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KCSB’s Historical Chronicle Continues in the Independent’s KCSBeat

Two more chapters in KCSB are now available for the reading in The KCSBeat, Colin Marshall’s Santa Barbara Independent column on all things KCSB.

kcsbeat-3-and-4Onward and Outward into the Seventies” covers the period of KCSB’s life immediately after the Isla Vista riots of 1970, when things may have looked bleak but when the station nonetheless greatly expanded both its capacities and its mission:




In April 1970, the very same month it endured a three-hour shutdown at the hands of the law, KCSB stepped up its power 18-fold by obtaining a 180-watt transmitter. Equipped with the first directional FM antenna ever put into service by a radio station, the transmitter was moved from the roof of the venerable San Miguel dorm to the Santa Ynez mountains’ 4200-foot-high “Broadcast Peak.” Ten miles northeast of Santa Barbara, the site hosts many county broadcasters’ gear, including that of KEYT-TV. This new arrangement greatly expanded KCSB’s range, making new listeners out of Santa Marians to the north and Venturans to the south, and opening up a potential audience of over 150,000, surely an unthinkable number back in the Radio Navajo days.

In “Classed Up, Changed U, and Livened Up“, KCSB ends the 1970s and begins the 1980s by entering its final transition from a mere-yet-not-really-mere-at-all college station to a full-fledged public broadcaster with more variety, more technical expertise, and — most important of all — shiny new gear:

As the 1970s finished up, so did work on the KCSB’s new control room after a nearly four-year renovation process. With fresh turntables, a state-of-the-art cart rack — tape carts now being nothing more than a dim analog memory in the minds of longtime DJs, but never mind — and a much improved mixing console, the station experienced a satisfying measure of real technical improvement. But satisfaction has its price tag, which in this particular case came to $4,000 in 1979 dollars. As for what specific fraction of that year’s whole operating budget the amount represented, the station’s managers probably didn’t even want to compute it. Thus equipped, KCSB marched proudly into the 1980s as one of the vanishingly few college-grown American independent radio stations to survive the ’60s and ’70s without throwing in the towel and succumbing to a generic “rock” format. The new decade would endow the station with a slightly different look, feel, and sound, but the core of eclecticism and community spirit would remain as intact and functional as ever.