Monday, July 27, 2015


Last week it was announced that KCSN, Northridge, is opening a highly visible remote studio and performance venue in The Village at Westfield Topanga.  The Village, which opens this fall, is located in the western San Fernando Valley neighborhood of Woodland Hills.

KCSN will use the space to originate live programming including Mornings with Nic Harcourt and several weekly programs. KCSN will also have a portable performance stage outside its studio. Harman and JBL, two legendary audio companies that merged to become Harman Group/JBL, designed the studio and performance space.

The Village venue is the latest in a series of developments led or inspired by KCSN’s GM Sky Daniels.  Daniels is a highly respected radio and music business insider who has used his knowledge and contacts to make KCSN one of the most innovative Triple A stations in the nation.

He has turned a station that was once considered a lemon into sweet lemonade.  I am so proud of what Sky has accomplished at KCSN because two decades ago I managed KCSN.


A lot has changed at KCSN and its licensee California State University – Northridge (“CSUN”) since I was there in the late 1980s and early 90s. But one thing remains the same: the limited coverage area of 88.5 FM.

Back in the 1960s when KCSN went on the air no one thought KCSN should upgrade the 88.5 signal to cover the full LA market.  In the early 1970s, KSBR in Orange County signed on at 88.5 forever locking both stations into partial coverage.  Many attempts were made to get the two stations to work together.  All failed.  The coverage maps tell the story.

Here is KCSN’s map:

Here is KSBR’s map:

KCSN has dealt with the challenges over the years by maximizing its signal and building translators thanks to Chief Engineer Mike Worrall, who I hired when I was GM.

The partial coverage of LA means that neither station has the reach to draw an audience the size of the big LA noncoms like KCRW, KPCC and KUSC. I haven’t seen any recent ratings for KCSN. When I was running KCSN Arbitron estimated it had weekly listeners of 50,000 – 60,000.  No doubt KCSN’s weekly listener number is now larger than that.  But compared to full market competitors, these are small numbers.


Sky moved beyond the coverage challenges and created a station that punches far above its weight. He has made KCSN a major player buy associating the station with the best of the best of LA.

On-air KCSN has Nic Harcourt, Jim Nelson, Harry Shear, journalist Robert Hillburn and former KROQ taste-maker Jed the Fish. Homegrown favorites like blues maven Anne the Raven, Beatles guru Les Perry and bluegrass veteran Frank Hoppe. 

Sky has biilt associations with KCET-TV, Live Nation, Guitar Center in Santa Monica and CSUN’s Valley Performing Art’s Center. The new remote studio and performance venue in The Village at Westfield Topanga, continues the forward motion.

Performers who have appeared recently on KCSN include Alabama Shakes, Band of Horses, My Morning Jacket and Snow Patrol, legendary artists such as Paul Weller, John Hiatt, Los Lobos and John Mellencamp.

The aura of KCSN is far, far greater than its signal.  Sky Daniels has created an essential LA voice.  He has made moves that were impossible when I was at KCSN.  Sky Daniels is one of my personal heroes.

1 comment:

  1. Sure, Sky's is a class act. But... His 're-making' of KCSN is largely due to the fact that the University has moderated it's demands from the Station. To wit: No more requirement to air Women's softball, no more 'Community Advisory Board' to muck-up the proceedings, no more strategic planning meetings with the heads of the National Center on Deafness and the Kinesiology department (to whom former GM's have reported). It seems to me the Univ 'woke-up' at the 59th minute of the 11th hour, just prior to the ink drying on the deal to LMA KCSN to the Evil Empire - thank goodness!