<b>LEND ME YOUR EARS:</b>  Dreams hatched in February by (from left) Jennifer Ferro of KCRW, Ron Gallo of the Santa Barbara Foundation, and Brenda Barnes of KUSC have been set back at least three months due to snags involving leasing details and legal fees.

Paul Wellman

LEND ME YOUR EARS: Dreams hatched in February by (from left) Jennifer Ferro of KCRW, Ron Gallo of the Santa Barbara Foundation, and Brenda Barnes of KUSC have been set back at least three months due to snags involving leasing details and legal fees.

NPR Saturation in Santa Barbara?

Four Public Radio Stations Come to Town

Thursday, August 14, 2014
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Any week now, Santa Barbara’s radio airwaves could have as many as four National Public Radio (NPR) stations vying for the ear space and pledge week donations of listeners countywide. Two months ago, the number of NPR affiliates jumped from two to three when Pasadena-based KPCC ​— ​operated by Southern California Public Radio and offering an all-news, all-talk format ​— ​acquired 89.9 FM and quietly began broadcasting in Santa Barbara. And two weeks ago, the station began plastering the back of MTD buses with its billboards bearing the slogan, “No rant, no slant.”

In so doing, KPCC managed to edge into Santa Barbara ahead of its longtime rival in the Los Angeles radio market, Santa Monica–based KCRW, best known for its adventurous musical and cultural programming. KCRW was expected to start broadcasting in Santa Barbara this May out of studio space at Antioch University downtown. To that end, KCRW reportedly hired two on-air announcers and one news reporter to produce locally originated content. It also set up equipment in The Santa Barbara Independent offices to allow direct transmission from Independent writers and reporters.

By contrast, KPCC will broadcast from Pasadena using existing station staff, offering an intense focus on regional news but with no locally produced content. These two newcomers will find themselves forced to carve out a listener niche in a public radio market that’s been long served by KCBX out of San Luis Obispo (89.5) and KCLU (102.3) out of Thousand Oaks, raising the urgent question just how much All Things Considered can one town consider?

These preexisting stations are hardly sitting still. KCLU has bumped its broadcast power 25-fold in recent months, and KCBX hired its first news director ever, Randol White, at the beginning of the year. Much of this airwave commotion was sparked when the Santa Barbara Foundation sought to divest itself of KDB ​— ​93.7 on the dial ​— ​one of the oldest all-classical stations left in the United States. KDB was until recently a privately owned, for-profit station, but it placed a strain on foundation resources in terms of money, time, and management expertise.

In February, the foundation announced it had sold KDB to KCRW for $1 million. As part of the deal, KDB’s call letters, frequency assignment, and programming would be absorbed by KUSC, which has long provided Santa Barbara listeners an all-classical format from programmers operating in studios in downtown Los Angeles. Beginning in March, KDB began laying off its handful of employees, and this Saturday, KDB programmer Steve Murphy bid a sorrowful farewell to listeners before he and his family left for the East Coast. In this proposed swap, KUSC would, in turn, yield its space at the left end of the dial (88.7 FM) to KCRW, a frequency regarded as the golden goose in this transaction.

Technically, the swap is a relatively simple matter of yanking wires one place and plugging them in someplace else, explained John Franklin, co-owner of Community Radio Inc., which owns and operates the large antenna farm on Gibraltar Peak from which most South Coast radio stations broadcast. But legally, Franklin lamented, it’s been anything but simple. KDB, it turns out, didn’t have a lease with Community Radio but had instead negotiated a real estate easement ​— ​a very different legal tool ​— ​with Community Radio’s predecessors. That meant a new lease had to be drafted, but according to Franklin, KUSC and KCRW have proved slow to respond with lease language they could live with. In addition, he said KUSC pushed for changes that might increase Community Radio’s vulnerability to legal action in case of natural disasters. On top of that, he said, there’s the unresolved matter of $30,000 in attorneys’ fees thus far.

“This whole thing has just gotten bogged down,” Franklin said. “Every week, we say, ‘Any day now.’ But we’ve been saying that pretty much every day for the last three weeks.” Clearly, it hasn’t worked out optimally for KCRW, either. In June, the station took out big display ads on the back of MTD buses ​— ​as KPCC has ​— ​but in deference to the slow pace of contract talks, it discontinued those ads indefinitely. Tim Owens, who works both for KDB and for the Santa Barbara Foundation, cautioned that such fits and starts are part of the natural order of business transactions. “It will happen,” he said. “It’s all just part of the process.”


Independent Discussion Guidelines

Uh, KCSB broadcasts out of Santa Barbara, is at 91.9, and is not an NPR station. Not sure what station you are referring to.

rockdontrun (anonymous profile)
August 14, 2014 at 8:30 a.m. (Suggest removal)

89.5 is the frequency of KSBX, which is a relay of KCBX in SLO.
KCRW has served Santa Barbara for several years via a translator on 106.9, so when it finally lands on 88.7 (as KDRW) it really means SB will net a loss of a classical music station, not a gain of an NPR affiliate.

w1pr (anonymous profile)
August 14, 2014 at 9:56 a.m. (Suggest removal)

In SB, I pick up KCRW best on their Ventura translator 89.1. But in Goleta 106.9 comes in better.

KCRW also streams on the internet @ and has a number of mobile apps.

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
August 14, 2014 at 10:42 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Talk about audacity, chutzpah, or just plain self delusion, the back of the bus ads for 89.9 FM billing itself as being "no rant, no slant" just takes the prize. Come on folks, at least have some integrity. You know darn well that NPR presents a quite "slanted" version of news and commentary. I heard Noam Chomsky being interviewed on NPR the other day. He is as far left as they come. One of those "intellectuals" that blames the USA for all of the faults in the World and beleives that we are only prosperous and powerful because we unjustly exploited others. Our only "exceptionalism" is that the USA is exceptionally unjust, immoral, imperialistic, racist etc. etc. So I ask, since you would never feature an interview from a conservative thinker such as ( to be diverse let's list some African Amercans)......Thomas Sowell, Dr. Ben Carson, Condy Rice, Alan Keyes, Michael Steele, Ward Connerly, Amstrong Williiams, Ken Blackwell, etc. etc. etc., but you would welcome the likes of Angela Davis, Al Sharpton, etc. etc., how can you say your programming isn't "slanted"? How ridiculous. Could it be that you are so self-righteous that you consider any views to the right of yours to have no validity and not be worthy of any consideration at all?????? I think that's it. Shame on you for being that way; not recognizing or admitting that you do have a biased point of view and programming agenda.

Dorfy (anonymous profile)
August 14, 2014 at 3:53 p.m. (Suggest removal)

"African-Americans", and they have Black folks too.

Dorfy's right however, to say "no slant" is as silly as Fox News's "Fair and Balanced" but as I've been saying for years, blogs are the new news medium.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
August 14, 2014 at 4:05 p.m. (Suggest removal)

matildaj (anonymous profile)
August 14, 2014 at 4:16 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Dorfy maybe you can explain how properly identifying big business and banking interests as driving the US's geo-political intelligence and warfare operations that have for the past several decades or more been used to oust democratically elected leaders in foreign countries in favor of western friendly dicators which has caused massive amounts of death and strife is some how a 'leftist' philosophy when it is simply being able to see the truth.

I was under the impression that leftist philosophy has to do with wealth redistribution and central control of government whereas the philosophy on the right is more based on free markets and more individual and local sovereignty.

I'm actually about as far right as it goes, and I will tell you Noam Chomsky is right about those particular issues and you're still living in dream land.

Try reading "Confessions of an Economic Hitman"

Learn about how the Clintons helped run a massive cocaine smuggling operation in concert with the CIA through Mena, AK while Bill Clinton was governor and how they used Hillary's Rose Law Firm and the BCCI to launder untold sums of money from the drug trade. Learn about how the drug smuggling operations continue to be protected by the CIA to this day and how most drug money ends up going to these intelligence agencies and is used to fund covert military operations.

Learning about the truth is not a left or right issue, too many Republicans are just too stuck in tradition to snap out of it and admit what is happening to their country.

Too many Republicans make themselves look ridiculous when they say that Ron Paul and others on the right who have correctly identified the intentions and motives of those who run our country's military and intelligence operations are 'leftist' when they seem to have no idea what they are talking about when it comes to left and right.

That said, you're right that NPR is slanted, but Noam Chomsky isn't wrong about the issues you mentioned and the only thing exceptional about our country is how many people's heads are buried in the sand.

loonpt (anonymous profile)
August 14, 2014 at 4:29 p.m. (Suggest removal)


It's funny because this article is written as if RADIO MATTERS. It doesn't anymore. It's gone from a cash cow to a money pit. NPR SHOULD BE defunded, it does nothing but spread the peanut butter to the edges of the bread, while we get most of the bread covered with FREE PEANUT BUTTER over 90% of the time via alternative news sources. Kill it already. It's not even relative, or important, or listened to. The only listeners are the one's who still bitch about Johnny Carson leaving late night. Oh and the air personalities on it....they listen to themselves.

Personally NONE of those idiots serve any of us in Ventura County. Those self righteous KCLU people need to focus on one city, they can't even get ONE city right, much less 3 counties. It's a joke. The morning news person pronounces all the city names wrong AND they try to do traffic covering three counties. Go ahead, tune in for one can tell none of those idiots even live near Santa Barbara, or SLO.

KPCC would be good if they stopped trying to originate such crappy local programming with WAY overpaid hosts and stuck up producers.

KCRW is still great, but totally Santa Monica. You can take the station out of LA but you can't take LA outta the station.

Personally, I'm sick of being an afterthought as a Ventura County resident, hearing news about something three counties up the coast, or listening to traffic in Atascadero. WTF KCLU, get a clue. We all know that John Palminteri simply calls in his stories over the phone. It's like, how dumb does the KCLU staff think residents ARE? Who runs that trainwreck?

I love how deregulation was supposed to create more opportunities in broadcasting, and open up the playing field, WHEN IN REALITY, all it's done is made us have to listen to more crap from a government funded cartel of uppity Rhode Scholars who are so full of themselves, it's a wonder they all fit in the same building at NPR West. If we had defunded this garbage back when it was a hot topic, we wouldn't have this problem.....we don't need ONE NPR station, much less 4.

And yo, All Things Considered, I'll stick to my ipod. As per the latest Gallup poll of media consumption, binge watching is more popular than any other form of consuming content AND the only live programming, be it on radio or TV, being watched by anyone 40 and under is called Saturday Night Live. No one listens to live programming.

Radio is dead. It ate it's young, and the all went to work at Pandora, iHeartRadio and Spotify.

goldcoastlover (anonymous profile)
August 14, 2014 at 8:38 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The more NPR stations the better. They have the best content on free radio. At least the nativists can be happy that they broadcast in English.

Herschel_Greenspan (anonymous profile)
August 14, 2014 at 10:11 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Sometimes they have programs in Spanish, with Spanish-language music.

None of us are safe, Herschel_.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
August 14, 2014 at 10:56 p.m. (Suggest removal)

NPR has it's moments of glory. This is one of the best reports they ever published:

Botany (anonymous profile)
August 15, 2014 at 8:04 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Now NPR is a paragon of objectivity? NPR is the best free radio that agrees with the majority of leftists in our tiny little town. Try the internet for a plurality of views and some objectivity HG. There is a lot more than the fools on the right Fox and the NPR fools on the left.
If loon really wants to cite N.C. he had better be prepared to defend some of the utter crazy inconsistency that NC spouts. I had him as a Prof in college before he went totally nuts and even then he was drinking his own kool-aid.

nomoresanity (anonymous profile)
August 16, 2014 at 7:24 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Like it or not, NPR and "public radio" stations in general get very little federal support. Most NPR stations receive the bulk of their operating budgets from on air fundraising not from the CPB. Unlike major broadcast operations like the BBC, Deutsche Welle in Germany and Radio France, to mention just three examples, public broadcasting in this country is paid for by the public, not the government.

duvidl (anonymous profile)
August 16, 2014 at 10:54 a.m. (Suggest removal)

What does that have to do with anything? Because it is different from the BBC we need 4 publicly funded stations spouting the same slanted view? Huh?

nomoresanity (anonymous profile)
August 17, 2014 at 6:52 a.m. (Suggest removal)

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