Friday, November 16, 2007

Christine Craft rumored to be buying Santa Cruz station

Now here's an interesting rumor worth keeping an eye on.

KSCO (1080AM) in Santa Cruz, which has been on the selling block for a few months, could possibly wind up in the hands of talk radio personality Christine Craft. Yes, that Christine Craft.

Station owner Michael Zwerling, who has owned the station with his mother since 1991, discussed the idea with listeners last Saturday on his two-hour talk show, with Craft as a studio guest. Many of the show's callers liked the idea.

But will it happen? As documented here many times before, the oft-colorful and never dull Zwerlings live for spectacle, and their antics in the past have been widely reported in the media. One would think this is just another publicity stunt. And Craft herself was quoted by a San Jose columnist as saying she doesn’t have the money to buy a radio station, particularly one like the widely-known KSCO.

Craft is a former resident of the area, and currently has her options open since leaving KSAC in Sacramento a few months ago when her contract wasn't renewed and she was told to seek sponsors for her afternoon show in order to keep it.

She is probably best known for suing Metromedia-owned TV station KMBC in Kansas City, after being fired from her from her news anchor job in 1983 because she was "too old, too unattractive and wouldn’t defer to men." Since then, she wrote a book about the experience and went on to do radio, including KGO in San Francisco and KSAC.

KSCO has long had a reputation as a bizarre right-wing radio outlet, suiting the views of the Zwerlings, through off-the-wall commentaries, grandstanding antics, off-the-wall drama and some rather disturbing occurrences. They were picketed by striking station employees for not paying them. They dropped liberal talker Peter Werbe for saying bad things about George W. Bush. They had an anthrax scare. And one former employee died under strange circumstances, though that is likely not related whatsoever to KSCO. They did commit one unfathomable crime against humanity by foisting the Radio Tranquilizer on the masses. Yeah, this is the station where Baloney got his start. For the most part, the station's on-air lineup consists of Rush Limbaugh, a few brokered local talk shows and lots and lots of infomercials. Still, I have to admit I kinda like the Zwerlings. In a world of homogenized Clear Channels, the industry needs a few eccentric characters.

In addition, the Zwerlings also own sister station KOMY, which was an Air America Radio affiliate until they flipped to oldies earlier this year after a ridiculously long drawn-out drama.

So, what would a Craft-owned radio station sound like? Craft said her opinions are more varied than strictly liberal, and said she’d keep the station’s content focused on locally based talk. Don't look for a dedicated liberal talk format here, particularly with rival KRXA already handling that department. The programming would likely run the gamut politically.

Zwerling seems to be more interested in selling to the right person than in getting top dollar. “This radio station,” he told his listeners, “will go for a lot less than houses go for in Santa Cruz.”

Both she and Zwerling repeatedly said the acquisition was “a possibility, not a done deal,” though a proposed contract reportedly does exist.

There has been no further comment from either party.


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