriend and our two chihuahuas.

What does KCRW mean to you?
I can’t even begin to express how much KCRW means to me. I dare anyone to find a public radio station that has the spirit of this one. It’s one of a kind. I came to KCRW a little beaten up from the LA experience, having kicked around the commercial music industry for the better half of my life. I’ve been very, very discouraged by what the “mainstream” entertainment business has turned into. I’ve been caught up in the revolving door of it for some time. KCRW is a beacon of hope in the music world, but in the general consciousness as well. It’s so much more than a radio station. It’s a community of people, brought together by the love of independent music and art, thought and analysis. It’s about expanding that community and inviting others to share in it. KCRW really is the epitome of a community service – entertaining, enlightening and informing those that it reaches, totally free of a corporate allegiance, without any motive of monetary gain. After living in LA for going on a decade, and after all of the ego and falseness I’ve encountered in my profession, sometimes I feel like the only sane voices are the ones radiating from 89.9. If you need to restore your faith in humanity, check out KCRW.

It’s always a little strange to ask volunteers what KCRW means to them.  We’re not fishing for compliments, but rather looking to understand what draws people to generously give us their time.  Someone like Sam could easily be welcomed by a plethora of worthy organizations, but she chose us.  Lucky us, she warmly adds to the very humanity she mentions above.