In today’s San Francisco Chronicle, Radio Waves columnist Ben Fong-Torres revealed which San Francisco Bay Area radio stations are on his car radio’s presets. Fong-Torres writes:
“I had six AM preset slots; 12 FM. I can’t even come up with six AMs anymore. I went with KNBR, KCBS, KGO, KKSF, KNBR at 1050 and … done. That’s how much I don’t want to have right-wing talkers hanging around…On FM, it was much tougher. I had more than a dozen possible presets: KQED, KDFC, KCSM, KALW, KPFA, “Wild 94.9,” “The Game,” “Alice,” “Kiss,” “Now,” “Star 101.3,” “K-Fox,” KBLX, KOSF, KFOG, KITS (“Live 105″), KMEL and KSAN. That’s 18, so I had to cut six. (I ain’t sayin’. As for the obvious missing station: I’m not a fan of “lite rock.” Sorry. But not really.)”
Although I’m pleased that Fong-Torres includes a number of non-commercial public radio options (and lists them first), I’m disappointed that he left off college radio entirely. Granted, he did turn over an entire column to college radio (and me) back in 2009, so I don’t want to knock him for it. I’m also biased, of course, being a DJ and volunteer at Foothill College radio station KFJC 89.7 FM in Los Altos Hills (which comes in on my car radio in many parts of San Francisco).
So, as a counterpoint to Fong-Torres’ list, here’s my own list of car radio presets: KFJC 89.7 FM, KZSU 90.1 FM (Stanford University), KOSC 90.3 FM (this is a hold-over. I can’t bring myself to delete it from my presets. I tuned in all the time when it was University of San Francisco radio station KUSF. It’s now KDFC.), and KALX 90.7 FM (University of California, Berkeley). I also regularly listen to Radio Valencia 87.9 FM and occasionally tune in to KPOO 89.5 FM, but haven’t yet added a preset for either. When driving around in the South Bay, I will also scan to KSJS 90.5 FM (San Jose State University), KSCU 103.3 FM (Santa Clara University), and KCEA 89.1 FM (Menlo-Atherton High School’s big band station). For a time I was obsessively tuning into Family Radio over KEAR 610 AM in order to hear Harold Camping’s call-in talk show, as well as the station’s vintage spiritual music, but I never preset the station (my family is relieved). Similarly, when I driving in bad traffic I will tune in to KCBS 740 AM in order to get traffic and weather updates “on the eights.”
My presets are by no means an exhaustive list of all of the amazing independent radio choices in the Bay Area. For that lengthier list, see my article from earlier this year in which I outline many other options.