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We beat the big boys

The sounds of construction, not jazz, resonate in Mark DeBoskey’s office. Any week now, the entirety of KSDS Jazz 88.3, some 500 square feet of studios and cramped admin offices, will move into a spacious new state-of-the-art broadcast facility further up the hill on the campus of City College. But DeBoskey won’t be there to see it. Effective September 30, DeBoskey will no longer be the general manager of the radio station. He’s given notice, says it was entirely his idea to resign.

“I remarried two years ago. I want to spend more time with my wife and my family. We want to travel.” Europe’s on the horizon. “Tomorrow’s not a promise. And I want to get back with working with youth. Did you know I was a baseball umpire? I worked in the city leagues.”

Seated behind his community-college-issue desk, DeBoskey’s somewhat longish hair and goatee have grayed. He could easily be cast in the role of a Confederate general. When I remind him that he and I first worked together at a now-defunct startup called K Best 95 FM, he says, “What was that, ’78? ’79?” He shakes his head at the near 40 years gone by, during which he logged time on the sales rosters of a handful of San Diego radio stations, Cox TV, then launched a consulting business before accepting the position at Jazz 88.3 nearly 14 years ago.

“When I came here, there was no competition. This was just a small college-radio station. During my watch, this station has grown tremendously. We just won JazzWeek’s Major Market Jazz Radio Station of the Year. This is the second time in three years. We beat the big boys in New York and L.A. and Portland.”

DeBoskey says his critics would complain about the station’s loss of eclecticism. He says there were dozens of student deejays on staff, programming whatever, when he arrived. “And weird shows came up all the time in whatever day-parts. You know, I’ve always said a radio station should be like your favorite restaurant: you know what you’re gonna get when you walk in the door.”

Favorite achievement? “Our education programs. What this station became is more than a jukebox. What we’ve done to further jazz education in this community is nationally known and recognized.”

Over the past decade, Jazz 88.3 grew from 3000 to 22,000 watts of power, added bandwidth, and DeBoskey got savvy about fund-raising. His last such outreach was Jazz Night San Diego. When he first outlined the plan to me, he mentioned that he thought he’d like to go big and create Jazz Night America. Might he work on this post-retirement? “Maybe.” At 67, some would say that DeBoskey is hanging it up relatively early in life. “And some would say kind of late,” he laughs. “This is extremely bittersweet. This was not an easy decision.”

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Jazz 88.3’s DeBoskey, 67, signs off: “This is extremely bittersweet.”
Jazz 88.3’s DeBoskey, 67, signs off: “This is extremely bittersweet.”

The sounds of construction, not jazz, resonate in Mark DeBoskey’s office. Any week now, the entirety of KSDS Jazz 88.3, some 500 square feet of studios and cramped admin offices, will move into a spacious new state-of-the-art broadcast facility further up the hill on the campus of City College. But DeBoskey won’t be there to see it. Effective September 30, DeBoskey will no longer be the general manager of the radio station. He’s given notice, says it was entirely his idea to resign.

“I remarried two years ago. I want to spend more time with my wife and my family. We want to travel.” Europe’s on the horizon. “Tomorrow’s not a promise. And I want to get back with working with youth. Did you know I was a baseball umpire? I worked in the city leagues.”

Seated behind his community-college-issue desk, DeBoskey’s somewhat longish hair and goatee have grayed. He could easily be cast in the role of a Confederate general. When I remind him that he and I first worked together at a now-defunct startup called K Best 95 FM, he says, “What was that, ’78? ’79?” He shakes his head at the near 40 years gone by, during which he logged time on the sales rosters of a handful of San Diego radio stations, Cox TV, then launched a consulting business before accepting the position at Jazz 88.3 nearly 14 years ago.

“When I came here, there was no competition. This was just a small college-radio station. During my watch, this station has grown tremendously. We just won JazzWeek’s Major Market Jazz Radio Station of the Year. This is the second time in three years. We beat the big boys in New York and L.A. and Portland.”

DeBoskey says his critics would complain about the station’s loss of eclecticism. He says there were dozens of student deejays on staff, programming whatever, when he arrived. “And weird shows came up all the time in whatever day-parts. You know, I’ve always said a radio station should be like your favorite restaurant: you know what you’re gonna get when you walk in the door.”

Favorite achievement? “Our education programs. What this station became is more than a jukebox. What we’ve done to further jazz education in this community is nationally known and recognized.”

Over the past decade, Jazz 88.3 grew from 3000 to 22,000 watts of power, added bandwidth, and DeBoskey got savvy about fund-raising. His last such outreach was Jazz Night San Diego. When he first outlined the plan to me, he mentioned that he thought he’d like to go big and create Jazz Night America. Might he work on this post-retirement? “Maybe.” At 67, some would say that DeBoskey is hanging it up relatively early in life. “And some would say kind of late,” he laughs. “This is extremely bittersweet. This was not an easy decision.”

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