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What’s on Your Car Radio Presets?

My husband's car radio. Where KALX is #4.

My husband’s car radio. Where KALX is #4.

In today’s San Francisco Chronicle, Radio Waves columnist Ben Fong-Torres revealed which San Francisco Bay Area radio stations are on his car radio’s presets. Fong-Torres writes:

“I had six AM preset slots; 12 FM. I can’t even come up with six AMs anymore. I went with KNBR, KCBS, KGO, KKSF, KNBR at 1050 and … done. That’s how much I don’t want to have right-wing talkers hanging around…On FM, it was much tougher. I had more than a dozen possible presets: KQED, KDFC, KCSM, KALW, KPFA, “Wild 94.9,” “The Game,” “Alice,” “Kiss,” “Now,” “Star 101.3,” “K-Fox,” KBLX, KOSF, KFOG, KITS (“Live 105”), KMEL and KSAN. That’s 18, so I had to cut six. (I ain’t sayin’. As for the obvious missing station: I’m not a fan of “lite rock.” Sorry. But not really.)”

Although I’m pleased that Fong-Torres includes a number of non-commercial public radio options (and lists them first), I’m disappointed that he left off college radio entirely. Granted, he did turn over an entire column to college radio (and me) back in 2009, so I don’t want to knock him for it. I’m also biased, of course, being a DJ and volunteer at Foothill College radio station KFJC 89.7 FM in Los Altos Hills (which comes in on my car radio in many parts of San Francisco).

So, as a counterpoint to Fong-Torres’ list, here’s my own list of car radio presets: KFJC 89.7 FM, KZSU 90.1 FM (Stanford University), KOSC 90.3 FM (this is a hold-over. I can’t bring myself to delete it from my presets. I tuned in all the time when it was University of San Francisco radio station KUSF. It’s now KDFC.), and KALX 90.7 FM (University of California, Berkeley). I also regularly listen to Radio Valencia 87.9 FM and occasionally tune in to KPOO 89.5 FM, but haven’t yet added a preset for either. When driving around in the South Bay, I will also scan to KSJS 90.5 FM (San Jose State University), KSCU 103.3 FM (Santa Clara University), and KCEA 89.1 FM (Menlo-Atherton High School’s big band station). For a time I was obsessively tuning into Family Radio over KEAR 610 AM in order to hear Harold Camping’s call-in talk show, as well as the station’s vintage spiritual music, but I never preset the station (my family is relieved). Similarly, when I driving in bad traffic I will tune in to KCBS 740 AM in order to get traffic and weather updates “on the eights.”

My presets are by no means an exhaustive list of all of the amazing independent radio choices in the Bay Area. For that lengthier list, see my article from earlier this year in which I outline many other options.

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One Response to What’s on Your Car Radio Presets?

  1. John Hell August 19, 2012 at 7:02 pm #

    I read that article too, and was disappointed that he left a few of the free-form stations, that he claims to love, off the list. I’m a button pusher, myself, but more often than not my stereo is on KALX, KPFA, KPOO, Radio Valencia (if I’m range), KFJC (again, if I’m in range), or listening to the Giants on KNBR. Yes, yes, I also every so often check out the commercial dreck that’s on KSAN, KFOG (they suck so badly I really can’t stomach them, so it’s a real rarity), KFOX, Live105.

    I also use the TuneIn App. I love it. I can listen to Radio Valencia, WFMU, KAOS, KFJC and so many more great stations when I’m driving around. It’s a real delight.

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