Morro Bay’s Jeff Eckles pursues possibilities. Two years ago when he heard about a possible community based radio station, he stepped forward. The founder of Eckles Wealth Management, he hosts “Beyond Business,” a weekly financial information program at Estero Bay Community Radio 97.3FM The Rock. A 501c3 nonprofit , www.esterobayradio.com streamed programs on art, health, relationships, fitness, business, and music until the license was approved recently by the FCC.
Saturday, March 29 at 1pm the public was invited to a “flip the switch” celebration and tour of the studio housed at Morro Bay’s Chamber of Commerce, 695 Harbor Blvd. Sample the 24-hour programming schedule and meet EBCR Chaiman Sherry Sim and board members plus Hal Abrams, Operations Manager until 4:30pm. Live entertainment included Christine Rogers, Ray Taratino and The Monroe, plus current on-air talent Ruthann Angus, Michael Saffran, Cyndee Edwards, Greg Finch, Bryce Davis, Youssef Alaoui, James Davis, Chris Christian, Rachal Duchak and Eckles.
“This will be huge,” said Eckles. “Community radio is an on-air town hall. There are so many possibilities. We don’t know what it will become, but we know we can make it what we want it to be. It’s only limited by the number of volunteers who want to share their interests and expertise.”
Station Manager Hal Abrams was excited many of the former DJs from KOTTR which once was based in Cambria and provided the area with eclectic music and talk had volunteered to bring their voices and music files to 97.3 The Rock. The 24-hour operations will be a mix of mostly music, 34 talk format mixed in and public service announcements for community news and emergency notices as needed. “I’m working closely with Morro Bay Police Chief Amy Christie to coordinate the first responders to provide talk shows and information on a regular basis.”
Eckles was a seasoned seminar presenter, but had never interviewed or hosted radio before Dave Congalton invited him to appear on KVEC 920AM’s The Dave Congalton Show. “I learned everything I know about radio from Dave. When the financial crisis hit, I’m grateful he gave me a chance to do what I think I do best…take a complex economic issue and break it down to its simplest parts – un-complicate it for the general public.”
For those interested in hosting a show on 97.3 The Rock, Eckles advised, “Talk about what you know – what you’re passionate about. Topics need to be researched and interesting for a broad group of listeners. But community radio is not to sell your business. Listeners see right through the sales pitch and will turn you off. Endless possibilities for programming are still available.”
Eckles continued, “Listeners want you to share your passions. Most don’t know why a financial guy serves on the Morro Bay Harbor Advisory Board. Maritime is in my blood. I was a U.S. Merchant Mariner at sea for two years. I need to live and work by the sea. It’s why I resigned a Smith Barney vice-presidency to start my company in Morro Bay near the sea and my 9-year old twins, Aiden and Sophie.”
Eckles encouraged, “Go for it. Submit an idea. It may move you out of your comfort zone, but that’s how we grow.” And sustaining the station with an all volunteer staff will be the challenge – and the benefit – and hopefully the joy of birthing a new radio station for the Central Coast.