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LA NON-COMM 88.5 FM Rebrands as “The SoCal Sound”

A throwback logo with a nod to the late KSWD is sharp move forward, but there’s more work to do…

By Paul Marszalek

Southern California NON-COMM Triple A simulcast KCSN/KSBR takes another step forward by re-branding as The SoCal Sound.

The refreshed logo and moniker moves away from the radio-centric and toward a more local and emotional brand connection.

There’s a lot to like: Designed by a Cal State Northridge student, the use of a retro font creates a logo that feels like LA and recalls the glory days of Southern California. Unlike much of public radio branding, it is neither stuffy nor pretentious.

The SoCal Sound tagline may also serve as a nod to the late Classic Rock/Triple A 100.3 KSWD/The Sound. Despite solid ratings and a loyal following, that station was sold by Entercom to religious broadcaster Educational Media Foundation in 2017.

Previous 88.5 FM KCSN General Manager Sky Daniels had his eyes squarely focused on the opportunity to fill the hole left by 100.3 KSWD when he created the KCSN/KSBR simulcast that now covers nearly all of Southern California on 88.5 FM. The simulcast and programming improvements have paid dividends as the station recently posted a .9 share in LA. However, the current .6 share and estimated weekly audience of 138,600 is still well short of the initial hope of finding even half of KSWD’s former audience.

The issue is one of awareness.

Breaking through the media din in a place like Los Angeles is extraordinarily expensive for any media property, much less public radio where marketing budgets are usually non-existent.

Public radio stations make it even harder on themselves as they seem happy to burn inordinate personnel hours tying themselves into knots over programming and playlist minutiae, while spending virtually no time shaking hands and kissing babies or executing Social campaigns needed to create brand lift.

Too many in media, all media, and especially public media, have adopted the mantra from the film Field of Dreams – “If you build it, they will come.”

Unfortunately, that’s just Hollywood fantasy.

For The SoCal Sound, the product and brand are in place. A focus on marketing must come next.

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