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KCBX to end broadcast on 89.5 FM KSBX in Santa Barbara; station will continue to serve region digitally

A message to our listeners from KCBX President and General Manager, Frank Lanzone.

Dear Listener,

KCBX will soon end FM service on 89.5 FM, KSBX, serving downtown Santa Barbara and surrounding areas.

For 39 years, KCBX has been bringing Santa Barbara residents our unique mix of news, entertainment and music, and today KCBX programming continues to enlighten and engage our listeners with local news, stories and musical happenings in and around Santa Barbara.

KCBX considers the Santa Barbara community an integral part of our listenership, and we have no plans to reduce or limit news reporting and other coverage of the Santa Barbara area. You will continue to have alternative ways to listen to local coverage using the methods outlined below.

Why are we making this decision?

While KCBX is dedicated to providing the best public radio experience to the entire Central Coast, there are some obstacles we have no control over—one of those being a changing climate and our warming atmosphere.

Atmospheric changes due to climate change can increase a phenomenon known as ‘ducting,’ which changes how radio signals travel over bodies of water. In a nutshell, ducting allows FM frequencies to travel further across the ocean, allowing broadcasts on a frequency many miles away to reach new coastlines and interfere with that same frequency locally.

An unfortunate victim of this phenomenon is the KCBX frequency at 89.5 FM, serving the city of Santa Barbara, which is increasingly overrun by KPBS in San Diego using the same frequency 200 miles away. You have most likely experienced the battle between our two stations vying for control over the same frequency. One day, you’re listening to KCBX, the next day it’s KPBS. To be clear, this is not a problem that KPBS can fix, and it is not an intentional effort by them to break into the Santa Barbara radio market. This is a climate change issue.

After a thorough review of the situation, we’ve determined that there is no avenue for us but to end our broadcast at 89.5 FM at the end of this year and help our Santa Barbara listeners access our broadcast in new ways.

How to keep listening.

We encourage you and other listeners affected by this change to keep listening to KCBX via our online stream using one of the methods outlined below.


Our own website is the best place to listen when online, whether you are using your computer at home or work, or a mobile device or tablet. KCBX.org provides you access to both KCBX FM and our alternate streaming channel, KCBX2.

Smart Speakers

We’ve been touting the convenience of using smart speaker technology like Amazon’s Alexa assistant. Ask your device to “Play KCBX” or “Play NPR.” Both prompts will work to bring our regular stream to your speaker.

Mobile Apps on phones and tablets

The NPR mobile apps, NPR One and NPR News, will allow you to stream both our KCBX and KCBX2 streams. You can find the NPR apps in your app store.

The Apple Music app offers the highest quality stream. If you use an Apple device, you have Apple Music already installed. Open the app and search for KCBX. After you play KCBX once, you can access it quickly in the future by going to the radio icon within the app.

Listening in Your Car

If you have unlimited data through your mobile device and are able to connect to your car’s audio system, stream KCBX using one of the methods above. Please be safe and make sure you set your device to stream KCBX before driving your vehicle.

90.9 FM

Some areas on the outskirts of Santa Barbara, including most of the city of Goleta, will still be able to hear KCBX on our 90.9 FM signal.

If you have any questions or comments, please let us know by going to our contact page at KCBX.org. You’ll find the page under the ‘About’ menu.

The staff at KCBX and I thank you for being listeners and for supporting KCBX. We hope you will continue to listen and support our efforts to bring you a unique experience every day.

All the best,

Frank R. Lanzone
President and General Manager