New manager on the dial


New KSDS Station Manager Ken Poston takes notes and fills out paperwork as he sits in his art-adorned office in the L building on Sept. 14, completing just one of many duties he has as the station’s new manager. Photo credit: Katherine Salindayao-White

Katherine Salindayao-White

San Diego’s KSDS FM Jazz 88.3 FM radio station at San Diego City College recently welcomed Ken Poston as the new general manager this fall.

Poston, who grew up in Kansas, pursued his passion for music at the University of Kansas through a music scholarship. He played the trumpet throughout school, but soon realized that he wasn’t as passionate about playing music as he was about its history.

In college, Posten took a jazz history course that gave him a different perspective on music. It allowed him to explore the jazz genre in an aspect outside of playing an instrument.

Poston developed a passion for the history of jazz and the recordings. He wanted to share the passion with others and radio became what he wanted to pursue.

After his first year in college he decided to switch his major from music to a radio television film major.

“I took a jazz history course and that made me want to change my major to radio TV broadcasting. That class helped crystallize everything for me,” Poston said. “Radio was a way I could play recordings to promote and support the artists.”

Poston was always interested about the history. He had a jazz professor named Dick Wright that he looked up to in college. He wanted to follow Wright’s footsteps by teaching jazz history.

“He was a huge inspiration. In addition to being the jazz history teacher he was also the major jazz radio personality in that area and had been for many years,” Posten said. “I realized that I wanted to do what he did and he helped me in many ways.”

Poston ended up teaching jazz history at local Kansas colleges and has taught ever since. “It was not a primary job, I just did it because I enjoyed it,” he said.

When he finished college with his bachelor’s in radio television film, there was an opening at the Kansas City Jazz Commission. He had that job for a couple years then moved to Los Angeles in 1987 to work at the jazz radio station there, which is now known as KJazz. He was at KJazz for about 12 years and he was the director of concert productions.

During Poston’s career, he found himself working with some of the artists that he idolized growing up with such as Gerry Mulligan, Shorty Rogers, Howard Rumsey, Pete Rugolo, Bud Shank and Gerald Wilson.

In 2000, Poston left to continue his career at the Los Angeles Jazz Institute. He taught jazz history at Cal State Long Beach and University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and still teaches one class at UCLA today.

When Poston left Kansas for Los Angeles to work at California State University, Long Beach he became part of the executive staff for the radio station for a number of years.

“Once I became part of the Los Angeles jazz scene I started to do a lot of other things besides just live events,” Posten said. “I became close to musicians. I started to think more and more I started missing the radio. There aren’t many jazz stations. When the opportunity came to come to City College it was the perfect situation to go back into radio.”

There are very few jazz stations left so when the position opened up this was exactly what Posten was looking for.

Before Posten got here, KSDS didn’t have a manager for a year.

“He walked into a difficult situation, but he also walked in with patience crossing off the list of what needs to be done,” said Laura Castañeda, professor in the Radio and Television department and department chair. “He’s going to do good and keep the station in good light.”

“It’s a wonderful station, very talented people on the air and are involved, it was the perfect situation,” Posten said. “I have a lot of experience in all those different areas. I can really utilize all my experience to bring that here and be a positive force as we move forward. Jazz is never going to be the most popular radio format so it requires a lot of different things to make it happen. Which is why there are few stations. You need to put the amount of work to make it succeed. We have the type of passion here on staff.”