Chart Beat Podcast: KCSN Los Angeles' Sky Daniels on Radio & Station Fan Paul McCartney

Chart Beat Podcast featuring: Sky Daniels
Kirk McKoy/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Chart Beat Podcast featuring: Sky Daniels

The veteran programmer and air talent shares his insights about the adult alternative station & radio overall.

"We are driven by inspiring the audience to care," says Sky Daniels, program director and afternoon air talent at non-commercial adult alternative radio station KCSN (88.5 FM) Los Angeles. "Our mission is to get the audience to care so much about what they're hearing on the radio that they will volunteer to give us money when they don't have to.

"As a result," Daniels says, "Everything [we] do has to be meaningful. It can't be the same as what they're hearing down the dial on commercial radio."

Paul McCartney Gets By With Help From Los Angeles Radio Station KCSN

Daniels, who previously programmed rock powerhouses KFOG San Francisco and WLUP Chicago, among others, joined Billboard Chart Beat Podcast host, and Billboard co-director of charts, Gary Trust, while in Nashville during the Americana Music Association's AmericanaFest to discuss a wide variety of topics from his storied career. In addition to radio, Daniels has logged runs at multiple record labels and with former Billboard competitor (and then partner) Radio & Records. He joined KCSN in 2011 and, among other moves, brought in market tastemaker Nic Harcourt, who hosts middays.

Among other insights during the podcast, Daniels offers a theory as to why radio faces an image challenge as potentially old-school when compared to newer platforms. "When new media becomes the source of information for a large part of the populace, it doesn't behoove new media to advocate old media. Like, 'You know that other media that existed before we got here? You should stick with that. It's still good!' No, [new media consumers] get told, 'Radio is dead.' "

"I can tell you, firsthand," Daniels attests, "I'm at a radio station where the passion level is as great as I've ever seen. There can still be a fervor from an audience for radio."

A big part of KCSN's appeal? Its deep playlist, which currently includes tracks by such rising acts as The Revivalists, The Record Company and St. Paul & The Broken Bones, as well as veterans including Sting, Mudcrutch (featuring the vocals of Tom Petty) and station fan Paul McCartney.

As Daniels says about fostering the next wave of talent, co-opting a quote by radio luminary Kid Leo, "It's not our business to break artists. It's our pleasure."

A sampling of previous episodes with host Gary Trust:
Timothy B. Schmit / Chart Historian Joel Whitburn / Fall Preview With ABC Radio's Andrea Dresdale / Debbie Gibson / Hit Songs Deconstructed on The Chainsmokers & Meghan Trainor / Lionel Richie (hosted by Trevor Anderson) / Chubby Checker on the Hot 100's All-Time No. 1, "The Twist"

Enjoy the entire latest Chart Beat Podcast and check back for more upcoming episodes with artists, label executives, radio programmers and personalities, songwriters, producers and more, as we look at why what's on the charts … is on the charts. And, to receive every episode automatically in your inbox, subscribe to (and rate) the Billboard Chart Beat Podcast on iTunes!


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