KUNM volunteer and former general manager Jane Blume passed away Tuesday in Albuquerque after a recent diagnosis of leukemia.
Jane Blume hired me at KUNM in 1993. In some ways she saved my professional life as I had been chewed up and spat out enough times in 16 years of commercial radio work of all kinds up to that point, that I needed someone to toss me a life preserver. By giving me a chance as production director at KUNM, in public radio, she did just that, opening up a new world in which to apply my radio skills. That moment, that offer from Jane, set the direction for everything I’ve been doing since.
At the time, Jane was interim General Manager of the station, which was still reeling a bit from the years known around here as the Radio Wars when professional managers and the volunteers whose hands and hearts actually operated the station did not get along. There were walkouts and lawsuits. Jane was hired on an interim basis in part due to her experience with community radio in Portland, Oregon when she had lived there. She was handed the challenging task of bringing everyone back together again. Small in stature but fair-minded, empathetic and tough when she needed to be, Jane got KUNM balanced again to move forward.
Jane applied for but didn’t get the full-time general manager position in 1994. Although disappointed, I’m sure she turned her attention to contributing more on the air as a volunteer. She hosted the Folk Routes show, playing great tunes and interviewing dozens of musicians. For years she hosted or co-hosted KUNM’s election night coverage. I recall working with her and Kathleen Sabo on a live broadcast from Johnson Gymnasium at the University of New Mexico when President Bill Clinton hosted an economic summit. Jane was always eager to be part of a well-planned and important broadcast. We went into the state prison together for one of the long-running Outta Joint At The Joint annual broadcasts of a prison family day. When she was approached to host the long-running monthly University Showcase program on KUNM she said, "I’ll do it, as long as we can be sure that it will be good radio.” Over 10 years, she interviewed scores of UNM scholars about their work. She asked good questions. Often short, pointed ones that sometimes took her guests by surprise and challenged them to really say something important.
At the same time, she ran her own public relations firm called Desert Sky Communications that emphasized the responsibility that businesses had to serve the community. That nurturing and that community link were an essential part of establishing a businesses reputation and PR profile. She won many community awards along the way, including being the New Mexico Association for Women in Communications’ first inductee into it’s Hall of Fame, this past June.
Personally Jane was a total people person. After she left her daily management duties at KUNM, I never bumped into her when she didn’t offer a big toothy smile and insist on a hug and an update on whatever I was working on – professionally or personally. She always took the time to give you a real conversation.
Despite her devotion to her radio and her PR work, nothing was more important to her than her family. She took enormous pride in the work and lives of her son and daughter. She remained vital even after losing her loving husband Phil to leukemia 6 years ago.
Memorial for Jane Blume
- Friday, September 20th
- Temple Albert Congregation
- 3800 Louisiana Blvd. NE