Monday, March 26, 2018


Tyler Russell
Tyler Russell saw his future in Laguna Beach, California. After working in commercial radio in Los Angles at KIIS-FM and K-Earth 101, Russell wanted out of corporate commercial radio. 

He saw an item online that changed his life and the city of Laguna Beach. He described it to the Orange County Register [link]:

I was browsing online one day and I found this small, low-powered radio station owned by a church in Laguna Niguel. They were about to lose their license back to the because they weren’t on the air. So I approached the pastor of the church and said, “Would you consider transferring it to us?”

The pastor said “yes” and KXRN was born in October 2012.

Today Russell (a/k/a Tyler McCusker) is the General Manager of KXRN-LP KX 93.5, Laguna Beach, California [link]. It is one of the nation’s most successful LPFM stations. 

The station recently received a major vote of confidence when the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) qualified it to receive community service support.  Only a small handful of LPFM stations become CPB qualified.

CPB deserves praise for recognizing a truly innovative audio shop with an eye on sustainability. KX 93.5 specializes in “Generational Alt Rock” music, a format that includes cutting-edge indie rock artists from the past five decades.

The top program on KX 93.5 is Daily Scramble Live, hosted by Russell and a changing cast of characters such as British musician Jason Feddy (Jason Sings the Police Blotter) and entertainer Zach Churchill. Daily Scramble Live is sort of like a local Morning Zoo show, except with smarter people. The show is live, local and nearly every day at 9am, a live band is featured in studio

It is also solid radio strategy to build a gateway morning show. It defines the rest of the day. Community and LPFM stations need magnet morning programs. This is often the best time to reach the community, with live personalities, chit-chat and local news.

KX 93.5 has another big local advantage. 

Laguna Beach is a notoriously difficult place to receive Los Angles stations over the air. 

KX 93.5 covers (map on the right) Laguna Beach, Laguna Niguel, Emerald Bay or deep in Laguna Canyon like a warm, loving blanket.


KX 93.5 programming is built on these three principles:  Trust a real person. Listen local. This is Human Crafted Radio. 

Russell describes KX 93.5's sense of purpose:

“It is about music discovery, supporting under-appreciated bands, and demonstrating that a group of passionate humans can influence your taste and listening habits better than a computer algorithm.”


CPB’s support means an additional $71,821 will be in KXFN’s budget. According to IRS 990 filings, the station already had an annual budget around $200,000, far larger than most LPFM stations.

In FY 2015, the most recent 990 available, KXRN raised approximately $135,000 from members and $38,000 in underwriting. Plus they have income from events.


Here is proof that Seattle-Tacoma is a great noncom radio market: News and Jazz KNKX added an estimate 71,800 weekly listeners in the past year. Meanwhile News/Talk KUOW increased their weekly listeners by 7%.  Plus KEXP and KING both added listeners.

KUOW is in a neck-and-neck battle with commercial News/Talk station KIRO.   
According to Nielsen, in the February 2018 PPM ratings both stations had a 6.8% AQH share. KIRO has a slightly higher number of estimated weekly listeners (469,800).

This is unusual: All three American Public Media (APM) stations in the Twin Cities lost estimated weekly listeners compared to a year ago. 

I don’t think this means something is wrong. It is just a coincidence, right?

Spunky alt-rocker KUOM Radio K appears in book for the first time in a couple of years. Radio K is one of the nation’s best College stations.

Things have stayed the same in the Denver-Boulder metro. Fixing a typo, KVOD’s estimated weekly listeners went up 17% compared to February 2017. The drop by both 105.5 The Colorado Sound and OpenAir is a wobble.

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