In 2010, the Santa Barbara Independent regarded KCSB as “one of the few remaining free form radio stations in the United States.”
It was this kind of praise and recognition that KCSB received and commemorated at its 50th anniversary kick-off celebration, which was held at Storke Plaza on Friday.
KCSB considers itself a “non-commercial, education FM station broadcasting for the public interest.” Its programs are continually commited to diversity in both music and discussion. KCSB also gives students a unique opportunity to DJ their own shows and see how a radio station is really run.
KCSB’s 50th Anniversary Celerbation finally gave students and various other community members a chance to thank the station for all of the work they do to provide “free radio” with meaningful content to the Santa Barbara area.
Although Storke Plaza often sits as a quietly vacant courtyard throughout the year, it severed as the perfect setting for the humble and intimate gathering. Guests consisted mainly of student KCSB programmers and staff advisers, as well as a multitude of members of the Santa Barbara City Council.
The atmosphere was lively as people chattered and snacked on the delicious and healthy food provided by the Isla Vista Food Co-Op, while the DJ — also a former KCSB programmer — played soft electro-pop.
Tables were also set up around the plaza, showcasing binders brimful with newspaper clippings and photographs that ranged from the 1960s to the present. Above the tables, black and white photographs hung, which depicted the KCSB community throughout the years.
Eric Wolff, fourth-year sociology major and KCSB’s general manager introduced the actual ceremony alongside KCSB’s production coordinator, Caitlin Borzi.
The ceremony then began with an aptly soulful audio recording of award-winning activist, Reverend Billy Talen, giving a benediction specifically for the event.
The commemoration proceeded as Santa Barbara mayor Helene Schneider eased into the awards segment and presented KCSB with a letter of recognition.
“KCSB reminds us how important it is to get our word out,” she said.
Other speakers included Isla Vista-born assembly member Das Williams, who spoke nostalgically and affectionately about KCSB and its effect on his life.
Williams, who grew up listening to KCSB and even had his own 90s “punk and ska” music radio show when he was in high school, expressed his gratitude towards KCSB and the opportunities it provided him.
“I credit [KCSB] for politicizing me and encouraging me to be an activist from an early age,” Williams said.
However, it was the idea of spoken word and free speech that infused the evening’s rhetoric. It was this collective passion for the rights granted in what Reverend Talan called the “Holy Spirit of the First Amendment” which illustrated the meaning KCSB has for the community as a form of open media.
“[KCSB] is really a free space,” sociology Professor Richard Flacks said. “There isn’t much free space anymore, even in this society.”
Flacks went on to say that this aspect of KCSB is something he has “cherished.”
“This is a place for individual human beings to grow and share with the wider community,” Flacks said.
The formal ceremony concluded with an overview of events KCSB has planned out in honor of its 50 years, as well as its new 50th anniversary logo.
After the presentation, guests resumed socializing and also took the opportunity to walk through KCSB’s Storke Tower offices for a small open house .
One newspaper clipping I stumbled upon during the celebration featured a poignant quote from Greg Drust, a blind disc jockey who worked at KCSB for approximately 20 years.
“I’m interested in … anything that comes from the people,” Drust said. “It’s better.”
It is as true today as it was then — KCSB is still about, for, and from the people.
Artsweek congratulates KCSB on 50 years of kickin’ ass and taking names. Peacefully.