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Radio Digest San Diego archives

Radio Digest San Diego column 5/18/99


May 18, 1999

Play Ball! … but not here —That hot rumor about the Padres jumping stations is no longer half baked … it’s out of the oven and on the cooling rack. After 22 years at Midwest Television’s KFMB AM 760, the team is switching … not to XTRA Sports 690, but to fellow Jacor talk station, KOGO AM 600. KOGO is the station the Padres were origionally on from their inception in ’68 until ’77. Beginning with the 2000 season, that’s where they’ll be again … on the second best nighttime signal in San Diego … XTRA being the best. Times have changed a bit. In the early 70’s, the old Birch ratings used to show KOGO jumping from its usual 6 or 8 share up to 20 or more during baseball season. Lately, even with a World Series appearanace, KFMB has been lucky to see the Padres make a 2 share difference … and that was last year. This year’s performance can be summed up in the words of KGB FM 101.5’s Cookie “Chainsaw” Randolph last week. “The Padres took yesterday off. Unfortunately, they had a game that day.” That, following an 11-1 embarrassment by Philadelphia.

Steady Teddy … let Rick and Roger duke it out — You gotta wonder how long time Padre broadcaster / KFMB TV sportscaster / KFMB AM talk show host Ted Leitner is going to fit into this new scenario. Of even more immediate interest is what’s going to happen with current KOGO afternoon host Roger Hedgecock and evening host Rick Roberts. There is no love lost between these two … which has become abundantly evident following CBS 48 Hours’ airing of a story about the Stepahnie Crowe murder case in Escondido. Rick was featured in the piece siding with the Crowe family and their son, who’s accused of the crime. Roger is firmly on the side of prosecutors and highly critical of the Crowe family for disrespecting Stepahnie’s memory by inviting friends over to watch 48 Hours … and they’re both conservatives! When the Padres arrive next year, these two are going to have a lot less to fight about, with at lease one of them getting pre-empted almost every day. (I swear I’m going to tell you my Roger Hedgecock story one of these days.)

Radio station du jour — Humphrey’s on Shelter Island is two days away from kicking off its 18th summer concert season. A natural for light jazz and once again this year heavy on the genre, this venue has is an equal opportunity promotion for sponsoring stations. With over 50 shows already booked starting with Howie Mandell this Thursday and including Al Jarreau, the Doobie Brothers, Vince Gill, Donna Summer, Tom Jones, Rick Springfield, Spyro Gyra, Chicago, Cowboy Junkies, Ray Charles, Bill Cosby, and the B-52’s among them, expect heavy sponsor tie-ins by at least a half dozen of the most promotionally aggressive stations in town … KIFM, KYXY, Planet, Star, KSON, Magic 92.5. This intimate little spot built on the tailings from San Diego Bay dredging decades ago is a delight if you’re new to town. The artists love the place. Tickets are a little steep … about 25 to 50 bucks … and for that you sit on Acme U-Rent folding chairs … but it’s a beautiful outdoor setting overlooking fancy yachts who by now are either used to the free amplified music every stinkin’ night included with their exorbitant slip payments, or they’ve followed the S.S. Minnow out to sea. And with a capacity of 1,300, you can actually see what you always only heard at, say the old Sports Arena. OK, bad example, you can’t see or hear there, but you get the drift.

Bags O’ Mail — It would appear we’ve struck the lost chord with last week’s (overly) brief history of KYXY, KITT and Ernie Meyers.

Joe Goria e-mailed that I forgot to mention 105.3 and later 1170’s Urban Cowboy days in the late 70’s/early 80’s before 105.3 became “the Eagle.” Yes Joe, I do tend to forget Country … as often as possible. This week’s trivia question: Name the San Diego station that did Country on FM before KSON (97.3). Hint: 97.3 was Top 40 KSEA at the time.

Neil Ross, former San Diego radio star at KCBQ(1170 AM), KDEO(910 AM), “His” and “Hers” (XHIS 90.3 and XHERS 100 point-something) and current Hollywood voice over talent e-mailed to remind me that KPOP’s Ernie Meyers goes back farther in San Diego than mornings at KOGO. About Ernie, Neil writes, “Prior to his KOGO days he did mornings on tape for what was then XEAK ‘The Mighty 690’ from Rosarito Beach. Sometime around 1960, KFSD AM 600 (and TV Channel 10) changed call letters to KOGO and Ernie came aboard to do mornings. At the time, the owners (Time-Life) announced that the KOGO call letters had been chosen by a computer. Very heady stuff back in the days when ‘computer’ meant a room sized Univac. Supposedly the computer had chosen KOGO as the easiest to remember call letters of those currently available. The station logo was a cartoon rendering of a kangaroo. Shortly after the KOGO switch, XEAK changed to XETRA and became the first all news radio station.” Thanks Neil. Reminds me of the time I went on a school field trip to Old Town for the San Diego bi-centennial celebration in ’68. KOGO was on remote, but we didn’t get there until after 10 so I didn’t get to meet Ernie. I had to settle for Rick Martel … who was very nice to all us nosey grade schoolers.

Richard Martin e-mailing from Sedona, Arizona takes things back even further to XEAK’s predecessor, XEAC, which in the mid 50’s was the only place San Diego kids could hear rock and roll. The show, “Ray Robinson’s Record Rack” played the new kind of music from 3 to 5 until the station became XEAK, one of Gordon McClendon’s new 24 hour a day Top 40 formatted stations. This, when most stations signed off for the night at 9. Richard mentions XEAK Top 40 sheets touting their twin studios at the Mission Valley Inn on what is now Hotel Circle and at the Hollywood Towers on Hollywood Boulevard. (690’s signal is pretty much city-grade day and night in Los Angeles too.) Regarding the demolition of the old KYXY and KITT offices at the El Cortez Hotel, Richard wrote, “The El Cortez Center was also home of Channel Six, XETV for many years. At one time on the corner opposite KYXY, KCBQ had moved their studios from the Lafayette Hotel (on Broadway) to the second floor of a corner building with an all glass studio. This was in 1957. As kids, we would go down there and watch the DJ’s put on a show for the street audience. Happy Hare (Harry Martin) was on the air at that time. This studio was on the cover of Life Magazine in 1957, with a story about rockin’ San Diego radio.” KCBQ’s transmitter was at the eastern edge of town near San Diego State College (now University) at the corner of College and El Cajon Boulevard … then the main east-west road in and out of town. They made their move to Santee with a power increase to 50,000 watts daytime in the mid 60’s and went on to dominate San Diego and influence stations all over the country for the next 10 years.

Thanks for the info everyone. I think I’m ready to go order a bentwood rocker, rent some grandchildren and bore them with stories of the good ol’ days now. Keep the e-mails coming. If you’re currently or formerly in the business and wondering why I never mention your station, a quick note … preferably a 10 or a 20 … will certainly grease the wheels of cyber-journalism. Failing that, a simple e-mail will do.

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