If news of nukes speeding across our hemisphere were to break, I’d grab a boat to Santa Catalina Island and tune in to KISL 88.7 FM Island Radio in Avalon. The concept of an island radio station hovers somewhere between romantic and foolhardy, but during the recent brushfires on the island’s interior, everyone was listening to KISL as the inferno encroached.
Founded by general manager David Markowitz and the Catalina Island Performing Arts Foundation, the station opened shop in 1994 as Catalina Community Broadcasting with the express intent of bringing external culture to the sleepy Xanadu just 26 miles offshore. Programming at the low-budget station is delivered via a mix of automatic and live local DJs. The station also sponsors arts-education programming and community arts events for the small clutch of children in school.
Lately, the station has gone through a series of changes — Markowitz has departed, and longtime DJ Aaron Pitts has taken the helm. KISL isn’t on the air with the dogged, plucky frequency of its early days, but radio that serves the community is an increasingly scarce proposal. Meanwhile, KISL remains an eclectic portal to another world outside this insular, almost forgotten Southern California community, proving that no man is an island.
KISL 88.7, Avalon Island, (310) 510-7469 or www.kisl.org.