Exactly at 9 a.m. every weekday morning, Brian Griffith turns on the mike in KRCB-FM’s fabled Studio A … and literally broadcasts to the world. Although the local NPR affiliate’s radio signal is only 500 watts, his words and music are simulcast live from pole-to-pole on the internet, via krcb.org.
“I have listeners in L.A., Kansas City, Washington State ... all over, who contact me through social media. Without a doubt, musicians performing live in the studio are their favorites.”
A trumpeter in the Lucas Valley School band, Brian learned guitar and began playing gigs, but he became an on-air radio personality through a circuitous route.
“I did in-flight music programming for all genres, classical to country,” Brian explains. “Then I was a writer/producer for the radio syndicator Westwood One. I worked with … and learned from … people like talk-show host Larry King and American Top 40 host Casey Kasem. Using two mobile recording trucks for live shows, I would mix them down to two tracks, add commercials, and leave slots for local stations.”
Brian moved to Petaluma to set up and manage the Hallmark store, and began working for KRCB Channel 22 as a television master control operator. When the morning radio guy left, Brian took over as local host for Morning Edition.
“Back then, Bush was in the White House,” Brian says with a chuckle, “and I got in trouble because I made a snarky comment on-air. Management cringed, but … after all, the KRCB-FM audience is decidedly Left County.”
Petaluma listeners probably best remember Brian as the Morning Show DJ on KRSH-FM, a position he held for many years.
“I loved my time on the KRUSH,” Brian recalls. “I was its biggest cheerleader. Then the station owner (who lives out-of-state), wanted to implement a playlist of only 600 songs - which is certainly his right, but I knew the listeners would be disappointed.”
The disagreement led to Brian’s firing via phone call.
“In radio, being fired is par for the course,” he shrugs. “It wasn’t the first time, but will hopefully be the last.”
Eleven days after losing his job at KRSH, Robin Pressman — who was then KRCB-FM’s Program Director — called Brian up and explained they wanted to change the station format from classical to AAA-Americana and asked Brian if he wanted to be involved.
“This is a perfect fit for me,” he now allows. “I was hired as the morning show DJ and music director for the station ... which allows me to pull from a much larger pool of music.”
With the freedom of complete artistic control comes the responsibility of selecting KRCB’s digital database.
“Sean Knight — the station’s current Program Director — and I were tasked with setting the Americana ‘sound’ for the station, and a digital delivery service allows me to go deep into a new album and not just play the hit.”
Brian’s long-ago school band experience keeps paying forward, too.
“I’m very active in the annual Petaluma Music Festival,” he says, “because it donates its proceeds to help keep music in all Petaluma schools.”
Brian recalls one post-Music Festival incident with fondness.
“We present the donation as one of those huge checks,” he says, “and when my stepdaughter was six-years-old, she was on stage to accept it. Beaming for the cameras, she carefully held the check … upside-down.”
What is your favorite thing about Petaluma?
“The fact that the City Council was wise enough to place the strip malls on the other side of the river. Although my girlfriend, stepdaughter and I now live on the East side, I was in the same D Street apartment for 17 years, and love hanging out Downtown.”