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Radio Valencia: we are two years old (and moving!)

Radio Valencia in San Francisco hit the terrible twos late last week. I wrote to John Hell, the community outlet’s co-founder, to get an update on the station’s plans. He sent me this commentary, which is published below in full. —Matthew Lasar

On Saturday, August 11th Radio Valencia celebrated its 2nd anniversary. That went by fast. It’s never dull at RV. We get emails every day from people who want to do a show with us. We never turn anyone down, either. That doesn’t mean they don’t self-select out. Once I tell them that our mission is to support our community, and I ask them how their show will do this, a few let me know that they just want to play music and that’s it. I let them know of a few other stations in SF that might be a better fit. But I have NEVER said no to a potential DJ.

Radio Valencia at the “Sunday Streets” fair on Valencia Street in San Francisco earlier this month.

The DJs we have at Radio Valencia understand that radio is an art form. They understand that they are taking a two hour slot and creating something timely and timeless.

In our first month we had 15 weekly two-hour shows. Today Radio Valencia has 47 shows, with over 60 DJs. We’ve hardly had any turn over. The DJs we’ve lost left mostly because of work schedules or family. We haven’t lost many.

For the upcoming year we’re planning on doing more live remotes (El Rio for Cowgirlpalooza is coming up). We broadcasted from Sunday Streets twice this summer. Our staff loved it! Almost all of our DJs do interviews every week. We’ve hosted so many bands it’s hard to keep track. We’ve had a few local politicians (I interviewed John Avalos last fall), many writers, activists, performance artists, etc.

We are moving to a larger space on Mission st. We’re very excited about this because it will allow us to host more live acts, have space for an office, and even a production studio. More space means better programming down the line. It’s all about the sound.

Having been involved in Bay Area non-commercial radio since 1988, I can honestly say that I haven’t had so much fun at a radio station since my early days at KFJC in 1988. Everyone who contributes to RV does so knowing that their contribution is leading to something that may stand the test of time. We really are operating as a co-op. We meet every two months, we communicate online, daily. We made a deal with each other not to complain, but to offer solutions. It’s OK to be critical, but let’s synthesize and create something new and better.

It’s safe to say that RV has some colorful characters; just listen to the shows. Can you imagine what it’s like to be in a meeting with these people? I love it, actually. Really, I’m blessed. There is no leader of RV. We all lead. Not everyone has the time or energy to take up the task every time. That’s what makes a great team a great team. There are so many people on staff that know how to take up the slack.

I couldn’t have imagined two years ago all of the great people I would meet that would make my dream of the best free form radio station in San Francisco since the early days of “Big Daddy” Tom Donahue come true. That’s happening at Radio Valencia.

What are you waiting for? Tune in NOW!

John Hell


Defacto Program Director

Radio Valencia

You can tune into Radio Valencia at 87.9 FM in San Francisco or just stream the site at —editors

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