Did you know that KDB (93.7FM), the Foundation’s classical music and community station, is the oldest radio station in Santa Barbara? Bought by C.F. Richardson, it first went on air in 1926 as KFCR-AM radio in what is now the County Administration Building. In 1928, the station moved to the Granada Building, only to move again to the Faulding Hotel in 1929, when George Barnes bought the station. In tribute to his wife, Dorothy Barnes, George changed the call letters from KFCR to KDB.
In October 1929, KDB’s license was cancelled for failure to comply with regulations from the Federal Radio Commission, today known as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). At issue were broadcasts of “The Crusaders” which promoted the repeal of Prohibition. Station management put up a vigorous fight and KDB returned to the air by the end of the year.
- KDB Board
Susan Miles Gulbransen
Anne Smith Towbes
Polly Firestone Walker
Ronald V. Gallo
President & CEO, Santa Barbara Foundation
Senior Vice President of Finance & Administration / CFO, Santa Barbara Foundation
KDB Executive Vice President and General Manager, KDB
Over the next couple of decades, KDB was bought and sold a few more times, but still managed to become Santa Barbara’s first 24-hour station, broadcasting both AM and FM stations. KDB-AM and KDB-FM were bought in 1971 by the Pacific Broadcasting Company, consisting of Bob Scott, Harvey Pool, and Dick Marsh. After programming beautiful music and American show tunes for nine years, KDB-FM changed its format to classical music in 1980.
In 1990, KDB-AM and KDB-FM were split apart due to an owners’ dispute. Currently owned by Rincon Broadcasting, KDB-AM is now KIST. Bob Scott, and his son Roby, along with Harvey Pool, retained KDB-FM.
In an effort to preserve a voice for classical music and the arts in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties, Michael Towbes, David Anderson and Jean and Barry Schuyler bought KDB in 2001. Collectively, they wanted to hold onto the station until it could be sold to a nonprofit organization willing to preserve the classical format. With a generous donation from Mr. Towbes, the Santa Barbara Foundation was able to purchase KDB in November 2003.
With only a handful of classical radio stations remaining in the country, KDB has never been a more valuable community treasure and asset, important for the cultural relevance it provides its many listeners. KDB preserves a great musical heritage for music lovers in our many communities, including those who may not have access to the arts, such as the elderly, disabled, or those suffering through economic hardships. KDB is also an essential voice for local arts organizations, providing the opportunity to promote concerts and events, which in turn nurture our local economy.
In 2010, KDB embarked on a three year strategic plan to advance the mission of the Santa Barbara Foundation, providing lively, fresh programming that is continuing to grow KDB’s audience and enrich the lives of those who listen to and love classical music.