Off and On the Air

‘From the very beginning—30 years ago with the television station and then 20 years ago when we added the radio station—we’ve frequently faced challenges and evolutions and changes at the station and in the industry,” says Nancy Dobbs, president and CEO of KRCB, Sonoma County’s tenacious radio and television operation.

“Changes are good,” says Dobbs, “because they give us a chance to revaluate and assess the way we are serving the community.”

Currently celebrating the 20th anniversary of the radio station (91 FM), while having just hit the 30-year mark on the TV station (Channel 22), KRCB is taking turns accepting birthday wishes while also readying itself for a whole new onslaught of internal and staff-related changes.

KRCB has already successfully weathered a major format change on the radio side, letting go of its daytime program of streamed classical music and replacing it primarily with contemporary music spun live (the old-fashioned way) by in-studio DJs. The change allowed KRCB to expand its local news coverage, adding a thrice-repeating daily interview segment called The Exchange. Now, following longtime program director Robin Pressman’s departure in August, the entire station is undergoing a full-on tectonic realignment.

“Robin’s decision to leave came at an opportune moment for us,” says Dobbs, “in the sense that it sort of allowed us to move on to the next step of programmatic consolidation we’ve been developing—combining our radio and television production departments. Now, with Robin having moved on, we’re moving ahead a little faster.”

For the most part, Dobbs explains, the coming changes won’t affect what KRCB’s audience sees or hears. Primarily, the shifts will involve who takes on which parts of Pressman’s old job, with an focused effort on increasing the station’s web presence, a necessity in a world where more people are listening to the radio on the internet than over the airwaves.

“By the beginning of the year,” says Dobbs, “we hope to have hired a new content manager—a brand-new position we are creating—who will coordinate the radio, TV and web sides of the operation. We have a large megaphone we can reach lots of people with, and we want to make sure we integrate, as best we can, all the services and content we’re offering the community.”

As for Pressman, after two decades at KRCB, she chose to accept an offer from KDFC, the listener-supported classical station based in San Francisco and Los Angeles. KDFC is the Northern California affiliate of Southern California’s KUSC, both of which are owned and operated by USC.

“I’m essentially working for the University of Southern California,” Pressman says, laughing at the recent memory of receiving a letter from USC with the opening line, “Welcome new Trojan!” Pressman, who’s been moonlighting as an overnight host on both KDFC and KUSC, has been named the new arts producer for yet another new station USC just acquired in Santa Barbara. “It was too great an opportunity to pass up,” she says.

Pressman, best known as the co-host of KRCB’s long-running radio program Our Roots Are Showing, can be heard on KDFC from midnight to 6:30am, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday mornings, and Saturdays, 5–10pm. For fans of her Roots program, she’ll be launching a new folk music program next month on KRSH 95.9 FM, where she’ll be spinning Americana music and hosting live musicians from 7pm to 10pm on Monday nights.

“That kind of music is absolutely where my heart is,” she says. “It’s been one of the greatest things in my life, to get to play all this music, introduce people to the world of folk music, to the incredible breadth and talent of so many songwriters and folk musicians. Fortunately, I’m going to get to continue that, only at a different station.

“My job at KRCB was fantastic,” she continues, “because it incorporated so many different skill sets, so many different parts of my brain. I’m incredibly grateful for the years I’ve had there. This new job for the classical stations consolidates a lot of the things I learned there, and gives me the opportunity to do a lot of it from home—and I’m very ready for that change.”

As arts producer, Pressman will be producing a series of live concerts to air from the Santa Barbara station, continuing the late-night hosting work—she pre-records her commentary from her home studio—and will be contributing regular journalistic pieces covering the arts.

Pressman admits the change has been hard, as KRCB has been such a big part of her life for so long, but she hopes to be seeing her many fans when she bumps into them at live classical and folk concerts in the area.

“Yes,” she laughs, “because now I’ll actually have time to go out and see shows!”