“We spent almost eight years in the lady’s room in Aztec Center.” Skot Norton, KCR faculty/staff advisor, makes no joke when he describes the many humble locations on campus that the KCR studios have been allowed to occupy since the student-run radio station came to be in 1969. The restroom in question was no longer in use, as such, but fits into a chronology that includes a cubicle with carpet samples glued to the walls and the beer studio, so named for the hundreds of empties that encircled the broadcast booth.
On September 6, KCR will relaunch from what station backers hope is a permanent studio home in the communications building. Norton says new furniture and new equipment is on the way. “We’ve never had all-new everything.” He’d know. For 13 years, Norton spun records on KCR under the pseudonym of Lauston Ozonee. Funding for the new studio has come from KCR alumni donations and sales of Aztec Beach, a KCR-produced CD of original surf music.
Josh Hoffman, 22, was appointed KCR’s general manager by the associated students in June. In addition to the standard commercial and indie-rock free-form programming, Hoffman will include local bands. “New Music Mondays will feature local groups not heard on other local radio shows.” He invites submissions at kcrlive.org. Hoffman says KCR will also host showcases for local bands at a nearby El Cajon Boulevard pizzeria.
KCR began life as a senior project in 1966, around the same time that SDSU’s student-run KEBS radio was being retooled into NPR affiliate KPBS. At first, KCR programming was broadcast via carrier current transmitters placed in the surrounding dorms and also on 550 AM and 98.9 cable FM. But there was a power glitch, Norton says, that turned the concrete and steel dorm towers into transmitters. On a clear day, listeners were sometimes able to pick up KCR’s errant signal from as far away as North Park. “The FCC,” says Norton, “made us turn the power down.”
KCR is now available by Internet and via Cox Cable 956 and Southwest Cable 957. But it turns out the web option is not so new. “In 1995,” says Norton, “KCR was one of the first college stations to do live Internet radio.” Various misadventures, says Norton, bumped them off and on the air over the years, and the campus evictions didn’t help. Once, when they were between studios for a spell, KCR was essentially a six-tray CD player sending random cuts down line to the cable servers.
As GM, Hoffman has plans to increase coverage of campus news and sports. His master plan for the fall semester includes expanding student-sales and social-networking positions. The larger challenge for now, he says, is that nobody on campus really knows about KCR, a situation that Hoffman hopes to change before he graduates next spring.