August 31, 2005

Report: Infinity To Flip 106.9 To Talk

The Sacramento Bee has reported that Ken Kohl -- who resigned as operations manager of Clear Channel's KFBK Talk 106.9and KSTE in Sacramento on Monday (August 29) -- is headed to the Bay Area to set up Infinity's new FM talk station, which will debut on 106.9 FM some time in October.

Infinity has purchased the 106.9 signal from Family Stations as part of the deal which sent KFRC/610 to Family in April. The deal helped Infinity satisfy an FCC requirement that would allow the company to acquire KOVR-TV in Sacramento.

According to the Bee, Kohl "will be program director of an Infinity-owned former Bay Area religious educational station, KEAR (106.9 FM), which is expected to turn into a talk station aimed at a younger demographic once details are worked out."

One of those details is that Infinity will not take full possession of the 106.9 facility until the Oakland Athletics' season officially ends, as the result of an arrangement with Family Stations which keeps the A's broadcasts on 610 AM until the team's season is over.

With the A's now in the thick of a run for the playoffs, their season could extend through the month of October.

"I leave with mixed emotions," Kohl told the Bee. "KFBK involved everything I went into radio for, but I do feel my work is done here. I'm excited about this new challenge in San Francisco."

Kohl's contract with Clear Channel -- which also saw him serving as program director of the company's talk combo KNEW and KQKE in San Francisco -- was set to expire shortly. There has been speculation that he is also in line to oversee operations at Infinity's all-news KCBS/740, which could provide the "synergy" between the news station and talk station that media consultants stress so often.

August 30, 2005

Radio Dots & Dashes (August 30 Edition)

Dana Jang, familiar to radioheads for his work in the Southbay at KSJO and KOME Jim Taylor(in addition to being one of the founders of Cupertino's KKUP), is returning to San Jose after seven years in Chicago to program KBAY/94.5 and Mix 106.5 (KEZR). Jang had been working for KBAY and KEZR's new owners, NextMedia, as director of programming and operations for its group of stations in the Chicago suburbs...

Jim Taylor (photo, right), KCBS' talented Santa Clara County bureau chief and co-anchor of the station's 5-6 a.m. newscast, has taken a one-year leave of absence to work and study in New York ... Salem Communications has applied to the FCC for permission to boost KNTS/1220's Class D 5,000 watt daytime power and puny 145 watts of nighttime power to a hefty 50,000 watts fulltime, joining KNBR, KCBS, KGO and sister station KFAX/1100 as the Bay Area's highest-powered AM stations...

August 15, 2005

KABL Returning On The Air, Everywhere?

The following was buried deep in a Contra Costa Times article on Sunday about KABL's "largely AARP-aged audience" — their quote, not mine — lamenting the loss of the station:

KABL has disappeared previously from the airwaves, only to resurface in a different location on the dial, and [former KABL program director Clark Reid] says the station is poised yet again to pull a similar phoenix act.

Details are still being worked out, and Reid declined to go into specifics until everything is official, but he said it looks like the KABL format will be broadcast for part of the day on a Bay Area-wide station, starting soon. The music will be back, but the DJs won't -- except (Jim) Lange, who will be earning money for his green fees by recording some of the "liners" played during breaks between songs.

In the meantime, the Internet savvy can still get the music at The station is also making a foray into Web radio, gadgets that plug directly into the phone or DSL line, and will allow listeners to get KABL without a computer.

The devices are now used mostly to broadcast online church services to shut-ins and aren't available yet in stores, Reid said. But the station is negotiating with a Netherlands-based company to buy them in bulk and sell them to KABL listeners. They deliberately went for a simple, easy-to-use device to appeal to the tech-leery older generation, he said.
Radio Dots & Dashes — Alas, but KGO's Ronn Owens won't be among those inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame this year. Owens was nominated along with Scott Shannon, Ron Chapman and Marty Brennaman in the "Local or Regional - Active" category. Brennaman, the play-by-play voice of the Cincinnati Reds, received the honor, along with Abbott & Costello, Ann Compton, Myron Cope and Jean Shepherd. The induction ceremony will take place on November 5 at the Renaissance Chicago Hotel. Owens is undoubtedly a mortal lock to make the Bay Area Radio Hall of Fame, however...

The Radio Business Report notes in today's edition that Sirius CEO Mel Karmazin may be looking to peddle an edited version of the Howard Stern's daily program to terrestrial stations after King Of All Media moves to satellite. The so-called "Stern Lite" show, which would have most of the good parts surgically removed, might be offered as part of a Karmazin effort to acquire a group of land-based radio stations, or offered directly to individual stations in major markets.

Baseball Hall of Famer Bob Feller, 86, an Indiana farmboy who passed up getting an education in favor of turning pro at age 17, got himself into a Kruegeresque mess last week by claiming "a lot of these players coming from the Caribbean, they don't even know the rules" during a live interview on KFNS/Cleveland.

When asked to clarify his views, Feller — who is noted in a recent Sports Illustrated profile as being a devoted fan of radio comedian Rush Limbaugh — became agitated, telling interviewer Mike Claiborne, "Let me tell you something, if you don't be quiet I'm going to cut this off."

Claiborne responded, "You can cut it off right now, as far as I'm concerned, you racist," at which point Feller hung up.

Attempting to prove that he is not a racist, Feller used the offensive term "boy" in a follow-up newspaper interview, in which he also tried to soften the context of his original remarks.

"I said some of the boys from the Caribbean area don't know the rules quite so well," said Feller. "He said, 'What do you mean?' I said, 'Well, they don't know the ground rules and they don't know some of the fundamentals, but they're learning them.' He kept harping about 'What rules don't they know?' And I said, 'The entire rule book is something that they just don't know, that they should know.'"

August 10, 2005

Krueger, PD Agnew, Producer Out In "Brain Dead" Flap

In the wake of Larry Krueger's "brain-dead Caribbean hitters" remark — compounded by the airing of "inappropriate comedy sound bytes" on KNBR's morning show on Tuesday — station general manger Tony Salvadore has fired Krueger, longtime program director Bob Agnew and morning show producer Tony Rhein.

Krueger, who had been suspended by Salvadore after remarks he made on August 3 were brought to Giants manager Felipe Alou's attention on August 5, was reportedly not involved directly in the latest incident, which included an edited "bit" that combined audio clips from "South Park" and "Saturday Night Live" with an excerpt of Alou from an ESPN interview declaring Krueger to be the "messenger of Satan."

Krueger, who had excoriated the entire Giants organization for their woeful performance this season, apologized for what he said and was suspended for a week by Salvadore, who claimed originally that Krueger would not be fired. Krueger was expected back on the nightly "Sportsphone 680" program this Monday (August 15) before Salvadore's sudden change of heart.

KNBR, which is a minority owner of the Giants, is currently up for sale by its owner, Susquehanna Radio of York, Penn.

UPDATE: The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Lee Hammer will replace Agnew as interim program director at KNBR. Hammer is the engineer on Giants broadcasts on KNBR, as well as being both program director at conjoined twin KTCT ("KNBR 1050") and assistant PD under Agnew at KNBR. Patrick Conner, who had been assistant producer for KNBR's morning show, has been given the job of replacing Tony Rhein.

An official KNBR press release regarding the firings has been removed from the station's website.

August 06, 2005

Krueger Rant Lands KNBR Host In Hot Water

WARNING! Much of the following has very little to do with radio. Read on at your own peril.

I've never been a huge fan of KNBR's Larry Krueger, and it all goes back to his use of the "V" word.


Larry KruegerKrueger used to drive me bats by pronouncing "versus" as "vurz," as in "Today it'll be the Giants vurz the Dodgers, and later this evening it'll be Kansas City vurz the A's."

It drove me nuts, so I eventually began tuning him out. On Wednesday evening, however, as my wife and I drove back across the Bay Bridge after watching another lackluster, listless, frustrating performance by the Giants, I kept the radio on KNBR as Krueger (photo, right) began his Sportsphone 680 program with the promise of a rant.

What kept me tuned in was that he mentioned, among other things, he'd be discussing a subject that has been a particular pet peeve of mine for several seasons. As it turns out, that subject became Topic B.

Topic A during his rant about the struggling Giants became Krueger's use of the "C" word:


Quoting Krueger, "I just cannot watch this brand of baseball any longer. A truly awful, pathetic, old team that only promises to be worse two years from now. It's just awful. It really is bad to watch. Brain-dead Caribbean hitters hacking at slop nightly."

I heard him say it, and I immediately questioned why he had to drop the "C" word in there. It was absolutely uncalled for.

All of the Giants hitters are brain dead, and they hack at slop regardless of whether it's a day game or a night game. The Giants are an awful, undisciplined, underachieving team that fails to do the small but important fundamental things right on a regular basis. And that's the fault of the manager, Felipe Alou.

I am a huge Giants fan, and I've been a fan of Felipe Alou since I was a kid. He has proven one thing this season: without Barry Bonds bailing the team out with his big bat night after night, Alou — a genuinely good man — has suddenly become a bad manager this year, and the Giants are a bad team as a result.

After learning about Krueger's remarks on Friday afternoon — that's right, it took two days for this controversy to trickle up the food chain — Alou responded by calling a meeting of the team's "seven Latin players in uniform," according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

"I'm going to make sure that it is known worldwide," the Chronicle quoted Alou, who was born in the Dominican Republic and began his baseball career with the Giants in 1958. "I had zero means when I was a 20-year-old kid in Louisiana, but I'm 70 now. I have the means now to identify people like that. They're going to know in my country tonight. (Even) the president of my country."

Of the six Latin American players I counted on the Giants' active roster, each can claim "Caribbean" ancestry; Moises Alou (Felipe's son, born in Atlanta, Ga.), Pedro Feliz and Deivi Cruz (both of whom were born in the Dominican Republic) can claim direct links. Yamid Haad (Colombia), Omar Vizquel and Edgardo Alfonzo (both from Venezuela) are from South American countries that border the Caribbean. (I'm not certain who the seventh player is.)

"I never heard of anything like that here," Alou continued. "I heard them in the South and some other cities, but not here. It tells me that a man like me and the Latin guys have to be aware it's not over yet, or it is coming back."

No word whether Alou planned on calling a meeting of the team's "awful, pathetic, old" players, who may not have received word yet of Krueger's attack on them.

KNBR has suspended Krueger until August 15, according to a press release on the station's website. "It was not my intention to offend or demean any group or individual with the Giants. I am sorry to those I may have offended and rest assured, there was no malice intended," the release quotes Krueger as saying.

The length of Krueger's suspension is one day more than the penalty Major League Baseball imposed upon Cuban-born Rafael Palmeiro, who violated baseball's steroid policy.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot to mention the main reason why I continued to listen to Krueger on Wednesday night: he later launched into a diatribe about the predilection of the Giants' TV broadcasts to focus on little boys as they eat ice cream cones and hot dogs throughout the game. It's almost as if the ballgame gets in the way of the director making sure that viewers don't miss every moment of some kid eating something somewhere in the stands.

And it goes on all game long. You may not get to see that the infield is swung around to the right, or that the outfield is playing in, but you sure get to see little Bobby in Section 136 eating every last bite of that ice cream cone.

"That's it, Camera 1! Get me a tight shot of Bobby! That's it, kid, eat that cone," I can imagine the director saying. "Wait, here's a pitch. Okay, Camera 2, get me a two-shot of Bobby and his dad. There it is! Okay, hang on. There's another pitch. Back to Bobby — take the close-up! Camera 3, a kid in Section 225 just got a hot dog. Get over there, quick!"

At least, that's the way the voices in my head make it sound...

· Was Larry Krueger's punishment too light? Express your opinion...

August 03, 2005

The More Things Change...

This morning, All Access ran one of those cryptic one-liners that I love so much:

Does an FM station in SAN FRANCISCO have its hand on the format wheel? Is it about to land on Talk?
Let the speculation begin. All Access is noted for having a decent ear to the ground when it comes to stuff like this. Somebody somewhere dropped this tasty tidbit and everyone will run with it, guessing what station will make the change, and when, and with who on the air. I love it.

And the timing couldn't be weirder.

Many years ago, I published an online rag called the Bay Area Radio Digest (which, for several years, was also a print magazine), which I've been working at reviving with this sad excuse for a blog and a few other minor projects. I was flipping through some old saved HTML pages today when I came across this article from the online edition, written by Bill Mann on September 17, 1999.

I think it makes an interesting period piece, and an excellent rear-view mirror on how the more things seem to change, the more it's just the same stuff in a different wrapper...

Mann About San Francisco
Bay Area Radio News, Notes, and Opinions
By Bill Mann

More Talk, Less Class. For years, I’ve asked in print why we don’t have more radio talk stations in the Bay Area to compete with colossus KGO. A year ago, it looked like doomed country station KNEW (at 910 AM) might go talk, but it ended up, alas, simulcasting the hack piano and vocal noodlings of ’70s relic and hairplug boy Elton John with K-101.

Sure, there was KSFO — liberals here quickly and somewhat unfairly nicknamed it "Sieg Heil on Your Dial" and "Reichstag Radio" — but it’s KGO’s Disney sister station, for crissakes, and it was aimed primarily at the Billary haters. It isn’t true competition for KGO. And KPIX AM-FM died soon after the O.J. Simpson trial ended.

Well, this week the Bay Area got another talker, at 1550 AM. After tuning in the CBS-owned, now-branded "Yadda Yadda Radio" several times this week, I kept thinking of that old movie line: "Oh, what fresh hell is this?"

I don’t know what sucks worse, 1550’s signal and dial position or its programming, all of it Westwood One stuff that hadn’t been cleared here (for good reason).

The station, former Y93’s country simulcaster, looks suspiciously like it’s keeping the format warm for the day coming soon when the FM at 93.3 drops hillbilly music (God, I miss that term) and needs a format post haste. (By the way, I was informed this week that New York City is already blessedly country-free, so we’ll be the second, not the first, market to have that badge of honor if Y93 moseys.)

"Yadda" is, however, running a funny promo: "The nation’s best talk hosts on the station with the world’s worst ratings."

Well, it’s half right.

Mr. Dissipation, Don Imus, who’d already been on the AM — the rest of the day, the two stations had simulcast yee-haw music — stays at the "new" Yadda Yadda, mostly because he gets miniscule ratings and poses absolutely no threat, ratings or otherwise, to CBS/Infinity’s cash cow Howard Stern over on Live 105.

After Imus, we now get the return of crackpot, convicted felon, and NRA shill G. Gordon Liddy, who got no ratings here when he briefly surfaced on KPIX four years ago. He’s now heard on 1550 advertising a product called "Clean-Up," which is "great news for gun owners. It’s a new, cleaner lubricant."

I’m guessing Liddy doesn’t just use the stuff on his firearms, if you catch my drift. (When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will be able to kill and maim innocent members of their immediate families, Gordo.)

What now follows at 3 p.m. is one of the more disgraceful offerings heard on local radio lately, and that’s no small feat. We want to pause now to thank local Infinity programming boss Will Schutte, the man who gave us KFRC’s unlistenable morning duo Wan and Hammy, for dredging up the old, not-at-all improved Tom Leykis, whose disgraceful show these days is a different than the old (also low-rated) political show he used to do when he aired here on KPIX and on Santa Rosa’s KSRO. (Schutte, not surprisingly, didn’t return my three phone calls about Leykis’ infantile antics and show.)

As KGO boss Jack Swanson put it earlier this week, what works on FM talk doesn’t always sound good on AM. Swanson is unconcerned about 1550, and he has every reason not to be. But Leykis’ mess would sound just as childish on FM, even if more at home these days of bodily function radio.
· Discuss today's topic...

August 01, 2005

Little Steven Gets It. Why Doesn't Anyone Else?

NOTE: This article includes language of an adult nature. Parents, you've been warned.

Little Steven
There was a ton of buzz recently in the radio industry about Little Steven Van Zandt's speech at the Radio & Records convention. Rather than excerpting it or analyzing it, I'll just present it here for you to read and form your own opinion.

I don't know who transcribed the speech, but you'll note some obvious errors — most notably at the very beginning, where he is quoted as saying "WHEN DID THE FUCKING (BLEEP) TAKE OVER?" You'll have to excuse me for wondering how bad the word that was bleeped out was, when it was okay to include the F-word.

(UPDATE: I have just been informed that the offending word was "pussies.")

Here we go...


Date: Thursday, July 23, 2005
Place: Renaissance Hotel, Cleveland, Ohio
Audience: 250 Program Directors

"Little Steven" is E Street Band guy Steven Van Zandt, aka "Silvio" on the Sopranos. Little Steven's two-hour Underground Garage is heard Sunday nights at KLOS and other stations around the United States.

Little Steven: (paces with the hand held mic for a minute, and then...) I love Radio! (applause once again erupts) And I feel nothing but love in this room because as I look around, I see only two kinds of people. Our beloved affiliates ... and future affiliates. (laughter) So now matter what happens in this next half hour, remember what I just said. It's just family talking.

And without any further disclaimers let me ask the only important question that is on my mind, and I'm sure you've been thinking about it also, especially lately. (pause)


(applause and laughter)

When? Don't you look forward to the day when your grandson is on your knee and he looks up and says, "Grampa weren't you in radio once?" "Yes, Grandson," you'll reply. "Could I ask you something," he'll say. "Of course, my love, anything," you'll say. "Grampa where were you WHEN THE FUCKING (BLEEP) TOOK OVER?" (more laughter)

Where were we? What happened? Things are out of line and we're not leaving here today until we straighten it out.

(applause and laughter)

Now I was going to wait for this but we might as well get right to it since it is all everybody's talking about. I have come to praise JACK not to bury him. (laughter - uncertain applause) The guys at Infinity are friends of ours, as is everybody else, we got nothing but friends. You all know that.

And I've gotta say I'm proud of these guys for having the balls to shake things up. Things needed shaking up. And history will remember them in a very positive way when looking back at this world changing moment. Having said that . . . Replacing 33 year old New York oldies institution CBS-FM with JACK is like replacing the Statue of Liberty with a blow-up doll.

(eruptions of laughter and applause)

But again, change is good. And necessary. With a little bit of luck JACK will last 10 or 12 months because it is obvious people want something different, they are hungry for something, anything. So it could be 6 months before anybody actually listens to JACK. Once they do it is doomed for 3 obvious reasons. At the moment it is replacing oldies formats but it is not an oldies format in the true sense of the word. It's mostly 80's, some 70's, some 90's.

Now it must be said that the oldies format is vulnerable because over the last 5-10 years it has, in a word, sucked. It has sucked for a very simple reason, somebody had the brilliant idea to eliminate the 50's and replace it with the 70's. This was done by somebody uniquely stupid and deaf and ignorant and a bad businessman on top of it all. So naturally, everybody copied it and the 50's disappeared virtually overnight.

Now let's digress and examine this oldies thing for a minute. Assuming you accept the fact that those overseeing the oldies format these last 5 years - 10 years - are, in fact, stupid, deaf, ignorant, and bad businessmen, let's deal with it. As far as stupid, deaf, and ignorant, when it comes to decades that matter, that matter historically, in terms of influence, importance, and never-to-be-heard-again-quality - that is the 50's and 60's. Everything we do, everything we are comes from those two decades.

You're gonna throw one away? You're gonna replace Elvis, Little Richard, Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran, Johnny Burnette, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Buddy Holly, Lloyd Price, and Fats Domino with, all due respect, Donna Summer and the Bee Gees? You're gonna replace primal, vital, timeless, forever cool rock and roll pioneers with disco? Disco?

You wanna know what disco is good for? Disco is for when you're drunk at a wedding with your old lady and you want to act like an idiot and be John Travolta for an hour or two. That's where it belongs. Not on radio.

And to the issue of oldies being bad business - all you hear - I'm assuming from sales people - is we must lower our demo's.The oldies demographic are getting too old - that's the rationale for replacing the 50's with the 70's.

Now if all there was to sell in the world were Fruit Loops, Play Stations,and sneakers - they might have a point. But I got a little secret to share. You know that age group - 35 to 65 - that nobody in sales seems to care about?

(laughter, applause)

I mean ALL the fucking money. 35 to 65.

Memo to sales team - SELL THEM SOMETHING!

And, by the way, if you want younger people listening, you can get that done. And I mean kids, if you want them.

Who is cooler? Early Elvis or Elton John?

What appeals more to kids, Gene Vincent's black leather attitude, Eddie Cochran's teenage frustration, Little Richard's cry of liberation, and Dion's total Soprano's coolness - or the Eagles?

You want wild? Put together the Sex Pistols, Audioslave, and the Wu-Tang Clan - they aren't as wild as Jerry Lee Lewis in his prime.

But you have to explain that. Show it, illustrate, educate, sell it.

Alright - digression over - so JACK isn't oldies so it must be some kind of classic rock/pop hybrid. But JACK doesn't address the two biggest problems of classic rock. 15 years ago I said we're chasing all the personality out of rock radio and into talk and sports. And the ratings went with it.

We need more personality, not less, and JACK has none. No DJ's means no personal relationship with the audience. Eventual apathy is inevitable.

The other big issue classic rock must consider is it must start playing new music again.

I've suggested it to my own affiliates and I'll keep saying it every change I get. We've got a big problem. Look around. Pearl Jam does some business. Dave Matthews - if he's rock at all - does well. Maybe Oasis breaks this year in the U.S. Maybe Coldplay - if they're considered rock.

But in a real sense, the last big band through the door was U2. That's 25 years ago.
Has anybody stopped to consider that? Basically when our generation stops touring, it's over. That's one reason why we started the Underground Garage format. New Hard Rock, Hip Hop, and Pop can be heard in various places, new Rock and Roll had nowhere to go.

We have played more new bands in 3 years than anybody since the 60's. We average 30 new bands a year. That's how many are out there. And we are very picky out of respect to our classic rock affiliates, we know we need to keep the quality level high and we do.

But we can't sell records with 2 hours a week.

Someday somebody will have the balls to put the Underground Garage format on 24-7 on broadcast radio but until then, we only have 2 hours a week. We need your help.

Rock and Roll is not just that museum down the street. It's a living, breathing animal that needs to be fed. With new blood. And I'm not saying you need to do as much as we do, we're about 40% new and the rest from the entire 50 years of history. And by the way, everybody told us you can't combine old with new but of course you can. As long as you're making your decisions based on musical experience, good taste, and an effective, coherent emotional communication. As opposed to your Ipod on shuffle.

(laughter, applause)

When you properly combine old and new the old records give the new ones a sense of depth, of belonging to an eternal continuum, carrying the flag forward. The new records give the old ones relevance, keeps them vital, connected to the next generation.

And all testing and computer analysis and surveys don't tell you that.
It's all bullshit. When are we going to learn that? (applause)

All that (BLEEP) tells you is what people think they want right now. Well that's not the way great radio happens, or great anything. You don't do a survey before you write a song, or make a record. We are drowning in an ocean of mediocrity because sometimes you gotta have enough historical perspective, and vision, and balls to say we have to combine short term want with long term need.

And yeah you gotta sell it.

If you're playing cool stuff make sure the audience hears it right - in the right context. That is everything.

If to a punky consciousness the Ramones are sugar and the Ronettes are broccoli you play the Ramones into the Ronettes and, because Joey learned to sing from Ronnie and you can hear it, the Ramones become hollandaise and it works.

(laughter, applause)

There is an art to this (BLEEP). You know that. It's the corporate bosses that forget that fact. But it's not just music - we have this problem plaguing every aspect of our culture.

Yes content needs work, yes marketing needs work, but it is the sales teams that need to be re-educated and motivated and inspired and creative. And it's not happening because they are being led by business oversight guys. Content guys should be running companies, marketing guys should be running companies, who put business oversight guys in charge?


Wall Street that's who.

Wall Street continues to love and reward and worship short term success for some reason. As the culture and the economy and all our fathers' and grandfathers' and hundreds of years of hard work get trashed in a generation or two. The tail is wagging the dog.

Wall Street should not be calling the shots.

When did Wall Street ever write a song? Paint a picture? Make a movie? Play a song on the radio that changed somebody's life?


Where are the music people?

I see lawyers, accountants, test marketers running the world. Where is the emotional connection? Where is the passion? This ain't about JACK or BOB or Moe or Larry or Curly. It's about you. Everybody in this room. You are here because you are connected emotionally.

This ain't Harvard Business School. It's fucking Rock and Roll!


These Wall Street cats couldn't have gotten us here. They react - they don't create.
They didn't build this industry.

We did it.

And you're not here because it was a smart business decision. I know what you make. (laughter)

You're here because you loved it once. And we've got to find a way to love it again. And communicate that love to our audience. I am determined - together we will find a way. The Revolution is on.

Thank you.
(standing ovation - thunderous applause)