“Alternative” radio stations have nothing on KCSS, a radio station based at California State University, Stanislaus. The station plays everything from modern rock to hip hop, bluegrass, and even video game soundtracks. Until recently, the station had a modest listener base and broadcasted only in Turlock and the immediate area. Thanks to a new transmitter and antennae, however, the station will be boosting its signal to broadcast in Modesto, Merced and beyond.
KCSS 91.9 is integrated into the Communication Studies curriculum at CSU Stanislaus and is run by a group of student managers. The DJs are mostly students, with a few community members and faculty doing specialty shows. KCSS is a true community radio station and is funded through listener donations and Student Instructionally Related Activity funds. Those funds also paid for the purchase of a new 6,000 watt transmitter and a taller antenna.
Greg Jacquay, KCSS general manager and teacher of the radio lab class, said the purchase of a new transmitter has been in the works for five years. KCSS applied for a construction permit from the Federal Communications Commission and was approved in December 2009. The new equipment should arrive soon and will be installed around February 2012. The new equipment could boost the station’s signal from 400 watts to 6,000 watts, but there are some limitations.
“The new broadcast pattern will look more like a kidney than a circle. We couldn’t go in a full circle because we run into another concurrent channel out of Sac State,” Jacquay explained.
A more powerful signal means that KCSS will now be broadcasting to a much wider audience. Jacquay said that this will not change the station’s programming. The students will still select the music formats and each DJ will choose his or her own music. KCSS is a non-commercial radio station and does not have to play top hits to satisfy advertisers.
“We want to keep it as intimate and community based as we can. We don’t plan on changing that,” Jacquay said.
Student DJs are excited about the change from a local to regional audience, but say that it won’t change the way they run their shows. Student Sean Gillespie is the music director for the fat and blues formats and has his own Saturday morning show where he plays Japanese and Korean rock, among other things. He said his friends and family in Barstow already listen to his show on KCSS.net’s live music stream, so having an audience far away is nothing new. He said having a wider audience will expose more Valley residents to true alternative music.
“As long as it’s FCC clean you can play it on KCSS. It doesn’t matter what kind of music it is,” Gillespie said.
KCSS broadcasts on 91.9 FM in the Turlock area. The station is also live-streamed at KCSS.net.
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