Meet Kim Donovan, South Florida’s Stage Mom

Photo courtesy of Kim Donovan
The Stage Mom Mini Fest doesn't sound like the head-banging extravaganza local bands might brag about playing.

But those familiar with Kim Donovan's Stage Mom podcast know better.

A Broward native, Donovan has been interviewing fledgling acts across South Florida since early January, including Opposition Dolls, Young Fiction, Dirty Rivals, and the Polar Boys. During each episode, she sits with a local band to talk about their origins and influences, along with special segments, including one she calls "You Can Tell Mom Anything," asking guests questions a mom might inquire about — usually about love and relationships.

Filling the void as a platform for local artists to casually talk about themselves and their music, she was quickly flooded with requests from local acts who wanted a chance to sit on her green-and-white-striped couch for a chat. Her podcast's Instagram bio kindly asks for the patience of anyone who messages the account.

"I am booked until November — every Sunday," Donovan tells New Times. "And when I told the bands, they were like, 'Well, we have nothing like this.'"

After interviewing more than 15 local acts, Donovan felt it was time to offer more than just a space for conversation. In May, she organized her own one-day music festival, featuring several bands that had passed through her makeshift studio.

"I am a firm believer that it's always the right place and the right time," she explains. "You never pass up an opportunity, because you never ever know what it's going to offer."

The Stage Mom Mini Fest, held at LauderAle Brewery in Fort Lauderdale, was a resounding success, with hundreds attending and enjoying the homegrown lineup.

Donovan, a realtor by trade, had been managing her teenage daughter's band, Saving Herald, for the last five years, booking gigs, driving the band to venues, and familiarizing herself with other local acts.
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Photo by Matt Faciana/@explodinglens
But when Saving Herald decided to split, Donovan's daughter began a new solo project, and the 19-year-old made it clear mom would be taking a back seat. Being involved in the music scene for five years, Donovan had gained a wealth of connections and a fondness for the budding South Florida music scene.

"I had made a lot of connections that I knew I could help people with, but my daughter didn't want it," Donovan says. "And I also missed getting to know the different bands and the different types of music."

Along with her Mini Fest and podcast, Donovan also nominates three of her past guests to participate in a monthly Instagram poll to choose the "band of the month." The winner is awarded a live recording session at Vanquish Studios in Davie. Donovan can arrange for the studio time thanks to her connections with owner Joseph Salamida, whom she met after booking sessions for her daughter's now-defunct band. Donovan pays for the sessions out of pocket, but for her, it's about giving local bands the motivation to keep reaching for success.

"It's because I sit here with these kids, and it's like, I grow a love," says a tearful Donovan. "It's like I want to cry because I know how hard they work."

With the second Mini Fest — a two-day affair in early September — Donovan's main goal was to keep the event all-ages. With many venues still reeling from losses during the pandemic, finding one that would host an under-21 crowd proved challenging — but Donovan didn't budge.

"That's the big thing. I know in this scene, a lot of these bands have followers that are under 21, so I wanted to go somewhere that is all-ages," Donovan says.

The Stage Mom podcast is available on all major streaming services.

Stage Mom Mini Fest. 5 to 9 p.m. Friday, September 9, and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, September 10, Sunrise Civic Center Amphitheater, 10610 W. Oakland Park Blvd., Sunrise. Admission is free.
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