Did you know that there is an FM radio station currently broadcasting from the heart of Downtown Long Beach? KLBP, 99.1 on your FM dial and streaming at KLBP.ORG, is on the air, presenting homegrown, community-based content seven days a week.
KLBP features over 35 shows, giving the station many opportunities to reflect the refreshing diversity of culture and opinions in the Downtown community and Long Beach at large.
With a studio located at Broadway and Pine, upstairs from Shannon’s in a space donated by owner Ron Hodges, KLBP is following in the footsteps of a couple of Downtown and near-Downtown radio stations; KFOX, the number-one country music station in the greater Los Angeles area for decades, which operated out of a studio with a huge antenna on Anaheim Street just east of Pine Avenue, and KNAC, a popular station that transmitted a wide spectrum of rock and pop music from the late ’60s well into the ’80s from the top of Farmers & Merchants Bank at the corner of Pine and Third Street.
The idea for a new low-power FM station in Downtown came from Gary “Wagman” Wagner, a host on the Long Beach jazz radio station KKJZ, when Judy Baker and Doug Wood, two of KLBP’s co-founders, were enrolled in the Long Beach City College Radio and Television departments. Baker explained: “Wagner told us about the Community Radio Act, which President Obama had just signed in 2010. The new digital broadcasting regulations made room between existing FM channels for new ones.
“Since Doug and I had already formed a nonprofit in hopes of bringing back Long Beach Community Television,” continued Baker, “he and I took the radio station idea to our Board of Directors and we voted to pursue the application process in 2012. We applied for the studio construction permit, and had to jump through many hoops. Finally, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved our permit in 2015.”
After the construction permit was approved, the real work began; Now it was time to secure a broadcast tower, find a studio location, and comply with many requirements. In 2018, the FCC approved KLBP’s license and call letters.
Melanie Hiller, who produces the KLBP storytelling and local music show “Still Life” with her co-host, fellow storyteller Ann Wellman, has been with the station since its formative years. She served on the KLBP Board of Directors and is now a member of the station’s Advisory Council, alongside such radio veterans as Danny Lemos, who worked at KIIS-FM during the “Rick Dees In The Morning” days, and Kevin Ferguson, a producer at National Public Radio.
Hiller’s show is emblematic of the station’s hyper-local approach, showcasing Long Beach storytellers and hosting in-studio performances and interviews with such local musical talents as Manuel the Band and singer/multi-instrumentalist Chad Bishop.
“I would say about 80 percent of KLBP’s shows are music,” said Hiller. “They are quite diverse: Blues, Electronic/Experimental, Jazz, Great American Songbook, Morning Meditation, Hip-Hop, Native American, and many more. The remaining shows are talk-centered.
“The magic of storytelling is connecting with people,” added Hiller. “We’ve hosted storytellers who have given us the full diversity of Long Beach and of the human experience itself, from the story of how Rosie’s Dog Beach was created to a tale told by a Long Beach resident who delivered a baby at the Altamont Music Festival in 1969.”
Under the terms of its FCC license, KLBP is not allowed to air commercial advertising. However, Downtown commercial property owners and businesses have several options for supporting KLBP while establishing a different way to relate to potential customers, including making direct donations to the station, underwriting shows which promote causes the business believes in, and offering discounts for folks enrolled as Members with KLBP.
“Businesses have a new opportunity to get recognized for promoting diverse causes and diverse cultural activities that may not get attention through traditional radio advertising,” noted Baker.
Next time you’re crossing the bridge into Downtown, sitting in the Shoreline Village parking lot, or just dialing in some internet music at home, one thing is sure; If you tune into KLBP, you are going to get a full bandwidth of Long Beach culture and experience.
For detailed information about KLBP personnel, programming, submitting a show idea, and making a donation, click here.