Petaluma’s radio station, KPCA, celebrates its one-year anniversary this week with some good news: Federal regulators have cleared the way for the station to begin broadcasting 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The station launched on Feb. 2, 2017, first broadcasting over the Internet. Five months later, local programming began airing on 103.3 FM, a signal the Petaluma station shared with public broadcasters in Napa and Sonoma. The shared arrangement meant that the Petaluma station could only air two days per week.
Last week, though, the Federal Communications Commission canceled the Sonoma station’s license, leaving just Napa sharing the local airwaves. Since the Napa station is far enough from Petaluma, the FCC next month will likely grant KPCA round-the-clock broadcasting permission, according to John Bertucci, KPCA executive director.
“That’s a big breakthrough,” he said. “It’s been very hard to promote a radio station that is on the air 2.5 days a week. Now we will be able to start broadcasting full time and we’ll start ramping up.”
The full time radio station is the culmination of a project started a decade ago, when Bertucci sought to launch Petaluma’s first radio station since KTOB was sold in the 1990s. In the past year, the station has gained a local following despite its limited air time.
Several regular shows include Paul “the Walrus” Strobeck spinning Beatles covers, Joe Manthey’s Blues Groove, and a political talk show hosted by former city councilman Matt Maguire and Jim Thomas.
Radio manager Rob Tomaszewski said that expanding their airtime will be an exciting challenge.
“It’s a bit daunting,” he said. “It’s great that we have a younger group of programmers that want to invest time and energy.”
KPCA is looking for community members who would like to try their hand at broadcasting. Those who have an idea for a show can visit www.kpca.fm to learn more.
Bertucci, who expects to hear in March from the FCC about the plan to air full time, said the expanded programming will be both live and taped repeats. He said the station could air the audio from city council meetings and plans to have a show from the Petaluma Downtown Association promoting weekend events in town.
Other new broadcasters include 7- and 10-year-old kids talking about kids’ stuff, and the Sonoma State University-based Project Censored, which will tape a show at KPCA and syndicate to 41 radio stations.
“It’s a lot of air to fill,” Bertucci said. “That’s a puzzle for me, but we’re figuring it out.”
The station broadcasts from studios at 205 Keller St., sending its signal through an antenna at the SRJC Petaluma campus. Bertucci said it can be heard as far away as Novato, the Sonoma Valley and a few miles from the coast. He said once 24-7 broadcasting begins, KPCA’s goal will be growing its listenership.
“Building audience loyalty is the biggest challenge,” he said. “We’re on. Get used to it, and enjoy it.”
(Contact Matt Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.)