Tuesday, September 25, 2007

What the @#$&% is going on at KLSD?

It's been a month already since rumors started to surround the fate of San Diego's KLSD (1360AM) . Speculation has pointed at a format flip, most likely to sports.

The rumors were rather vague at first, but station staff and management ran with it. The station's website has been a virtual clearing house of information, pictures and video of rallies geared toward saving the station. KLSD even links to an outside petition to save the current progressive talk format. Morning host Stacy Taylor has also enjoyed considerable freedom in discussing the issue over the air.

A month later, the tension has only increased. Rumors started heating up more in the past week. Scott Tempesta, a.k.a. Scooter, the on-air sidekick for Taylor's morning show and host of his own weekend show, was dismissed from the station late last week. More speculation has also arisen claiming that the station will flip to sports after all, with dates such as October 1 and October 15 bandied about.

So, what the hell is going on in San Diego?

Program director Cliff Albert went on Taylor's show yesterday, answering questions from listeners and stating the company line in regard to happenings at the station. Albert claims no decision has been made, but a verdict will disclosed by the end of this week. He said he would not discuss why Tempesta was fired, due to confidentiality reasons. Albert also discussed the station's signal limitations, which is due to FCC and various other reasons. A substantial signal increase has been applied for and is in the works, but it needs approval from both the FCC and the Mexican government. In addition, real estate would need to be obtained to construct a new tower.

There was also discussion about ways of bringing in new revenue. Albert cited KKGN in San Francisco, which recently changed their on-air moniker to "Green 960" in what he claimed was a naming rights deal with a local company (likely the Green Building Exchange) as a way of boosting revenues. The underlying sentiment in the discussion is that KLSD management wants to bring in more money, which in itself is not necessarily a bad thing. Unfortunately, they don't appear to know how to do it, and I don't think a sports format will help matters.

My theory? The decision has likely already been made. Again, that's just my theory, so don't take it as gospel.

Let's be real here. A program director for a high-profile station in the 17th ranked market, a station owned by Clear Channel, is not indecisive. They know the ultimate fate of KLSD already. It all reeks of a big tease, or the cushioning of a rather big blow to a large group of listeners.

What that fate is, nobody outside of the glass and concrete bunker that houses the station knows what's going on. Some say it's going to be an all-out flip to sports. Some say it will be a talk/sports hybrid, keeping some of KLSD's shows and adding more sports. Albert is even teasing an alternative besides progressive talk or sports. And there's been talk about "keeping the progressive talk format alive in San Diego," which could mean a shallow gesture such as turning an HD Radio subchannel in to a feed of Air America or whatever. Too bad customers are having a hard time actually trying to buy an HD Radio and make it work. Who knows? Maybe they'll just turn the damned signal off.

But this is known. KLSD is profitable. Reportedly, they have made or exceeded their budgetary goals. Demographics for the format are very desirable, with a highly educated and prosperous listener base. Granted, many advertisers shy away from political talk, due to fear of blowback from customers who may object to a particular station's stance. Yes, this does happen with conservative talk as well. Advertisers are often scared of polarizing formats, and many right-wing business owners won't advertise on progressive talk, due to their shallow lines of reasoning.

So, the next time I write about this, will KLSD be kaput, or will it get a new lease on life? I'm sure somebody knows already. Unfortunately, all I know is that somebody indeed knows something.


kaykatz said...

Just what San Diego needs, another sports talk radio station. Yeah, I'll listen to note the advertisers and make it a point to let them know I won't patronize their stores/products.

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