Did you know that KDB (93.7FM), the Santa Barbara Foundation’s classical music and community station is the oldest radio station in Santa Barbara? Bought by C.F. Richardson, it first went on air as KFCR-AM radio in 1926, in what is now the County Administration Building. The station moved to the Granada Building in 1928, and again, to the Faulding Hotel, in 1929. The station was also purchased by George Barnes in 1929, who changed the call letters from KFCR to KDB in tribute to his wife, Dorothy Barnes.
In October 1929, KDB’s license was cancelled for failure to comply with regulations from the Federal Radio Commission, today known as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). At issue were broadcasts of “The Crusaders” which promoted the repeal of Prohibition. Station management put up a vigorous fight and KDB returned to the air by the end of the year.
[Photo: KDB Sarah]
Over the next couple of decades, KDB was bought and sold a few more times. It was Santa Barbara’s first 24-hour station, broadcasting on both AM and FM. KDB-AM and KDB-FM were bought in 1971 by the Pacific Broadcasting Company, consisting of Bob Scott, Harvey Pool, and Dick Marsh. After programming American show tunes and beautiful music for nine years, KDB-FM changed its format to classical music in 1980.
In 1990, KDB-AM and KDB-FM were split apart due to an owners’ dispute. Currently owned by Rincon Broadcasting, KDB-AM is now KIST. Bob Scott, and his son Roby, along with Harvey Pool, retained KDB-FM.
Michael Towbes, David Anderson, and Jean and Barry Schuyler bought KDB in 2001, with the goal of retaining ownership until such time as the station could be sold to a nonprofit that would keep the classical format and local orientation. This happened in November 2003 when the Santa Barbara Foundation purchased the station through a generous donation from Mr. Towbes.
With only a handful of classical radio stations remaining in the country, KDB has never been a more valuable community treasure and asset, important for the cultural relevance it provides its many listeners. KDB preserves a great musical heritage for music lovers in our many communities, and provides an invaluable service for members of the community who may not have access to live performing arts events. KDB is also an essential voice for local arts organizations, promoting concerts and events, which in turn nurture our local economy.
In 2010, KDB embarked on a three year strategic plan to enhance and grow its service to the community with programming that will enrich the lives of those who listen.