November 4, 2013

Raymond woman keeping late uncle’s radio dream alive

But the future of WJZF in Standish depends largely on whether she raises money and gets other people involved.

By Ray Routhier rrouthier@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

Kristie Doyle runs a community radio station out of her house in Raymond in memory of her late uncle, who produced shows from the chair in which she’s sitting.

Photos by Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

Kristie Doyle shows the tattoo she obtained to honor her late uncle Dave Patterson, who founded the WJZF radio station and gave her the nickname “Sunshine.” Doyle has been working to keep the Standish-based station on the air for the past two years.

Photos by Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

“We’ve sent out notices to nonprofits, looking for announcements, but we haven’t gotten a lot of responses,” said Alan Freedman, a WJZF volunteer who worked with Patterson when the station began. “Hopefully they will. I know Dave wanted this station to be something for the whole community.”

Patterson got his station on the air in 2005, but had applied for a “low power FM” license from the Federal Communications Commission in 2000, almost as soon as the low power licenses were created. The idea, according to the FCC, was to grant licenses for small, 100-watt community stations for “non-commercial, educational broadcasting” and therefore give community groups a relatively inexpensive way to get on the air and provide content not readily available on stations owned by corporations.

WJZF is not the only example of small Maine radio stations that are basically on the air because of one person’s passion. There are several across the state, with missions to provide something on the air that people can’t hear on most commercial stations.

One Portland-area example is WYAR (88.3 FM) in Yarmouth. It was started by Gary King, a retired television engineer, in his Cousins Island home in 1998. King had a massive collection of 78-rpm vinyl records of music dating from the early 1900s to the 1950s. He got an educational radio license, like college stations often do, and set out on a mission to keep what he called our “heritage” of popular music on the air. King, now 79, still runs the station with a corps of volunteers.

Doyle and others in Patterson’s family say Patterson first got passionate about radio when he worked as a radio operator on a ship in the Navy when he was 18. Miller first met Patterson when Miller owned Portland-area station WDCS in the 1970s, and Patterson walked in looking for experience.

“He wrote copy, did all kinds of things,” said Miller. “He basically just came in looking for an opportunity.”

Patterson grew up in Portland, served in both the Navy and the Air Force, and also worked at the post office and for a local telephone company.

When he finally got a chance, because of low power licenses, to get his own station, he jumped at it. He acquired “lots of debt” while setting up the station and buying equipment, his niece said. He also had to do a lot of things most of us know nothing about, like finding a broadcast tower to use.

“He was passionate about giving back to the community, and he was tired of the mega-commercialized radio stations in Maine,” said Doyle. She said her uncle wanted to give listeners music they couldn’t hear on most stations. He was a big fan of the format “smooth jazz” and artists like Sergio Mendes, Roy Haynes, Delton Walker or George Howard. So the station plays a lot of that. In fact, Patterson’s voice can still be heard announcing the smooth jazz songs.

But other volunteer disc jockeys, including Doyle, are putting together shows every week featuring country, or oldies. Doyle still does a show called “Country Barn” that she did with Patterson.

The show then was mostly Patterson doing an outrageous Maine hick character, with pig grunts and flatulence noises in the background, talking a lot about a woman named Ethel he was always trying to avoid. The jokes, with Doyle as straight man, were often about why Ethel was a woman to be avoided, or the lengths to which people might go to avoid her.

“Ethel had a car wash and she charged $50 to get out,” said Patterson in one show. “And people paid it just to get away from her.”

On those shows Doyle can be heard laughing at her uncle’s antics.

“There were times that all I did on the air was laugh my butt off,” she said.

Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at: rrouthier@pressherald.com

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