I have three things to say about this.
Alvin Community College’s little radio station that could is a welcome bright spot in an increasingly bleak terrestrial radio landscape.
With only 5,600 watts of power and a staff made up almost exclusively of students, 89.7 FM KACC plays an eclectic mix of rock ‘n’ roll that gives those of us nostalgic for the good old days of FM radio a good reason not to ditch the dial entirely.
Don’t tune in if you are looking for Top 40 hits or pop or any of the other formats that now seem to dominate FM radio. But if you’re looking for deep tracks off of rock albums from the 1960s to the present, I would recommend entering KACC into your station presets.
“We’ll play some Hendrix, but it’s not going to be Purple Haze,” station manager Mark Moss says. “We’ll get very deep in the library – ‘If 6 Was 9,’ ‘Castles Made Of Sand.’ We’ll play Lynyrd Skynyrd, but it’s ‘The Ballad of Curtis Loew.’ It’s not going to be ‘Free Bird.’ ”
Moss is the sole employee of the station, which in effect makes him, as he puts it, “station manager, music director, program director, engineer, production director, janitor.”
He’s a veteran of FM rock radio and was on the air at Houston’s legendary rock station KLOL (which now plays Spanish Pop) before signing on at KACC in 1991.
Admittedly, a station like KACC, which is funded by the college and doesn’t have to chase advertising revenue, has an advantage over other stations on the dial. It can take risks, stretch the format a little, “have a little more fun with it,” Moss says.
But he is firmly convinced that commercial radio has lost it’s way and partly has itself to blame for losing listeners to satellite and the Internet.
1. I agree with everything the story says about KACC and the niche it fills in Houston’s radio wasteland. I also agree that the weak signal is a problem. Some days it’s just unlistenable, and there’s no pattern to it that I can see. Doesn’t matter what time of day it is, what the weather is like, or where I am in the city. Some days it’s clear, some days it’s static and interference from other low-wattage stations.
2. What I wrote four years ago about how to make a radio station that doesn’t suck still rings true to me today. The main difference is that now I see less risk in anyone trying it. Terrestrial radio is a declining business. There can’t be much downside in turning a low-performing station in a market like Houston into something more old school and less corporate. If it doesn’t catch on in a year or so, go ahead and turn it into whatever canned formula is the next hot thing. What does a Clear Channel have to lose by trying?
3. For the love of God, please someone volunteer to do a makeover on KACC’s laughably pathetic webpage. Throw up a WordPress template or borrow a design from somewhere else, just please create something that looks like it belongs in this century and not on a mothballed Geocities webpage. Sheesh.