RIP: KPIG co-founder Laura Ellen Hopper, and way-too-many American soldiers

Monday was Memorial Day in the United States of America. A national holiday to remember the brave men and women that sacrificed their lives for the good of their country. A time to honor the fallen soldiers that made the ultimate contribution to protect others.

Reading the papers on Monday, I found a very interesting article about how soldiers created MySpace profiles that became online memorials after their deaths. As the article points out, MySpace won’t delete a profile for inactivity, nor will it let anyone else control a deceased member’s profile. Of course all of this has changed in the past two weeks as the Pentagon decided that military personnel shall not be able to access MySpace, YouTube, iFilm, Facebook and a handful of other social networking websites.

What a way to honor those that make the big sacrifice for their country, eh? Cut them off their access to the big social networks of the internet. I could make more comments about the ramifications of this situation, but I think I’ll hold off before I before this blog becomes a big diatribe about the various problems we’re dealing with in 2007. I’m still trying to focus on the music on this LOUIE blog of mine…..

This morning at the LOUIE LOUIE Party Yahoo Group, my friend Jeff “Stretch” Riedle wrote about another loss on Memorial Day.

Laura Ellen Hopper, co-founder of KPIG Radio.

Laura Ellen of KPIG Radio

Sorry, but I have to express myself and here is the only place I might get away with it. There is very little Louie Louie content; wait a minute, without this woman we might not know about Todd Snider and his Louie connection….

Anyway…yesterday Laura Ellen passed after a one-week fight with cancer. She didn’t even have the chance to go get the chemo and radiation she was planning. She was a fighter and would have beaten it. I knew her thru the radio and met her once at a show. Incredible woman who lived radio and music. Someone who I relate to in a lot of ways. Most notably Laura Ellen was the program director at KPIG. For anyone who knows, KPIG is likely the last great radio station on the commercial FM dial. Real people, real music, real soul and spirit. (The kind of thing I experienced on an amateur level in my college radio days.) She will be sorely missed, and more importantly it might mean the ultimate end of a true radio station giant if the corporate shrews get involved.

Laura Ellen also helped establish the station. Heard she used her own money at the beginning. She believed in the music, and she believed in the musicians. Gave many a now-popular artist their real start. KPIG has been streaming on the internet since 1995. Worldwide audience now. You can tour Idaho and be recognized thanks to the airplay she gave you.

OK, let’s bring my rambling back to this group…the spirit of the loss I feel today is present in the music from the 60’s, from the indy bands, from the garage band do-it-yourself-ers. The same people who care and obsess about Louie Louie. And without a KPIG we might not know who Todd Snider is…remember, he wrote a song about the Kingsmen and the song “Louie Louie”.

My sadness is heavy today,

A San Jose Mercury News / Santa Cruz Sentinel obituary provided more details about her legacy:

In 1975, Hopper originally helped found KFAT in Gilroy, a free-form country station notorious for its rejection of conservative radio conventions. After KFAT went off the air, she re-emerged with local attorney Leo Kesselman in 1988 to found KPIG in Watsonville, finally making a success of the station’s renegade format in the 1990s.

Under Hopper’s direction, KPIG married KFAT’s pugnacious country/rock programming with a more savvy business plan. Eventually, the station became instrumental in establishing a new radio format, Americana, which emphasized artists who were often ignored by mainstream country radio, such as John Prine, Jerry Jeff Walker and Peter Rowan. In the 1990s, KPIG’s prominence in the Americana genre gave it the power to provide career-making exposure to such performers as Robert Earl Keen, Todd Snider and Iris DeMent.

Here’s some links you should check out for more information about this lady that shall be missed:

San Jose Mercury/ Santa Cruz Sentinel obituary
Brad Kava – SJ Mercury blog article obituary

and of course

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