When a fire hit Malibu last year KBUU was there for the community, broadcasting vital information, until the fire burned through wires and shut the station down. Thanks to the Malibu Foundation KBUU was recently awarded a grant that will enable the station to stay on the air when another emergency hits, and continue to deliver critical information to the community.
KBUU GM Hans Laetz tells The Malibu Times, “We received a grant from the Malibu Foundation and installed solar panels and batteries at the FM transmitter site. We took the station off the air for 30 seconds last Thursday to switch over to the new circuits.”
The paper reports that on Friday, Aug. 16, KBUU began charging the solar batteries in the sunlight, and then switched over to 100 percent solar power. They continued testing for four or five days to ensure the system was working properly with the solar batteries recharging.
The station is also hoping to install two boosters to improve reception in different areas around Malibu. Laetz says he’s getting FCC approval for that upgrade now.
The KBUU website says the radio station studio is in a ranch-style tract house, on a cul de sac on one of Malibu’s few suburban-style streets. “In what used to be Emily Laetz’s bedroom, the detritus of a recently moved-out kid is everywhere. Puka shell necklaces hang near the door and a stack of Malibu High School yearbooks is piled on the desk, along with an LP (The Doors’ Greatest Hits) and a wadded up clump of bathing suit. On the wall are a tide calendar from 2011 and a homemade a poster that says “Big Dume September 2007.”
KBUU listeners and a handful of underwriters pay for the station’s day-to-day costs, like music rights, software, and computers. Laetz tells the paper that the station has 12 volunteers and none of them get paid.