KCSN launches the first 24-hour Latin Alternative Rock station in Los Angeles

Photo credit: Abigaelle Levray / Daily Sundial
Photo credit: Abigaelle Levray / Daily Sundial

Associates from CSUN’s radio station, KCSN-1, celebrated the launch of KCSN-2, the first 24/7 Latin Alternative Rock station, Wendesday.

The station hosted a session with Los Lobos, a popular Latin American rock band that has been considered a pioneer in the Latin American music movement for 40 years ago.

Sky Daniels, general manager of KCSN-1,  said he is surprised that no commercial station has dipped into this format as the market for a predominantly Hispanic audience is growing nationwide.

Daniels said L.A.’s population is 50 percent Hispanic and the CSUN population is an excellent representation of that. The Hispanic population at CSUN is about 40 percent, according to 2012 statistics on the CSUN website.

Keeping in mind that the new target audience for KCSN-2 is between the ages of 18 and 32, the music played is very diverse hitting popular genres such as hip-hop, EDM, rock and alternative.

Artists such as “The Cure” and “The Smiths” have a large following in the Hispanic-American community. Elvis Costello and the Roots did a song in Spanish which exemplifies the converging genres moving towards a multi-cultural nature. This is a better representation of the second and third generation of Hispanic-Americans and what they listen to.

Gloria Star, a senior at CSUN, describes the music she has heard from the new station as a mix of rock, Cumbia and Mariachi, primarily in Spanish.

“The music seems diverse to Spanish speakers but not really diverse to everyone,” Star said.

Daniels said the vision of the station being Latin-based needs to be clear before broadening to a more diverse platform. Star is apprehensive on how the new format will accommodate the evening news broadcast but believes the station will quickly become very popular considering the CSUN population.

Daniels describes the choice of aired music as a horizontal format rather than the vertical one used by commercial stations. To keep profits high, commercial radio pulls from the same top 40 songs. Daniels challenges this by pulling from a pool of 40 thousand. The intention is to reach the broadest young audience.

KCSN-2 will offer a variety of music to serve the people’s diverse tastes. In other words, something for everyone.

“The sounds of the station represents a multicultural community,” Daniels said. “This is one of the primary differences between public radio and commercial radio. The aim is different. The funding comes from sponsors and listeners which means the audience feedback is listened to.”

KCSN-2 is launching a campaign to have students as music hosts. Students with knowledge of Latin Alternative from the music, visual communication, drama and journalism departments are encouraged to join the KCSN staff and broadcast.

KCSN-2 aims to provide a place for artists who have no radio home. Although Los Lobos started out with very American influences, namely in punk rock and blues that rebelled against the music of their heritage, they now feel the need to pay homage to where they came from by incorporating traditional hispanic music – the music of their parents – into their style.

Los Lobos felt privileged to volunteer their time and talent because they “respect what we’re trying to do,” according to Daniels. Steve Berlin, member of Los Lobos, said that he has been waiting 30 years for a station like this.

KCSN is a public radio station that relies on bands coming and donating their time to play free sessions for their listeners. KCSN also wants to work closely with the Valley Performing Arts Center to put on shows of their listeners’ favorite artists.

Daniels said that he wants students relating to the music and taking pride in it as listeners.

“The station should be an emblem of pride for CSUN,” he said.

“Radio is in my blood,” Daniels said. “Radio is being lost in this generation. We can challenge that. It doesn’t mean it can’t happen, just not in the commercial format that cares solely about profit and revenue.”

Students walk around campus carrying phones, not radios. To accommodate this generation of listeners, KCSN-2 will be broadcasted online at latinalt.org. They aim to create their own app but may just link to the Sundial app so that students can find it more easily and save space on their display page.

Daniels has high hopes for this new station.

“We are gearing up for what might be another lightning in a bottle,” Daniels said.