Several hundred fans gathered in the Thunderdome last night for a first glimpse at the 2003-2004 women’s basketball team, a squad hungry to move forward in the NCAA Tournament after losing two straight years in the second round. The unusual thing about this year’s team, however, has nothing to do with its continued success. Entering last night’s exhibition, the women’s team is not the only top-25 basketball team on campus; it’s the only one with live media coverage set for the 2003-2004 season.
It was announced Thursday that KEYT-AM 1250 was sold to Radio Lazer, a Spanish-speaking radio group based in Oxnard, California. KEYT, a commercial news- and sports-oriented radio station, provided live coverage of UCSB men’s and selected women’s basketball games to the Santa Barbara community up until the completion of the sale. Currently, there is no radio coverage slated for all of the men’s games.
KCSB-FM 91.9, the volunteer-run, student-managed radio station located on campus, is still planning to carry the portion of women’s basketball games that it agreed to broadcast before the sale of KEYT occurred. Last year, when UCSB went to a mirroring schedule in which men’s and women’s basketball games were almost always played at the same time, KEYT elected to air all the men’s games, and the women’s games whenever the two did not conflict. This left a huge hole in the coverage, as 1250 would no longer carry all the games for both teams. A new deal was necessary in order to ensure live coverage for the Gauchos, and an agreement was made with KCSB. The agreement with KCSB was based solely on the desire to provide a community service, not a commercial opportunity.
The success of KCSB Sports with respect to this coverage has always been measured by this initial desire to provide a quality service to the community, never by conformity to the standards of commercial broadcasters. This has allowed KCSB to provide the best coverage possible given a volunteer student staff and a limited budget, without having to compromise coverage for commercial interests. Additionally, it has strengthened the relationship of KCSB Sports with other media outlets in the community and with the athletic department as a whole. In fact, women’s basketball comprises less than half of KCSB’s live sports coverage over the course of the year, as well as the only non-basketball live coverage by any radio station in the area. Additionally, KCSB has provided a free webcast at www.kcsb.org for all of this coverage, allowing parents and fans to listen to the Gauchos anywhere around the world, a service not provided by its commercial counterparts.
As originally scheduled, KCSB will provide live coverage of at least 17 women’s basketball games during the 2003-2004 season. KCSB will also follow both the men’s and women’s basketball teams into the postseason, providing live coverage of every UCSB appearance in the Big West tournament and beyond. KCSB will do so regardless of any deal announced by the UCSB Athletic Dept., because the motivation of the KCSB Sports Dept. has never changed.
– Danny MacLeith is the KCSB Sports Director and Oskar Garcia is the current KCSB General Manager and former KCSB Sports Director.