LOS ANGELES — As jazzy music played overhead, radio hosts Amir Mertaban and Mohammad Ahmad chatted casually with their guest, Isaac Yerushalmi, setting a relaxed mood.
The show could have dissolved into a heated argument between two Muslims and a Jew, but in the inaugural run of Boiling Point on what's billed as the nation's first Muslim talk radio station, Mertaban was absorbed with more mundane matters.
Still wearing his burgundy shirt from his day job as a manager for the Los Angeles County Fair, Mertaban looked over the show's introduction. He glanced at Yerushalmi's biography and a few reminders that he had jotted down.
"OK, I can't use the word freakin'," he said to no one in particular.
In the control room, Nour Mattar, one of the founders of One Legacy Radio, clicked off some of the banned words. "I mean we're cool, but we still have Islamic character and morals, especially we have a lot of kids, 16, 17, listening in. We don't want them to think this is OK."
The hosts of Boiling Point — a show that purports to take "taboo topics to the boiling point" — are allowed one "What the heck" per show, said Ahmad, a UCLA law school graduate.
One Legacy Radio is an online broadcast that launched in November on www.onelegacyradio.com from a nondescript studio in an office park in Irvine, Calif., with four weekly shows. Its three founders — Muslims in their late 20s and early 30s who grew up in Britain and the United States — have slowly increased the station's programming while trying to strike a balance between religious sensibilities and a more edgy, youth-driven conversation.
Some of the programming is conventional, such as a show about converts and one devoted to parenting, but Boiling Point and the religiously challenging Face the Faith are more provocative. The station owners are even working on a Muslim version of Loveline, the often sexually charged syndicated call-in show.
It's an area that the American Muslim media largely avoids and one that the station owners' parents have shied away from or deemed un-Islamic.
"One Legacy is the fingerprint of the young Muslim ummah (community); it basically personifies the kind of ummah that we have right now," said Yasmin Bhuj, 31, a founder and marketing director who is married to Mattar. "If the generation before us did a radio station, it would be unrecognizable to what One Legacy is."
Mattar, 32, said the station receives e-mail daily from young Muslims thanking them for tackling issues that are relevant to them.
"These are taboo topics that people don't talk about, but in Islam you are allowed to talk about it," Mattar said.
Taboo is a word heard often around the studio. The goal of the station and its founders isn't to ruffle religious feathers — although that might happen — but to create an outlet for the younger generation of Muslims in America whose parents mostly emigrated from parts of the Middle East and South Asia in the 1970s and '80s.
Saeed Khan, a history professor at Wayne State University who specializes in Muslim identity in the West, said many first-generation immigrants believed that Islam would act as a sort of divine shield against societal ills, such as drug abuse and infidelity, within the Muslim community.
Outlets like One Legacy, he said, have cropped up because of the limits of existing Muslim media.