Sports radio is alive in Plumas
“I brought sports broadcasting into Quincy,” said Ron Trumbo of his actions decades ago. Today the radio personality with a passion for sports runs a “one-man operation” bringing sports and other entertainment to folks from “Lake Almanor to Graeagle” via the airwaves. “I don’t think anyone else would do what I do,” said the seasoned announcer.
Trumbo owns and operates local radio station KNLF, New Life Broadcasting 95.9. His real love is sports announcing and he does a great deal of it all over the county. Many locals would recognize his voice, as well they should, since he has been on the Plumas County airwaves and covering games with “play by play” reporting since 1980.
“Nowadays many of the athletes on the field and on the court are the sons and daughters of kids I covered in sports ages ago,” said Trumbo.
The way it began for the sports enthusiast was he had been recording his own game coverage on cassettes at matches in St. Helens, Oregon.
“We did tape-delay for two high schools up there,” Trumbo said, and would play them back on the radio Saturday mornings.
The Quincy High graduate ended back up in rural Quincy almost four decades ago to help his parents with their family market, located where Carey Candy Co. is now. The sports announcer noticed no sports coverage was offered on the local station KPCO.
Trumbo suggested they try it so they did. “When it aired, we had great response,” said Trumbo. However, for reasons unknown, the following season the station manager did not want to include the segment.Trumbo took that as a cue to start up a cable system in town, “cable radio,” said Trumbo.
He began broadcasting sports on a cable radio through the local cable company, which was offering television services locally at the time.
“We started the process with the FCC to get a radio station going,” said the visionary. The processes turned into a bottleneck of applications at the FCC and then “we had a spotted owl issue,” added Trumbo.
Apparently the tower site above the Chandler Heights subdivision was “allegedly within a mile of spotted owl territory,” said Trumbo. It took nine years and eventually a report stating no spotted owls in the area was received, but the request was denied anyway.
Trumbo started looking elsewhere and chose the space right behind the radio station in downtown Quincy where the tower stands today. The radio antenna stretches 80 feet in a “40-foot limit” area.
“The limitation was designed for buildings,” said Trumbo, “not radio towers.” The restriction was due to the fact that the fire truck at the time didn’t have a ladder that could go over 40 feet.
“We finally got on the air for the first time in 1994, three days before my construction permit expired,” said the radio station owner.
What does a day look like for a man operating a radio station single-handedly?
“I start off working from 8 a.m. to 12:30,” said Trumbo of his live-on-air program. “Then I go home for lunch and head back from 2 to 3. Then I work sales; back on the air 5 to 6 p.m. and then do some production work and go home about 8 to midnight, if I’m not covering a ball game,” said Trumbo.
There is lots of energy expended from this man past 50, and it’s taking its toll.
“The hardest part is my medical issues lately,” said Trumbo who described navigating his way through the side-effects of medications intended to help him.
When asked about how he got into radio in the first place, this passion that has enveloped his entire adult life, Trumbo said, “It was an accident.”
Back in the days of CB radio, people always told him he had a great voice and that he should get into radio.
“So I went down and tried out and got in” said Trumbo of broadcasting school. The week in 1979 that the “greenhorn” tried out, “There were 860 auditions and six of them got into the broadcasting school,” said Trumbo.
Fresh out of school, Trumbo worked for KLAC in Los Angeles, the only country station at the time in the area. He did remote broadcasts on the weekends for them.
“It was a lot of fun,” said Trumbo. “It was a high-energy station, but the pressure was incredible.”
The news job opened up in Oregon so Trumbo jumped on that and then when his dad got sick he headed to back to Quincy to help out in the store.
“I worked weekends for Ralph on KPCO and did the morning show on Saturdays and Sundays,” said Trumbo.
It’s never been a good paying job for Trumbo, but it’s remained his preferred profession since he began. All the money comes from advertising according to Trumbo, “which can make it tough. Small-market radio: you can’t hardly give these stations away anymore.” But money is not why he does it.
Donating time to cover parades and special events all over the county has become the “norm” for this dedicated community member who has been a part of generation after generation of healthy Plumas County life.
“It’s tough and it’s long hours … but it’s still fun,” said Trumbo.
Details on programming at the station can be found at chamberorganizer.com.