By Joan Wojcik
The number 88.3 on your FM radio dial represents an unexpected, but awesome discovery for San Diego music lovers. The station broadcasts some of the best jazz music in the nation and is located at San Diego City College in East Village.
City College, which has owned KSDS (88.3 FM) since 1951, started programming jazz music in 1973. By 1985, 88.3 became San Diego’s only full-time jazz and blues station. Licensed by the Federal Communications Commission as a non-commercial, nonprofit educational radio station with a power of 22,000 watts, 88.3 FM reaches as far north as Carlsbad.
Listeners are treated to music including Dixieland, Latin jazz, swing, big band, blues and free jazz.
There is also a student-operated radio station on KSDS’s HD2 Channel. The students, under faculty tutelage, learn how to program a radio station that is on the air 24/7.
Membership Director Ken Borgers explained that “All production elements, music scheduling and on air performances are provided by a student staff on the student station.”
The station staff, composed of students and faculty, concentrates the programming on both famous and upcoming jazz artists. Famous artists such as John Coltraine, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald, along with new jazz artists and local artists, can be heard round the clock.
KSDS has provided nationwide exposure for San Diego’s local jazz artists and the station keeps listeners updated on where these talented musicians are currently performing in the San Diego area.
Pianist Danny Green has been a popular local jazz artist who has played at “Jazz Live.”
“I’ve had the pleasure of playing for ‘Jazz Live’ several times, and it is always such a blast,” he said. “There’s always such an incredible energy coming from the audience, and the staff and volunteers at 88.3 are so great to work with.”
Green performs all over San Diego County and tours throughout the United States.
The mission statement of KSDS 88.3 is “to present, preserve and promote the uniquely American art form that is jazz.”
In 1992 and 1993, Jazz 88.3 received two “Jazz Station of the Year” awards. Other awards and nominations followed in 2004-05. The station again won “Jazz Station of the Year” awards in 2011, 2014, 2015 and 2016.
During the 2016 Jazz Week annual summit, the station was up against five other stations competing for the Jazz Station of the Year Award including New York, Denver and Detroit.
At the award acceptance, General Manager Ken Poston said, “On behalf of everyone at Jazz 88.3, I want to thank Jazz Week for naming us Station of the Year for the fourth time in five years.”
For all the jazz fans in East Village, you can listen to this award- winning radio station in person. Monthly “Jazz Live” concerts began in 1977 and offer live concerts to the general public. General admission tickets cost $10. The concerts are free for KSDI members.
At the “Jazz Live” session on Jan. 10 featuring the Mark Dresser Quintet, the 300-seat room in the Saville Theater at San Diego City College was packed with jazz lovers and the music was fantastic. The applause you heard over the airwaves that night came from the audience with genuine enthusiasm.