Sonoma County’s NPR Affiliate Gets a Signal Boost

When the North Bay wants to listen to national news and local music on the radio, many tune into KRCB-FM.

The long running radio station, based in Sonoma County, is operated by Northern California Public Media and acts as the region’s National Public Radio (NPR) affiliate. KRCB-FM airs NPR programming such as Morning Edition and All Things Considered alongside music programs on the dial at 91.1 FM.

Unfortunately, that signal is historically difficult to hear in much of the North Bay. Over the years, attempts to strengthen the signal’s range continually proved futile.

Now, KRCB-FM is moving on up the radio dial. This week, Northern California Public Media announced that it has filed with the Federal Communications Commission to purchase KDHT-FM 104.9. That signal is much more powerful and will greatly boost KRCB-FM’s broadcasting range. KDHT-FM 104.9’s signal reaches virtually all of Sonoma County, plus northern Marin County and western portions of Napa County.

“We’re pleased to be able to serve all of Sonoma County,” Darren LaShelle, Northern California Public Media president and CEO, says in a statement. “This has been a goal of ours for a very long time. The stronger signal on 104.9 FM will feature more local news, NPR news, and locally hosted music shows.”

In addition to the signal expansion, Northern California Public Media is expanding its staff. The station is hiring veteran news director and longtime Sonoma County resident Chris Lee as the station’s executive producer.

Greta Mart, formerly of KCBX in San Luis Obispo, is coming on as the station’s news director. Public radio reporters Marc Albert and Tessa Paoli are also joining the team to bolster the stations local news coverage.

In addition to the news, KRCB-FM is popular in the North Bay due to music programming. Daily programs include “Music Mornings with Brian Griffith” and “Music Middays with Doug Jayne” airing every weekday. Programs like “Folk Alley” and “Jazz Connections” also regularly run on the weekends.

Amaturo Sonoma Media Group agreed to sell the 104.9 signal to Northern California Public Media. ASMG currently owns and operates KSRO, Froggy 92.9, 97.7 The River, and Hot 101.7; as well as NorthBay Biz magazine.

“While we’re saddened to part with such a fine station, placing it in hands of our public broadcasting peers at such a crucial time softens the blow,” Michael O’Shea, ASMG President, says in a statement.

Northern California Public Media also owns noncommercial television channels KRCB-TV and KPJK-TV. The nonprofit media hub has gained a national reputation for producing high-quality local programs; especially environmental programming produced through the Center for Environmental Reporting.

These programs include the regional Bay Area Bountiful initiative, the national TV series Natural Heroes and The New Environmentalists. KRCB also produces the award-winning podcast “Living Downstream” with NPR.

The FCC’s approval of the signal transaction is expected in 10 to 12 weeks. For more details on KRCB-FM’s programming and updates on when KRCB-FM will begin broadcasting on 104.9 FM, visit norcalpublicmedia.org/radio.

KRCB-FM is also currently asking the community for input on how to improve the station through an online questionnaire at norcalpublicmedia.org/survey.

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Charlie Swanson
Charlie Swanson is a North Bay native and an arts and music writer and editor who has covered the local scene since 2014.
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