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DOWNEY - Downey is getting its own radio station: RocketOldies106.com, an Internet-based oldies radio station that will debut its 24-hour programming schedule Friday.
Based in Downey, the station is the creation of local concert presenter Mark W. Curran, known locally for his annual slate of oldies concerts produced at the Downey Theatre.
Curran said he recognized a need for an all-oldies radio station in the region and began researching the Internet for possible options. With the digital technology known as audio-data streaming, Curran scoured the web for companies that could host a radio station capable of 24-hour programming at a high quality 128 kbps stereo signal.
He found Seattle-based Broadcast Matrix, a company that specializes in providing streaming audio to both digital and over-the-air stations. With Broadcast Matrix, Curran developed a platform to create a radio station that would have global reach yet be community based.
"Digital radio is now coming into its own," Curran said. "More and more people are tuning in to digital Internet radio, and with the new smartphones capable of streaming Internet audio, and the new Internet car radios coming out this year, I felt the time was right.
"Downey has needed its own radio station for quite some time," Curran added. "And given our involvement in bringing live oldies music to the community for a number of years now, I thought it time to give something back."
The professionally-programmed station features live announcers and a core format of "oldies but goodies" music from the '50s and '60s, including Motown, soul, doo-wop and comedy. CBS World News is featured at noon weekdays via live satellite.
Weekend specials include "FM Freestyle with Jimmy Z," which features the best album rock of the '70s and '80s. There is also "The Beatles and Beyond Show" originating from London, and "Local*Listen!" featuring up and coming bands, unsigned recording artists and songwriters from around the globe.
Additional programming includes daily entertainment news, Los Angeles traffic and weather, and listings of upcoming area concerts.
Although there are no programs specific to Downey as of yet, Curran said several are in the works. He said he's also open to working with Downey residents who want to contribute to community programming.
Curran has also approached local civic leaders who have expressed interest in participating in local events programming.
"I want this station to be a voice for Downey," Curran said. "We may be a small non-profit, volunteer-run organization, but we'd be very open to new shows from local civic groups and leaders, and to become a forum for this area - Downey citizens speaking their minds and spotlighting news about Downey. You know, people, places and events, that kind of thing."
The station is currently commercial free but there are opportunities for sponsors to support local programming.
"This is really a project of passion. It's not about money," Curran said. "Still, there are expenses in running the station that would be greatly helped by local sponsorship. We have to pay licensing fees for the music we play and we have server and bandwidth costs, not to mention the time it takes to run the station.
"As far as our commitment to Downey is concerned, a lot will depend on how involved and supportive the community is," Curran added. "It takes a village to make it work. We're open to anyone becoming involved. It's a tool to reach out and affect social change, but it's also a way to entertain and have fun.
"Community radio is a highly effective forum for civic involvement but it takes the efforts of not only those who are creating the programming, but also to the people of the community to actually tune in. If people from the community don't listen, then it will become a station serving a larger base.
"We're open to just about anything the people of Downey would like to do."
The radio station can be heard online at rocketoldies106.com by clicking the "listen live" link.
Residents with smartphones can also download a free app by going to tunein.com on their mobile browser.
Published: Sept. 26, 2013 - Volume 12 - Issue 24