Tuned in: Crowd rallies for local radio station’s future

Allison B. Hudson
KKAY sports announcer Troy LeBoeuf speaks Saturday about the importance of keeping the radio station in Ascension Parish. Several people gathered in Donaldsonville Saturday for a rally supporting the station.

DONALDSONVILLE – Nearly 100 people rallied together and a prayer vigil was held to help support the only radio station in Ascension Parish, KKAY-AM, on Jan. 24.

The radio station is in the process of being sold to a new owner, who has thoughts of moving the station out of Ascension Parish.

“I have been a part of KKAY for six years now, we need to keep it here,” said on air personality Troy LeBoeuf. “Donaldsonville comes together in hard times, and this shows right now with all of the people who came out today.”

Harry Hoyler is currently the station manager for KKAY.

A deal to sell KKAY-AM came in November and a deal was reached to an incorporated partnership, Stafford & Starr LLC. Radio announcer Kirk Landry and others are worried about the relocation option for the station.

“Basically, we want to give the community a chance to show its support for keeping the station in Donaldsonville,” Landry said. “We are just asking to be heard by the FCC.”

Landry said that the sale is pending Federal Communication Commission approval of the application that was filed on Nov. 28 to transfer the license of the station.

Landry and others feel the station is going to be moved, but the application on file with FCC shows the station’s broadcast studio will remain in Donaldsonville and its transmitter tower in White Castle.

Included in the purchase agreement is a lease agreement for KKAY’s broadcast studio at 706 Railroad Ave. that expires Aug. 31, 2011. The station’s lease agreement for the land where its tower is located also runs to the same date, and the station’s FCC license is set to expire June 1, 2012.

“Without the community KKAY would be nothing,” said Michael LeBlanc, who has been with the station for 18 years. “KKAY needs to stay in Donaldsonville because it is a vital part of the community.”

Mayor Leroy Sullivan said, “I am overjoyed with how many residents came out in support of our local radio station. Our voices need to be heard, and we need to be a part of the solution.”

Landry said the purpose of the rally was to allow the public to voice their opinions of their local station. A petition was passed around with intentions to be sent to the FCC. In only an hour’s time, more than 50 people signed the petition.

“There is a saying, you don’t miss something until its gone, so for us not to have to say this about our radio station, we as a community need to come together to do whatever it takes to keep KKAY here in Donaldsonville,” said Councilman Emile Spano.

Delta Sigma Theta Incorporated members attended the rally, and served Jambalaya to all who attended.

Delta member, Wanda August said, “I just can’t see it go!”

Hundreds gathered for prayers and thoughts on the radio station from several years ago, and reflects and comments were made on how the radio station has played such an important part of the community for sports, soul music, and Cajun flavor.

“The first thing that comes to mind today is a song called, “The day the music died,” if we lose our station, we have lost a part of Donaldsonville. This radio station can bring unity for both sides of the River, and I would hate to see it go,” said Becky Katz, director of Chamber of Commerce.

Others offered insight from a sponsor point of view.

“Thank you KKAY for entertaining us, educating us, and providing that cultural aspect of the community and how much KKAY has inspired us over the years,” said Stevie Graugnard, a sponsor of KKAY. “KKAY is a big part of our community and our voice would no longer be heard if they take it away from us.”

“KKAY is family, I have lived here since 1970, and that is one of the first things that come to mind,

KKAY providing the community with everything that is needed,” said George Parker, a resident and local supporter of KKAY.

KKAY-AM broadcasts at 1590 on the radio dial.

Kirk Landry speaks on air moments before the rally for KKAY.