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Laguna Beach

 Volume 13, Issue 37  |  May 7, 2021

KX FM founder to step down, all-women management team to lead station

KX FM 104.7, Laguna’s only radio station, announced this week significant directorial and management staff changes. Tyler Russell McCusker, who founded the station in 2012, will step down as general manager and be succeeded by Alyssa Hayek, KX FM’s former music director. 

Russell McCusker will serve as an on-staff consultant for the remainder of the year and then be considered for an advisory role on the Board of Directors. Monica Silva-McCusker, who has been with the station for almost seven years, will pass the torch of development director to nonprofit professional Jayne Herring. 

Erica Delamare, who started two years ago at KX FM as an intern, will be promoted to music director. Ed Steinfeld, KX FM’s morning show host, will now also host middays from 10 a.m. to noon, followed by Hayek in the afternoons. Russell McCusker said the choice to minimize his role at the station he built was because he finally felt he could be successfully replaced.

KX FM Tyler Russell McCusker

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Photo by Candice Dartez

Tyler Russell McCusker is stepping down as GM of KX FM 104.7

“It’s very hard for me to summarize nearly a decade of work into one statement,” he said. “I was a bright-eyed 23-year-old when I started the station alongside my dad. I knew it was something Laguna needed, but I never could have imagined how much. This many years later, I am beyond proud we are still standing and have cemented ourselves as an indispensable part of this community. I have decided to have Alyssa run our day-to-day for two reasons: I believe I have given everything I personally can to the business and to the community, and I know she can do an even better job than me growing us into the future. Thanks to KX FM, I met my wife, I had my first child, and I have worked with countless individuals, organizations, and artists who are so special and that I am honored to know. The station is my life’s work (so far!), and I have it to thank for everything I am today.”

As far as “what’s next,” Russell McCusker said he will be launching a new Podcast network called Snippet, which will produce and curate short-form on-demand audio shows (Podcasts) in the categories of music, lifestyle, and audiodrama. He is hopeful for a May launch.

Russell McCusker’s list of accomplishments at KX FM include bringing back concerts to Irvine Bowl, becoming the first low-power FM to receive Corporation for Public Broadcasting funding, and bolstering a partnership with the City of Laguna Beach as an emergency broadcast resource.

Russell McCusker also said it’s very important the community sees the station as a leading arts nonprofit, rather than a family-run business. That is part of the reason Development Director Monica Silva-McCusker has also decided to move on from KX FM. 

Silva-McCusker has worked at the station since 2014. She joined the nonprofit because of the youthful energy KX promised and felt that a lateral move in nonprofit work was what was needed in her career at the time. She said she was inspired by the grassroots feel of the station’s origin and impressed by the leadership of Russell McCusker. 

Since then, Silva-McCusker has broken fundraising records year after year, executing successful fundraising events and on-air pledge drives. When she joined the station, she set out to make it as integrated and involved with as many organizations as possible. According to Russell McCusker, the station’s reputation in the community today is due to Silva-McCusker’s vision and leadership. 

“Of all my years at KX FM, what I am most proud of are the connections I was able to form with virtually every entity in Laguna Beach,” she said. “I think I learned that my strength is connecting, and I utilized that skill in nearly everything I did: sales, grant writing, campaign creations, even finding the perfect person to host your event! I really see people and their talents, and KX FM was always filled with talented people waiting to be discovered.”

Silva-McCusker is working on developing something new of her own: A consultancy connecting ethnically diverse individuals or groups with entities seeking to diversify their employment landscape. 

The station’s new General Manager Hayek has 15 years of experience working in top 50 markets in the radio industry. She moved to Orange County from New Jersey more than two years ago, after she was hired at KX FM as its new music director. Alyssa said she is humbled and excited to help the station grow into its next stage of life.

KX FM Delamare Hayek and Herring

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Photo by Candice Dartez

(L-R) Erica Delamare, Alyssa Hayek, and Jayne Herring

“I am so humbled and honored to be given this opportunity with KX FM. I know I have big shoes to fill, and I look forward to taking this next step in my career. I want every Laguna resident to know that I am here for them because that is what community radio is all about: the people,” said Hayek. 

Delamare grew up in San Juan Capistrano and graduated from UCSB with a degree in Communications and a minor in French. She has been passionate about music and community involvement from a young age, formerly working for Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, as well as working as a DJ, producer, singer, and jingle-writer.

“Having been with KX FM for almost two years as an intern and administrative manager, I am very excited to continue my career with KX FM as music director. Working in the music industry has been a dream of mine, so I’m grateful to have found a place with KX FM and the Laguna Beach community,” said Delamare.

Herring first moved to Laguna Beach in 2014. She is the mother of two young daughters, one at Anneliese and one at Thurston. In New York and Dallas, Herring worked in event planning, hospitality management, and public relations, before enrolling at Southern Methodist University to complete a rare degree in Human Rights and International Studies. She is passionate about cultures, communities, the arts, and the right to life with dignity.

“I’m eager to embrace being back in Laguna and to apply my experience and passions to make our community an even better place,” said Herring. “I also can’t wait to return to theaters, events, and art festivals…and hugging everybody new I meet!”

Ed Steinfeld is excited to welcome the changes at KX FM, where he has served as the host of the station’s flagship morning show for two years.

“It delights me to know that when filling important management positions, Tyler, Monica, and the board seek out the smartest, most qualified, and hardest working professionals in the field. The fact that these professionals happen to be women lends to my long-held notion that this radio station is all about equality and getting the job done by the best person possible,” said Steinfeld. 

The McCuskers can still be reached at their KX FM email addresses.


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In Memoriam - Stu Saffer and Barbara Diamond.

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