Local radio host Guy Rathbun has managed to combine his passions for reading and current events with his lifelong devotion to radio broadcasting. Over the course of his 40-year career in radio, the Cal Poly and Cuesta College graduate and longtime program manager of KCBX Public Radio in San Luis Obispo has cultivated a well-respected reputation as a newscaster and news director.
Rathbun said he loves to read and noted that he grateful that his loyal listeners share his passion for the written word and have tuned in to listen to his unique broadcasts over the past four decades.
Rathbun began his career in commercial radio, working his way through college, and in 1975, gravitated toward public radio. He joined KCBX Public Radio, first serving as field reporter and music director and then, program director from 1986 to 2011. While at KCBX, Rathbun launched several programs, interviewing writers, nonprofit leaders and national newsmakers, always incorporating an historical perspective with an intelligent, conversational style, whether the topic is music, literature or current events. His 1920’s music show, “the Club McKenzie,” is one of the longest running shows of its kind in broadcasting.
“Being a journalist on radio, specifically, was a passion for me since I was 16,” he said. “I won a radio contest that I didn’t want to win called Name This Tune, after correctly guessing the 1947 song, ‘Love is a Many Splendored Thing.’ Suddenly, I was spinning records I didn’t want to hear as a guest disc jockey and, at the end of my shift, I was watching through the glass and saw this newscaster with the most mellifluous voice. I thought to myself ‘I want to do that. What a great job’ and it is a great job.”
Rathbun is an outspoken critic of deregulation in radio broadcasting, noting that the caliber of journalism and its role as a public service significantly increases when a greater variety of political viewpoints are highlighted on the public airways and radio stations are required to maintain news departments. He said even more important than rule of equal time is the re-establishment of the fairness doctrine and treatment of issues in broadcasting to ensure that the public is well-informed about local, national and international affairs.
In addition to working for KCBX, Rathbun also taught radio production and broadcast writing for both radio and television for 20 years, his tenure ending with recent cutbacks in college funding in 2011.
But it becomes abundantly clear when speaking with Rathbun that the variety of topics he addresses on his radio shows mirror his own eclectic passions and interests. Currently, Rathbun Audio Productions produces “IdeaSphere: A Platform for Today’s Voices,” a weekly current affairs program that focuses on timely and compelling news stories, as well as topical events of national and international interest and interviews with notable guests such as Leon Panetta, Robert Reich and Vincent Buligosi. His upcoming broadcast, slated for September 5, deals with the marked increase in the number of home foreclosures throughout California amid the current economic downturn and their impact on homeowners.
Rathbun also produces and hosts “Club McKenzie,” which invites listeners to step back in time to discover and experience an eclectic sampling of talents and tales of popular and jazz music performers from the late teens to early 1930s—an unforgettable musical era.
Rathbun also produces and hosts “Turning Pages,” a radio program which features interviews with authors including nationally acclaimed writer and award-winner David McCullough, as well as Sue Gruen, author of the book, Water for Elephants, and other authors. The program includes in-depth discussions of works of fiction and nonfiction and explores the imaginative minds of favorite wordsmiths. Rathbun has also been recognized by the City of San Luis Obispo and the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors with honorary proclamations for his exemplary community service.
His production company also offers its studio to businesses, nonprofits and individuals for personal use such as public service announcements, audio restoration, dramatic readings and personal story telling, as well as quotes on engineering, editing and voice-over services.