BERKELEY -- An annual celebration in Berkeley of Bay Area radio history takes on new meaning this year as a nonprofit group scrambles to save the historic broadcasting building it calls home.
The California Historical Radio Society will hold its annual Radio Day by the Bay fundraiser on Saturday at the KRE studios building at 601 Ashby Ave. The party will run from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and funds raised will benefit CHRS, the Bay Area Radio Museum and the Society of Wireless Pioneers.
The society has extra incentive to raise money this year. The KRE building, which houses the Society's Radio Museum and Hall of Fame, could be lost soon. CHRS is trying to raise $750,000 to purchase the building.
"We're up to $560,000-some odd dollars," said CHRS President Steve Kushman. "We're doing very well. We're looking real good. For six weeks (of fundraising by) a really tiny nonprofit, that's a lot of money."
The art deco building was owned by Inner Cities Broadcasting, which allowed the Museum and Hall of Fame to use it for a reduced rent. However, Inner Cities is now in bankruptcy court and its assets, including the building, are being sold. Starting in June, the Society began a major fundraising drive to purchase the building.
According to the CHRS website (www.californiahistoricalradio.com), the society has six weeks to 90 days to reach its goal. Donations of all sizes are welcome.
The building was one of the first constructed in the Bay Area specifically for a radio station. It was used in the movie "American Graffiti" and has been transmitting for 75 years. KRE itself first broadcast in 1922.
The KRE building currently contains displays of radio and television artifacts dating from the early 1900s up through the 1970s. A 1950s-era radio studio in the building is fully restored and functional.
A reference library is available for use and there is also a collection of recording and interviews with broadcast pioneers.
The celebration on Saturday include an auction of vintage radios, phonographs, test equipment and radio gear as well as live entertainment. The Horns of Plenty, a brass band, will perform as well as the Tamsen Donner Blues Band and Frankye Kelly. In addition, a "Fibber McGee and Molly" radio play will be performed live.
KCBS anchor Stan Bunger will serve as master of ceremonies. KFOG's Renee Richardson and Michael Capozzola will be the auctioneers. KGO-TV's Cheryl Jennings will be interviewing celebrities.
The Bay Area Radio Hall of Fame Class of 2012 will also be announced. Mike Adams, author of "Lee De Forest: King of Radio, Television and Film," and John Schneider, author of "Bay Area Radio," will be signing books. Attendees will also be able to tour the historic KRE building.