Column: Local radio station seeking North County talent
Support community radio station, ‘The Rock’
– It may not be significant for the younger generation but for the rest of us the radio played a huge part in our lives. It helped form our opinions and beliefs about the world and music was naturally part of that.
During the 1950s the disc jockey was held in high esteem. We all had a secret desire to be a DJ. Spinning records on the air fell to a few lucky men, some of whom became as popular as the musical stars of the time. In the 1960s FM radio outshone AM which turned mostly to talk shows where at least a few women held sway on the microphone.
Jump to modern time and in 2012 right here on the Central Coast the opportunity to be a disc jockey became possible through the efforts of Hal Abrams who thought the community should have its own radio station. It all began in a revamped closet in Abrams’ house in Morro Bay and the idea caught on. Retired DJs came forward and those of us doing community service work volunteered to do talk and interview programs. The station now well known as The Rock, 97.3 FM and 107.9 FM is an all-volunteer, non-commercial, free form radio station broadcasting to towns on the coast and to residents in Atascadero, Templeton, and Paso Robles.
Abrams has been in radio for over 35 years and is the host of the popular syndicated Animal Radio show. He says radio has been in his blood from early on when he used to build short wave sets as a kid.
What plays on The Rock now is as varied as the area. There is music of course, including soul, jazz, blues, folk, Americana, R&B, and Country. Music isn’t the only thing though. There are interview shows that delve into the humanitarian issues of the times, talk shows on food, cats, and dogs and some of the local politicos use the opportunity to get the word out on city politics.
When asked how does a community station compare to local NPR radio Abrams emphasized that the content on The Rock is 100% local whereas many shows on NPR are syndicated shows from around the world.
When the Morro Bay Chamber of Commerce invited the station to set up its studio in a small room in their building things really got going. Those of us volunteering set to learning how to use the console that governed the quality of sound as well as the CD deck and the turntable and the intrepid computer where “Otto” resides. It is a little daunting being disc jockey, radio talk show host, and technical engineer but everyone does just fine and thanks to a new signal coming on in Paso Robles in 2017, things really took off as it became apparent how much the communities needed this broadcasting.
Abrams is looking for some air talent from the North County to round out the programming to serve the differing communities. Support for the station comes from all around and residents of the North County have been generous. Abrams wants everyone to know that the station is not just a Morro Bay station.
COVID took a bite out of programming when almost all the air talent had to turn to producing their shows at home on their computers. This is how “Otto” sometimes came into play. “Otto” stands for automatic music that can be placed on the programming schedule through the computer. However, after everyone figured out how to record their shows, programming went on as usual. What suffered most was fundraising. The station is funded solely by donations and in pre-COVID times a yearly fundraising bash was held that raised the necessary $27,000 to $30,000 needed for the operating budget. These funds do not pay any salaries but are for all the costs that are legally necessary to broadcast.
The station now raises funds with membership tiers and the sales of Freeform T-Shirts and hats. They also pitch on social media, emails, and on-air requests. Abrams is thankful for a recent SLO County Grant that supports the purchase of new equipment and transmitter UHF signal.
To support The Rock, you can donate through the website at www.centralcoastradio.org and you can also listen to programming online as well as go to the archives to listen to previous shows.
Studio presence is returning as COVID is lessening but all air talent must be vaccinated to work in the studio and must follow the COVID clean-up protocols.
Anyone interested in joining the station can go to the website and scroll down and click on “Contact” and send a message. Training is available for new air talent.
Please join and support community radio – The Rock!
–By Columnist Ruth Ann Angus