Canceling the voice of Sacramento

Michael Lidskin is the producer and host of Twirl Radio

Until recently, you could hear the sounds of Latin jazz, Italian pop, bluegrass, blues, tango, Samoan culture, Hmong culture, reggae, intelligent rock and many other forms of music on the Sacramento airwaves.Access Sacramento’s radio station, The Voice, had been broadcast over KYDS, 91.5 FM. KYDS is owned by El Camino Fundamental High School and the San Juan Unified School District. This was the perfect partnership. The El Camino students broadcasted during school hours, and the volunteer producers of The Voice broadcasted during non-school hours.

To my knowledge, the original agreement stated that after three years, if both parties remained satisfied, Access Sacramento could renew the contract for another three years and continue to broadcast over KYDS.

At the end of March, Access Sacramento received a terse letter from El Camino, unilaterally stating that the contract would not be renewed, and our agreement would end within days. Imagine my shock upon learning that my next show over the broadcast airwaves would be my last. Many of my fellow producers did not even get that much notice—they found out about it as they were about to go on the air.

It is disheartening to learn that our efforts are being replaced by soulless automation. That’s right—KYDS is airing a “jukebox” of songs, with no announcers or thought involved, instead of our programming. The songs are a mix of classic rock, current hits and angry rap-metal—much the same as you’ll find on commercial radio. At times, the automation has failed, and dead air has been broadcast for hours at a time. This concept provides a disservice to the community and the students. Gone is the diverse range of programming, as well as the intelligent radio hosts who work hard to educate the listeners.

Regardless of San Juan’s position that the station is their property, a radio frequency is a public trust. We Access Sacramento volunteers work hard to produce quality, heartfelt radio. Each of us donates several hundred hours of his or her own time per year to serve the public good. This programming does more educational good than does an automated collection of songs.

I am not quite certain as to what political or behind the scenes posturing may have occurred to get us removed from the KYDS airwaves, but if there is some amenable way to renew this fruitful partnership, I would like it to happen.

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