Wednesday, May 10, 2017


Like many of you, I’ve always dreamed about having my own personal radio station. When I was in my early teens I had a .001-watt mini-station I built from a kit. It had a very, very small coverage area, maybe 100 feet or so. My neighborhood pal, Wicked Chuckie, and I played the hits and made more than a few fart jokes. However, the lack of listeners sunk the station after a couple of weeks.

Now a handful of LPFM stations and other new local noncoms are broadcasting from homes. Some are doing quite well. Today we will tell you about two of them.


Murray is community of around 800 people, 40 miles south of Des Moines. This is If they build it, people will come territory. That can-do spirit also powers KOSI 91.9 FM, Southern Iowa Community Radio.

I first heard of KSOI on the NBC Nightly News in March.  Here is a YouTube video of that story:

KSOI [link] is a passion project of Murray resident Joe Hynek.  Hynek did the prep work and filed an application in 2007 with FCC for what became KSOI. The FCC granted the construction permit in 2011. KSOI signed on August 1, 2012. Since then Hynek has operated KSOI for no compensation.

KSOI also has a very nice Facebook page [link] that the station uses to forward promote upcoming programming.

According to KSOI’s 2015 IRS 990, the station has only one paid employee, a part-timer who does the books and pays the bills. In 2015 KSOI had annual revenue of around $66,000.

Today KSOI broadcasts from Hynek’s living room.  The front porch of his house is a live music venue. Hynek recruits volunteers and trains them for air shifts and “specialty reporting.” According to KSOI’s website, volunteers produce local reports such as these:

Murray High School Announcements
By Future Farmers of American students • Weekdays at 6:50AM 

The Weather Lady
The Weather Lady
Staring Grandma Perry • Weekdays Hourly

Fishing and Hunting News
By Michael Miller • Monday through Saturday 7:15AM and 4:30PM

Funeral Announcements
By Angie Hynek (Joe’s mom) • Monday through Saturday 6:45 and 9:45AM

Almost all of these special reports are underwritten by local businesses.

Joe Hynek
Most of the programming on KSOI falls into two categories: music and sports. Volunteers play a wide variety of music styles: Classic Rock, Country and specialties such as Bluegrass, Jazz and Big Band.

The “unique selling proposition” of KSOI is the series of Front Porch Concerts. They are broadcast live weekly (during the warmer time of the year, weather permitting) from the front porch of Hynek’s house.

KSOI works because they are hyper-local and focused on the community.


97.5 FM KBUU – Radio Malibu – actually broadcasts from a bedroom in Hans Laetz’s house at 6402 Surfside Way in Malibu. The station is a friends and family project. Laetz is the station’s general manager, programmer and volunteer coordinator. His wife, Diane, and two of his three daughters help at Radio Malibu. Laetz says on the station’s website [link] that his wife and kids ‘…are remarkably supportive and tolerant about the radio station in the spare bedroom.” 

Studio in Hans Laetz’s spare bedroom
Radio Malibu was created in 2014 to fill a specific need: Bringing NPR programming to an area that has difficulty receiving Los Angeles stations. KBUU serves this area with 79-watts on a small tower just above the best beaches in America (the station website brags). The station signed on in 2015.

Hans Laetz
Joining NPR proved problematic. NPR declined to provide programming to Radio Malibu because of existing agreements with KPCC and KCRW. 

So Laetz began cherry-picking public radio programming that was available without a fee. The Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, Folk Scene from WKSU, LeShow, the California Report and Democracy Now! are on the schedule.

The majority of Radio Malibu’s programming is done by local volunteers who have a particularly “Malibu” vibe:

The Best of the Bu, perhaps he most popular weekly program on the station, features Malibu singer songwriters, as well as mainstream and indie rock, both on and off the charts. The host is Ian Cohen, a writer for Pitchfork, who also has written for Rolling Stone, LA Weekly and GQ.

Big Rocks is hosted by Caryn Weiss, Owner of Weiss Artists, an internationally known agency that represents photographers. Caryn plays hot new indie tracks.

Come Together with Brooke Halpin and the Beatles is hosted by Brooke Halpin. Halpin is writer and composer who has a long association with the Fab Four. Halpin’s latest book, Experiencing the Beatles – A Listener’s Companion, will be released later this year. The program specializes in cover songs of Beatles; songs. As a composer, Brooke composed the music to the Academy Award winning film Molly’s Pilgrim, the PBS special More Than Broken Glass – Memories of Kristallnacht. 
Joyriding the Coast hosted by Lisa Cypers Kamen, an addiction and trauma recovery specialist who focuses on sustainable happiness, integrated wellbeing and mindful living.

Welcome to the neighborhood!

1 comment:

  1. FWIW, I believe Radio Malibu couldn't join NPR not because KPCC or KCRW, but because NPR requires a minimum number of five full-time staff from an affiliate station.

    Also, that's a studio in his spare bedroom???? WOW. Those wooden wall baffles are usually a sign of Russ Berger Design Group, and he's not cheap! It looks rilly, rilly nice but I wonder how an LPFM could afford that.