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City of license Santa Monica, California
Broadcast area Southern California
Greater Los Angeles Area
Slogan For The Curious
Frequency 89.9 MHz (also on HD Radio)
89.9 HD-2 for Eclectic-24
Repeaters KCRI 89.3 Indio
KCRU 89.1 Oxnard
KCRY 88.1 Mojave
KDRW 88.7 Santa Barbara
plus 9 low-power translators
Format Public Radio
Audience share 2.0 (FALL 2007, RRC[1])
ERP 6,900 watts
HAAT 338 meters
Class B
Facility ID 59086
Transmitter coordinates
Callsign meaning College Radio Workshop[2]
Affiliations NPR
American Public Media
Owner Santa Monica Community College District
Webcast Live on-air Flash
Live on-air PLS
Music - Flash
Music - PLS
News - Flash
News - PLS

KCRW (89.9 MHz FM) is the flagship National Public Radio member station for Los Angeles and Southern California. Broadcasting from the campus of Santa Monica College in Santa Monica, where the station is licensed, KCRW carries a mix of NPR news, talk radio and freeform music format. A network of repeaters and broadcast translators allows the station to serve the Greater Los Angeles area and other communities in Southern California. Nationally distributed programming through internet radio and other outlets has allowed KCRW to amass a wider audience, gaining popularity beyond its standard broadcast reach. The station's main transmitter is located in Los Angeles' Laurel Canyon district and broadcasts in the HD radio format.[3]


  • History 1
  • Programming 2
  • Influence in music 3
  • Events 4
  • "Rant" controversy 5
  • Stations 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


KCRW was founded in 1945 to train servicemen returning from World War II in the then-new technology, FM broadcasting--hence its call letters, which stand for College Radio Workshop. It was a charter member of NPR in 1970, making Santa Monica College the second community college to own a public radio or television station. Ruth Hirschman, who changed her name to Ruth Seymour, became General Manager in 1978 and developed a mix of music, news, and other spoken-word programming that now attracts over 500,000 listeners each week. Seymour retired in February 2010. The new General Manager is Jennifer Ferro.

The station airs programs from NPR, Public Radio International (PRI), American Public Media, and the BBC, along with its own mixture of eclectic music shows with frequent live in-studio performances by new and emerging talent, locally produced cultural programs, and a wide-ranging line up of local commentators, political analysis and debate. A new initiative, The Independent Producers Project, has been launched to showcase storytelling and documentary work by independents. The station has been a leader in adopting new technologies, which offers three program streams, on-demand listening and an extensive lineup of podcasts, featuring talk programs and live performances by unsigned independent musical artists.

In August 2013, KCRW unveiled a new logo and brand identity, created by Los Angeles-based branding agency Troika Design Group.[4]


News and information programs dominate weekday early morning and daytime schedules from 03:00am to 09:00am PST with NPR's Morning Edition, and from 12:00 noon to 8:00pm PST ending with Which Way, L.A.?. Music programming is broadcast from evening to early morning, and again from 09:00am to 12:00 noon PST with the station's signature music program Morning Becomes Eclectic. Weekends feature music from noon to 6 am. Both Morning Edition and All Things Considered, along with Weekend Edition and the weekend edition of All Things Considered can be heard on KCRW's 24-hour news channel, which Morning Edition airs weekdays from 2 am to 9 am, while All Things Considered airs weekdays from 2 to 4 pm, and again from 5 to 7 pm, as well as weekends from 2 to 3 pm, and again from 5 to 6 pm, and Weekend Edition airs Saturdays from 5 to 11 am, and Sundays from 5 to 10 am.

Warren Olney hosts the station's signature news and public affairs programs, To the Point (nationally distributed by Public Radio International) and Which Way, L.A.? which began after the riots in response to the Rodney King beating trial verdicts in 1992.

With Southern California being, arguably, the epicenter of the international film industry, KCRW covers the industry in several dimensions: Pulitzer Prize winning Wall Street Journal film critic The Business; getting past the cover page and deep into pop culture matters on "The Treatment" Elvis Mitchell, and commentator Rob Long looks deep beyond the set with his behind-the-scenes look at Hollywood life on Martini Shot.

Music programs feature an eclectic array of music from around the globe, especially on the daytime daily music program Morning Becomes Eclectic and the daytime weekend line-up. At night, music such as house, progressive, and electronic dance music are the main styles on shows formerly known as Metropolis and Nocturna. KCRW dropped all program names except Morning Becomes Eclectic and Strictly Jazz in 2008. Three of the station's previous music directors currently have programs on the air at KCRW.

Local and regional touring artists can send recordings to KCRW for consideration of airplay. Two weeks after submitting music, followups can be made by calling the KCRW tracking line on Wednesdays between noon and 3pm Pacific time.

KCRW airs Santa Monica City Council meetings live from 8:00 pm to midnight PST, on the Tuesdays when they are held. Because of the nature of the repeater network, Santa Monica City Council meetings can be heard throughout the Southern California region reaching out to approximately 150 mi (240 km).

Before its current host, Evan Kleiman, took over as host, the KCRW show Good Food was parodied on Saturday Night Live in a recurring skit, Delicious Dish, with Ana Gasteyer and Molly Shannon.

Program Format Presenter
Art Talk Talk: Art Reviews Edward Goldman
Bookworm Talk: In-depth author interviews Michael Silverblatt
DnA: Design & Architecture Talk: culture/civic aesthetics Frances Anderton
Good Food Talk: cuisine Evan Kleiman
Left, Right & Center News/talk: analysis and punditry Matthew Miller, Tony Blankley, Arianna Huffington, Robert Scheer
Metropolis Music: Electronic, Dance Jason Bentley
Morning Becomes Eclectic Music: adult album alternative Jason Bentley
Garth Trinidad Music: Electronic Garth Trinidad
Raul Campos Music: Eclectic Raul Campos
The Business News/talk: Hollywood/entertainment industry Kim Masters
The Treatment Talk: Pop culture, film/TV, more Elvis Mitchell
To the Point News/talk: analysis Warren Olney
Which Way, L.A.? News/talk: local affairs Warren Olney
Anne Litt Music: Eclectic Anne Litt
Chris Douridas Music: New Music Chris Douridas
Liza Richardson Music: Eclectic Liza Richardson
Gary Calamar Music: Eclectic Gary Calamar
Henry Rollins Music: Wild Ride Henry Rollins
Dan Wilcox Music: Eclectic Dan Wilcox
Jason Kramer Music: Eclectic Jason Kramer
Eric J. Lawrence Music: Eclectic Eric J. Lawrence
Mario Cotto Music: Eclectic Mario Cotto
Chuck P. Music: Eclectic Chuck P.
Anthony Valadez Music: Eclectic Anthony Valadez
Travis Holcombe Music: Eclectic Travis Holcombe
Jeremy Sole Music: Eclectic Jeremy Sole
Aaron Byrd Music: Eclectic Aaron Byrd
Mathieu Schreyer Music: Eclectic Dan Wilcox
Strictly Jazz Music: Jazz Bo Leibowitz
The Lab Music: Eclectic Marion Hodges & Valida Carroll

Influence in music

KCRW's flagship program is Morning Becomes Eclectic, a three-hour daily music program that has been on the air for more than 30 years. Historically, the show host is also the station's music director. Isabel Holt created the show in 1978. Tom Schnabel hosted the show from 1979 to 1990. In November 1990, Chris Douridas took over the show, hosting until April 1998. Nic Harcourt was in the seat from 1998 until December 1, 2008. He is also previously known in his home country for discussing on a regular basis emerging music with hosts at BBC Radio 1. Longtime KCRW DJ Jason Bentley is the current host and music director.

Along with WFMU in the New York City market and 3RRR in Melbourne Australia, KCRW lays claim as one of the most influential independent music radio stations around the globe, with its tastemaker DJs populating various cultural outlets with their musical loves. Through extensive involvement in film, TV, commercial and radio work, KCRW program hosts have introduced their audiences to many artists, including Beck, Adele, Gillian Welch, Florence & the Machine, Fiona Apple, Coldplay, Dido, Massive Attack and Norah Jones, among many others. It was the appearance of an unknown artist named Beck on KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic in July 1993 that instantly turned the show into essential listening for record labels and A&R scouts. In addition to playing previously unknown artists, KCRW program hosts often invite artists to visit their Santa Monica basement studios for live recording sessions and interviews, typically before they've had any exposure to the US listening audience. KCRW also helps nurture the careers of emerging bands and musicians by inviting them to perform at live events and benefit concerts in Los Angeles, and across the country.

Several hosts have extended their careers into music supervision for both film and television, notably, Chris Douridas (American Beauty (1999 film), Shrek and House of Lies), Liza Richardson (Friday Night Lights and The Kids Are All Right (film)), and Gary Calamar, the music supervisor for HBO's True Blood and Six Feet Under.

Streaming media is now very important for the station, and it has gained a wide audience from this technology, streaming thousands of hours of content each week. KCRW provides three different live streams: the live broadcast, a 24-hour music service, and a 24-hour news service. Streams are available using Adobe Flash played through web browsers, with alternate streams offered using the PLS file format, which can be played using software such as iTunes, Winamp and RealPlayer. The music service and news service are also included as channels in AOL Radio. The station also archives its talk and music programs for listeners to stream at their convenience, and offers podcasts of in-studio performance and talk programs.

From 1986 to 2002 KCRW was the on-air home of Joe Frank, hosting his groundbreaking nationally broadcast shows Work in Progress, In The Dark, Somewhere Out There, and The Other Side. Joe Frank produced over 200 radio shows for KCRW, which consisted of a series of monologues full of ironic, humorous and absurdist wit. He has been described as:

"one of the greatest-ever purveyors of the postmodern-noir sensibility. He’s spent his career grappling with all the grand topics: sex, love, morality, lust, greed, sin, fear, hatred, the search for meaning."[5]

Sometimes this genre is called spoken jazz, word jazz, or spoken word music. Typically Joe Frank's ruminations and explorations into psychic terrain were spoken accompanied by eerie looped music. These pieces often had the dimension and fullness of a theatrical play. Frank's work was heard again (Joe Frank: Return Engagement) briefly for five weeks only on Sundays at 11 am beginning October 10, 2010.

KCRW boasts members across the country and the station regularly sponsors live music events throughout the United States and in Canada. Giveaways to areas outside of the station's listening area are commonly found on its website.


KCRW promotes a great deal of live music events nationally, featuring both established and emerging artists. In April, 2011, KCRW promoted and sponsored the controversial graffiti exhibit entitled "Art in the Streets" at The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MoCA). The Los Angeles Times reported an increase in tagging around MoCA after the exhibit opened to the public.

"Rant" controversy

The host of KCRW's The Business, a weekly show focusing on the entertainment industry, was Claude Brodesser-Akner until December 2008. In November, it was publicized that Richard Raddon had contributed $1,500 to the Yes on 8 Campaign, which sought to ban same-sex marriages in California. In response to an outcry from the community, Raddon resigned from his position as head of the Los Angeles Film Festival.

Soon after, Brodesser-Akner delivered a "rant" during an episode of The Business, purporting to speak for the staff of the program. He said:

Personally we think that Raddon’s support of the campaign was wrongheaded and donating to the campaign, given the nature of his job, was naive but we also think that the real issue is how his personal views affected or didn’t affect the films that he chose for the festival. In fact, by all accounts it’s been the very model of inclusion and open-mindedness under his stewardship.
Raddon’s censure feels an awful lot we’re headed back to a time in Hollywood none of us should want to revisit. It was called the Black List. Let’s not shame ourselves with a Pink List to go with it.[4]

This rant was met with an outcry, and soon after, Ruth Seymour, the general manager of KCRW, issued an apology, which she read on the air.[5]. Her letter said:

Last week listeners to this program heard an announcement by host Claude Brodesser-Akner purporting to be a (quote) “rant on behalf of the entire editorial staff of The Business.
Well, a “rant” is certainly what it was, in all the pejorative meanings of that term.
The management of KCRW takes editorial positions on very rare occasions.
Management alone has that prerogative. In this instance, management was neither consulted nor informed.
KCRW regrets airing this out-of-the-blue opinion and has made it clear to those involved that it is unacceptable. On behalf of the station and its commitment to fairness and accuracy, please accept our apologies and regrets.

Kim Masters was named as Brodesser-Akner's replacement in February 2009.[6]


KCRW programming is relayed by four full-power stations.

Location Call sign Frequency
Indio/Palm Springs KCRI 89.3 FM
Oxnard/Ventura KCRU 89.1 FM
Mojave/Antelope Valley KCRY 88.1 FM
Santa Barbara KDRW 88.7 FM

The call letters of KCRI, KCRU, KCRY, and KDRW are identified at the top of each hour alongside those of KCRW, as are the frequencies of those stations and their transmitters.

KCRW also directly feeds five low-power translators .

Broadcast translators of KCRW
Call sign Frequency
City of license ERP
FCC info
K209CN 89.7 FM Gorman, California 10 watts FCC
K210CL 89.9 FM Lemon Grove, California 1 watts FCC
K207FA 89.3 FM Twentynine Palms, California 10 watts FCC
K215BA 90.9 FM Beaumont, California 10 watts FCC
K295AH 106.9 FM Goleta, California 10 watts FCC

In addition, the other four stations collectively feed four more translators.

Call sign Frequency Location
K225BA 92.9 FM Borrego Springs, California
K272DI 102.3 FM Fillmore, California
K271AC 102.1 FM Ojai, California
K261AC 100.1 FM China Lake, California

KCRW also has applications pending for new translators on 88.5 in Mojave, 89.9 in Temecula, 90.1 in Baker, 90.3 FM in Barstow, and 105.7 FM in Julian.

Previous translators (now off the air and licenses returned to the FCC) operated on 88.3 FM in Palmdale, 89.1 FM in Camarillo, 90.9 FM in Palm Springs, and 100.1 in China Lake. Another former translator, K296AI, was the only KCRW translator not owned by the station. It is operated by Indian Wells Valley TV Booster, Inc., which also operates translators that rebroadcast Los Angeles-area television stations in the Ridgecrest area. That translator currently rebroadcasts KMZT.

In February 2014, KCRW announced that it would buy Santa Barbara station KDB (93.7 FM), currently a classical music station, for $1 million. The transaction will allow KCRW to begin using another Santa Barbara station, KQSC (88.7 FM) as a repeater for KCRW's programming, while transferring KUSC's classical programming from KQSC to KDB, thereby preserving KDB's role as Santa Barbara's classical station.[6]


  1. ^ "Santa Barbara CA Market Ratings". Arbitron. Fall 2007. 
  2. ^ "Call Letter Origins". Radio History on the Web. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ KCRW Unveils New Logo, retrieved on 2014-01-15.
  5. ^ Joe Frank, Radio's Brilliant Purveyor of Postmodern Noir, "philosopher, a comedian, a raconteur," -retrieved July 22, 2013
  6. ^ Ryan Faughnder, "KCRW buying Santa Barbara classical station KDB", Los Angeles Times, February 18, 2014.
  • "The Business". Retrieved 2009-03-24. 
  • Jaime Wolf (26 June 2005). "The Star Maker of the Semipopular". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-04-26. 
  • "KCRW — A Tradition of Excellence". Santa Monica College, Profiles. 2002. Retrieved 2008-04-26. 
  • Variety (February 2009). "Masters Joins KCRW's The Business". Retrieved 2009-03-31. 

External links

  • KCRW Radio official website
  • Query the FCC's FM station database for KCRW
  • Radio-Locator information on KCRW
  • Query Nielsen Audio's FM station database for KCRW
  • Santa Monica College
  • KCRW Presents
  • The Urban Man Commentaries on KCRW
  • KCRW's page on StylusCity
  • KCRW music iGoogle Gadget
  • "Behind the scenes at KCRW". EPIC FU. June 24, 2008. 
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