From Laguna Beach to you, it’s KX FM — now under new management

Erica Delamare, Ed Steinfeld, Alyssa Hayek and Jayne Herring in the KX 104.7 studio.
Musical Director Erica Delamare, host Ed Steinfeld, general manager Alyssa Hayek and development director Jayne Herring, in the KX 104.7 studio in Laguna Beach.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

KX FM is now under new management.

The station, which covers the city of Laguna Beach and reaches the fringes of other south Orange County communities such as Dana Point, Corona del Mar, Laguna Niguel and Aliso Viejo, announced last week that its founder, Tyler Russell McCusker, would be stepping back from his role as general manager. Replacing him is Alyssa Hayek, an almost 15-year veteran of the air waves.

Hayek joined the nonprofit station in November 2018 after working for years at commercial radio stations, where she said she felt she was stifled in her creativity and ability to connect with her listeners.

“When you look at it, this opportunity landed in my lap where I have freedom. I can take requests and I can get to know my listeners,” said Hayek. “Why wouldn’t I take that leap and make that change?”

She was previously the music director, a role now taken by Erica Delamare. The organization said in a statement that its management team is now entirely composed of women.

“It’s exciting. It’s exhilarating and a little nerve-wracking,” said Hayek in an interview Monday. “Any time a woman’s in management, you’re fighting for that position, and I know that we have a good staff. They work like me, and I know they’re going to be great, but for us to be kind of a first in radio like this — it’s exciting, really, to see the future. I’m so blessed to be a part of it.”

New KXFM 104.7 general manager Alyssa Hayek in the station studio in Laguna Beach on Tuesday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

McCusker said he has been thinking about stepping down from his role for a few years but didn’t want to leave the station until he was sure the right team was in place and the right person in charge. He and his father founded the station in 2012.

“I feel that once I reached stagnation with something, meaning I can’t grow it anymore, I feel that it’s time for somebody else to be in charge. It doesn’t mean I won’t still be influential with the station,” said McCusker, adding that he plans to stay on as a board member or in some other capacity.

“I’m still technically on staff, but … for those Tyler-naysayers that think I’m leaving community radio completely, I’m sorry to say I’m not,” said McCusker.

“I’ve really given everything I could personally give to the station’s development, and I think it’s always good after 10 years to have a fresh set of eyes — and ears in our case — to take the reins,” he said.

He said he intends to develop a platform called Snippet for podcasts under 20 minutes and hopes it will launch sometime this month. He also plans to spend more time with his daughter, Lily, now that he won’t need to be at the station.

Erica Delamare, Ed Steinfeld, Alyssa Hayek and Jayne Herring, take it easy in the KX 104.7 studio in Laguna Beach.
Musical director Erica Delamare, host Ed Steinfeld, general manager Alyssa Hayek and development director Jayne Herring take it easy in the KX 104.7 studio in Laguna Beach.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

McCusker said he believes listeners and residents have come to associate his identity with KX FM’s. It was important to him, he said, that the radio station was seen as its own entity and as an organization untied to any one individual going forward.

Hayek said her transition into her new role was a gradual shift, but she talked with McCusker about the vision of the station before her appointment as general manager. The goal is to keep KX FM what it is — local and attuned to the community’s needs, a task made all the more important by the pandemic, she said.

Hayek said the number of listeners jumped in Laguna Beach to 3,819 at the start of the pandemic last April, a rise she credits to the station’s coverage of city council meetings and the information local residents needed to make decisions early on.

“The sound of the station isn’t changing. The goal of being here for the community isn’t changing,” said Hayek.

“That’s what we’re here for,” she said.

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