Tuesday, December 18, 2018

He just wanted to listen to jazz in the kitchen...

If you are a part 15 broadcaster and haven't heard of Radio Sausalito, then you're probably living under a rock...

Radio Sausalito in California is the most successful part15 community station in history.
It's been in operation about 20 years now.
For the first five years it evolved into a network of FM transmitters, then he changed bands to become an AM broadcast.

It all began in the early months of 2000. Jonathan Westerling was about 24 years old when he quite unknowingly embarked on a spectacular venture in broadcasting. He had no intention of doing such a thing, but as fate would have it.. a little part 15 transmitter he had built as a high school project years prior reappeared from the box which he had packed it away in.. Of course it didn't get out by itself, he unpacked it, and then set up a makeshift studio in his closet, fired up the transmitter and the rest is history.


Today his station consist of 6 Rangemasters spread about the city. The station has always received very strong community support and has had several write-ups and mentions in mainstream newspapers, magazines, books, blogs and even featured on TV.

Radio Sausalito's "The Joys of Jazz" was a finalist of the annual New York Festivals "Worlds Best Radio Programs" Awards of 2015 for the category the 'Best Regularly Scheduled Music Program'

Yelp ranks Radio Sausalito at the number 2 spot for the top ten radio stations near Sausalito, which is pretty damn good for a part 15 station!

Radio Sausalito was also featured on ABC TV news (click below to watch):
December 19, 2012 – ABC 7 TV News profiles Radio Sausalito including the studio, owner, staff and show hosts.

Well let's get to some of those articles -  These are some of the best ones, so here you go, presented mostly in chronicle order are some which I've compiled in the spare of the moment, but I know there are more. I have a collection of them stashed away somewhere on one of my computers because I've been interested in his station for about ten years..

(The following are only excerpts, so Be Sure to Click the Links to read the articles in full)

The first article published about him was in the Marin Scope newspaper in early 2000, but so far I haven't been able to track that one down, so for now we'll begin in 2002, the earliest article I can find right now ..

San Francisco Chronicle - August 4, 2002 
FaceTime / Jonathan Westerling
"Radio Sausalito went on the air with a signal that reached a block or two from the box in the closet of Jonathan Westerling's studio apartment on Caledonia Street. Now in its third year, the studio has moved out of the closet and into a police storage facility... I had been in broadcasting since I was 13... It's 0.1 watt. We're talking baby monitor. We're talking your cordless phone, basically. That's how far it's going to go... We don't have DJs. If you want to be on the air you have to produce your own show. I have 19 volunteers.. We're not encumbered by money, because it all comes from me or donations from generous people. And we're not encumbered by politics. I'm very careful to keep the station small and keep it Sausalito-oriented.."

A few years later takes us to 2005, they still making the news.. they never seem to stop making the news.. 

San Francisco Chronicle - September 14, 2005 
Weaker Signals Create Stronger Community Ties
Two low-wattage radio stations boast loyal listenerships
"The biggest thing in community radio is also the smallest... One is Radio Sausalito, an all-jazz station broadcasting on 100.1 on the FM dial with less than one watt of power 24 hours a day, seven days a week... heard only inside Sausalito and on the tip of the Strawberry Peninsula in Tiburon... .. proud of being small. Radio Sausalito boasts that it is the largest network of tiny FM transmitters in the United States.., Jonathan Westerling, is so concerned that his signal doesn't reach all areas of the town that he says he'll come to someone's home to adjust the radio antenna, making Radio Sausalito the only station in the world that makes house calls..."

Well.. It appears the above article had ruffled some feathers (yeah?).. as we'll see in this next report only a month later, which marks the transition of Radio Sausalito from FM to AM..

Marin Independent Journal - October 8, 2005
Sausalito Radio Station Runs Into Trouble
Sausalito’s local jazz radio station is temporarily off the air after a commercial station in Santa Rosa complained of interference and warned it might file a federal complaint... . “The bottom line is Mr. Westerling is operating on our frequency, which is federally assigned to us.." .. ..Westerling is in the process of purchasing new equipment to become an AM station with a stronger signal. “Once the new equipment is installed and certified by the FCC, the station will be protected from future complaints,” Westerling wrote in a statement...."

From that time forth Radio Sausalito has been broadcasting its popular jazz station on AM 1610. The locations used for the stations home base and operations changed from time to time. For a while the studio was located in the old police station until it was time for it to be demolished, then on July 15, 2008, the city council adjoined voting to provide him space in the city hall building at no cost... (click images to enlarge) 
Now we jump to 2010, Radio Sausalito is celebrating it 10 year anniversary of being on the air, it's fifth year on the AM bands, and now extending it's reach with a cable TV sidechannel:..

Marin Independent Journal - April 23, 2010
Radio Sausalito Moves To Swanky New Digs and Cable
"...little noncommercial community radio station is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.. It now has a new studio and a half-dozen discreetly hidden transmitters putting out a minuscule signal that you can pick up in Southern Marin. If you're lucky.  .."We have listeners in Tiburon, but at the same time there are people in Sausalito who can't get the station.. ..the crazy thing about radio is if you crack open that microphone you have no idea if you're talking to three people or 3,000 people." .."Now that we're [also] on the television cable, I'm getting a lot more feedback. We're reaching a lot more people."...

Only a brief mention in this one two years later, but they do make the top of the list..

San Francisco Chronicle  - March 11, 2012
Bay Area's Local Radio Thriving
"What's good on Bay Area radio? Here are a few, by no means comprehensive, highlights. Radio Sausalito 1610 AM, Sausalito. What started as a little neighborhood jazz station about a decade ago grew so big it was forced off the FM band a few years ago. No matter. The volunteer-run station
still pumps the music 24 hours a day,..."

A few months pass and the station is featured again. This one is presented with an interesting Q & A type format interviewing Westerling about his part 15 station...
Don't forget to Click the Links to read the articles in full

San Francisco Chronicle  - November 23, 2012
Jonathan Westerling and Radio Sausalito
Q: Describe Radio Sausalito?
A: ...about creating a community voice where otherwise there wouldn't be one...
Q: How did you get the idea for a radio station?
A: ...I didn't plan to put Radio Sausalito on the air... When I was unpacking, there it was in a box. So I hooked it up to a computer because I wanted to hear jazz in the kitchen while I was cooking..."
Q: What did you want to be?
I wanted to be a bassoonist, and I am a bassoonist.

Ok, on into 2013, the station expands further  yet again with a new internet stream...

Marinscope - Nov 6, 2013
Radio Sausalito Begins Streaming Online
"Community produced shows like a Different Slant, Audubon’s Bay Birds, and Sausalito’s Secret History on Radio Sausalito are now available world wide thanks to a new partnership with a radio streaming service... the tiny AM signal doesn’t reach many outside of Southern Marin... includes listener-donated vinyl records and local artists.. daily entertainment calendars and tide reports... uses a system of repeaters and can be heard throughout Southern Marin at 1610 AM and in central San Rafael at 1710 AM. The station is also heard on cable channel 26"

A similar report from another source about their internet streaming addition...

RAIN News - December 2, 2013
Spotlight: Radio Sausalito
From hyperlocal to global.. ..For Radio Sausalito, a small AM station whose signal is confined mainly to southern Marin County, webcasting is less about reaching a worldwide audience than making the signal available to local listeners wherever their daily routines take them. But for anyone who tunes in, the programming is unique and deftly curated..."

This next one from 2016 is one of my favorites, which happens to also mention the very first article about his station which was published January or February of 2000 in the Marin Scope. I'm trying to track that one down. If and when I do, I'll include it in this chronology...

Marinscope - May 04, 2016
Jonathan Westerling: Maintaining Sausalito’s Community Voice
"...He hooked the transmitter up to his computer and began to broadcast 1940s big band tunes.  Little did he know that his neighbors in the senior complex next door could hear the music through open windows.  Soon everyone was talking about the new jazz radio station.  It was around this time that Marin Scope printed an article by Mark C. Anderson in his column “Mark My Words,” about this new mysterious jazz station in Sausalito.
Eventually, Jonathan was discovered and asked if he would consider creating a real local radio station.  Radio Sausalito made its first formal broadcast in March of 2000... "

Oh, my my my.. Let's not leave out a special review from one of our own.. HobbyBroadcaster.net member Dave Richards recently visited Sausalito and authored this excellent review and his observations of the station while in the area:

Community Broadcaster Profile
Radio Sausalito - 2017
By Dave Richards
".. Community involvement was a key factor in the growth and success of the station. The list of such involvements and partnerships...  ...Six Hamilton Rangemaster transmitters were used, each with their carriers synchronized, for a remarkably consistent signal throughout Sausalito, whether you are traveling along Bridgeway Promenade, or the 101 freeway, or are on one of the side streets in the many different neighborhoods in the city. An additional transmitter is kept ready as a spare to enable repairs if problems crop up..."

Also be sure to also read Dave's detailed post he made in the forum about his visit there..

Part 15 Radio Listening Expeditions - May 2017
Dave Richards
Posts: 1541
"...Yesterday, I took a trip to Sausalito to listen to Radio Sausalito on 1610AM... ...The moment I stepped off the bus at Bridgeway and Bay Street, the signal was strong on my small portable Sony SRF-59.... ..I walked up Bridgeway, which is the main street ... . The signal was quite strong with very few weak spots, until it dropped out fairly swiftly between Spring Street and Olive Street, about 0.8 miles from my starting point... ..I entered a few businesses, and was pleased to note that the signal does penetrate inside buildings, to varying degrees,.. ..also walked up into one of the residential districts in the hills and heard a good signal for the approximately 1/4 ... ..didn't detect any fluttering between coverage areas of individual transmitters, or any echo in the audio, which would occur if there was a time difference between audio reaching different transmitters..." 

Here's a few more mentions.. I'm just throwing these out although they're not actually about the station itself, but rather about some of Radio Sausalito's host or guest. But they do mention the station... Quite a few of these around, but here are just a few....

Salon Today - July 24, 2013
Mitchell Field Celebrates 50 Years in Salon Industry!
"Mitchell Field's long career as a hair stylist could serve as a timeline of popular culture... He also produces and hosts "The Field Trip," a weekly arts and entertainment interview show, broadcast on Radio Sausalito..."

Marin Scope - Dec 24, 2014
Local radio documentary discovers the unnoticed 
Sausalito’s quirks chronicled in new investigative show
"Molly Cox, producer of Radio Sausalito’s newest program “Dock of the Bay: Stories of Sausalito,” has chronicled the city and its unique inhabitants in an audio documentary now airing on the station... ..Cox began a year-long project to capture stories about Sausalito and its populace... she came to realize the exceptional qualities of the town...“I had a preconception of the town and I never thought of it as a destination or a place,” she said. “Then, when I spent more time in Sausalito, I realized how many different types of really extraordinary people live in town....”

iUniverse - March 12, 2013
Author Leda Sanford-The Mother of Reinvention
"..award winning author of “Pure Moxie” and the Mother of Reinvention, Leda, Leda Sanford.. and what a fascinating lady.. ..the first female publisher and editor-in-chief of a national consumer magazine, American Home; through her 40 years in senior positions in magazine publishing,.. That said iUniverse leaves the last words to the lady herself, on Radio Sausalito’s A Different Slant Interview with Leda Sanford and what the critics say..."

Hardcover/Paperback - Published Nov. 11, 2011
Harold Jones: The Singer's Drummer
"About the Authors - Joe Argo.. moved to the bay area in 1994, and later retired.. now devotes most of his working time to music.. working the Montery Jazz Festival as Music Director for Radio Sausalito..."

Marinscope - Feb 15, 2012
Letters: Valentine for Radio Sausalito
"I was listening to Radio Sausalito when Frank Sinatra came on and I remembered living in the 1950s on a lonely sheep ranch in the heart of Tasmania. There I was introduced to an American man who changed my life through songs and music. I was never alone again with Mr. Frank Sinatra... ..Thank you, Radio Sausalito, for keeping our memories alive!"

Marinscope - March 7, 2012
Clinton Speaks to Sausalito Village
"..In his fourth year as president, Clinton is producing a series of “Secret Sausalito History” spots for Radio Sausalito... Larry Clinton, president of the Sausalito Historical Society, will share little-known stories of Sausalito’s colorful past..."

Haahhhh!... That last one caught your attention for a second didn't it!
Ok, let's end this with only a couple examples of some of the many special events which Radio Saulsalito has participated in:

Sausalito Police Department - October 1st, 2011
"...The Disaster Preparedness Awareness Day event is being conducted by the City of Sausalito’s Disaster Preparedness Committee along with the Sausalito Police Department, Southern Marin Fire Protection District, and several other organizations such as the Sausalito Volunteers in Public Safety (VIPS), the Southern Marin Citizen Emergency Response Team (CERT), and Radio Sausalito 1610 AM..."

Floating Times- May 28, 2017
Peace Love and Support for the Varda Mosaic
"The famed Sausalito artist Jean Varda would have been right at home in Marinship Park last Sunday, as he and the Summer of Love were both celebrated with music of the ‘60s, dancing in the sunshine, art, libations, and a huge human peace sign. The good times rolled as The Sausalito Foundation launched their campaign to restore the splendid Varda mosaic that anchors the southwest corner of the park... ..Jonathan Westerling of Radio Sausalito took the crowd on a trip through the great rock ‘n’ roll hits of the 1960s. Sounds of the musical icons of 50 years ago—The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Doors, Jefferson Airplane, and more—brought many hippie-clad dancers to their feet..."

Marin Mommys - December 2018
Sausalito's Fireworks Extravaganza
"Sausalito's Fireworks Extravaganza takes place at Gabrielson Park from 6:30–9:30 pm. ..This year, the display is set to music—tune in to Radio Sausalito at 1610 AM or Comcast Cable channel 30 during the show.."

January 26, 2011(?)
Taste of Vinadel Mar  Event Poster:
- Saturday, April 8, 2017
"Join us in a celebration of Sausalito’s renowned Marinship’s 75th Anniversary!... Dance to the music of the Big Bands with J Jonathan Westerling of Radio Sausalito. Benefiting...."

Examples of city and organizations that make special mention of his station...

Radio Sausalito
"....broadcasts local music, entertainment, information and news for southern Marin County communities and maritime vessels within range... .. offering local communities up-beat jazz music, an outlet for local announcements and special entertainment provided by talented local citizens. .. .. up-to-date with news and personalized announcements. The station operates on Apple Computers.. ..operates through volunteers and offers low-cost or free public service announcements for local area organizations.. ..also offers fun-filled contests, an outlet for local writers to have their original short stories read and.. offers airtime to qualified citizens or events..."

Radio Sausalito 
Important Note:  Radio Sausalito is the emergency broadcast information source for Sausalito.  In the event of a major earthquake or other disaster, city officials and the Police and Fire Departments will use Radio Sausalito to share important information with residents.
Radio Sausalito and its “foot stompin’ jazz” on AM 1610 is ..one of those special mirrors of the city’s character that may surprise outsiders but makes perfect sense to the residents...  ..he soon drew the attention of City government. Instead of hassling him for fees and licenses, the City hailed him .. How does one tenth of a watt reach much of Sausalito and points nearby?  A series of “repeaters” scattered through the valleys of Sausalito and in the Houseboat Community (plus one on the western side of Belvedere) mimic the music “over the hill” instead of having to broadcast from one massive tower..

Sausalito Historical Society - Feb. 3, 2013
Sausalito's Secret History
"Radio Sausalito 1610AM offers a monthly program, "Sausalito's Secret History" by the Historical Society... Join host Larry Clinton for colorful glimpses into
Sausalito’s Secret History..."

Sausalito Tsunami Brochure/Guide (pdf)
"..Questions or want more information?
Sausalito Police Department- 415-289-4170
Sausalito Emergency Hot Line- 415-289-4151
Sausalito City Hall- 415-289-4100
Southern Marin Fire Protection District- 415-388-8182
Sausalito Disaster Preparedness Emergency Operations Program- 415-289-4172 Sausalito’s Emergency Services Manager- 415-289-4171
1610 AM Radio Sausalito - Sausalito’s Emergency Broadcast system..."

All these published articles and mentions of Radio Sausalito doesn't even scratch the surface of the recognition which Radio Sausalito has received, but it's certainly enough to get a feel of what a part 15 AM Community station should strive for, and could be.
Congratulations to Jonathan Westerling. He's accomplished more with his part 15 station than all us part 15 broadcasters put together. We should all be inspired by him.

Jonathan Westerling and his Jag
Photo : Rashad Sisemore, The Chronicle.
All other photos used in this post is credited in their accompanying article links.

• •
• •
Sausalito, California 1610 AM
• San Rafael, California 1710 AM
• Marin, California Comcast cable channel 26 via SAP,
and as background audio on community cable channels 26 and 27.
Live Stream :
 • •



1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the tip o' the microphone! You've done a very thorough compilation of articles here - and your compliments honestly make us blush a little ;-) . Thanks very much and best of luck keeping the voice of the Part 15 Broadcasters out there! - Jonathan @ RS


Add your comment..