Morro Bay to hit the (air)waves

July 29, 2012 

Looking for another way to promote your community event? “Morro Buzz” wants to help.

Streaming live at 5:30 p.m. weekdays at www.esterobayradio.com, the community-based station plans to hit the FM airwaves in December as 97.3 The Rock.

Your group might consider developing its own radio program.

Since 1997, Morro Bay has been allocated rights to 1620 kHz on the AM radio band. While serving on the Morro Bay City Council, Bill Peirce helped create the system.

“Although developed as an emergency signal, visitors can hear messages about the boat launch, Police Department, chamber of commerce, and hopefully we’ll restart marine weather conditions,” Peirce said.

“During the (2003 San Simeon) earthquake, I pre-empted all the regular messages for emergency information. We replaced the system last year. I laughingly call it Radio Free Morro Bay,” he added.

As of May 24, “free” radio programming took another leap. An avid and diverse community group embraced the concept of a noncommercial FM station and funded the filing of the nonprofit application with the FCC under the name Estero Bay Community Radio.

City Councilman Noah Smukler mustered city approval. Morro Bay’s coverage will transmit to Los Osos, Baywood, Morro Bay and Cayucos, opening opportunities to the broader Estero Bay communities.

Meanwhile, programming streams on the Web. Morro Bay is hosting the city license and transmitter site. The community group is managing the all-volunteer operations, with future fundraising in development.

Hal Abrams, who was appointed volunteer operations manager, has been entrenched in radio for decades. He created and operates the popular, nationally syndicated AnimalRadio.com, heard on KVEC 920 AM.

Abrams hosts “Morro Buzz” and has already secured some interesting guests such as Doris Day and Paula Poundstone, but he wants more locals.

“We moved to Morro Bay not long ago. I’d been offered a transmitter and talked to people like Bill,” Abrams said. “I honestly wasn’t sure where this would go, but the community embraced it.

“We are ahead of our timetable to complete our FCC application and nonprofit status. Having the city support and an established AM signal has helped,” he added. “We have an active board, and community volunteers provide the online programming. We need more people interested in providing content.”

Sherry Sim, Craig Schmidt, Chanel Channing and Bonnie Allen are founding board members.

“Besides covering the City Council meetings, we’re testing out programming and welcome suggestions,” Abrams said.

Schmidt hosts “Morro Bay What’s Happening.” Michael Shaffran hosts “Mind, Body and Spirit.” Youssef Alaoui hosts NPR-style musical variety shows. Greg Finch talks fitness. Aaron and Ed Ochs stream content from the online magazine “The Rock,” and Cindy Edwards interviews business owners.

“When we don’t have talk, we fill in with music — preferably local musicians,” Abrams said. “It belongs to the community. Join us.”

Judy Salamacha’s column is special to The Tribune. Reach her at judysalamacha@gmail.com or 801-1422.

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