Support the community radio station “The Rock”

– It may not be important for the younger generation, but for the rest of us radio has played a huge role in our lives. It helped shape our opinions and beliefs about the world and music was a natural part of it.

During the 1950s, the disc jockey was held in high esteem. We all had the secret desire to be a DJ. Spinning records on the air fell to a few lucky men, some of whom became as popular as the music stars of the day. In the 1960s, FM radio eclipsed AM radio which mainly turned to talk shows where at least a few women dominated the microphone.

Jump into modern times and in 2012, right here on the Central Coast, the opportunity to be a disc jockey became possible thanks to the efforts of Hal Abrams who believed the community should have their own radio station. It all started in a renovated closet at Abrams’ house in Morro Bay and the idea caught on. Retired DJs stepped forward and those of us who were doing community service volunteered to participate in talk and interview programs. The station now well known as The Rock, 97.3 FM and 107.9 FM is a completely voluntary, non-commercial, free radio station broadcasting to the towns of the coast and to the residents of Atascadero, Templeton and Paso. Robles.

Abrams has been on radio for over 35 years and is the host of the popular Animal Radio radio show. He says radio has been in his blood from the start, when he used to build shortwave sets as a child.

What’s playing on The Rock now is as diverse as the region. There is of course music, including soul, jazz, blues, folk, Americana, R&B and country. Music isn’t the only thing though. There are interviews that delve into the humanitarian issues of the time, talk shows about food, cats and dogs and some local politicians take the opportunity to publicize the city’s politics.

When asked how a community station compares to local NPR radio, Abrams pointed out that The Rock’s content is 100% local while many shows on NPR are syndicated shows from around the world.

When the Morro Bay Chamber of Commerce invited the resort to set up their studio in a small room in their building, things really took off. Those of us who volunteered set out to learn how to use the console that governed the sound quality as well as the CD player and turntable and intrepid computer where “Otto” resides. It’s a little intimidating being a disc jockey, radio talk show host, and technical engineer, but everyone is doing really well and thanks to a new signal in Paso Robles in 2017, things really took off when it became clear how much the communities needed it. diffusion.

Abrams is looking for aerial talent from North County to complement the programming to serve different communities. Support for the station comes from everywhere and the residents of North County have been generous. Abrams wants everyone to know that the resort isn’t just a Morro Bay resort.

COVID took a bite out of programming when nearly every talent on the air had to turn to producing their shows at home on their computers. This is how “Otto” sometimes comes into play. “Otto” means automatic music which can be placed on the programming program via the computer. However, once everyone figured out how to record their shows, the programming continued as usual. What suffered the most was fundraising. The station is funded solely by donations and in the pre-COVID era an annual fundraiser took place that raised the $ 27,000 to $ 30,000 needed for the operating budget. These funds are not used to pay any salary but are used to cover all the costs legally necessary for the broadcast.

The station now raises funds with membership levels and the sale of Freeform t-shirts and hats. They also pitch on social media, emails and on-air requests. Abrams is grateful for a recent grant from SLO County which supports the purchase of new equipment and a UHF signal transmitter.

To support The Rock, you can donate through the website and you can also listen to the programming online as well as go to the archives to listen to previous shows.

The studio’s presence returns as COVID wanes, but all aerial talent must be vaccinated to work in the studio and must follow COVID cleaning protocols.

Anyone interested in joining the station can go to the website and scroll down and click on “Contact” and send a message. Training is available for new air talent.

Please join and support community radio – The Rock!

–By columnist Ruth Ann Angus