By Alex Breitler
Record Staff Writer
Posted Nov. 2, 2014 @ 12:01 am
STOCKTON — Fifteen years ago, San Joaquin Delta College lost its voice.
Its radio voice, that is. The college’s old radio station, KSJC, shut down in the late 1990s, silenced by budget cuts.
Now, a Delta instructor — who as a student 30 years ago nervously taped his first broadcast on KSJC — is in the midst of launching a new station in the very same studio, with the help of dozens of students and community volunteers.
“It’s come full circle,” instructor William Story said last week, while giving a tour of the small but bustling studio. “How cool is this?”
KWDC LP-93.5 FM had its inaugural broadcast on Saturday, online only. The station will continue to live-stream on the Internet until January, when it finally should hit the airwaves.
Higher education is all about the free exchange of ideas and knowledge. Every campus could use a radio station.
But this effort goes far beyond 5151 Pacific Ave. Organizers want KWDC to be the “Voice of Stockton,” as it says on the back of the black T-shirts worn by the students who were busy recording shows on Wednesday.
And Stockton needs a voice.
Deregulation in the 1990s led to corporate conglomeration in the broadcasting world. All but one of Stockton’s commercial radio stations now are owned by two companies, Story wrote in a report about his efforts.
As a result, listeners sometimes are stuck with just traffic and weather, and perhaps some quick news highlights — usually crime. And Stockton stays in the shadow of Sacramento, the largest city in the market.
“All you hear on the radio is the same stuff all over again,” said 26-year-old Blaze Rodriguez, one of KWDC’s new broadcasters. “There’s rich heritage in Stockton, stories that need to be told.”
The fledgling station, which has been granted a provisional license by the Federal Communications Commission, eventually will offer 24/7 programming — at least some of it live — including local news, music by local artists, and shows about education, sports and the arts.
Although low-power, the station’s antenna atop the Shima complex should reach a large swath of Stockton mostly north of the Crosstown Freeway. Of course, anyone will be able to watch online; broadcasters also will be on camera as part of a multimedia webcast.
It is no small task to basically start a radio station from scratch. Story took a year-long sabbatical to get things started, and today he’s got a band of enthusiastic volunteers eager to get behind a microphone for the first time, just as he did so many years ago.
Applying for an FCC license was free. Equipment and other costs were paid for with about $30,000 from regular career technical education funding that Delta’s radio and television broadcasting program receives each year.
Station staff, even the station manager, are not being paid — though the hope is to offer some compensation in the future.
“This has taken priority because I believe in it,” said manager Don Maszewski, known as “Gov. Don” in the studio.
Maszewski is a former Delta student who took classes starting in 2006. Even then, bringing back a radio station “was our dream,” he said. At a staff meeting on Tuesday, he addressed the diverse staff — students and community members, veteran broadcasters and nervous newbies.
For those newbies, Gov. Don shared a little Radio 101: No dead air — play a song if you don’t know what to say — and no live calls, because you never know what might come out of someone’s mouth. Calls will be taken while music is playing.
Every time a new staff member or broadcaster was introduced, the room erupted in applause.
Sustaining KWDC over the long term won’t be easy, organizers admit. But this high level of energy seems a good start.
“These people are donating their time and effort because they believe in this city,” Maszewski said. “And I know this community will value this station.”
Contact reporter Alex Breitler at (209) 546-8295 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at recordnet.com/breitlerblog and on Twitter @alexbreitler.
Please come see Governor Don or Gabe Alcantara in Shima 146 to learn how you can be part of the movement.