KLBP opens new studio, providing ‘soapbox for whoever needs it’

As Rose Lozon traipses around Long Beach Public Radio’s new and first ever brick and mortar, she walks with new found purpose.

She’s scrambling with the rest of the team to get the space ready for KLBP’s grand opening this weekend. But less than a year ago, she was using every last ounce of her mental capacity just to operate an electric sander—she’d suffered a traumatic brain injury just months before.

Lozon was devastated after she was fired from a Kombucha company after injuring herself on the job last year. But her 10-month recovery fed a determination to help build a community radio station from the ground up.

“I think it helped heal me at a way faster rate because I had purpose,” Lozon said. “My voice was completely taken away, but I was still able to have a presence in my community because of KLBP.”

KLBP, operated by nonprofit Long Beach Public Media, received its FCC license and officially hit the airwaves in 2018, allowing residents of Long Beach, San Pedro and Wilmington to tune into 99.1FM to hear pre-recorded shows produced by Lozon and a host of other Long Beach producers.

Now, the station will be able to broadcast live in its official home beneath Downtown gastropub, Shannon’s on Pine.

The grand opening begins Friday with a ribbon cutting ceremony at noon with guest speaker Christina Dunbar-Hester, author of the “Low Power to the People: Pirates, Protest, and Politics in FM Radio Activism.” Festivities will culminate Saturday night with a party at Shannon’s At The Top.

The party, which had hit a maximum number of RSVPs by Tuesday, is free and will feature local artists Dengue Fever, Seafood Sam, Highlands, Ellen Warkentine, Hitchcock Brunette and &Soul.

The station will also offer tours of its small facility complete with two broadcasting rooms displaying all of the bells and whistles built in house by volunteers like Lozon, now the station’s program manager, and with the funding of donors like Ron Hodges, owner of Shannon’s, who agreed to donate the studio lease free two years ago.

Dengue Fever is over of several music acts set to perform Saturday night to celebrate KLBP’s new studio on Pine Ave. Photo courtesy of Dengue Fever/Facebook.

“They were looking for a place for the radio station and I jumped on it right away,” Hodges said. “I just think it’s great for Long Beach to have the radio station… it’s an exciting project.”

During that time, Hodges was also planning to build an underground tiki bar in the same space, but he decided to build the two as one. Soon, both the tiki bar, Shannon’s Secret Island, and the station will operate side-by-side, sharing both a wall and a window.

“I wanted to make the two together,” Hodges said. “So you can sit at the bar and watch the broadcast activities going on.”

The tiki lounge is set to open a few weeks after the station, but those taking tours this weekend will see a sneak peak of the bamboo laden watering hole through the studio’s windows.

The station currently offers local music and an array of talk shows from many voices in the city.

“I just got really enamored with that idea of being a pure soapbox for whoever needs it,” Lozon said.

According to Lozon, who oversees KLBP’s content as program director, listeners can look forward to an eclectic and local music selection as well as a plethora of new, niche interest shows. “Artbeat” features seven special needs adults and their experiences at an art therapy day program, “Amoeba People” discusses the relationship between science and music and the hosts of “Shame List” will interview comedians who share their guilty pleasures. Although the station currently has more music than talk shows, Lozon said they aim to offer more space to talk shows that represent the many diverse communities of Long Beach.

Although the station currently has more music than talk shows, Lozon said KLBP aims to offer more space to talk shows that represent the many diverse communities of Long Beach. Lozon was a show host herself before her injury and has helped build the studio’s music library by going to local shows in the city and networking with musicians. Also, during her recovery, she learned how to build the station’s automation system.

In the months leading up to the opening, volunteers for the station have been working tirelessly on any number of jobs, even if their experience was previously limited to hosting.

“We had no budget and no future without ambition,” said Jordan Fitzpatrick, vice president of LBPM. “You weed out really quickly who is serious about it and who isn’t by who puts in the time.”

During his interview, Fitzpatrick worked with Lozon to adhere a giant “KBLP” decal to the wall. He’s part of what he calls a rag-tag team of volunteers and when it’s time to work, they almost never stop moving.

“We’ve been here persevering for the sake of persevering,” he said. “It’s not part of our ego that we’re here doing this, it’s just the idea that this should be done for others who don’t have the time.”

Both Fitzpatrick and LBPM President Ashley Aguirre first took an interest in helping to launch the radio station almost five years ago, but a lawsuit and some questionable internal actions within LBPM’s board left the project on shaky ground.

“I heard there were some shady things going on,” Aguirre said. “I just remember getting very protective of my community.”

According to Aguirre, after some contentious board meetings more than two years ago, she was elected president.

“When I came into it, there wasn’t really a plan, but I knew it would be good for Long Beach,” she said. “We had a permit but it wasn’t guaranteed that we would become a licensed station. So a few of us hit the ground running.”

KLBP’s “rag-tag” team recently found a new sense of leadership in their interim general manager Danny Lemos, a radio veteran who currently oversees 22 West Media as a student media coordinator at Cal State Long Beach.

He’s been involved with student media since 2006 and in the business since 1976.

“There really is a lack of another place like this in Long Beach, especially since we lost KJazz,” Lemos said. “[my hope for this station is for it] to be thriving with creative programming and perhaps sending one program from here onto the big time.”

Lemos is just one of several radio professionals willing to donate their time. David Rey, a sound engineer, known as “X-Rey” in the industry, has built, wired and color coded a lot of the equipment for the station.

So, whether staffers are wanting to record a simple interview or a 10-piece band, he’s made it all possible with the consoles he’s built.

“Now that I’m semi-retired I want to be more involved in the [community],” Rey said.

As Long Beach’s newest media hub nears its completion, Lemos and the board hope it will become a platform for anyone in Long Beach; aspiring podcasters, talk show hosts, musicians and artists alike, to learn.

“So if you’re wanting to be in a public arena—whether you’re basically a newbie or you’re retired and you want to return to the medium that you left—this is a perfect opportunity,” Lemos said.

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