KCSN changes format to appeal to a greater audience

Stephanie Bermudez

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CSUN’s KCSN radio station launched a new format for its three million listeners on Monday morning in an effort to gain more of an audience.

The format changed from 12 hours of classical music to an Adult Album Alternative (Triple A) format 24 hours a day, said Karen Kearns, KCSN interim general manager and associate dean of the Mike Curb College. The station’s slogan will be “88.5 KCSN, the music you want.”

“The goal is to bring in a bigger audience,” Kearns said. “One of our hopes is that people on campus will start to listen since not as many of them listen to classical music.”

Kearns said the reason the station did not announce its launch was because radio does not announce what they are doing until they do it.

Triple A came from album oriented rock in the 1960’s and 1970’s but has mutated into a much broader library of music, Kearns said. Triple A is a blend of rock, a little bit of country, Americana, jazz, folk and blues.

“You wouldn’t hear this on KIIS FM or KROQ,” Kearns said.  “We’re trying to bring something to L.A. that no one else is playing.”

Since 2008, KCSN has consistently played classical music throughout the day and Triple A in the evenings and on weekends, Kearns said.

“We didn’t lose classical, we simply moved our classical stream and classical programming to our HD2 channel,” Kearns said.  “We’ve got our FM HD1 playing the new format and our classical stream which now is 24 hour classical 7 days a week has moved to HD2. So were actually providing 2 radio stations where we only had one before.”

As far as student news is concerned, Kearns feels that it is important to keep news and classical music together. Therefore, switching both to the new HD2 channel and eliminating them from the old HD1 format.

“Most music stations don’t include news since it’s not required,” Kearns said. “But we feel that it is important to preserve the news. We are still committed to the news.”
Kearns said that the new change will not be affecting the student news.

“Nothing is going to change the students’ experiences,” Kearns said. “Our students are still going to be eligible for all the traditional awards. They are still going to be reaching a large audience by means of iPhones, BlackBerrys, and our websites.”

Kearns explained that the FCC has increased the power of the HD format, and given it a multi-platform to reach more people.

“Basically, we switched from broadcasting to the Los Angeles area to having a signal that potentially reaches a world audience from the web,” said Kearns.

Kearns said classical listeners have called in and they have explained that classical music is now on HD radio so they can listen online on KCSN.org. Kearns added listeners can also listen to KCSN through the Sundial iPhone application.

Kearns said a small group of people including CSUN alumnus helped put this new format together.

“We could never have done this before the web really took off and the ability to do this digital,” Kearns said.

KCSN’s Operation and Production Manager, Meisheo Menachekanian, believes the addition of Triple A will be more relatable to listeners.

“The change is primarily to get more listeners because that’s what prompted the change in the first place,” Menachekanian said. “If we had millions of people listening to our classical format we never would have made the change in the first place. It was kind of out of necessity.”

Menachekanian said the transition went smoothly and it was a huge challenge to get it right.

“I like classical music but I know that it is a little more of an acquired taste and I think what we’re playing with a song format is going to be more attractive to the average listener and they might like our mix because were playing  a greater variety than most other radio stations would,” Menachekanian said.

Junior Greg McLeod, 24, communications studies major, is a regular listener of KCSN.

“I’m happy with the change,” McLeod said. “I like classical but I think this will do good and bring in a wide variety of listeners.”