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The holdouts: The West Coast’s oldest Black-owned radio station

“It was a stunning day. A chilly day. A cold-ass day in our city of San Francisco!” exclaimed Lamont Bransford-Young during the intro to his radio show.

“How was your day? Did you release something today? Did you let something go?” Bransford-Young asked.

This was just the first of many conversational interludes that Bransford-Young interspersed into his four-hour-long dance music show titled “The Fingersnaps Salon” in early January.

Bransford-Young—also known as “DJ Lamont”—is one of many DJs that volunteers their time at KPOO 89.5, one of the last Black-owned-and-operated radio stations in Northern California and the oldest on the West Coast.

The station—originally founded by the nonprofit Poor People’s Radio Inc.—is tucked away on Divisadero Street in San Francisco’s Western Addition. You’d hardly notice it if you were simply taking a stroll down the sidewalk.

But inside, KPOO’s DJs are busy spinning tunes and filling the city’s airwaves. Gospel, blues, hip-hop, disco, jazz and more reverberate out from the station.

Founded in 1971, KPOO remains faithful to why it was born in the first place: to provide a space and a voice for the Bay Area’s marginalized communities. The station is 100% listener-funded.

Bransford-Young said he found comfort and solace in listening to the radio as a young man. He aims to provide the same for his listeners.

“My hope is that what I’m doing has touched the spirit, the imagination, the heart, the time of someone, just like radio has done to me in the past,” he said.

This story is part of The Standard’s video series “The Holdouts.” In it, we profile long-standing local businesses, institutions and people that have withstood the test of time. Have ideas for people or places that would fit this series? Shoot us an email at