Ed Martin: The Senior Mascot
7 May 2013
Ed Martin: The Senior Mascot
by Greg Cotta
The title of “Mascot” has some pretty cliché connotations. You imagine a giant furry lion on roller skates or maybe even our campus mascot Gunrock leading thousands of fans in doing the Harlem Shake. Here at the campus radio station of KDVS 90.3 FM, we are an alternative source of music, news, and sports, so it only makes sense that our mascot is just as unique. Our mascot does not give away free t-shirts or sign autographs (although I’d totally ask him for one), but when it comes to keeping morale at the station high or representing our station’s voice, no one speaks for us better than our very own mascot and host of the program Cactus Corners, Mr. Ed Martin.
“When people ask me what my position is- what I do at the radio station- I tell them that I am the Senior Mascot at KDVS,” says Ed in a rich yet calming Georgian accent. The title of Senior Mascot is one that he gave himself just a couple of years ago, but he has been fulfilling the responsibilities of the title for far longer than that. Ed leaned back into his chair and crossed one leg over the other. While a CD of Spanish folk melodies murmured in the background, his eyes trailed to the corner of the room while his thoughts trailed to the corner of his mind. “I’ve been involved in community and college radio for about twenty five years now, dating back to the first station I worked at in my home state of Georgia, WREK Atlanta, 91.1 FM and—excuse me,” Ed then politely paused his conversation with me in order to tell his listeners what he just shared with them and to let them know that today marks the birthday of Amy Goodman, host of Democracy Now, a program that can be heard on thousands of radio stations including KDVS. Once Ed continued the music, the now-famed opera singer Dawn Upshaw, he seamlessly picked up right where he left off. “I first came to know KDVS around thirty years ago. I was a fire lookout up on the Tahoe national forest, and I could sit atop a mountain and listen to any radio station in the western United States, you know, as far south as Baseball games in Albuquerque or whatever it was, and KDVS was pretty much the best station I could find. When I wanted to hear something interesting, I’d tune to KDVS.” Several years after that, Ed found himself looking for a hobby in the greater Sacramento area finally decided that he wanted to volunteer at the radio station in order to get his own show. He started in the early hours of 2-4 AM once a week and worked his way into the Saturday afternoon lineup where his program has become an established fan favorite.
Although Ed is extremely popular to listeners because of his unique choices of contemporary classical music, he is even more popular amongst the DJs at the station. He is known for his activism in the community and enthusiasm for other programs on KDVS’s airwaves. He frequently calls other DJs to give brief advice or tell them what he is enjoying about their programming, just as any good mascot would. “I don’t pretend to keep up in any expert way with the music that most of my fellow DJs are into, but I listen to the station in my free time and go to the live musical events that we sponsor,” he said calmly. When asked about why he attends such activities, he instantly knew why the question was asked: “I look a little bit out of place here from time to time, as I am a bit older than most of the volunteers here at the station but going to these events and listening to these programs, it broadens what I do. It strengthens my program as well as the relationships I develop here in the work place.”
As the conversation carried on, Ed frequently jumped to small stories about his time spent at the radio station and his enthusiasm for non-profit, freeform radio continued to shine through his calm demeanor. He carried on in that relaxed tone when he began to discuss the integrity of KDVS and what it stands for. “One of the special things to me about KDVS is that the general manager has to be a registered UC Davis student. So we don’t have a manager who is looking out for himself, his job, or his friend’s job. Our manager is not trying to please a board or whatever. He is doing his job because he wants to get things done. The station is built on honesty and hard work. We aren’t trying to take your last dime.”
Ed paused the conversation once more, but this time it was to answer a few phone calls, as listeners were calling in to learn more about the music he was sharing with them. He clearly showed professionalism in his work; he had that passion that made it very clear that he loves what he does. “I wouldn’t run back and forth and from Tahoe to here and do what I do unless it was extremely gratifying,” he said while smiling after finding an old vinyl record he had been looking for, “I am constantly shown reminders that when I am here, I am a part of something bigger.”
As Cactus Corners moved toward its resolution, the conversation moved away from the station as a whole and stepped toward discussion of the DJs themselves at KDVS. This is when Ed’s title of Senior Mascot really started to make a lot more sense. Ed believes that KDVS is a very special and one of a kind experience not just because of what the station stands for, but because of the people who keep the place running. Ed showed a boyish grin and said, “You know, when speaking from my life experience, the one thing I can tell you is that this is the best school club you can belong to. The kids around here don’t seem like kids much at all. They are sharp, smart, sophisticated, motivated, and they know something about themselves in the world that their contemporaries don’t always know.”
Ed’s program came to an end, and he waved goodbye to the next DJ to head back home. His listeners won’t hear from him for another two weeks, but he will definitely be heard by everybody else at the station. He’ll write emails, he’ll make phone calls, and he’ll even drop by a concert or two; he’ll root for the home team.
Ed’s show Cactus Corners is on every other Saturday from 2-4 PM on 90.3 FM KDVS and KDVS.org.