My radio adventures in Sacramento….
The one problem that KHITS 92.1 had was its signal. Tiny in comparison to our competition in the Sacramento area. When an opportunity came up to switch frequencies and increase our power the stations owners jumped on it. In 2013 KHITS became 101.5 FM and the results have been stunning. Our audience is growing every day and our promotions have been very successful. Clients are impressed with the stations delivery and Big Jim and I are still working together. Life is great, and I’m having a blast.
Once gone from the Fish, I concentrated on my advertising agency and building our client list. Sometime in 2007, Big Jim Hall called and told me that a new station was being created in Sacramento and it’s format would be oldies. They wanted to meet with us. Naturally we both went and by the end of lunch, we were back on the air. KHITS 92.1, was privately owned by Results Radio and the change from big corporation radio to this small (14 stations) family owned business was a delight. I was having fun on the air again doing mornings.
Short but sweet. Working weekends only, in September I was asked to join the already established morning show along with Kim Kaplan and Mark Standriff. The chemistry was great. However, management changed and with it, budgets for the radio station. Due to costs, the morning show became a one man show with Mark expertly steering the ship.
A great staff including Big Jim Hall from my early days with KRAK, Derek Murray, Captain Bob, and Rick Shannon who happens to be one of the best production men in the city. Playing great Oldies, I was delighted to be offered the morning show which I began in October 2001 working solo with Derek Murray as my producer / board operator. Within six months, we hired Jacqui Freemann to join the morning show. Our program, did well from the beginning. In May, 2003 the management restructured the morning show and replaced us with a new team. . I will miss the great folks at the station .
This was the swan song station for the KRAK franchise. After 93.7 FM had been switched to KXOA, I was asked to stay on KRAK which was once again on the AM signal as it’s morning man, by the General Manager Doug Harvill as a personal favor. How could I refuse? I did mornings for about a year until CBS radio decided to air the Don Imus show on the station due to prior contractual obligations. Imus had been on KXOA 1470 and no longer had a home in Sacramento. Due to his contract, CBS was required to continue airing his show. Once again, the GM asked me to stay and do an afternoon show on KRAK 1470 AM. I had never done afternoons in Sacramento and had to think about it. When I decided to do it, it was a great decision. I could get up at a reasonable hour. Come home by six thirty PM and go to bed around eleven at night. It was a normal life. I continued in that time slot until things came to an end in October of 2000. I was away in Branson Missouri hosting a tour with about fifty KRAK listeners. When I returned I learned the station had been sold to the Disney Corporation. The KRAK franchise was finally over for good. It would be a year before I would land another radio job. In the interim, I would start my own advertising agency.
After the F.C.C. decision became final, we began broadcasting our Gold Country show on 93.7 FM. This station had far less power than 98.5 did, and as it turned out, we would lose a great deal of audience due to the mere fact that those people just couldn’t hear us the way they used to on 98.5 FM. Another unfortunate result of moving to 93.7 FM is we lost a great deal of audience because they just couldn’t find us. Even though we aired hundreds of promos on 98.5 before we moved, people were still confused. Many never heard them. When we switched, and they heard Rock Music on 98.5, they just assumed we were gone for good. Management, decided to take their little AM property KXOA, on 1470 and make another switch. We were moving again. This time, KXOA would come to 93.7 and we would trade and move to KXOA. It got so crazy explaining all the moving to our listeners that I just kept playing Willie Nelson’s “On The Road Again”.
As soon as my stint with COOL 101.1 was over, Doug Harvil began talking to me about coming back to KRAK. I was amazed. So I began once again with the KRAK franchise just two years after my departure. On 98.5, we had a great signal and lots of money in our promotions bank to advertise the station. The studios were located in a brand new building on Madison Avenue and were all state of the art. I was excited to get back and everything looked rosey until the Government stepped in. The F.C.C. decided that Infinity had to many class A radio stations in Sacramento with great signals like 98.5 and could in effect be creating a monopoly of prospective listeners. One of them would have to be exchanged with a smaller station in Sacramento, not owned by Infinity. After a great deal of thought, management decided it would be KRAK 98.5 that they would exchange. So, I was on the move again. Not physically, but it might has well have been. Moving to 93.7 FM would prove very confusing to our listeners. Many just didn’t know what happened to us or where to find us on the radio dial.
Two weeks after I left KRAK FM, I started with COOL 101.1. It was my first Oldies station and I was delighted. The music was what I grew up listening to. My partner was Laurie West and she and my producer “Chewy” would do some wild and crazy radio during the time I worked mornings with them. The General Manager Rick Etcheyson had offered me the job once I was done with KRAK. After a little vacation in Hawaii with my wife to try and get over the demise of KRAK, I started doing the morning show at COOL. I worked there for two years and once the GM, Rick who hired me left, It was not too much long after that I also left COOL. By the time I got home, the phone was already ringing. To my surprise, It was KRAK FM. They wanted to discuss my coming back. Radio never fails to surprise me!
Once KRAK AM had ended it’s dynasty in Country Music and was converted into a Sports – Talk station by the General Manager, it was decided that we still needed to protect KNCI FM as a country format. Management felt that as long as there were two country stations in town, no one else would go country on the radio. Since we owned both KNCI and KRAK FM, we could share the revenue equally. I was asked to host the morning show on the new KRAK 98.5 FM with a female co-host Vanessa Thomas. Although since 1975 I had always worked alone, the current wisdom at the time was that my program would never translate onto the FM dial without a young hipper partner and a modernized style and delivery. Vanessa had never done morning radio nor worked with me before. She was a Canadian with no experience in Country music or the Sacramento lifestyle. Nevertheless, we went on the air together. She gave it her all and we became great friends. However, the show just never jelled. We had adequate ratings, but the chemistry just was not there. After two years, the show was cancelled. The audience reaction was even a surprise to me. People lined the parking lot outside with picket signs and shouted protests. Several local TV stations showed up and taped the whole thing. That night it was all over the news. Those wonderful people who braved the rain and early hours to support me brought tears to my eyes. After the show, my wife and I left for Hawaii and a much needed vacation. I felt as if someone in my family had died. As it turned out, after all those years working as KRAK’s morning man, I guess the station and I were family.
This is where it all began for me on Sacramento radio. I had moved with my family in November of 1975 from a station in southern California near Los Angeles. It was KPRO, and I did a show there along with being the program director. Owned by the late Dick Clark, I really enjoyed the Top Forty music we played, however having my wife’s family living in Lincoln and no family in LA, we decided to move here. Although I had been promised a job with KROY radio as their new morning man, when we got here they told me they had changed their mind and decided to go with a team. So, I went to work for a tiny station in Roseville called KPOP. After two months there, the program director of KRAK called and asked me out to dinner. We connected and I started doing the all night show on December 15, 1975. Two months later he called again and said that the morning show was available since it’s host was moving to Seattle. I jumped at the chance and never looked back. It was an amazing nineteen year run. A record breaker for Northern California morning radio, and I had a ball. We had a tremendous amount of listeners back then and the show was a hit. Every time I was offered another job like New York or San Diego, KRAK would make a counter offer and I would stay. It seemed like it would never end, but everything does. Sadly, AM music radio’s popularity would wane and FM would become the dominate frequency. I saw the writing on the wall, and made the jump to FM before it was too late. Leaving KRAK 1140 AM was the hardest thing I ever did in the business.