If you saw the Academy Award-winning La La Land, you watched as the character played by Ryan Gosling battled to start a jazz club at a time when the music is struggling to build audiences.
Now, San Mateo's KCSM Jazz 91 -- one of the last 24-hour jazz stations in the United States -- is trimming its live programming and cutting much of its part-time staff, citing budgetary reasons.
On March 1, KCSM started carrying prerecorded shows from a Chicago station between 10pm and six in the morning. But listeners got a hint of the changes Sunday evening, when part-time host Harry Duncan announced he was airing his last show.
“It’s a pretty dire situation,” said Jim Bennett, who hosted In the Moment, a Thursday night show featuring music recorded live in Bay Area clubs. Bennett lost his job and airtime last week.
The San Mateo Community College District owns KCSM and provides substantial subsidies, including electricity.
Ron Pelletier is a part-timer who worked at the commercial jazz station KJAZ before it went off the air in 1994. He lost a Wednesday evening show in the change, and said station management gave conflicting reasons for why they were making the cuts. The main problem, management said, was that KCSM was running a deficit, even though Pelletier said the public radio station had often exceeded its fundraising goals over the past two years, and had contributed to a rainy day fund amounting to more than $1 million as a hedge against fiscal emergencies.