Home-Grown Entertainers Get Their Shot in Some Rarefied Air : KTND, a newcomer to the local FM radio scene, plays the music of local musicians. But the CDs must measure up to Nashville quality.


In the one year since KTND hit the airwaves as Ventura County's second country music radio station, DJs Bob Allen and Billy Gibson have made a concerted effort to play local talent on a regular basis. And not just at 3 a.m. It's not unusual during drive time to hear a cut by a home-grown band you danced to the previous night.

The 105.5 FM station, which plays a Top 40 format, the so-called "Hot New Country," began playing locals a few months ago with a couple of cuts by Platte River Crossing. Then came a solo effort by Troy Robinson, currently lead vocalist with Caught Red Handed. Soon, a Rhythm Rangers original from its new CD will get airplay.

But before you rush the station with demo tapes, be advised. Gibson, who doubles as program director, said that tunes must be radio-ready on CD--no tapes. And the product must measure up to anything being produced in Nashville today, he said.

So even if your grandma loves it, a number that has a local or amateur ring won't fly unless the KTND staff likes it. Ironically, however, by the time a group has achieved local success and laid down some original tunes, the band may have already left the area.

"There are a lot of local bands we're having a hard time holding onto," Allen said, mentioning Platte River Crossing, which moved to Nashville.

Selecting which cut to play is tough. Gibson said anything goes, from a waltz to more upbeat tunes. But Allen likes to apply his own listening-in-the-car test.

"I look for energy, something that makes me want to lean over and turn up the volume," he said.

In addition, Allen warned that what club audiences respond to won't necessarily resonate with his listeners.

"In the clubs you just want something to dance to," he said. "So a lot of songs that are requested on the dance floor aren't the same ones that get the airplay."

And no matter how great the production values are on a tune, you've got to have a great song to begin with, according to the DJs. Otherwise, it's like polishing cow chips, they say.

So while you're honing your own potential chart-topper, listen to what's being played.

"We've kept the traditional sound of Randy Travis and Mark Chesnutt," Allen said. "But we've added some rock 'n' roll. So you've got boomers listening who love rock and who now also love country."

The station's anniversary celebration kicks off Saturday with a casino night at the Doubletree Hotel in Ventura.


* WHAT: Country Western Casino Night.

* WHO: Sibling Rivalry.

* WHEN: 7 to 11 p.m. Saturday.

* WHERE: The Doubletree Hotel 2055 E. Harbor Blvd., Ventura.

* HOW MUCH: $40 per person; includes buffet dinner.

* CALL: 485-0064.

* FYI: KTND fund-raiser for the Laubach Literacy volunteer tutoring program of Ventura County.

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