Photo by Keeley Smith. All other photos by Stephanie Rivera.
The energy was contagious at The Stave Bar in downtown Long Beach Saturday night, as an eclectic group of about 100 packed the venue to celebrate the launch of KLBP, a low-power FM radio station hoping to fill the various needs of Long Beach community members with the help of contributors as diverse as the city itself.
Supporters waited anxiously until 12:01AM when KLBP—the Long Beach Radio Project—officially began live streaming online through the bar’s speakers. It was a moment much awaited and stressed by station heads.
“Two days before launch I didn't know if it was going to happen,” said KLBP President Ken Roth.
Roth said organizers had to fuss with technology in the bar before the crowd showed up. Call letters were stripped out and the streaming was started well before midnight just to make sure things went smoothly, he added.
“Hats off to The Stave Bar for supporting us and supporting our frustrations,” Roth said.
Station producer Eric Feighl said the night marked the first major milestone for the station.
The next step for the station is to actually be on air, via 99.1FM, by next May, though station officials hope to be on air substantially before that, which would make the station in line to be the fastest low-power FM station to air in history.
In the meantime, listeners can tune in to lbctmc.org to get a taste of KLBP, including its musical programming.
“Because there is such a great music scene in Long Beach, I think we're going to see the station develop into a great resource for music fans,” Feighl said. “Over the next several months, we plan to have many live, in-studio performances. This will be a great way for local bands to gain exposure and for fans to stay informed about local shows and events.”
But much more than that, the programming will reflect what the community wants and what it’s willing to sustain, Roth said.
News associated with the Port of Long Beach and other large employers in the area will be heard as well as housing issues in the city—information mandated by the Federal Communications Commission but also important to Roth.
“Long Beach is the seventh largest city in California and it has an abysmal record of concern around housing habitability,” Roth said.
Ross said more than 53 percent of Long Beach residents are renters and the city government and elected officials are not addressing issues important to residents, let alone enforcing state laws.
“So there's miles to go before we sleep to ensure the council and other elected officials are representing the community, and having a radio station that focuses on such issues hopefully will help encourage the council and mayor and city offices to enforce state law,” Roth said.
For more information on KLBP, click here.