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KCRW comes to Santa Barbara: KUSC to run classical signal

KDB 93.7

Updated: February 20: Ok, second try on this story . . .

A solution has been found for financially ailing classical station KDB 93.7 FM in Santa Barbara, California. It will be sold to innovative NPR affiliate KCRW-FM of Santa Monica. When last we left KDB its parent, the Santa Barbara Foundation, was on the verge of letting the signal go—all efforts to keep it afloat failing to make the operation “financially self-sufficient,” in the words of its general manager. Now KCRW has bought the frequency.

“Loyal listeners will still be able to hear the sounds of Mozart and Tchaikovsky, while benefiting from increased programming across the spectrums of news, culture, and a variety of music genres,” a Santa Barbara Foundation release press release pledges. BUT: KCRW will not broadcast classical music. Classical KUSC from Los Angeles is involved in the deal. Here’s a KUSC summary of the arrangement:

“Public radio station KCRW, based in Santa Monica, approached Classical KUSC and suggested that KCRW buy the Santa Barbara station and then swap it for KQSC (88.7 FM), the station that Classical KUSC currently operates in Santa Barbara. Classical KUSC agreed to the swap, which allows KDB to continue playing classical music and expands KCRW’s signal to Santa Barbara.

KDB and KQSC have virtually the same coverage area. No money will change hands between KCRW and Classical KUSC.

The KDB call letters will remain, as will its 93.7 FM frequency, but USC branding will be given at the top of each hour, as is done on all the KUSC stations, which are located in Los Angeles and Santa Clarita (KUSC), Palm Springs (KPSC), Thousand Oaks (KDSC), Morro Bay and San Luis Obispo (KESC) as well as KQSC in Santa Barbara.”

Whew! As for KCRW, the revised signal will deliver KCRW content, plus team up with The Santa Barbara Independent and bring in two new announcers. They’ll cook up some kind of Santa Barbara version of NPR’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Plus a  “strategic partnership” with Antioch University is in the works.

As you might guess, all this will take some time to settle in, and there is Federal Communications Commission paperwork involved, of course. Over at KDB run now by KUSC, the latter signal’s management plans to meet with Santa Barbara arts groups and “begin developing an advisory board to guide its efforts and ensure that the station continues its strong ties to the community . . . ”

 


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3 Responses to KCRW comes to Santa Barbara: KUSC to run classical signal

  1. Brad Hill February 19, 2014 at 8:11 pm #

    Bravo for this coverage, and congrats to the classical staff.

  2. Gail February 19, 2014 at 10:36 pm #

    Dear Matthew,

    It’s confusing, I know! Here’s a USC press release that clarifies a few things. The new KCRW station, which will take over the former KUSC translator, KQSC, will not be broadcasting classical music. Rather it will be KCRW content, with major Santa Barbara localization. Feel free to call Allison Engel for more details. The phone # is below.

    Classical KUSC to Operate Santa Barbara Classical Station

    CONTACT: Allison Engel allison.engel@usc.edu 213/740-1927

    Upon approval by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), commercial classical music
    station KDB in Santa Barbara will be operated by Classical KUSC, a nonprofit public station, it was
    announced by Brenda Barnes, president of USC Radio.

    KDB, operating at 93.7 FM, dates to the late 1920s and is owned by the Santa Barbara Foundation.
    Several months ago, the foundation announced it would sell the station, but stipulated that it must
    continue to operate with a classical format.

    Public radio station KCRW, based in Santa Monica, approached Classical KUSC and suggested that
    KCRW buy the Santa Barbara station and then swap it for KQSC (88.7 FM), the station that Classical
    KUSC currently operates in Santa Barbara. Classical KUSC agreed to the swap, which allows KDB to
    continue playing classical music and expands KCRW’s signal to Santa Barbara.

    KDB and KQSC have virtually the same coverage area. No money will change hands between KCRW
    and Classical KUSC.

    The KDB call letters will remain, as will its 93.7 FM frequency, but USC branding will be given at the
    top of each hour, as is done on all the KUSC stations, which are located in Los Angeles and Santa
    Clarita (KUSC), Palm Springs (KPSC), Thousand Oaks (KDSC), Morro Bay and San Luis Obispo
    (KESC) as well as KQSC in Santa Barbara.

    In a letter to Classical KUSC members, Barnes said the Santa Barbara Foundation has been
    subsidizing KDB operations for several years and could not justify continuing to do so. “This is not
    their fault,” she wrote. “Classical music just does not work as a commercial radio format anymore
    even in a place as unique and special as Santa Barbara. Santa Barbara, in fact, is the last city in the
    country with two full-time classical stations.”
    Barnes said that arts programming in Santa Barbara will be expanded under the new management,
    and that KDB will continue broadcasting concerts of the Santa Barbara Symphony and The Music
    Academy of the West. “We hope to expand the roster of concert broadcasts by raising funding
    dedicated to coverage of the arts in Santa Barbara,” Barnes wrote.

    FCC approval is likely to take two to three months. During this time, Barnes and Classical KUSC
    executive producer Gail Eichenthal will be meeting with Santa Barbara-area arts organizations and
    begin developing an advisory board to guide its efforts and ensure that the station continues its
    strong ties to the community.

    USC Radio also operates a second nonprofit, listener-supported classical music station in the San
    Francisco Bay Area, Classical KDFC. The two stations provide classical coverage for nearly all the
    state. In the rest of the state and around the world, the stations can be heard online at kusc.org and
    kdfc.com.

    # # #

    USC Radio operates two of the largest and most listened to public radio and nonprofit classical
    music stations in the country. Classical KUSC, located in downtown Los Angeles, broadcasts handpicked commercial-free classical performances, expert music commentary and coverage of the arts in Southern California. The listener-supported station has been broadcasting for more than 60
    years as a broadcast service of the University of Southern California at 91.5(FM) in Los Angeles
    and Santa Clarita; 88.5 KPSC in Palm Springs; 91.1 KDSC in Thousand Oaks, 88.7 KQSC in Santa
    Barbara and 99.7 KESC in Morro Bay/San Luis Obispo. It is live-streamed on the Web at kusc.org.
    Classical KDFC, located in downtown San Francisco, is the only classical music service in the Bay
    Area, broadcasting on 90.3 FM in San Francisco, 89.9 FM in Napa/Sonoma and 104.9 FM in the
    South Bay and Peninsula. It also offers hand-picked music, expert commentary and coverage of
    local arts organizations. It is live-streamed at kdfc.com.

  3. jonthebru February 21, 2014 at 12:09 pm #

    This is very good news. Every area should have a classical music station. I hope they keep the 3 letter call; KDB, that signifies a history that can’t be purchased.

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