Gibraltar Peak, a communications site above Santa Barbara, where many local FM radio stations are broadcasted from. Equipment is seen here in a 2021 photo. Credit: Doc Searls photo

Several local radio stations went off the air when last week’s powerful storm knocked down power poles along Gibraltar Road near Santa Barbara.

As of Monday, KCLU and some others are still silent because backup generators haven’t been working, tower operator John Franklin said.

The broadcast equipment site on Gibraltar Peak was difficult to access because of the major storm damage to Gibraltar Road.

“The problem has been that rain caused two telephone poles to fall down, so we’re going to be on a diesel generator for some time,” Franklin said last week.

“The road is badly, badly undermined.”

Franklin said they’ve helicoptered up a new battery and 600 gallons of diesel fuel to the site’s backup generator, but they haven’t been able to get it to work.

Gibraltar Road is closed after extensive damage from the Jan. 9, 2023 storm. Credit: Santa Barbara County photo

“I do not want to relive this week, that’s for sure,” he said.

KCLU (102.3 FM) went off the air on Wednesday and was still off as of Monday.

KJEE (92.9 FM) went down for several days but came back on the air on Thursday. It went off the air again over the weekend.

Santa Barbara County spokeswoman Kelsey Gerckens Buttitta said there are cell and radio station towers off Gibraltar Road that require fuel to operate, and Gibraltar Road and East Camino Cielo Road are closed because of slides, debris and slipouts.

“Given the condition of the road, it would be dangerous to send fuel trucks to the transmission towers,” she said.

“County equipment is not having issues and is working well,” she added.

Southern California Edison, which supplies power to the transmission towers site, first reported an outage for the Gibraltar Road area at 2:34 a.m. Jan. 9, the day of the big storm.

Repair crews haven’t been sent to the site yet, according to the SCE Outage Map, but Franklin said he heard there could be new poles installed this week.

As of Sunday night, there were 10 Santa Barbara-area signals off the air, including relays, according to technology blogger Doc Searls.

Those include: 88.7 KDRW, which mostly relays KCRW; 89.5 KSBX, which relays KCBX; 89.9 K210AD, which relays KPCC; 90.3 KMRO-FM2, booster for KMRO; 91.5 K218CP, which relays KAWZ; 92.9 KJEE; 93.7 KDB, which relays KUSC; 96.9 K245DD, which relays KZSB; 97.9 K250BS, which relays KTMS; 98.7 K254AH, which relays KPFK; and 102.3 KCLU.

Some of those stations have substitute stations and/or have live feeds on their websites for listeners.

  • 88.7 KCRW/KDRW: alternate station KCRU 89.1
  • KDB: alternate station KDSC 91.1
  • 102.3 KCLU: alternate station 1340 AM
  • 89.9 KPCC: alternate station KJAI 89.5
  • 89.5 KSBX/KCBX: alternate station 90.9
  • 98.7 KPFX: alternate station 90.7
  • 96.9 KZSB: alternate station 1290 AM

Giana Magnoli, Noozhawk Managing Editor

Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at gmagnoli@noozhawk.com.