Another well-known, member-supported Los Angeles public radio station is undergoing a major rebrand.
Moving forward, news and talk station 89.3 KPCC FM will be known as LAist 89.3—though FCC regulation still requires the station to identify as KPCC at the top of each hour. The move follows another local independent rock station, KCSN, shifting its identity to The SoCal Sound, given its increased signal strength stretching down the coast through Orange County and further focus on more mainstream rock music.
“This new unified, cohesive brand will bring together our radio (LAist 89.3), digital news site (LAist.com), and podcasts (LAist Studios) under one name that clearly identifies what we are all about: serving Southern California the news and information that you count on every day,” explained AirTalk host Larry Mantle in an open letter addressing confusion and concerns from listeners.
“All of your favorite shows from KPCC and NPR aren’t going anywhere,” the host of the station’s long-running public affairs and call-in show assured consumers.
“You’ll still wake up with Susanne Whatley on Morning Edition, spend your mornings with me on AirTalk, and your afternoons with Austin Cross and Nick Roman on All Things Considered,” Mantle continued. “None of your favorite shows, like Fresh Air, Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me, The Daily, or Marketplace are going anywhere.”
LAist reported in January that market research showed its brand already had higher awareness with audiences than KPCC. It also said that the rebrand is part of an effort to address audience confusion between KPCC and L.A.’s other NPR affiliate KCRW.
LAist—a digital platform acquired by Southern California Public Radio in 2018 after the original owner abruptly shut the site down—has been referenced on the KPCC airwaves ever since the online news media brand’s 2019 relaunch. According to Mantle, this had caused some listeners to be a little perplexed; the rebrand aims to rectify this with the station now under the LAist banner.
“For the last five years, you’ve heard us refer you to LAist.com, and our reporters refer to themselves as being part of the KPCC and LAist newsroom,” he said in his open letter to listeners. “But the truth is, this has caused confusion among many of our listeners and supporters—and, if I’m being honest, a little confusion among us as well!”
The radio station’s unification with the digital news platform also reflects aspirations for growth, both locally and beyond, since the company’s podcast network appeals to listeners outside of the SoCal market. LAist Studios launched in 2019 to create podcasts from an L.A. perspective meant to appeal to audiences locally and outside the area.
Listeners can also tune into LAist 89.3 through the website via computer, tablet, and smartphone, allowing younger generations that don’t own radio devices to be a part if its audience while increasing the station’s range far beyond its radio signal.
Herb Scannell, president and CEO of Southern California Public Radio, said he believes that despite traditional radio consumption’s downward trend, online digital media technology will enable radio to stick around for generations to come.
“I think that radio will always have a place in people’s lives, for those who choose to use radio,” he told LAist, adding, “The next generation of public media users may not be on the radio.”
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