88.3 FM, the award-winning jazz radio station in our midst

Posted: February 3rd, 2017 | Arts & Entertainment, Features, Music, Top Story | 5 Comments

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.

General Manager Ken Poston at KSDS (88.3 FM). (Courtesy KSDS)

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.

— Joan Wojcik is the president of the East Village Residents Group. Contact Joan at or visit


  1. Kerry Carnohan says:

    There is no great jazz radio station in America. WBGO comes close, but all the rest are on college stations like this, ruled by the stupid lame mentality of PBS — pledge breaks and too many vocals. Try listening to KCSM out of San Mateo CA if you really want to get sick to your stomach.

    The only jazz worth listening to are a couple of internet stations such as AccuJazz out of Chicago. The college stations are namby-pamby moldy fig boring. Just browse their playlists! Disgusting marshmallow mediocrity, all designed to please some delusion of a common-denominator listener. Give me a break.

  2. Helen Borgers says:

    Great article about a really terrific station! So grateful to have the music to see us through the good times and the bad times. We need it now more than ever! One thing, though… that photo is of Ken Poston, General Manager, not Chad Fox!

  3. ron stanczykowski says:

    it’s great to read about some of this information on jazz on radio. it seems like you have to be a player or have a real gift to realize what real players are. I recently asked a few black kids if they knew who Charlie parker and miles davis was. ??? had no idea. sad veryvery sad. publish it. thank you for reading this. ron stanczykowski straight no chaser

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