New-look KSBR provides opportunity for students

Garrison West (left) preparing for KSBR, Saddleback College's radio station (Joseph Fleming)

Garrison West (left) preparing for KSBR, Saddleback College’s radio station (Joseph Fleming)

Saddleback College’s award winning radio station, 88.5FM-KSBR, and its Internet radio station,, have been supplying listeners with smooth jazz and hard rock jams since 1975. But this past July, the Radio Program has come full circle to its original roots. With new technology and partnership with California State University of Northridge, students are easily accessible to on-air freedom after just one semester.

“Our job is to be a non-commercial, educational service for people who are either students on campus or not,” said James Rondeau, Director of Broadcast Services. “But hopefully we spread a good image of Saddleback and provide a service that other commercial broadcasters don’t.”

KSBR’s digital broadcast requires an HD-capable receiver, available on many vehicle models, as well as Best Buy or Amazon. This new HD programming for KSBR jazz is found on 88.5FM HD-2, with an additional new Latin Alternative channel on HD-3. 

KSBR is licensed to be a community service to south Orange County. A 3-time winner of the American Heart Association’s C. Everett Koop, M.D. Award questions nothing about KSBR’s legitimacy, being the only California station to reach this feat. Along with that they have earned the Associated Press “Instant News” citation, AP’s Certificate of Excellence for overall coverage. They have a staff of about fifty students, community volunteers, Broadcast Services Director, News Director, and four part time employees. Content wise, their focuses include jazz, news, weather, and weekend exclusive showings of reggae, folk and hip-hop. OCRockRadio on the other hand provides a different, more uptempo combination of rock.

Besides music, KSBR-FM carries traffic reports from the Total Traffic Network every fifteen minutes weekday mornings and late afternoons. 88.5FM also has a programming collaboration with KCSN at Cal State Northridge by rotating shows throughout the day during specific time slots.The initial reasoning for the collaboration was that both stations are on 88.5FM. Because of this, along with their locations being somewhat close to one another, they had two stations on the same frequency. The early morning and late afternoon shows come from Northridge, while the mid day and evening shows come from Saddleback. Unfortunately, the one problem found was in the middle of their locations, the connection wasn’t as powerful, resulting in listeners getting nothing but interference. 

Any place north of Irvine, between Buena Park and Norwalk, there was an area where both stations sort of came in, but neither strong,” said Rondeau. “So now with the synchronization (with KCSN), we’re both playing the same thing, and they use GPS so that the actual waves coming out of the transmitters can compliment each other rather than fight each other. The result is that that area in between, it may not have the strongest signal in the world but at least you’ll be able to drive through and not go crazy because it’s constantly changing.”

For about twenty five years the Radio Broadcasting Department was located on the second floor of the student services building, down the hall of the cafeteria. This past July they’ve moved to the basement of LRC, Room 132, which ironically is exactly where the station started in 1975. Besides the room change, state of the art equipment and studios have been added as well.

Equipment used for, Saddleback Radio’s Internet station (Joseph Fleming)

The idea of that is to have the space of a television station right next door, so we have a performance space we could use for television or for a band for radio. Because television, radio and web are all kind of converging into the same thing,” Rondeau said. “When we do something for radio that has a good visual component, if we do something for television that has a audio component we could put in on the radio, which both can be used on the web. The idea is that these three have been separated on different parts of the campus, and now we’re bringing them back together so we can more efficiently use the products we create and the people we have available.”

After taking just two classes, Audio Production (CTVR 110) and Radio Broadcasting (CTVR 113), students are qualified to try out for an on-air shift. These two classes can be taken in the same semester which makes it an attractive experience for students who may or may not be intrigued by broadcasting career opportunities.

I love music, so why not take a risk?” Said Eric Santos, part time employee of OC Rock Radio. “I signed up for Radio Broadcasting, they told me I’d be on-air, and that got me excited. I was a little nervous when I got on-air, but over time I started playing more music and being on-air I started loving it more.”

With additions such as an updated location, equipment, and frequency fix, Saddleback Radio is looking forward to this year, hoping more and more people become interested in signing up. For Director James Rondeau, its more than looking forward this year, but into the future of broadcast media.

Now, it’s becoming less about just radio or just television, it’s becoming multimedia. In terms of content creation it’s more about telling a story than anything else. More and more, the technical aspects of it, that’s becoming so much more less important because a lot of it you could do on your iPhone if you wanted to.”

When asked what to recommend for students interested, Rondeau acknowledged, “Once you take classes in the CTVR department, that can give you the basics. The beauty of those classes is that once you have the basics, you don’t have to worry about what button to push, all that stuff becomes second nature so you can focus on whats really important, which is how to tell a story, how to mix the music right, all of the other things that create the content that people log in to watch or listen to.”

For more information on KSBR Saddleback Radio, tune in on channel 88.5FM or check out their Facebook page. Playlists can also be found on