KCRW buys classical music station in Santa Barbara, will add staff *

LA Observed file photo from Soho House in West Hollywood.

I'm not sure I fully understand this, but the basic facts are that KCRW is acquiring KDB, a longtime Santa Barbara classical music station at 93.7 FM. The bottom line appears to be that KCRW gets a stronger signal along the Santa Barbara coast, using 88.7 FM, while classical music will continue at 93.7 in a partnership between KDB and KUSC. KCRW will add two producer/announcers housed at Antioch University up there and produce Santa Barbara editions of "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered." The Santa Barbara Independent weekly will be a partner of KCRW.

Here's how KCRW flacks it:

KCRW, one of the nation’s leading National Public Radio (NPR) affiliates, 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

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, 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.

* Added: summarizes the deal this way:

Under the deal announced today, KCRW will buy 93.7 KDB-FM, an 88-year old commercial classical station, but will not broadcast on the frequency. Instead, all-classical KUSC will take over the channel and transfer its weaker local channel, 88.7 FM, to KCRW. The channel will become an outlet for Santa Monica-based pubcaster’s signature hybrid format that combines NPR News and contemporary music programming.

In sum, the two classical stations broadcasting in Santa Barbara are to become one after the FCC approves the deal. Classical music lovers won’t have to reset their channel preferences, because 93.7 FM will carry on its legacy service.

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