KCEA 89.1: The little radio station gem that did alot and still does: Future...
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Thread: KCEA 89.1: The little radio station gem that did alot and still does: Future...

  1. #1

    KCEA 89.1: The little radio station gem that did alot and still does: Future...

    Take a moment to read about the status of KCEA. I sincerely hope it continues.


    I miss the Ocean sfx format at night. Quite pioneering at the time. And the Big Band format has been a local staple for decades. A very good programming decision that has served the local community well.

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Houston, Texas
    KCEA is surely an interesting little radio station. It was likely 3 decades ago while thumbing through a Broadcasting Yearbook I came across KCEA and being a curious guy, picked up the phone and called the station. I had a lengthy conversation with the station's manager.

    I was told the station was pretty much on it's own for funding back then.They had to cut every corner they could. For example,their programming, I think from 7 am to 10 pm or perhaps 7:30 am to 10 pm, was classical but no copyrighted classical performances because the station could not afford the music licensing fees. For the overnight, their shining star in programming, was the sound of the ocean.

    The ocean sounds were recorded by the station, I gathered,on reel to reel, and put together to play continuously throughout the night. I recall being told there were three lengthy recordings.

    I was told the air talent was to gently whisper the legal ID at the top of the hour (stations were required to be manned every hour they were on the air at that time). The biggest challenge was keeping the DJ awake through the shift.

    The manager said the station was listener supported at the time and efforts to sell Underwriting were mostly unsuccessful. The big money for the station was the financial support for the overnight homebrew ocean recordings. Checks with letters mentioning restful sleep and renewed lovemaking were not uncommon. Considering you couldn't really run fundraisers during the ocean programming, I recall thinking that was pretty amazing, coupled with the fact this little station made much of it's revenue in overnight hours was unusual to say the least.

    I recall that I had had a conversation with a fellow that was testing environmental sound (rain, ocean waves and such) for in store and in office play to encourage shoppers to linger longer in stores and for workers to focus more deeply on work. I was on board with that thinking but worried the calming affect might have the opposite result in the workplace. I had this conversation days before my call to KCEA.

    KCEA continues to be a very interesting station in a rather unique spot. It is a testament to creating unique programming on less than a shoestring budget and making it work. Although the programming choice today likely means only a tiny audience, it has endured.

    With the school district reviewing the need for the station, I suspect it's days will be numbered. Obviously the figures thrown out for the station are made by someone without knowledge of the radio business, it might mean the station will hang on. The price tag surely does not represent the income of the station nor the potential given the tiny coverage area. At best the frequency is blocking an upgrade for another NCE FM that can lead to such a 'pie in the sky' price tag. But if that is the case, time will mean KCEA will be no more than a memory in the not too distant future. Unless an investment is made, the station will not be a 'student' benefit and given the issue many student oriented stations have gaining enough interest to keep going, I wonder if that is the right direction. The current trend is toward schools selling the station and taking the student run station solely online (many times after FCC Rules violations).

    Those in major markets might see KCEA as very insignificant, an oddity that has endured time or a rare exception to the norm. My interest is in the operation, budget and options available to the management to create a survivable station. I see them as important in that creativity department. It took outside the ballpark thinking to create their model against insurmountable odds and regardless of how well it performed financially, it endured for decades amid a sea of more powerful stations.It owns it's niche. For that reason I feel KCEA is a very significant station worthy of some respect. I only have to put myself in the shoes of the manager and the options available to earn that respect.Sadly the radio history books will not remember KCEA as a station that broke through the tried and true to create it's own trail.

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