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KCRW & KUSC Move In Santa Barbara

Classical 93.7 KDB KDB-FM Santa Barbara 88.9 KCRW 88.7 KQSC USC Update 8/28: The sale of 93.7 KDB Santa Barbara has been completed, bringing two Los Angeles non-commercial simulcasts to new homes in Santa Barbara.

University of Southern California moves its Classical simulcast of 91.5 KUSC Los Angeles from 88.7 KQSC to 93.7 KDB replacing the previous independently programming Classical format. 88.7 is now KDRW-FM simulcasting Talk/Indie Rock 89.9 KCRW Santa Monica.

Original Report 2/18: KCRW Los Angeles is expanding northward up the coast into Santa Barbara.

KCRW has agreed to acquire Classical 93.7 KDB Santa Barbara after the station was put on the block by the Santa Barbara Foundation last fall. KCRW will partner with Antioch University to create a local studio on campus with some student involvement. Additionally using the resources of the Santa Barbara Independent weekly newspaper and hiring two local staffers, KCRW will produce Santa Barbara editions of NPR’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered.

The deal will involve a frequency swap and a third party. KCRW’s new Santa Barbara programming will be heard on what is now USC’s Classical 88.7 KQSC. USC’s programming will move to the 93.7 frequency and retain the KDB calls.

Both 88.7 KQSC and 93.7 KDB have comparable signals. Both stations are licensed as Class B’s. 88.7 KQSC operates with 12kW at 264 meters, while 93.7 KDB runs 12.5kW at 265 meters.

KCRW and the Santa Barbara Foundation announced today KCRW’s acquisition of KDB. With the purchase, KCRW will pursue its goal of creating meaningful connections with communities it serves through relevant, credible content across news, music, and the arts. KCRW is also committed to supporting local cultural institutions, and building on its already established partnerships with the Santa Barbara Bowl, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, and other organizations.

As a result of the purchase, Santa Barbara listeners will benefit from an increase in programming across the spectrums of news, culture, and a variety of music genres. KCRW will broadcast from 88.7 FM, while KUSC will combine its broadcast (previously at 88.7 FM) with KDB to preserve 93.7 FM as a high quality source for classical music with Santa Barbara-focused programming.

KCRW has also formed a strategic partnership with Antioch University. KCRW’s Santa Barbara studio will be located on campus, and will provide opportunities for students to gain insight into storytelling and broadcasting through internships and integration into the curriculum.

“This opportunity is very exciting. Santa Barbara is a natural home for KCRW. We’ve partnered with Santa Barbara institutions for years on music and culture initiatives,” said Jennifer Ferro, president and general manager of KCRW. “It has all the elements that have made KCRW a success in Los Angeles — a diverse and intelligent population interested in arts and culture who are passionate about their local community. We believe we can further amplify the voices of Santa Barbara in a unique and compelling way.”

“At the Santa Barbara Foundation, philanthropy is the starting point for being high impact on community issues,” said Ron Gallo, president and CEO of the Santa Barbara Foundation. “With the transition to the ‘new KDB,’ we were able to keep classical music alive while enhancing and expanding the variety of musical programming offered in Santa Barbara.”

The Santa Barbara Foundation announced its intention to sell KDB in September 2013, following an unanimous vote from Foundation board members. KCRW submitted its proposal to the Santa Barbara Foundation in November 2013. The broadcast is expected to start airing in Spring 2014.

KCRW will create culturally responsive news, music and talk programming that speaks to the nuanced interest and needs of Santa Barbara listeners. With plans to partner with The Santa Barbara Independent and hire two announcer/producers, KCRW will create a Santa Barbara edition of NPR’s popular morning newsmagazine Morning Edition and afternoon news show All Things Considered.

The schedule will also include syndicated public radio programming broadcast on KCRW, such as Marketplace, The World, This American Life, TED Radio Hour, and The Moth Radio Hour, in addition to over 100 hours of KCRW’s originally produced, award-winning content, ranging from flagship music program Morning Becomes Eclectic with music director Jason Bentley to news and culture show Press Play with Madeleine Brand, nationally-syndicated To The Point with Warren Olney, and cultural programming on art, film, architecture, food, literature, and politics. The on-air schedule will follow a similar format to KCRW’s terrestrial broadcast, available online at www.kcrw.com/schedule.

The Santa Barbara station will benefit from KCRW’s community engagement programs and digital platforms, including its robust events department, which will help build local partnerships with arts and culture institutions; expansion of the Fringe Benefits program, a curated collection of discounts from over 1,100 Southern California businesses; and Santa Barbara-specific content’s availability on KCRW.com, mobile apps, and social media platforms, which reach over 1.5 million people monthly.

KCRW will welcome two Santa Barbara residents to its Foundation Board in the coming year, ensuring that the community’s needs are represented in the visioning of KCRW’s future. An Advisory Board will also be formed, including philanthropic, arts and culture, academic and political leaders from the Santa Barbara community.

Profile photo of Lance Venta
Lance Venta is the Owner and Publisher of RadioInsight.com and a consultant for RadioBB Networks specializing in integration of radio and the internet. Lance has two decades of experience tracking the audio industry and its use of digital platforms.

6 Comments

  1. Profile photo of K.M. Richards


    I’m going to start the clock ticking as to how long the heritage KDB call letters last after this, since USC is involved.

    What is now KQSC was originally KFAC, until USC reneged on a promise to keep those call letters parked there so that they would continue to be announced hourly (USC inherited the music library of classical KFAC in Los Angeles when it became KKBT in 1989).

    And, of course, once those three-letter calls disappear, they’re never coming back.

    • Profile photo of charles57


      KDB will retain its call letters as well as format. A commenter to classical music blog Scanning The Dial points that out:

      http://www.insidethearts.com/scanningthedial/2014/02/18/marty-ronish/4895/

      • Profile photo of K.M. Richards


        Sure, for now.

        USC did keep the KFAC calls in Santa Barbara for a few years, then dropped them as soon as they thought people had forgotten their promise.

        Don’t be surprised when it happens again.

        • Profile photo of charles57


          KFAC was associated with Los Angeles. KDB has always been associated with Santa Barbara going back to when it was on AM.

          Don’t automatically assume that new owners will always seek to get rid of a 3-letter callsign.

          • Profile photo of K.M. Richards


            Don’t automatically assume that USC won’t simply move its simulcast of KUSC to the KDB signal. Do you honestly think they’re turning KQSC over to KCRW and losing the KUSC simulcast?

            The keeping of the KFAC call letters was based on their legal ID indentifying all the stations in the simulcast. Therefore, the KFAC calls were heard in L.A. even though they were on the Santa Barbara station.

            Based on USC’s previous behavior, I expect them to simply move the simulcast, then decide they don’t care for the KDB call letters “ruining” the symmetry of their legal ID announcement.

            I hope you’re right, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

          • Profile photo of K.M. Richards


            And now, six months later, it appears I was correct on at least one point.

            Has KDB retained its independent programming? No. Are they now just a simulcast of KUSC? Yes.

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