It’s a low-profile but far-reaching LMU organization, a monument to a bygone era of teens pumping out everything from Cake to The Cramps, Ricky Nelson to Rick Rubin’s hip-hop. KXLU — the radio station headquartered a few floors above the Den — celebrates its 65th anniversary this year. It stands out in its senior citizenship as among the last homegrown college radio outlets (441 are officially categorized as such in the U.S. and Canada), a dying breed.
General Manager Lauren Cassiano, a senior studio arts major, is proud of KXLU’s status as the last indie radio station in LA. Maintaining an indie station, free of advertiser’s influence, is no easy task.
The beauty of being funded by listeners (an astonishing $100,000 was raised last year to keep the station afloat) means anything within reason and FCC regulations goes. Its nonprofit status also means nothing political can be aired, noted Cassiano — so don’t call in a Rage Against the Machine track.
LMU sophomore screenwriting major Spencer Davies helps to oversee KLMU, KXLU’s sister station that broadcasts online rather than on the air. Despite the distinction between the two stations, Davies is still familiar with the college radio lifestyle — and praises the fact that KLMU is experiencing a revival of sorts.
“For the past two years, [KLMU] was non-existent,” Davies said, citing the COVID-19 pandemic as the primary factor.
LMU junior marketing major Brendan Baehr is the director of promotions for KXLU. He sees the pair of stations as a necessity. Davies emphasized the “stepping stone” that KLMU is, and Baehr added that “it gives a great outlet to learn how to be a radio DJ with a lot less pressure, and a lot more freedom music-wise.”
Even if the music is not to one’s liking, there is joy to be found in a DJ breathlessly hyping up, for example, a band like Bikini Kill about to be played on Thursday’s “Part-Time Punks” broadcast. Knowing that a disc jockey on our Westchester campus is behind that ethereal voice is a special feeling — one that no Spotify profile, Wrapped and all, can equate to.
Even if this story prompts an uptick in listeners, there is something endearing about the low profile that KXLU and similar stations keep. This, however, begs the question: is KXLU’s cult following ideal? Cassiano says:
“The people that need to find it, find it.”