The long running Bay Area radio station KFJC is bringing back its celebrated record swap to Empire Seven Studios for its second year of a reimagined tradition.
Since its foundation in 1959, KFJC has played an integral part in the underground but vibrant Bay Area music scene. Broadcasting from the Foothill College Campus at 89.7 FM, the station is purported to have been the first to ever play a rock & roll record on the air and has a lengthy tradition of championing boundary-pushing acts, as well as serving as a tastemaking curator for the region.
In addition to helping propel many bands to stardom, KFJC has held an annual record swap on campus for nearly two decades. Last year, in a major shift, the swap was moved to Empire Seven Studios in Japatown, San Jose. This year, it returns to Empire Seven, with the aim of becoming a permanent fixture there.
“It has been a staple in the bay area for many years, and bringing it back is always a good thing, says Leticia Domingo, a current on-air DJ and former publicist for KFJC.
This won’t be a flea market affair. Empire Seven Studios, with art on the walls and DJs spinning all day, works to make the swap less of a bartering market than a musical learning experience.
“When i first joined the station in 2001-2002, one of the first events I ever went to was a record swap event,” says Domingo, better known by her on-air name Ms. Tiza. “It was mostly record labels, and it was a paid event, with early bird specials.”
Seeing that as outdated and unfair to newer collectors, Domingo and the station reinvented the record swap—freeing it from the confines of the Foothill Campus, and more importantly making it a free event. The idea was to encourage everyone, from the serious, veteran collectors to the merely curious to intermingle and learn.
It is a welcome change. While the swap has been staple of the Bay Area music scene for decades, the insider vibe meant that the event mainly drew an insider crowd. Domingo has stripped away most of that snobbery in order to let the love of music rule. “Now the great thing is you have collectors selling and collectors digging together,” she says.
Although the record market is now arguably dictated as much by hardcore, incredibly knowledgeable collectors as it is record labels, there are at least three record companies—including Soletrain Records and Megakraut Records—that will be selling items at the swap from their collections.
There are fourteen confirmed DJs so far, including B-RICH, EDDOUXL, DAVID MA, and TURBO SONIDERO, who will be spinning everything from underground electronica to funk and soul. The DJs are also some of the vendors, allowing for visitors to meet the artists behind the record swap’s live sounds.
The swap will also feature a stall for the radio station itself, with live appearances by the on-air DJs of KFJC, including Domingo. They will be selling carefully-picked records from their extensive collection, as well as station merchandise. The booth will also feature a portion of the record collections of Jeff Diamond, an alumni of the station’s staff who recent passed away. “Its definitely a one of a kind thing,” Domingo says of Diamond’s special tribute.
KFJC has seen some hiccups in recent years—especially slashes in arts funding for community colleges. “About five years ago they pulled the accreditation for Foothill’s radio broadcasting, so now it’s just a community class,” says Domingo. This is a double edge sword, she adds, because there are “actually more students coming through our ranks that want to be there.” Domingo also knows it’s a sign of the times: “You don’t really need the radio to find music anymore.”
But KFJC still survives, thanks to the long time support of Foothill College. And the success of last year’s Record Swap, which ran overtime due to so many exchanges, has left Domingo hopeful for this year’s turnout and variety. “The collection [being sold] runs the gamut. Lots of people these days are just building their collections so there is something for those who are just starting out.
“We suggest people get there early if they want to score some gems”, she says. “You’re not going to find five of the same albums.”
KFJC Record Swap
Apr 2, 10am-5pm, Free
Empire Seven Studios, San Jose