Plenty of locals are eager to share anecdotes about their proximity to the station’s rich history or offer opinions as to which era of broadcasting was best.
The communal pride around the Clayton Valley High School student-built radio station is evident. However, many seem unclear on the station’s current status and future, especially since the school went to charter status in 2012.
“The station was on life support since 2012,” says station manager Phil Moore, who came on board while the station was undergoing a reformation last April.
At that time, 90.5 was airing all-educational programming, a stark contrast from the heavy metal and hard rock it’d been known for as “The Edge.” This led to useful community feedback, which helped guide the station into its current format.
As an alternative to the familiar offerings of commercial radio, the now-reformatted “Voice of the Valley” predominantly airs lesser-played songs from the classic rock era, as well as experimental progressive rock. The “free-form” station allows itself to explore a variety of programming, including some new original content with local emphasis.
“(KVHS) wants to deliver what the community wants to hear. We are the non-commercial voice of this community,” says Moore. “We air educational programming Sunday mornings about our local history and attractions, such as Mt. Diablo State Park. Sunday nights, we have an excellent local music show.”
“The Beat of Diablo,” which airs at 7 p.m. Sundays, showcases the East Bay music scene with an emphasis on newer music coming from Concord and the surrounding communities. Previous episodes can be found at TheBeatofDiablo.com.
Local musicians are excited by the opportunity to be heard on the same radio station that they listened to while growing up.
Martinez resident Aaron Baker’s band Box of Matches premiered its most recent release on the new radio show. He emphasizes how KVHS’s embrace of local music has impacted the scene: “After the blow that COVID-19 delivered to local live music, having a station like KVHS to remind us of the tremendous talent in the East Bay is a light in the dark for musicians and fans.”
“I want the local music scene to thrive … to bring the community together,” Moore shares. “The local music show is a wonderful community service.”
Like many who’ve overseen the station before him, Moore is a volunteer. He reports to the Mt. Diablo Unified School District and a group of 10 select KVHS alumni. A few additional volunteers manage daily operations.
Contrary to some misconceptions, Moore assures that the dynamics between the station, school and district are great. “KVHS has supporters at the school and at the district, and we’re doing positive things for both.”
Although the station’s transmitter is on the other side of town and much of the programming is managed off-site, the physical KVHS studio remains on-campus. While the school’s course pertaining to broadcasting and business ended in 2012, the studio was recently technologically renovated to benefit both the school and the district.
“The KVHS studio is turning into a professional audio production studio with ProTools,” Moore says. “The school faculty and students will be able to podcast, create public-affairs programming and more. The historic KVHS studio is central to the music and drama departments.”
Moore hopes to continue to grow the original content at a pace that the volunteers can sustain and is considering live broadcasts of community concerts and other ideas that “honor our free-form heritage back to our tiny 10-watt beginning.”
He is optimistic about the future of KVHS as a local community station, noting: “KVHS will continue to serve the radio listeners in the Diablo Valley.”
Dave Hughes is a local music advocate with an extensive network of independent artists. He produces and hosts a local music program on KVHS called The Beat of Diablo, every Sunday at 7:00 PM on 90.5 FM. Dave also catalogs local music releases at ConcordRockCity.com.