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KCBX takes SLO supes out of lineup

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NPR is taking the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors off the air.

On July 23, Frank Lanzone, president and general manager of local NPR affiliate KCBX Public Radio, informed SLO County officials it planned to stop broadcasting the weekly Board of Supervisors meetings by the end of the month. The station later agreed to continue broadcasts, but only through the end of 2012.

KCBX receives an annual contract of $20,500 to broadcast the meetings, which has been the practice since the late ’70s. Back then, the station was the only game in the town capable of relaying such meetings to people who couldn’t physically be there. These days, there’s local access television and the Internet.

“We’re not providing a unique service anymore that benefits the residents of San Luis Obispo County,” Director of Programming Marisa Waddell told
New Times.

In fact, KCBX also broadcasts to Santa Barbara and Monterey counties. While the station is able to provide alternative programming to listeners in the south, it’s unable to do so in Monterey County, where listeners can’t escape broadcasts of SLO County’s Tuesday meetings.

In a letter to the county, Lanzone said county supervisor meetings have the lowest ratings compared to other days of the week. The station plans to fill in the slot with other regular programs such as Morning Cup of Jazz and Afternoon Classics, which should draw in better audiences and underwriters than SLO County government.

“It doesn’t make good radio,” Waddell said of the county meetings, which can take up the entire 9-to-5 day slot, minus a lunch break.

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