After more than a decade on the air in Sonoma County, nonprofit Christian rock radio station Broken FM is going off the air for good on June 1.
The station, which broadcasts music over FM in Santa Rosa at 103.1, Calistoga at 91.5, Ukiah at 101.3 and Hopland at 88.7, was recently sold to KFAITH, which will begin airing a all-talk Christian radio format with local and national programming.
According to Broken FM founder Keith Leitch, the decision to unplug the radio station was a long time in coming as his non-profit, One Ministries Inc., expanded into television with television station KQSL. , broadcasting Christian programming in Sonoma County. and throughout the Bay Area.
“I didn’t want to break up,” Leitch said of the radio station. “But, this should have happened a long time ago, we had been in maintenance mode for several years.”
Broken FM’s all-volunteer staff included technicians and DJs Chris Kuhner, Tim Hopkins and Dustin Moore, all of whom helped the station get started in 2009 and who have continued to be involved with the station in varying degrees over the years. .
“I personally loved every part of Broken FM, had so much fun and was grateful for the opportunity, it was hard to leave this behind,” said Kuhner, who moved to Michigan in 2018. “C It’s kind of like losing a friend, I’m sad for sure it’s not on the air anymore.”
According to Kuhner, the station reached local and global audiences through online broadcasting. In addition to 24-hour music programming, Broken FM conducted interviews with some of Christian rock’s biggest stars such as Switchfoot and KORN guitarist Brian “Head” Welch, and often broadcast live events remotely.
“We had an amazing community of people,” Kuhner said.
Educated at New Mexico State University, Leitch spent two years consulting on Federal Communications Commission licensing acquisitions before moving to Sonoma County in 2000, where he works full-time at Keysight Technologies. in Santa Rosa.
Free consulting work he did for a church in Bethel, Alaska led him to apply for three FCC permits in the Juneau market. “I applied for everything I could get,” Leitch said.
He eventually offered to swap Juneau’s licenses for the Hopland station owned by Rocklin-based K-LOVE, the nation’s largest contemporary Christian music station.
With this Hopland station, Leitch embarked on a personal mission to spread Christian values to young audiences through rock music, boosting the signal in Sonoma County through a series of FM translators who rebroadcast the Hopland signal throughout the North Bay area.
Programming the music through a computer from his bedroom closet in Santa Rosa, Leitch first moved the station to the Luther Burbank Center for the Arts, then called the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts, Santa Rosa, where the station aired for two years. in a room rented by the Santa Rosa Christian School. Since then, the radio station has been based in an office building on Professional Drive in Santa Rosa.
Nine years ago, Leitch made the transition to television. It purchased a full-power licensed TV station in Fort Bragg in 2018 called KQSL, which currently broadcasts from Sutro Tower in San Francisco and Sonoma Mountain and is available on cable in North Sonoma County from Windsor to Cloverdale, Mendocino County, Lake County, San Francisco and all of Northern California from Redding to San Jose.
KQSL broadcasts local church services for the Promise Center church in Santa Rosa on Saturdays at 4 p.m. and Sundays at 12:30 a.m. and 5 a.m.
“Television has been rewarded with its growth,” Leitch said. “We are reaching huge audiences throughout the Bay Area.”
Leitch says that while Broken FM has struggled to secure funding and donors for its decade-plus broadcast, KQSL raked in nearly $1 million in revenue last year.
Leitch adds that the decline of rock radio is a national trend for secular and non-secular rock music. “Interest in rock music, other than classic rock, has waned,” Leitch said.
He also says that young people are adopting other technologies and no longer listening to the radio.
“With Broken FM, we were trying to reach young people,” Leitch said. “Now our ministry has shifted, where we now reach a majority audience over 55 with Christian TV.”
The departure of Broken FM leaves K-LOVE and Air1 as the last two Christian music radio stations serving Sonoma County. K-Love broadcasts on 91.9 FM and Air1 on 106.3 FM.
One Ministries Inc. will still be on the radio. “We obtained a new building permit for the FM station on 91.1 for Glenhaven, Lake County this year,” Leitch said. It is not yet known what this station will broadcast.
For more information, visit kqsl.org.