Off-Ramp | Off-Ramp host John Rabe and contributors share thoughts on arts, culture, and life in L.A.

KCSN Cuts Classical Music Announcing Staff

KCSN eliminated its classical music announcing staff at the end of last month -- in the words of one blogger, going “JACK-FM for the post-geriatric set” -- and pretty much, nobody in the media’s noticed. As far as I can tell, not the LA Times, not LA Observed, not KPCC.

On the station’s website, there’s an oblique reference to “critical cuts in state funding to Cal State Northridge,” and the “loss of live personal commentary and announcements.” (Ouch. Passive voice. We listeners also become the “listener base.”)

For more details, I e-mailed Karen Kearns, the station’s interim GM, and she responded right away:


In response to dramatic cuts in state funding to Cal State Northridge, KCSN-FM is automating its classical music programming from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday in an effort to reduce costs. Three part time radio announcers were let go. “We regret having to take these actions, but we are left with little choice,” said Robert Bucker, dean of the Mike Curb College of Arts, Media, and Communication. “Every part of the university has had to reduce costs and the radio station is no exception.”

We are sorry to lose the expertise of our classical hosts. We know that they have many loyal people who enjoyed listening to them. We have lost our CPB funding and can no longer afford to pay the on-air hosts.

There will be a digital stream that lists the music and composer on our web site and on digital radios in the coming month. We are securing the software to make this operation possible.

The change was made on September 30, 2009. The three hosts were hourly employees and are no longer employed at the university. The music was programmed by our staff into our ENCO system and we continue to add to the rotation. There has been a small amount of feedback over the last three weeks by email and phone calls from listeners. I have written or spoken to all who have contacted us.

We just completed a very successful pledge drive for our weekend programming. All hosts for these programs are volunteers.


Blogger biostatprof is in mourning. "KCSN used to have Martin Perlich, Bill Toutont, Ian Freebairn-Smith on staff. The music was wonderful. They played music by (heaven forfend) non-dead composers! It was great!" Now, he says, he'll just listen to CDs. I don't plan that drastic a change, but I'll miss the friendly human voices.

(Check out John's weekly show Off-Ramp!)

Photo: Arnold Schoenberg, noted composer, is shown at right in this unusual photo while conducting the Philharmonic Orchestra in a rehearsal for the program he is conducting on March 21 and 22, 1935, at the Philharmonic Auditorium. At left is Sylvain Noack, concertmaster. Credit: LA Public Library/Herald-Examiner collection.