San Antonio music has a new home at KPSA, an online radio station

The seed of the site was planted over 20 years ago.

At the time, Johnny Carrera was working in IT for the Northside Independent School District. One summer morning, when there were no students, he was listening to “The Lisle and Hahn Show” on KISS-FM while setting up computers and networking gear at O’Connor High School.

A musician called the show and asked co-host Steve Hahn why he didn’t play local music, saying it would help build an audience for the live broadcasts.

“And that’s what Hahn said, I remember it like it was yesterday,” said Carrera, 58, who is also a musician who recently performed with West Kings Highway. “Hahn said, ‘Why should I play your music? What you gotta do is go put posters on telephone poles and get people to come see you, and get famous, and when you get famous, I’ll play your music on the radio.

“And the guy said to him, ‘How am I going to be famous if nobody hears my music to come and see our concerts?’ And Hahn says, “That’s your problem.”

Carrera grew increasingly angry as the conversation progressed and began yelling at the radio. He also made a wish.

“I promised myself, if I ever get the chance to start a radio station, I’ll only play good local San Antonio music, and I’ll tell people who they are and get them to go see them play. “, did he declare. . “Let’s help make local musicians famous.

With KPSA, he is well on his way to delivering on that promise.

The site and app, which he has been working on throughout the pandemic with his cousin Anthony Garcia, went live about five months ago. Right now, the station’s ratio of local and national artists is around 70% to 30%, he said, and will soon be 80 to 20.

“I’m pulling out national music as I put more local music on,” he said. “We want to be a predominantly local music station.”

The music is interrupted only by station identification, sometimes rendered by musicians such as Joe Reyes, and brief timelines letting listeners know who is playing where.

The station’s home base is Jojodancerphotography Studio, Garcia’s workspace in the Blue Star Arts Complex. Garcia is a musician – his most recent band was La Chichada – as well as a photographer. Like Carrera, he devoted himself to San Antonio music and the promotion of San Antonio musicians, whom he often photographed.

He and Carrera also filmed a series of solo sessions with over two dozen musicians in the studio, which can be found on the station’s website.

One of the things Garcia brings to the table is her knowledge of current acts such as Honey Bunny, Kassandra Ayala and Mr. Pidge, all of whom are played on the station. ‘

“There are so many good bands out there now,” Garcia, 52, said. “I’m so glad to be here to witness it. It reminds me of the 90s. There was this explosion of good music on the scene.

The station also respects the city’s distinctive musical heritage.

“Austin is known as the music capital of the world, but you can’t really think of too many people from Austin who made that possible,” Carrera said. “There are famous people who live in Austin and claim to be from Austin, but they’re not from Austin. In San Antonio, I could list tons of names – there’s Doug Sahm, there’s Christopher Cross , there’s Randy Garibay All the West Side sound is all San Antonio

“It’s amazing, the history of this city, and very few cities can say that.”

Carrera and Garcia both know this story and even have a personal connection to some of it. Their uncle, Jack Barber, played with the Sir Douglas Quintet and hosts a show on KPSA which airs at 8pm on Wednesdays and repeats at 4pm on Sundays.

Other shows hosted by veterans of the San Antonio music scene are also in the works. Somewhere down the line, if all goes according to plan, the station will also start hosting events.

Since KPSA is accessible to anyone anywhere with access to a smartphone or computer, Carrera hopes it will extend the reach of San Antonio artists far beyond the city, perhaps placing them on the radar of labels and national producers.

“If any of these big bands were signed to a big national contract because of the radio station one way or another, it would have been worth it,” he said.

In addition to providing wide exposure to San Antonio musicians, the station also gives them an old-school thrill.

“I remember back then hearing your stuff on the radio meant you were successful,” Garcia said.

Ernest Hernandez III, 58, who plays with King Pelican and is good friends with Carrera, is a KPSA listener.

“I listened for about half a day yesterday and listened, and I was really impressed with the flow,” Hernandez said. “It seems to me that he’s seriously thinking about how he puts together a longer set of songs. He draws from such a diverse pool of music – it ranges from a very independent sound to a song by someone like Garrett T . Capps. I think everything is going well.”

Hernandez gave Carrera an MP3 of some of King Pelican’s latest music, and he heard it playing on KPSA: “I’ve been there, oh boy, that’s fun!” | Twitter: @DeborahMartinFR

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