1. Downtown Deb Trist Dead Air. KLCC 89.7.
2. Barrett, Fox and Berry KKNU.
3. Beefcake KNRQ.
Perhaps it was a needed change of scenery that brought Deb Trist to Eugene in 1983. Perhaps she was fleeing the congested streets of New York, where she’d lived. Maybe it was a love for the Grateful Dead, and its historic ties to Eugene, that brought her here. And perhaps it was love itself.
For the second year in a row, Eugene Weekly readers have chosen Trist, aka “Downtown Deb,” as their favorite radio DJ. Trist has been the host of KLCC’s Dead Air since 1991. Runners-up were KKNU’s Barrett, Fox and Berry, in second place, and KNRQ’s Beefcake, in third.
With a good ear for timeless Grateful Dead tunes, both released and unreleased rare recordings, Downtown Deb acts as a bridge between the ’60s counterculture and the post-Grateful Dead world of today.
Having close ties to the Grateful Dead has helped Downtown Deb in her mission. The name “Dead Air” originally belonged to Grateful Dead soundman Dan Healy, who had used it for a radio program in California before giving it Downtown Deb.
Downtown Deb has helped heal those fans who are still mourning the 1995 death of Jerry Garcia — not to mention this year’s death of Dead lyricist Robert Hunter. She’s quick to note that there’s only a minimal amount of talking between songs, always placing an emphasis on music first. The legacy of the Grateful Dead will not be forgotten — as long as Downtown Deb is on the air.
This story has been updated to reflect Deb Trist lived but did not grow up in New York and started at KLCC in 1991, not 1986, which is when she started at “KRXX, a short-lived commercial AM station,” she says.