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Radio Station Mystery Tour – South of San Francisco Edition

KCEA door

Door to KCEA (photo: J. Waits)

This summer I’ve been getting more serious about my radio station field trip project and have been trying to finally visit some of the stations in the Bay Area that have eluded me up to this point. In some cases it’s been a lack of initiative on my part, whereas in other instances my requests to visit have been unanswered.

Yesterday I decided that it was time for me to get on the road to attempt to visit some of the non-commercial radio stations that I’ve been wanting to see.

When I’m traveling out of town, I have no qualms about doing a marathon series of radio station tours (I visited 4 stations in one day when I was in Portland in April), so I figured it was worth it to try to do the same in my own neck of the woods.

My first stop yesterday morning was San Jose City College’s radio station KJCC. I’d heard about the station a few years ago and when I reached out to the station last week through its Facebook page, I received a prompt reply from its general manager. It turns out that KJCC has been broadcasting from the school since probably the late 1970s. Today it broadcasts online and over very low power FM.

KJCC studio

KJCC studio (photo: J. Waits)

After seeing KJCC, I swung by St. Francis High School in Mountain View in order to hopefully see KSFH 87.9 FM. Over the years I’ve written to various staff and students at the station in order to arrange a visit and I was never able to secure a time to come by. Recently I learned that the station was being dismantled, so I figured this was possibly my last chance to see the radio station. Although I was able to see the room adjacent to the school gym where KSFH has been broadcasting from since probably the 1970s, the studio was pretty much emptied out. I was told that after a gym remodel, the station will move to a corner of the student center.

KSFH studio

KSFH studio (photo: J. Waits)

I’ve also been intrigued by another school-owned station, KCEA 89.1 FM at Menlo-Atherton High School in Atherton. I know a student at the high school and he told me that he’d never seen anyone at the station. Despite that, I dropped by on the off chance that someone might be there. The “nostalgia station” plays mainly big band music and is programmed by adult DJs. The door was locked and nobody was at the station when I stopped by, but I did get a picture of the amazing signage above the door (“Community Radio Disaster and Information Center”).

Community Radio Disaster and Information Center sign

Sign about door to KCEA (photo: J. Waits)

Following that visit, I headed nearby to Menlo College (also in Atherton) in order to sleuth out the student radio station KMXX. I wasn’t sure if it was still in existence, so I wasn’t all that optimistic that I would get to see anything. I found the dorm that housed KMXX and then asked a security person if the station was still there. He said it was gone and offered to put me in touch with the former advisor so that I could learn more about what had happened to the station.

Leo Murphy in KKUP library

KKUP board member and DJ Leo Murphy in the station’s vinyl library (photo: J. Waits)

With a little time left in the day, I called community radio station KKUP 91.5 FM to see if I could stop by for a visit. The on-air DJ answered the phone and said that it was OK if I wanted to come to KKUP for a tour. A handful of DJs, staff, and board members were on site at the San Jose station when I arrived and it was quite satisfying to learn more about the 41-year-old community radio station.

Although I didn’t get to see all of the stations that I’d hoped to visit, it was a fun day of radio station stalking. It was also a reminder to me of just how many hidden radio stations there are, even in my own backyard. You can read all of my radio station field trip accounts (nearly 50 of them!) on my SpinningIndie blog (be forewarned, it may be a few weeks before these latest trips are fully chronicled).

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