California’s KCSN and KSBR partner to grow audience

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Two California noncommercial music stations are collaborating to expand their reach in Los Angeles.

KCSN in Northridge and KSBR in Mission Viejo agreed to a programming partnership beginning Tuesday. The stations, both assigned to the 88.5 frequency, will air the same programming, branded as The New 88.5.

The programming consists of the Triple A format now airing on KCSN. KSBR will drop its format of mainly jazz and move it to an HD subchannel.

No money changed hands in the deal, according to Jim Rondeau, KSBR director of broadcast operations, who serves as co-GM and director of finance, development and marketing for The New 88.5. Sky Daniels, KCSN GM, is co-GM and director of programming, production and technology.

“We’ve simply agreed to collaborate on joint activities that benefit both stations, sharing costs and expertise to create something bigger than either station could on their own,” Rondeau said. The two stations will share costs and revenues equally along with managerial duties, Rondeau said.

The stations broadcast on transmitters about 90 miles apart and have run into problems with signal interference. “This was fine when they were both small campus stations, but as each has attempted to expand their coverage, the interference caused in between has severely limited their potential for full market coverage,” Rondeau said. “There are places in Los Angeles where KSBR booms in and parts of Orange County where KCSN dominates. Other areas hear nothing but static where, on paper, there should be a usable signal from one of them.”

The two stations have been discussing a solution for “many years,” according to Rondeau. But when Daniels became GM in 2012, he “was a strong champion of the idea,” Rondeau said. According to engineering studies, airing the same programming on the signals and making technical adjustments to their broadcasts could expand the combined potential audience to about 11.5 million listeners. That “strengthened the case for the opportunity,” Rondeau said. Before combining, the stations delivered “interference free” signals to less than one million listeners, he said.

Sheryl Crow will host a benefit concert for the new entity Oct. 23.