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Out of the Blue: Radio is another unique facet of Laguna

March 19, 2013|By Billy Fried
  • From left to right are Marc "Mookie" Kaczor, Tyler Russell and Shawn Whitney, the team behind KX93.5 FM.
From left to right are Marc "Mookie" Kaczor,… (Courtesy Billy…)

As I write this column the fog is rolling in deep and I'm listening to Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood crush a version of "Voodoo Child."

There's a full gospel chorus behind Clapton's wailing guitar. It's "Blues On The Beach" Friday night at KX93.5 FM, and I've got it turned way up — and just right.

By now you know about Laguna's start-up radio revolution, or your head is in the trees that block everyone's view. Six months in and these guys have built an independent radio model from the ground up that doesn't answer to corporate suits, where they actually play artists that aren't dumbed down and force fed from the major labels.

You might not like everything they spin, but they tirelessly explore a broad swath of music from every decade, both familiar and obscure — "generational alt rock" as they call it. And the volunteer evening and weekend jocks round out the edges with forays into jazz, reggae, indie pop, electronic, local music and talk shows. A high school sports show is even on the way.

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So where did a 23-year-old kid from Tucson named Tyler Russell get the stones to launch a radio station in our town? Most of us were caught scratching our heads wondering how he did it and we didn't.

Well, it's not as easy as it sounds. First, you have to find a radio license for sale because the FCC isn't issuing any. Then you have to find an area to transmit that doesn't interfere with any others. And you also have to adhere to the strict protocols of a nonprofit.

That's a lot of bureaucracy. But in lucky Laguna, Russell found the perfect maiden with a serendipitous need for a signal and an eclectic community ready to embrace it.

It's remarkable what Russell, Music Director Marc "Mookie" Kaczor, and jock-of-all-trades Shawn Whitney have accomplished in six months. They built a swanky studio that's all glass and looks really cool at night from Coast Highway. They compiled an awesome roster of volunteer jocks (read: kooky locals).

They have an impressive array of sponsors, built a great and functional website and tirelessly show up at every event for a remote broadcast.

Best of all, they're having a ball. When I visited them, Russell and Kaczor were plotting an elaborate prank on Whitney known as getting Rick Rolled (kind of the musical equivalent of a flash mob).

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