KCSF Radio Goes Global In The Digital Age

KCSF DJ Frank Spencer, The Headiest Host from Coast to Coast, goes on air with an impromptu broadcast on May 9, 2012 at the Ocean Campus. His regular broadcast is You Enjoy My Station, which features classic rock n roll, the Grateful Dead and anything else he is enjoying at the time. BETH LABERGE / THE GUARDSMAN

The Guardsman

Beth LaBerge

There is a buzz on the internet radio waves at City College’s KCSF station as the student DJs go live through a new smart phone app.

This semester KCSF has tapped into the new outlet of app radio through a free program called TuneIn, which means that ‘your community, your radio’ can be heard anytime, anywhere.

The station continues to stream live on the internet, while this app puts KCSF on the map with other local stations and makes independent radio more accessible.

“What college radio does especially is give freedom and access to DJs to play music or to play artists that aren’t otherwise known to the public,” Program Director and City College student Matias Godinez said.

College and independent radio stations have long been a club for music aficionados, exposing up-and-coming bands as well as being a voice for their community. As AM and FM terrestrial mainstream radio stations empty of personality and independent stations decline, internet, satellite and smart phone app radio bring a world of stations to your fingertips.

“There are a few shows out there on KCSF that provide that outlet and actually bring in underground artists,” Godinez said.

The TuneIn app has taken almost all of the digital online stations including college radio, commercial (other than CBS and ClearChannel), non-commercial, and community freeform and put them together with one click.

“They’re giving college radio stations a chance to access their library and put people on the air,” Godinez said.

While there may be a continued market for AM/FM radio, the way of expanding throughout not only the country, but the world, is through internet radio and smart phone apps.

“We have people call in [to the station], some people call from Europe,” said Dr. Cecil Hale, General Manager of the station since 1986.

Since Hale took over as General Manager, coming from a background of radio experience as a radio DJ and Capitol Records executive, he has seen many changes at the station, from records to digital and now the new app.

“We’ve changed in terms of equipment. When I first came here we had very old equipment. Some of the stuff we used years ago was newer than the stuff they had here. We finally became a digital station about 10 years ago. And the station has been growing technologically ever since,” Hale said.

In the age of internet and app radio technology, KCSF’s 90.9 terrestrial station may seem out-of-date. It can still be heard on the FM dial, but only as far as the Ocean Campus parking lot.


Inside the KCSF station

The sparsely decorated, windowless and decidedly unpretentious radio station on the Ocean Campus is a broadcast of love for its students and produces entertainment that is anything but bland.

The passionate DJs take their listeners on a musical expedition filled with independent bands, mash-up mixes and hyper local news.

This group of laid back radio broadcasters produce their programs in a station roughly 6 x 8 ft, filled only with the essentials–mixing board, automation computer system, microphones, and speakers. While their sister location at the Mission Campus houses new radio broadcasting equipment that sits unused.

The delay in operation is caused by a lack of funding to buy equipment used to establish a link between the two campuses. Once that link is in place, broadcasting can rotate between the two stations offering diversity of locales and more space for the students.

“It is my intent to make this a fully functionally adjunct of KCSF. The biggest problem has been finances. As you’ve heard over and over and over again, we are broke. We are getting there bit by bit. I’m hoping sometime in the next year we’ll make that happen,” Hale said.

Despite the setback KSCF produces a variety of programs that change with every semester, and the inventory of music keeps growing. This semester they host Mash-Up Mondays, Working Man Wednesdays, and World Music Fridays, as well as continuing live sports coverage of football and men’s and women’s basketball home games.

KCSF runs live from 9am to 9pm, if no one misses their shift. The system runs on automation in the downtime, and throughout the night and weekends so there is never dead air.

“We can set an entire years worth of radio programming in a couple days and lock this door and walk away and the station would run and make it sound like there’s somebody in here being live on the air. We could do that, but we don’t. We like to be live on the air,” said third semester radio student Frank Spencer, aka “The Headiest Host from Coast to Coast” who runs a psychedelic program entitled You Enjoy My Station which runs every Mon, Wed and Fri from 9am to 10am.

They will be running all summer and will be live again next semester with new shows, sports coverage and promotional giveaways in an effort to promote TuneIn and to convince City College students of the importance of college radio.

Live stream of the station can can be found at KCSFRadio.com and the app can be downloaded at TuneIn.com, search KCSF.

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