That was yesterday. Hard to tell from just looking at it, but that’s a 180° shot, panning from east to west across California’s South Coast, most of which is masked by smoke from the Thomas Fire.

We weren’t in the smoke then, but we are now, so there’s not much to shoot. Just something more to wear: a dust mask. Yesterday I picked up two of the few left at the nearest hardware store, and now I’m wearing one around the house. Since wildfire smoke is bad news for lungs, that seems like a good idea.

I’m also noticing dead air coming from radio stations whose transmitters have likely burned up. And websites that seem dead to the fire as well. Here’s a list of signals that I’m pretty sure is off the air right now. All their transmitters are within the Thomas Fire perimeter:

Some are on Red Mountain (on the west of Highway 33, which connects Ventura with Ojai); some are in the Ventura Hills; and some are on Sulphur Mountain, which is the high ridge on the south side of Ojai. One is on Santa Paula Mountain, with a backup on Red Mountain. (That’s KOCP. I don’t hear it, and normally do.)

In some cases I’m hearing a live signal but dead air. In others I’m hearing nothing at all. In still other cases I’m hearing something faint. And some signals are too small, directional or isolated for me to check from 30 miles (give or take) away. So, fact checking is welcome. There’s a chance some of these are on the air with lower power at temporary locations.

The links in the list above go to technical information for each station, including exact transmitter locations and facilities, rather than to the stations themselves. Here’s a short cut to those, from the great

Nearly all the Ventura area FM stations — KHAY, KRUZ, KFYV, KMLA, KCAQ , KMRO, KSSC and KOCP — have nothing about the fire on their websites. Kinda sad, that. I’ve only found only two local stations doing what they should be doing at times like this. One is KCLU/88.3, the public station in Thousand Oaks. KCLU also serves the South Coast with an AM and an FM signal in Santa Barbara. The other is KVTA/1590. The latter is almost inaudible here right now. I suppose that’s because of a power outage. Its transmitter, like those of the other two AM stations in town, is down in a flat area unlikely to burn.

KBBY, on Rincon Mountain (a bit west of Red Mountain, but in an evacuation area with reported spot fires), is still on the air. Its website also has no mention of the fire. Same with KHAY/100.7, on Red Mountain, which was off the air but is now back on. Likewise KMLA/103.7, licensed to El Rio but serving the Ventura area.

KXLM/102.9 which transmits from the flats, is on the air.

Other sources of fire coverage are KPCC, KCRW and KNX.






  1. Gary’s avatar

    Yes, I noticed KHAY has been off the air since yesterday. As you mentioned, there is no notice on their website, which is odd.

  2. Doc Searls’s avatar

    Thanks, Gary. KHAY is back on. But most of the rest are still off.

    I just updated the post to throw some shade at all the stations that say exactly nothing about the fire on their websites—and some praise at KCLU, KCRW, KPCC and KNX, all of which are covering the fires, both on the air and on the Web.

  3. Gary’s avatar

    I thought KDSC (KUSC) had a notice about the fire causing a power failure, putting them off the air, but now I see that the notice on their home page is dated 5/21/17, so now I’m confused. They are still off this morning.

    I’m glad KHAY is back on.

  4. Doc Searls’s avatar

    KDSC, KMRO and KJAI (KPPC’s satellite) are all on Sulphur Mountain, at the same site, overlooking Ojai on the south side. It’s deep inside the burn perimeter. While power may be the only issue for the stations, I wouldn’t be surprised if the facilities got fried as well. I’m sure nobody will know until they can get up there. From the looks of the site on maps (one click into the links above), there’s a lot of clearing around the towers.

    I’m surprised the station didn’t say “In some areas served by our 91.1 signal, you can also get KUSC on 91.5 or KDB on 93.7. In fact KDB gets into Ventura like a local, where there is line-of-sight from its transmitter on Gibraltar Peak in Santa Barbara.

    I don’t know if KMRO is back on its main transmitter or not; but the booster in Santa Barbara is playing its audio now. (Earlier it was just a signal with dead air.)

    Curious: where do you go on radio for fire news?

  5. Gary’s avatar

    I listen to KNX and KFI for fire news.

  6. Rusty Hodge’s avatar There are more cameras linked from that page as well.

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