KCBX to stop broadcasting Board of Supervisors meetings

Radio station KCBX, which has been broadcasting live meetings of the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors since the late 1970s, will cease to do so at the end of the year.

Board Chairman Jim Patterson made the announcement Tuesday, and program manager Marisa Waddell confirmed it in a conversation with The Tribune.

Waddell said interest in the radio program has diminished over the years as county residents have acquired new ways to listen to the meetings, such as cable television and live streaming on the county’s website. When KCBX — 90.1 FM in San Luis Obispo — began broadcasting meetings, it was the only way for residents to receive live coverage, she said.

The station’s ratings service has told KCBX that the supervisors’ meetings have the smallest listenership among its daytime shows, she said. Listeners want other types of programming, Waddell said, whether it be news analyses such as “Democracy Now” and “All Things Considered,” or jazz and other music.

Board of Supervisors broadcasts run from 9 a.m. to noon, and 1:30 to 5 p.m. Tuesdays. If a meeting goes beyond those hours, the station will cut it off.

There is also a financial component to the KCBX decision. The county has been paying $20,500 a year to broadcast on the station. Waddell says that airtime is worth twice as much.

Waddell said keeping the public informed about their government is important to KCBX, and its managers are meeting with the county to find ways to make that happen.

Patterson said Tuesday that KCBX had originally informed the county the day before that it would stop broadcasting supervisors meetings at the end of July. That, in effect, would have made this week’s meeting the final one aired, Patterson said.

However, after speaking with the county administration, the station agreed to extend the decision until the end of the year.