June 30, 2005

Clear Channel Interested In ABC?

In an interview on Thursday (June 30) with Marketwatch.com's David B. Wilkerson, Clear Channel Communications CEO John Hogan said his company would be interested in acquiring ABC Radio -- if, in fact, group owner Disney Media Networks intends to sell off its 72 owned-and-operated stations.

In the Bay Area, Disney/ABC owns ratings champ KGO/810, as well as KSFO/560 and KMKY/1310.

Clear Channel"We have, and will continue to have, a very keen interest in improving our portfolio," Hogan told Marketwatch.com. "There are a number of stations that Disney owns that we could very easily add to our existing portfolio, and do very well with."

If the ABC stations are for sale, and if Clear Channel should acquire them, the new owner would have to do some balancing of its local portfolio, as it would be over its limit of stations in the Bay region. Currently, Clear Channel owns KIOI (Star 101.3), KQKE (960 The Quake), KISQ (98.1 KISS FM), KKSF/103.7, KMEL/106.1, KNEW/910 and KYLD (Wild 94.9) in the San Francisco/Oakland market, and KCNL (Channel 104.9), KSJO (92.3 La Preciosa) and KUFX (98.5 KFOX) in the Southbay.

KGO, considered one of the gaudiest jewels in ABC Radio's crown -- it has been top of the heap for more than 100 consecutive ratings books -- would be an attractive acquisition for any company, and would make casting off any other property a no-brainer.

Discuss Clear Channel Buying ABC Radio...

June 29, 2005

Howard ("Aaaand A 1-2-3-4") Fine Dies

You've probably heard his voice in the commercials for Armstrong Painting, Roofing & Windows hundreds, if not thousands, of times on radio stations around the Bay Area. But you probably don't know his name.

Howard Fine, whose gravelly voice narrated Armstrong radio commercials for 30 years, passed away on Sunday (June 26) in Napa. He was 78 years old.

Mr. Fine was born in Pittsburgh, Penn., and graduated from the University of Pittsburgh after serving in the merchant marine during World War II, then went to work for the family-owned Armstrong Windows in his hometown. He later opened his own subsidiary of the company, Armstrong Painting, which he transplanted to the Bay Area in 1966.

Over the years, Mr. Fine was heard on about 400 commercials for his company, which occasionally featured local entertainment and sports personalities (including this one with Jim Plunkett) and always ended with the firm's trademark phone number — "three sevens, aaaaaaand a one-two-three-four." His son, Mitchell, currently runs the company, which is headquartered in Emeryville.

Radio Dots & Dashes -- Billboard Radio Monitor reported on Tuesday that Rhonda McCormack, Clear Channel's market manager for the Monterey-Salinas metroplex, will take on expanded duties overseeing the company's stations in San Jose.

Clear Channel operates KCNL (Channel 104.9), KSJO (La Preciosa) and KUFX (98.5 K-Fox) in the Southbay. McCormack will continuing riding herd over KDON, KTOM, KOCN (K-Ocean), KPRC (La Preciosa) and KABL-AM in the Monterey Bay Area.

“Rhonda McCormack’s love and enthusiasm for broadcasting makes her an inspiration and a leader wherever she goes," Clear Channel regional VP Kim Bryant said in a press release. McCormack joined the company in 2003 as director of sales for their Monterey stations...

Best line of the week (so far) comes from the Chronicle's Betting Fool, who came up with the following marketing idea for the struggling Giants: "KNBR NIGHT: Join in the celebration as "The Sports Leader" announces an "All-Mortgage Commercial" format. Can you imagine trying to make the Giants and 49ers sound interesting for the next few months? The Earthquakes and SaberCats already aren't interesting, although based on recent Earthquakes commercials (SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES GOAL!! GOAL!!! GOAL!!!) you'd think they'd won the World Cup." ...

· Discuss

June 27, 2005

Viva Combo Moves To La Kalle

Univision Radio switched its Bay Area "Viva" simulcast (KVVZ/100.7 in San Rafael and KVVF/105.7 in Santa Clara) to "La Kalle — Reggaetón y más" this morning (June 27) at a few minutes past 10 a.m.

La Kalle LogoI haven't seen the press release from Univision Radio yet, but the company switched their New York City duo over to what it described as "a new youth-targeted Spanish-language radio station" on May 27, noting that the format caters to "Hispanics in the highly sought-after 18-34 demographic."

Univision's New York launch announcement also explained, "La Kalle’s high-energy format will primarily feature Reggaeton and Latin Hip-Hop music. Reggaeton, a relatively new genre of dance music that originated in Puerto Rico and derives from a blend of Latin tropical sounds, Jamaican reggae music and urban hip-hop, has taken the New York market by storm. A recent Nielsen SoundScan report of Latin Album sales found that 8 out of the top 10 albums sold in the New York area were of Reggaeton music. Reggaeton is hotter in New York than in any other major U.S. city."

As "Viva," the combo had posted numbers in the low ones over the past year in the San Francisco Arbitron ratings (most recently landing in a three-way tie for the #25 spot), with slightly higher numbers in the San Jose book.

(A special tip of the cap to David Eduardo for the scoop on this one!)

· Discuss

June 26, 2005

Radio Dots & Dashes (June 26 Edition)

Just a quick note: two former Bay Area radiojox toiling at Oldies KISN in Portland, Bill Minckler (KYA) and Big Tom Parker (KFRC, KIOI, KYUU), are now history in the Rose City.

According to chatter on the pdxradio.com boards, Minckler exited as program director on Friday (June 24), while Parker will work through July 1 at the Entercom station as morning driver.

KISN — actually KKSN, but operating under the "Kissin" nickname of the city's legacy 1960s Top 40 outlet — had been an AM-FM operation until two months ago when its owners decided to take the FM in another direction and switched it to Adult Hits "Charlie FM — We Play Everything" (KYCH), a trend that may find more and more Sixties Oldies stations facing their final days.

· Discuss...

June 23, 2005

Joe Starkey Leaving KGO Radio

The local sports pages are abuzz this morning — Joe Starkey is leaving KGO/810 as sports director in July after 18 years with the station.

Joe StarkeyJoe had his choice of either doing two minutes of scores every half-hour on weekday afternoons at KGO, or moving with the San Francisco 49ers over to KNBR/680 and remaining one of only 32 guys in the world to have a job as the voice of an NFL team on radio.

KNBR will assume the role of flagship station for the 49ers beginning later this summer with Starkey at the mike and Gary Plummer continuing as analyst.

Because he is employed by the university, he'll keep his other football play-by-play job with Cal, which will still be heard on KGO this fall. Starkey has been the voice of Cal Bears football since 1975 and has been with the 49ers since 1989.

Starkey has been sports director at KGO since 1979, but began his career in broadcasting after earning his Master's degree in industrial relations from Loyola University in Chicago and working in banking, where he rose to corporate vice president in charge of Union Bank's Northern California region by the time he was 28 years old.

Self-trained — he would take a tape recorder to games to practice doing play-by-play — Starkey landed his first job as a sportscaster when Charles O. Finley hired him to announce Seals hockey on the radio in 1972. (Finley was also responsible for giving Giants voice Jon Miller his first big-league job, with the Oakland A's in 1974.)

In addition to the 49ers, Cal and the Seals, Starkey has also handled play-by-play for the NFL Minnesota Vikings and Denver Broncos, NHL Pittsburgh Penguins and San Jose Sharks, USFL Oakland Invaders and the WLAF Sacramento Surge. He is an eight-time recipient of the Associated Press Award for Best California Play by Play Broadcaster.

June 22, 2005

Peter B. Collins To Launch Radio Free America

Peter B. Collins, a fixture in Bay Area radio since 1976, will return to the air locally at KRXA/540, which is licensed to Carmel Valley and serves the Monterey Bay area. Collins, along with longtime business associate Tony Seaton and Washington, D.C., attorney Hal Ginsberg, have acquired the station from People's Radio, Inc.
Peter B. Collins
The FCC granted its approval of the sale on June 17 (effective when the deal closes on July 31).

The new owners, organized as KRFA-AM, LLC, will launch their Radio Free America format on the station shortly. Collins let me know that a press release with details is due out in a few days.

KRXA's website notes that Collins (photo, right) will host the station's 3-6 p.m. slot, with syndicated talkers Thom Hartmann (9-10 a.m.) and Ed Schultz (noon-3 p.m.) also on the schedule.

Peter B. came to the Bay Area from WLS-FM/Chicago, and is best remembered locally as the longtime co-host at KRQR ("The Rocker") in the 1980s. He has also been a talk show host at KGO, KNBR and KSFO here. Most recently, Collins hosted All American Talk Radio (heard on on Sirius/145).

KRXA will originate its home-grown programming out of the People's Radio studios on Cannery Row in Monterey. The station operates with 10,000 watts during the day, but only 500 watts at night.

June 21, 2005

Sterne (No, Not Stern) Out At Infinity/SF

Infinity RadioAll Access and Billboard Radio Monitor reported today that Doug Sterne resigned as Senior Vice President and Market Manager for Infinity's group of stations in San Francisco, effective Monday (June 20). His replacement is Doug Harvill, who held the same position with Infinity in Sacramento.

Harvill will also take over as general manager of All News KCBS/740 and Oldies KFRC/99.7. The appointment is effective Wednesday (June 22).

In a prepared statement to the media, Lisa Decker, the company's Senior VP for Western Mid-Sized Markets, said, "Doug has done a terrific job for Infinity in Sacramento operating our cluster of six stations. During his career he has been acknowledged as an accomplished strategist in creating new radio formats and for revitalizing and managing established radio station brands. His talents and leadership abilities are an excellent fit for our needs in San Francisco."

A native of Washington, D.C., Harvill's 25-year career in broadcasting includes experience behind the microphone in his hometown, as well as programming stations in Philadelphia, Atlanta, St. Louis, Phoenix and Charlotte, N.C. Before joining Infinity, he was national program director for EZ Communications.

June 20, 2005

Radio Dots & Dashes (June 20 Edition)

Old Blue Eyes
Prior to moving to its KPIG simulcast under new ownership, Piedmont's KMZT/1510 switched to a Sinatra-heavy — and I mean heavy — Adult Standards format on Saturday (June 18), mirroring outgoing owner Saul R. Levine's Southern California stations which also dropped Oldies. The guessers say the KPIG simulcast may start on July 1 ... Our old friend Alice@97.3 (KLLC) has gotten younger and hotter-sounding over the past week, leaving her Lilith-era sound a distant memory. The new sound, still aiming to be female-friendly, is emphasizing upbeat current hits with plenty of Gwen Stefani and Madonna. Word is that Infinity's corporate programmer from St. Louis is making the decisions for Alice right now. (A tip of the hat to atwaterkent for the info) ...

Viacom announced on June 14 that it will be splitting its company in two, bringing back the CBS corporate brand for its legacy broadcasting division, meaning that the Infinity name will be retired from the radio side of the business. The Viacom group of cable/satellite networks (including MTV and Nickolodeon) will retain the Viacom name as a separate entity ... Giants broadcaster Duane Kuiper turned 55 on Sunday, and celebrated with cheesecake in the radio booth at Comerica Park in Detroit ... Speaking of KMZT/1510, which began life as KTIM in San Rafael back in 1946, the station has been through enough call letter changes in the last 20 years that it could fill a book, after being KTIM from 1946 to 1988:

* KCAF (July 1988)
* KTID (May 1989)
* KAPX (November 1990)
* KTID (again, November 1992)
* KKHI (October 1994, after Westinghouse bought 1550)
* KNOB (April 1995)
* KKHI (again, February 1997)
* KJQI (December 1998)
* KMZT (February 2000)
* KJQI (again, March 2001)
* KJAZ (March 2002)
* KTIM (again, August 2002)
* KMZT (again, August 2003)

That's 13 call letter changes, with recycling of KKHI, KJAZ, KTID, KMZT and KJQI -- plus their own original KTIM -- with another change coming when the station becomes KPIG-By-The-Bay.

June 15, 2005

Soquel's Pseudo-KYA Sunk

KYA 1200 Oldies LogoKYAA/1200 in Soquel (Santa Cruz County) has dropped its oldies music format, which has been replaced with foreign-language programming.

The change was made at midnight Wednesday morning (June 15).

The licensee of KYAA, People's Radio of Sand City (population: 270), is owned by Joe Rosa, a San Jose realtor who is prominent in the Portuguese-American community. Mr. Rosa formerly owned KATD/95.3 in Los Gatos (it's now Empire Broadcasting's KRTY) and Pittsburg-Concord's KATD/990 (which he switched from KKIS), where KYAA afternoon DJ Jim "Vossenova" Vossen served as his general manager.

Vossenova carried KYAA through its waning Oldies hours, spinning gold and taking calls from listeners. (He identified the new format for me as "East Indian" and the language as Hindi in a conversation on Thursday afternoon.)

KYAA had created a buzz among local nostalgia radio fiends (population: me) by calling itself "KYA" and using several of the dearly departed 1260/KYA's Top 40-era jingles. In addition to Vossenova, the station used ABC's syndicated "Good Time Rock'N'Roll" via satellite for the bulk of its programming, including DJs Dave Michaels and Ron Foster.

June 12, 2005

Possible Return of 960 KABL?

John Higdon noted today in ba.broadcast that Air America may "turn off the money later this year," which might signal the end of AA on KQKE/960 in San Francisco.

960 KABL - America's Best MusicAt the same time, he noted that the current standards programming on KABL-FM (92.1) in Walnut Creek may end "on or about August 1" when that station comes under new ownership. Clear Channel is operating KABL-FM under an LMA with Chase Radio Properties, which has sold the station to Coast Broadcasting, owners of KKIQ and KUIC.

Clear Channel currently has the KABL call letters "parked" on 1460 AM in Salinas (simulcasting with the Walnut Creek FM).

June 09, 2005

Of Software and Slavegirl...

On Radio-Info.com's San Francisco board, "slavegirl" posted the following comment today:

A Silicon Valley CEO asked me tonight what I thought the biggest problems were inside any given radio station. (Besides the obvious fear so many of us have about losing our jobs, lack of marketing, stifled creativity or finding new developing talent)

While I understand her point, for some reason the entire discussion thread got me worked up, and I had to throw my twelve cents in. (I had an extra dime to spare).

This was my reply:

Aside from this thread belonging in a different category (something under Radio Pros, perhaps?), I think it's funny that you guys are talking about things that really don't have anything to do with radio.

RCS Selector SoftwareRadio isn't about how good your software is, regardless of whether you're using you're using the oldest or newest version. It's about the people -- the people you have working on the station, and the people you have listening to the station.

(I'm an outsider, by the way. I don't work in radio. But I'm you're scariest monster: a listener who truly cares.)

Radio stations over the past several years have forgotten that they need to develop talent. Radio personalities used to work their way up through the minor leagues, working in Sioux Falls and Omaha, then Portland or Fresno, and maybe Phoenix or Sacramento before moving up to San Francisco and Los Angeles. Now it sounds like stations will hire anyone who is willing to take whatever they're paying them.

I could name every disc jockey on every station in the Bay Area ten years ago, plus every sportscaster and nearly every newsperson, and I'm not exagerrating. I could probably name ten people working in Bay Area radio today.

Back in the "old days" -- the Eighties and Nineties -- the people on the air were going into radio because they loved radio. Nearly all of them were fans of somebody they loved to listen to on the radio, and that person inspired them to want to be in radio, too.

On the other hand, radio started getting more and more people in management -- as general managers, in particular -- whose background was not in radio. They were well-educated, sharp people, but they could have been working in any business -- a manufacturing company, an airline, an accounting firm -- because it was "managing" that they cared about, not radio.

As a result, we don't have a new generation of personalities like Dr. Don Rose, Frank Dill, Don Sherwood, Gene Nelson, Jim Lange, Carter B. Smith, Tom Donahue, Bobby Ocean, Dan Sorkin, Terry McGovern or Mike Cleary. (If you're sitting here saying "who?" go here and have a listen.) You're getting mostly bland sound-alikes, or people who are flavor-of-the-moment and won't be in the business five years from now.

I'm not an old fart. I listen to every station in the Bay Area. Yes, there are good people working in radio here. But the fact of the matter is that the people running the stations have no sense of programming, and no sense for show business (and that's what the real business of radio is).

I would listen to country music on the radio, if the person hosting the show was fun to listen to. I would listen to classical music, if the person hosting the show was interesting to listen to. I would listen to Lite Rock or Hot AC, Hip-Hop, Dance or Classic Rock -- if you made it harder for me to turn off my radio.

I don't want my radio to be an iPod. My iPod is my iPod, the same way my TV is my TV. I want my radio to be my radio. Find me some kid in Billings, Montana, who is working his a** off, trying to be a radio star. Find me the programming genius stuck in Lewiston, Idaho, who can't get out because all of the stations in the big city are programmed by a committee in New York. Find me the guy who used to "play radio" with a transmitter kit he bought at Radio Shack, doing a show for the neighborhood kids, who doesn't care if the software at your station is buggy or the studio air conditioning sucks -- all he wants to do is entertain.

When you make radio RADIO again, then you'll stop worrying why people are buying satellite receivers and iPods, and you'll start finding listeners who love their radios again.

(...A little help getting off the soap box, please?)


June 07, 2005

Pigs To Fly Over San Francisco

KPIG LogoFor a small AM station with a signal that almost microcasts to Marin County and San Francisco, KMZT (1510 AM) -- licensed to Piedmont, transmitting from the roof of an industrial building in Emeryville, and the direct descendant of San Rafael's KTIM -- has gotten itself a ton of press lately, including a large front-page article in Sunday's edition of the San Francisco Chronicle.

The reason: the station will soon become the local relay for cult-favorite KPIG (107.5 FM), broadcasting its porcine blend of roots music, hillbilly country and other musical miscellanea. KPIG, owned by Texas-based Mapleton Communications, operates out of the small town of Freedom (Santa Cruz County), population 6,000 and a mere stone's throw from Watsonville.

KMZT -- which will most likely have its call letters changed when it becomes KPIG's city cousin some time in July -- broadcasts with 8,000 watts of power during daytime hours with a tight directional pattern that shoots its signal from West Oakland toward the Golden Gate, with most of its signal wasted out in the Pacific Ocean. As a result, the station cannot be heard clearly in many parts of the Bay Area. (KMZT uses only 230 watts of power at night, rendering its signal even less viable outside of its San Francisco/Southern Marin target.)

Mapleton Communications, which owns 28 stations across the country, paid $5.1-million for KMZT, which had been owned by Saul Levine's Mt. Wilson FM Broadcasters. Levine had programmed classical music on the station via simulcast from co-owned K-Mozart (KMZT-FM/Los Angeles) until recently switching over to a jockless oldies format.

More articles about KMZT and KPIG:

East Bay Express
Good Times Weekly
San Jose Mercury
Billboard Radio Monitor