By Matt Larson
Something that many local residents may not know is that West County has its very own radio station. What may surprise you even further, is that it’s broadcast from antennae right out of El Cerrito High School’s football stadium at 88.1 FM, and another on San Pablo Ridge at 97.7 FM; FCC-licensed to the school itself.
On the air since 1978, WCCUSD Public Radio, aka keCg, aka worldOne radio, emits two low-power FM radio stations; 88.1 for those near El Cerrito, and 97.7 for listeners in northern West County. The students of El Cerrito High School play a major role with the station, and have even begun taking their efforts to KQED’s airwaves.
KQED Youth Takeover is an annual event where, for one week, KQED will broadcast student-produced content. A few examples of their breadth of topics include gender identity, ethnic representation, school start times and need for sleep regarding adolescent circadian rhythms. 10 Bay Area high schools participated in this year’s takeover, including two from West County: El Cerrito High School and Richmond High School.
While the radio station is on the grounds of El Cerrito High School, it remains open for other students in the area to get involved. “It is a community radio station,” said Station Manager and Program Director Corey Mason, who’s been associated with the station as either a volunteer, DJ, or teacher, for the past 23 years. “We include basic broadcast, podcast writing, feature writing; we focus on first-person perspectives, feature-enhanced perspectives, interview segments,” the list goes on.
It’s a rare opportunity for these students to have such access to an actual broadcast radio station. “Our particular high school is unique in that we do have our own pair of FM’s,” Mason said. “And a live studio and production room; our students have access to their own broadcast studio! Our morning announcements are also broadcast from there.”
They also do community outreach to bring special guests in to the station, who are working in a particular field the kids are interested in, to engage with the students about a potential career path they’re considering, Mason said, calling them reverse field trips. “It’s a world of ideas that they might not encounter outside of college.”