Local radio stations become part of the fabric of a community, and listeners get to be like extended family members for the hosts. So there was a lot of emotion Friday in the San Jose studio of KRTY, which signed off the air shortly after 9 am — its 95.3 FM frequency taken over by the Educational Media Foundation.
The last song played over the air was Brad Paisley’s “Welcome to the Future,” which was appropriate since this wasn’t the end for KRTY. This is Silicon Valley, after all. After the FM signal was handed over, the broadcast continued streaming on KRTY.com, as morning hosts Gary Scott Thomas and Julie Stevens introduced a pre-recorded interview they did with country star Kenny Chesney.
“It’s not a funeral, it’s a graduation,” said Thomas, who was surprised by a gathering of family and friends outside the station after he finished the show. “We’re getting our certificates and moving to the next level.”
The transition to streaming online was a big topic — along with lots of memories — during a roundtable session on the air that morning with Stevens, Thomas, General Manager Nate Deaton and hosts “Indiana Al” Breiten and Michael Moore. The station has a strong reputation in the country music community — it’s the No. 1 country station in the top 75 markets, Deaton said — and its listener base has grown beyond the Bay Area online.
It’s true that some people may not have access to the internet to keep listening, Thomas acknowledged, “but I don’t have access to a size 28 waist, either.”
The station’s staff is slimming down, but the full host lineup and others staying on board will continue as unpaid volunteers for the next three months to see if listeners follow them. “So many people have come up to us and said they’re so excited that’s what’s next,” Deaton said, “and I do think this is the future of radio.”
KRTY has had a big impact off the air, too, and that will continue with events like its series at Clos La Chance, concerts at Club Rodeo and KRTY Nights at San Jose Giants games. Thomas says he and his fellow hosts enjoy getting to see face-to-face listeners at those events and are glad those will continue even with KRTY off the air. “We have listeners who remember our first day on the air,” Thomas said, “and the nice thing about streaming is that now if they move out of the area, they can still listen to us.”
PRESIDENTIAL AUDIENCE: Back in 1992, Larry Stone co-hosted the first Silicon Valley meet-and-greet for Bill Clinton, who was then Arkansas’ governor and not yet a declared presidential candidate. Famously, Stone missed seeing Texas pitcher Nolan Ryan no-hit the A’s that night but started a friendship with the future president and later assembled a small group of Silicon Valley business leaders to meet him in Cupertino. Clinton ended up with the endorsement of 32 CEOs and business leaders from the valley.
Stone and Clinton’s friendship continues to this day, so it’s not a big surprise that when the former president was in San Jose for Norm Mineta’s memorial service this week, he wanted to see Stone and his wife, Carmen. They put together a dinner at the Capital Club on Wednesday night with friends Dave and Joan Barram and Regis and Dianne McKenna.
MEMORIES OF A LIFETIME: Los Altos resident Janet Mosser got to take a trip down memory lane last month when she was paid a visit by Donna Santistevan and Dee Miller, the outgoing regent and the secretary of the Los Altos chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. They didn’t show up empty-handed, either, bringing along a framed certificate honoring Mosser’s 50 years as a member of the organization.
Mosser, 96, joined in 1972 and recalls visiting the DAR buildings in Washington, DC, as well as the DAR museum, which includes 31 rooms furnished in period style from colonial days and early America. She also remembers how special she found the rooms that recognized each state, especially the one for California.
SUMMER MUSIC IN SAN JOSE: The return of the summer solstice on June 21 also means the return of Make Music Day San Jose, and this year the tuneful celebration will be in person for the first time since 2019. There’s a huge lineup of performances and activities, ranging from the jazzy hip-hop of the Francis Experience at the Mexican Heritage Plaza, to the Santa Clara County Fiddlers Association at San Jose City Hall, with a lot in between at venues including Parque de Los Pobladores, the Hammer Theater Center plaza, the Children’s Discovery Museum, the Evergreen Branch Library and SoFA Market.
It’s all free to attend, and the stages at the Mexican Heritage Plaza and Parque de los Pobladores also will be streamed at www.makemusicday.org/sanjose/livestream for those who’d like to enjoy the music without the crowds. You can get more information, including the schedule at each venue, at www.makemusicday.org/sanjose.