As part of our 50th anniversary celebration, we're
bringing you stories from KUMD alumni to find out what they've been up
to and how KUMD has affected them.
Profiles, Part 1: Frank Noviello
by Barb Olsen
Fifty years ago this spring, KUMD radio (103.3 FM) signed on
the air, carried by the energy of the University of Minnesota Duluth student
volunteers staffing the station and KUMD's original, none-too-powerful 250 FM
watts. Over the years, student and community volunteers have been a major force
in keeping the station going strong. And many of that half-century's worth of
volunteers are returning this spring for KUMD's 50th Anniversary
Bash, bringing with them stories of where life has taken them since.
"So far, we've located more than 220 former volunteers,"
Station Manager Mike Dean said. "As we hear from them, over and over we see a
common theme: Their time at KUMD radio has had a huge and lasting impact on
One of those hoping to return for the May 5th
weekend bash is Frank Noviello, who as a UMD student and KUMD volunteer in the
early 1970s put together KUMD's jazz programming. Today, Noviello is a vocalist
in jazz clubs, jazz festivals, and an upscale jazz wedding band in the New
York metropolitan area. Noviello credits his years at
KUMD radio as a major factor in his decision to stick through the years with
the work he loves best: jazz music.
"Through KUMD back then, I had access to this fabulous jazz library,"
Noviello said in a recent interview. "It was an invaluable resource, something
I could never have had otherwise. We had recordings of everyone from Louis
Armstrong to Ornette Coleman. KUMD gave us the opportunity to put out wonderful
music that was not being played anywhere else in the region."
Alternative social and political programming was also a key
component in what Noviello strived to bring to KUMD's listeners, with
nationally syndicated shows covering such hot topics of the day as the Watergate
break-in and the Vietnam-era peace movement. "It was information people weren't
getting anywhere else," Noviello commented. "We were exposing a group of people
to valuable information, and they told their own circles, until eventually the
information was getting out there. In our own small way, we were making a
difference. That's a wonderful thing to be able to say."
Frank Noviello left Duluth
in 1974 to attend graduate school at the University
of Iowa. He continued on to Milwaukee,
where he performed in jazz groups in Milwaukee
and Chicago and then eventually
returned to his native New Jersey,
where he lives today. As he pursued his music career, Noviello drove for a
private cab company and served for 10 years as the President of the Fort Lee
Taxi Driver's Union. Noviello credits KUMD as well for
his willingness to take on that role. "Those years at KUMD taught me the
importance of stepping up. It taught me the importance of speaking up for
Though today you can find Frank Noviello's name in the pages
of the New York Times' entertainment section, he still calls his four years in Duluth
and at KUMD "the best four years of my life."
KUMD has for many years now broadcast at 100,000 watts, and
its volunteers of days past have spread out across the nation. The spirit,
however, and the overwhelming influence of the station continues. It will be
celebrated this spring, as KUMD members, underwriters, and volunteers of today
and yesterday join together to celebrate 50 years of this success story in radio
Barb Olsen is a former volunteer director of morning
programming and news at KUMD-FM. She is the author of "Out of Order! A
Voter's Chronicle of Duluth City Council Proceedings" in the Reader Weekly