Gary Clark Jr. amazes at The New 88.5 FM show at Village Studios

Gary Clark Jr. The New 88.5 FM

The New 88.5 FM bridged together KCSN of Northridge and KSBR out of Mission Viejo, bringing the station to 11.5 million listeners from 3 million. The station wasn’t going to celebrate the news of the largest coverage expansion in public radio in a small way. Listeners of the station were treated to an intimate performance from Gary Clark Jr. at Village Studios in West Los Angeles.

Music director Sky Daniels took to the tiny stage at 8 PM with a smile that could be seen from outer space. Daniels recounted how shockingly easy it was to get KSBR to make the deal, and also how The New 88.5 FM’s mission will remain to help artists. Daniels also praised Gary Clark Jr.’s manager Scooter Weintraub for helping bring him in on the performance. Weintraub also manages Sheryl Crow, who will play the first benefit of The New 88.5 FM next month at the Fonda Theatre.

There’s something incredible about seeing someone of Gary Clark Jr.’s profile in a room about 50 people, especially when taking into account that he’s opening for Eric Clapton at The Forum all weekend. I was close enough to see the beads of sweat build up as he tore into the opening song of his brief set. I was close enough to admire his swaggy style, a really dope brown jacket and brimmed hat.

At 33, Gary Clark Jr. is probably one of the two or three best guitarists under 40. I’ve felt like my face was being melted when I saw him from way far back at festivals like Coachella and even smaller venues like the Fonda, but I really felt my face being melted when standing 10 feet away from him Wednesday night. It was a grand way to celebrate the expansion of The New 88.5 FM.

Daniels referred to the station as “the most aggressive new music station in the market,” and the expansion will “allow us to become a singular ‘market-maker’ for artists moving forward” in an e-mail exchange. The expansion will certainly allow them to help an artist’s notoriety grow even more.

KCSN has targeted the 35-and-up group as their key demographic, but at the Gary Clark Jr. show I looked around and noticed more than a handful of people closer to my own age. My own roommate who came with me is a big listener of their station, but Daniels gave his reasons for why the upper demographic is one they go after the most.

“We target 35+ for a reason — there is an active LOVE of the medium of radio in upper demos,” Daniels said via e-mail. “They have responded to KCSN previously by saying, ‘You restored my faith in radio.’ Unfortunately, younger demos have been offered a predictable, narrowly focused offering from radio for the last 20 years. …We know that people of all ages have broad interests in music — we hope the younger demos who seek that join us.”

When I listen to radio, KCSN has often been on the dial. They will continue to program NPR’s syndicated “World Cafe”, which always features great in-studio sessions, as well as the much beloved “Saturday with The Beatles” with Les Perry.

The station also added former Goldenvoice festival marketing director Bonnie Marquez to their staff as director of promotions and partnerships, a huge get by them. You can expect more of these awesome kind of events from The New 88.5 FM in the future. Click here to find out how to become an active member or donate.