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Visiting KCNL in San Jose

Plaque at KLOK Headquarters (Photo: J. Waits)

Plaque at KLOK Headquarters (Photo: J. Waits)

In my free time I like to schedule visits to radio stations in order to get a glimpse into their day-to-day operations. This project started way back in 2008 when I made my first field trip to WECB at Emerson College.

Along the way some studios (like KUSF) have sadly been dismantled, others have moved to new digs (KSCU and Flirt FM), and others are in limbo (WHRC).

Although my original goal was to visit college radio stations, over the years I’ve been intrigued by some community, pirate, religious (Family Radio), and commercial radio stations, so have expanded my sphere of stations considerably.

Recently I found myself interested in a project going on at local commercial radio station KCNL in San Jose that utilizes a unique brokered time model in which it leases out its airwaves to members of the community. KCNL, along with its sister stations KSJO and KLOK (all owned by Principle Broadcasting Network) each feature specialized programming targeted at different ethnic groups in the San Francisco Bay Area.  In order to learn more about KCNL, I booked a visit to their headquarters in February. As it turns out, it’s located at the historic home of 50,000 watt AM radio station KLOK.

Less than 6 weeks after my visit I learned that KCNL was to be sold to University of Southern California (USC) as part of the broader expansion of classical music brand KDFC. In a strange coincidence, my coverage of the contested sale of college radio station KUSF collided with my field trip series, since KUSF is another outlet for KDFC programming.

To get a glimpse into the current operations of KCNL and its sister stations KSJO and KLOK, take a look at my field trip series post on Spinning Indie.


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