By Steven Adamo
As part of the Broadcast 001 final, students will debut their own radio shows on East Los Angeles College’s radio station, on since 1967, KELA.
The broadcast begins at 3 p.m. Saturday at http://kela.elac.edu and will be rebroadcast Sunday at 1 p.m.
Students are free to construct their time slot to their own tastes. However, they are expected to follow a format similar to larger stations.
Dylan O’Brien, broadcasting director, hopes to have the station operational at least on a part-time basis. He said it would require more student-involvement.
When O’Brien checked the condition of ELAC’s 55-year old station, he was greeted with a looping soundtrack of music from the 1950s.
The computer screen that was running the livestream had the KELA permanently burned into it.
“It was a bit eerie,” O’Brien said.
KELA radio started during the1967 fall semester with a small crew of five members.
Broadcasting exclusively to the Student Lounge, the station included playlists containing several musical styles.
School announcements and student talk shows were also broadcast.
All of this was done on pre-recorded tape.
During the fall 1968 semester, KELA began broadcasting live with the help of a new stereo-mono tape recorder, according to head disc jockey Jim Quince.
“We want the programs to be what the students want,” Quince said.
“To speed up the process, students could bring in albums they would like to hear so they can be recorded.”
By the spring semester in 1969, Capital and Imperial were among the record companies donating their records to KELA DJs, mostly from bands like the Rolling Stones and The Beatles.
“A survey we took last semester showed that the majority of the listening students preferred “soul” and “Latin music,” Quince said.
In the same year, KELA public relations manager Mike Shatz told a Campus News reporter that the “KELA disc jockeys could work hand-in-hand with members of Campus News in preparing regular broadcasts.”
By 1972, KELA featured new programs such as “The Fourth Tower of Inverness,” a mystery serial sponsored by Grunt Records, a record label created by the band Jefferson Airplane.
Charles Ricketts, ELAC’s Broadcasting instructor at the time, said “We give the students the opportunity to find out if they would like a career in the broadcast media.”
Ricketts also prophetically said “the media is growing to the point where some printed home delivery publications could be eliminated in the near future.”
In the 1972 interview, Ricketts compares the young generation with the old.
“Today’s young generation is one that’s virtually-oriented and it’s opposed by the older generation, which grew up listening to radio.”
Due to increasing cutbacks, the station moved from the student lounge to the Speech building in 1973 before going silent.
After years of inactivity, KELA was broadcasting again in spring 1979. Due to Prop. 13 cutbacks the year before, the equipment was left in less than ideal condition.
However, Dean of Educational Services Donald Brunet believed in the project and authorized Plant Facilities to repair the station equipment.
KELA was brought back to life by Broadcasting instructor and adviser, Allan Kragh.
Kragh credited Plant Facilities electrician Bill Lohnes for getting the equipment running again.
“He was here three, four hours a day troubleshooting the system. If it wasn’t for him, the station would still be down,” Kragh said.
After another hiatus, radio waves returned to campus in 1999, this time as KPSO Radio.
The station included morning show host Oscar Mata featuring El Matador de la Mañana. “Maggie’s Wake Up Show” played Hip Hop and R&B music, DJ “Cholo” Ron would play “easy listening, slow jamming oldies,” and The Chisme Sisters had their own talk show, “The Gossip Sisters Show.”
Three years after the death of Kragh, Broadcasting instructor Jason Beaton said in a 2012 Campus News article that, “the opportunity students have here at ELAC, with hands-on teaching and training, is invaluable and will be used again and again throughout their professional careers.”