KUCI: The Underground Alternative

You wake up. While half-awake you take a shower, change clothes, eat a quick breakfast and you’re out the door. Turn the key in the ignition of your car, open the garage, reverse.
Your fingers flutter around the radio dial, searching to find something fresh. KISS, KROQ, JACK FM, KOST – nothing. Kanye West, Ne-Yo, Beyonce and Chris Brown are eating up the airwaves again and you’ve had enough. You try once more, hoping for some music sanity, and suddenly, something sparks your interest. There it is – 88.9 FM, UC Irvine’s very own radio station dedicated to everything underground.
“We are the last bastion against crappy, sound-alike radio in Orange County,” says its philosophy on the KUCI website. “We are the voice of freedom for all the independent music that gets snubbed by the major labels. We are the defenders of the faith for those who choose to express a different opinion. We are corporate rock’s worst nightmare. We are KUCI.”
You can now drive happily.
KUCI began illegally in 1968 as a pirate radio station. The station, led by student Richard Privette at the time, was first founded in a dormitory and broadcasted just enough to reach all of UCI. A year later, the radio station became registered with the FCC after much discord over its legality.
The project was moved into a closet in the physical sciences building, where, on Oct. 16, 1969, it began its official broadcast with The Archies’ 1969 hit “Sugar, Sugar.”
Zhubin Parsi, an experienced disc jockey at KUCI, has a show entitled “Poptunes,” which airs every Friday afternoon from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
“My show is a music show and when I’m not playing songs I usually have various friends and other DJs chatting about the music or whatever we feel like talking about. I also have to play or read public service announcements,” explained Parsi.
Parsi began his show Jun. 23, 2008 after taking the training class in the 2007 winter quarter.
Along with the rest of the staff, Parsi is not paid. His position is the equivalent of a volunteer; he had to put in volunteer hours at the station before receiving a time slot on the program.
Parsi continued, “I fall under the ‘experimental’ category, but I play experimental, avant-garde, math rock, progressive, post-punk, world music, garage rock, drone and basically anything noisy and wacky. I try not to play the same kind of sound over and over and try to keep it fresh.”
Along with “Mysterious Rainbow” from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. in the afternoon, Parsi completes a four-hour block of experimental sounds.
Parsi added that his favorite artist of the moment is The Fall, while “Horizontal Hold (John Peel Session)” by This Heat is on repeat.
Parsi also said, “We’re glad that more people on campus are aware that UCI even has a radio station. We encourage people to tune in on their radios or listen to the stream online from the website (www.kuci.org) whenever they get bored with commercial radio and want to hear something different.”
“I think it’s great that an independent station like KUCI is still going strong,” said Rachel Han, a first-year Spanish major. “Everyone can use a break from the same stations.”
Over the years, KUCI has notably interviewed artists such as The Red Hot Chili Peppers, X, No Doubt, Social Distortion and The Dead Milkmen.
Almost every show has a Web site and many of the DJs post playlists or recorded public affairs shows for listeners while the station keeps a public radio tab on iTunes that can be accessed all over the world.
One such public affairs program is Cameron Jackson’s “The O.C. Show,” which airs from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. on Friday mornings. William Bruzzo’s “The Aggressive Moderate,” a Democrat-Republican debate program from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. on the same day.
Now in a trailer next to HICF (near the Science Library), KUCI broadcasts 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Its shows range from ska to funk, from electric to classical, from world to metal and even features sports updates; KUCI has everything to offer.