By Dee Jae Cox

The Palm Springs Gay population is estimated to be more than 50 percent of the annual resident population, making the City of Palm Springs the highest per capita gay population in the United States.  It therefore seems perfectly reasonable that the desert would now have a new gay owned and operated, radio station!

KGAY106.5 radio station, is the newest undertaking for Gay Desert Guide owner and veteran broadcaster, Brad Fuhr.  When asked what makes KGAY specifically identify as a ‘Gay’ radio station, Fuhr, stated “We chose the call letters because they are catchy originally, but now they take on new meaning because the station is LGBTQ owned and operated. The target audience includes all the letters in our alphabet, plus our straight allies who like to see what we are doing as taste makers in the world.”

Media representation is a powerful tool for shaping cultural understanding of people, places and groups of people like those identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or another non-gender conforming identity.


Through-out the 20th Century, the vast majority of LGBTQ media was in print and way underground for a good percentage of those years.  The very first known attempt at creating LGBT radio happened in 1933 with the broadcast of a musical revue called Boys Will Be Girls, starring female impersonator Rae Bourbon. Bourbon was headlining San Francisco’s first “Pansy” show, which he broadcast live over San Francisco radio station KFWI.  The station was struggling to maintain self-sufficiency and this was the final nail in their coffin.  No surprise that the program had barely started when police raided Tait’s Café, the club broadcasting the show and Bourbon was arrested.

1969 marked a watershed moment for the LGBTQ+ community as a result of the Stonewall riots in Greenwich Village, New York. Fighting back against police oppression, the riots gave birth to the LGBTQ liberation movement and the fight for LGBTQ rights. The uprising also led to changes in the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) broadcasting code. Broadcasters agreed to treat LGBT people fairly in the media and to consult the community where possible. Although Gay representation was still minimal in the 1970s, and representation of women and people of color was significantly less, the road to more inclusivity has continued to expand.

LGBTQ media representation is critical. And there are just as many reasons to care about gender and race issues within that community—not the least of which is the importance of moving beyond traditional stereotypes and having diverse voices share their unique perspectives.  Though many members of the LGBTQ community do not identify specifically as, “Gay,” it has become a catch-all term when referencing Lesbian, Gay (men), Bi-sexual, Transgender and Queer people. Like many male-identified umbrella terms, it is intended to be inclusive of all.

When asked about their plans for diversity with the new KGAY radio station, Fuhr stated;

“We do plan on diversifying and are actively looking for other voices to represent the segments.  That includes voice talent, guests on the John Taylor morning show, writers for GayDesertGuide. LGBT and for the #ILoveGayPalmSprings podcast.  We had Shann Carr as a co-host of the podcast, but she stepped away due to other commitments. I am looking for other people who can be regular guests or possibly even cohosts of the podcast.”

Fuhr, has been highly successful in the Coachella Valley with the Gay Desert Guide, an online source and business directory for the LGBTQ Community. His acquisition of KGAY106.5 Palm Springs appears on track to bolster his media success. When asked if the radio station would serve as a complimentary asset to Gay Desert Guide or work independently, Fuhr indicated that he created the company in order to combine the assets and provide content that is complimentary. He stated, “While technically they are two separate corporations, we are operating together. From content to advertising sales, the two work hand-in-hand. We have a value proposition for our advertisers to reach LGBTQ residence as well as tourists and visitors who may be planning their visit or are already here. I’ve worked in integrated media for a large part of my career. I know that Radio is a great driver of ears to eyeballs on our website.”

Radio stations play a critical role in society and in our communities.  They form part of the critical communication channels that are used to relay information. Radio brings everyone together, it educates, entertains and promotes local businesses and news.  Brad Fuhr’s newest contribution to the desert community in the form of KGAY 106.5, is destined to do great things.

In addition to music and talk, KGAY is a California benefit corporation and provides program streaming to the #ILoveGayPalmSprings podcast as well as, AM 1270 and 106.5 FM. The station will launch a new public service campaign called “KGAY Cares” for local non-profits.

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Dee Jae Cox is a playwright, director and producer.  She is the Cofounder and Artistic Director of The Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Project.