If Mother Nature cooperates and the road to Mt. Harvard is cleared as
scheduled, classical music listeners who tune in to KUSC’s 9l.5 FM
have a treat in store when they turn on their radios.
Bach with no squawk.
But there’s more. Listeners on the Westside will be able to enjoy a
Metropolitan Opera broadcast without losing KUSC’s signal between
These treats are due to a new transmitter that will improve the
station’s reception and range and also a new agreement between the
United States and Mexico that will end a Tijuana station’s illegal
interference with KUSC’s signal.
The station’s new $549,000 transmitter, perched at 5,441 feet on Mt.
Harvard in the San Gabriel Mountains, should be erected and
operational by early April. Funds for the transmitter were raised in
three months, according to Wallace C. Smith, KUSC’s president and
general manager. Major contributions came from the Ahmanson
Foundation, the James Irvine Foundation and the Ralph M. Parsons
Foundation, as well as a challenge grant from the Lloyd
Rigler-Lawrence Deutsch Foundation.
Getting the new transmitter up was a high priority for the station,
and solving the interference problem is an excellent bonus, Smith
For about a year, interference from Tijuana station XHTIM,
broadcasting over the 91.5 FM frequency, had fouled KUSC’s reception
in many areas.
“It’s a wonderful win-win situation,” said Smith. The Tijuana station
agreed to switch to 91.7 FM and did so on March 20. The change, Smith
said, actually increases the Mexican station’s power while
eliminating the interference that has plagued KUSC. The deal was
struck with the cooperation of the U.S. State Department, the Federal
Communications Commission and the Mexican government entity
responsible for regulating broadcasters.
As for the new transmitter, for several years KUSC had been
negotiating with the FCC for a special license to replace the old
transmitter on 1,900-foot Flint Peak in Glendale with a new one at a
higher location. The station’s state-of-the-art, 110-foot
transmitter with 17 kilowatts of power will be the first atop Mt.
“It will enable us to provide a high-quality, reliable program
service to listeners throughout the Los Angeles basin,” said Smith,
and open up a new potential audience base.
The transmitter was originally scheduled to be up by the end of
December but was delayed by snow.
“We should have been on the air a month ago,” said William Kappelman,
vice president for engineering and operations. After the snow, the
heavy rains of February came, and slides blocked the only road to the
Smith was so frustrated early last month that he said he was ready to
airlift bags of concrete by helicopter or haul them up the
mountainside himself to pour the foundation for the transmitter.
Fortunately, such heroic extremes weren’t necessary.
The actual wattage of the transmitter is slightly lower than before –
17,000 watts instead of 25,000 – but the signal will be better.
“When you go up in height, you have to reduce power,” Kappelman said,
but the height gives an advantage. The signal will be sent out “in a
highly directional pattern” from a solid-state transmitter – one with
no vacuum tubes – going exactly where it is supposed to go, he said.
KUSC is the first station in Los Angeles to have a completely
solid-state transmitter. With the new digital microwave technology,
KUSC listeners can expect to hear some exquisite sounds.
Smith said KUSC’s listener base has been holding steady over the
years and is now “running at about 480,000.” The coverage area of the
new transmitter reaches a million potential listeners, Kappelman
said. Fall Arbitron surveys show that KUSC has attained the
largest audience for public radio in the nation. Outside the Los
Angeles area, KUSC programs are broadcast over 91.1 FM KCPB Thousand
Oaks; 88.7 FM KFAC Santa Barbara; and 88.5 FM KPSC Palm Springs.
The station has recently introduced some new programming to its
schedule, and Smith reported that listener responses have shown
support for the changes.
In another triumph, American Public Radio honored the KUSC-produced,
nationally syndicated, award-winning business and economics program
“Marketplace,” its anchor and senior editor Jim Angle and executive
producer James Russell at a special awards ceremony held in February.
The four-year-old show has reached a record listenership of more than
2 million a week, according to fall 1992 Arbitron ratings.
The event also paid tribute to those who had supported the campaign
to install a new transmitter. Attending the gathering were foundation
representatives and other prominent KUSC supporters, including:
Salyer Stephen, president of APR; John Tusa, former managing director
of “BBC World Service;” Wayne Shilkret, executive director of the
Pasadena Symphony; Louis Spisto, executive director of the Pacific
Symphony; Maurice Staples, executive director of the Los Angeles
Master Chorale; Eric Vollmer, executive director of the Los Angeles
Chamber Orchestra; Gerald Yoshitomi, executive director of the Japan
America Cultural Community Center; and Paul Zukofsky, director of
USC’s Arnold Schoenberg Institute.
There was a special tribute to John Curry, USC’s former vice
president for budget and planning, Smith said, for his “untiring
efforts on behalf of KUSC.”
Organizationally, KUSC now comes under the auspices of University
public relations, headed by associate vice president Martha Harris.
Harris attended the luncheon, as did Alan Kreditor, senior vice
president for University advancement, and USC trustees Monica Lozano,
George Boone and David Tappan.
The luncheon was also an opportunity to introduce KUSC’s diversity of
new talent and the station’s community outreach efforts.
* D.J. Carlile now co-hosts “Counterpoint” (Saturday, 8-10:30
a.m.) with Bonnie Grice (who also hosts “The Morning Program” weekdays).
* Rebecca Davis hosts “Commuter Classics” (weekdays, 3-6 p.m.).
She’s among the first African-American women to host a major drive-time
* Titus Levi hosts “Songs of the Earth” (Saturday, 1:30-4 p.m.)
a program of concert music by African-American composers and classical
music created by people of all cultures.
* Enrique Gonzalez hosts “Concierto Latinoamericano” (Sunday,
5-7 p.m.) a bilingual program of Latin-American concert music.
University president Steven B. Sample recently authorized creation of
a Board of Councilors for KUSC. Three board members were at the
February luncheon: James Loper, executive director of the Academy of
Television Arts and Sciences; Len Kapner, president of Rocky Points
Technologies; and H. Russell Smith, chairman of the executive
committee of Avery International.
Future plans call for a group of University staff and faculty to form
an advisory committee to the station, Smith said.
[Photo:] KUSC’s Rebecca Davis, host of “Commuter Classics,” is among
the first African-American women to host a major drive-time show. Her
voice is much clearer now that KUSC sends its powerful signal from
Mt. Harvard via a new solid-state transmitter.