KCBX to broadcast supervisors' meeting for the last time Tuesday

The Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday will be the last broadcast live on KCBX, ending a service to the public that began in the 1970s.

“Simply put, KCBX stated they were no longer interested in continuing to air the board meetings,” said San Luis Obispo County Administrative Officer Dan Buckshi.

“We had multiple discussions regarding options, but they made it clear they were no longer interested,” Buckshi said.

“Going forward,” Buckshi wrote in an email to The Tribune, “cable TV and the Internet will be the two avenues for individuals to watch or listen to the meetings.

He added that the county is “in the midst of reaching out to other radio stations in order to determine if there is interest, as well as the ability to broadcast the meetings.”

One challenge, he said, is that many stations have a limited range and do not cover the majority of the county.

The station had threatened to pull the plug in July, but when the county objected, the two sides met to find a way to continue the Tuesday broadcasts.

Program manager Marisa Waddell said at the time that keeping the public informed about their government is important to KCBX.

But Waddell also 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 decades ago, it was the only way for residents to receive live coverage, she said.

Waddell said the airtime is worth twice the $20,500 a year the county is paying to broadcast on the station.

She said the station's ratings service has told KCBX that the supervisors' meetings have the smallest listenership among its daytime shows.

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.

She announced the station’s new schedule earlier this week, and it includes no government meetings. The station also moved away from music and toward talk shows such as “Fresh Air.”

KCBX serves between 43,000 and 48,000 listeners in San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and southern Monterey counties, Waddell told The Tribune this week.