KLBP Ribbon Cutting

The Long Beach Public Media team of volunteers and donors were all smiles during the ribbon cutting for the KLBP radio station debut on Friday, Feb. 28.

Below Shannon's on Pine downtown sits the location for Long Beach's newest radio station, 99.1FM KLBP.

The city celebrated the grand opening on Friday, Feb. 28, with a ribbon cutting that featured KLBP staff and donors, as well as Long Beach dignitaries who helped celebrate the event, including State Assembly Member Patrick O'Donnell.

"What a great day to launch this radio station," O'Donnell said. "As a high school teacher, the teaching aspect is so important to me, and certainly as a resident here and a constituent of news and music."

Getting the station on air has been a long time coming. The station is now broadcasting as far as San Pedro, covering local artists and featuring news segments local to Long Beach. (A full schedule of shows is now available on the KLBP website, klbp.org.) But in 2016, KLBP was having trouble getting off the ground.

The construction license that station had with the FCC expired and the project was put on hold. But in 2018, Long Beach Public Media started from scratch and secured a new construction permit that December.

Ashley Aguirre, president at Long Beach Public Media, said that from start to finish, the entire production was a team effort comprised solely of volunteers. All of the station staff operated without pay, and everything from the equipment to the funding for the space was thanks to grants and donations.

A big assist from Jordan Fitzpatrick kickstarted the project, Aguirre added. He works at 95.5 KLOSthe, and when the KLOS radio station switched their equipment from analog to digital, Hodges was able to get the old equipment donated to KLBP. 

"He took a huge risk on us because at that point, we didn't have the funding in place, we didn't even have our antenna location secure," Aguirre said. "He was probably the one who took the biggest risk of all to say, 'I'm going to build this entire studio, get the permitting, plan the design, everything'."

KLBP Station

The audio equipment was donated by Los Angeles radio station KLOS. 

Fitzptrick's help led the way for other organizations to show their support, Aguirre added. Soon after, the station received a grant from the Knight Foundation through the Long Beach Community Foundation. That money helped the station pay for antennae equipment and installation. Thanks to help from the Port of Long Beach, the station was able to secure a location for an antenna, get it approved by the FCC and have it installed before it was time to debut on air.

People coming together and creating something bigger is what the project has been all about, according to Marcelle Epley, CEO at the Community Foundation.

"What's different about radio (compared to other news sources) is we can have a two-way dialogue about issues that are in Long Beach and start working toward solutions interactively," Epley said. "And that doesn't exist today."

Now with the station ready to go, the volunteer team is ready to focus on creating content and introducing listeners to Long Beach artists, musicians and fellow residents. 

"The station here is really a labor of love," Danny Lemos, KLBP's interim general manager, said. "It's about developing the next group of folks to find their voice ... because everyone brings something to this project that contributes to what our purpose is, which is to educate, develop, entertain, conversate and educate. That's the mission for the station."

KLBP went on air for the first time that Friday evening at 7 p.m. Music, news and commentary will be airing every day, with live shows scheduled from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.

"To put a radio station in the heart of Long Beach is so big because it gives us all a reason to be anchored here in downtown and support everything that happens in this area," Aguirre said. 

The public is welcome to tour KLBP’s studio, which is at 209 Pine Ave. via the stairwell in front of Shannon's on Pine. 

People also are welcome to submit show ideas at klbp.org/submit.

The radio station also broadcasts live from klbp.org and tunein.com. For more information, go to klbp.org.

Stephanie Stutzman can be reached at sstutzman@gazettes.com.

Note: An earlier version of this story had incorrectly named Jordan Fitzpatrick. 

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