June 18, 1999
Musica para caballeros gringos – As of this week, Chula Vista based Califormula’s XHKY –FM 99.3 (X-99) goes from Spanish “country music” or Ranchera/Banda, to pretty much the same thing in English. No sooner did we finish getting the history of Country music stations in San Diego straightened out than here comes another one. The new XHCR will compete head to head with Jefferson Pilot’s KSON 97.3 … a station that hasn’t had any serious format competition since KCBQ tried hat music over a dozen years ago. KOWF 92.1 in Escondido was country for many years up until they became Classical KFSD a year ago, but their Class A signal prevented them from offering any serious challenge to KSON’s dominance. Indeed, KSON has been at, or near number one in the market for most of the 90’s.
Califormula owner Victor Diaz says the reason for the switch is simple … dinero. While San Diego and Tijuana stations have lagged in the ratings compared to other heavily latino major markets, sales for Spanish language stations here have really lagged. While they account for one third of the stations heard here in the lower left corner they’re only responsible for 10 percent of listenership. Some of that can be accounted for since Arbitron, does not survey Tijuana. But that’s nothing compared to the revenue gap, about which there is no disputing methodology. English language stations in San Diego/Tijuana bring in about $140 million annually. Spanish language station sales are less than $10 million. “I believe we will be able to triple our sales potential,” says Diaz. No doubt the arrival of Heftel … now HBC … and their two north of the border conversions to Spanish language had something to do with the decision as well. As reported recently in RadioDigest.com, KLNV 106.5, the former Q-106, is poised to enter the market’s top ten when the spring book comes out.
After a week of no-commercial introduction into the market, XHCR will be known as Hot New Country 99.3 FM. An ironic moniker since they seem to be leaning more on 80’s music than KSON. They’re currently hiring an air staff. No word as to when they will debut.
X-99’s programming will be combined with that of XTIM FM 91.7 and become known as X91.7 FM La Mejor. XTIM is owned by Multivision of Mexico City but will be LMA’d along with XHTIJ FM 97.7 to Califormula who also own and operate XHTZ FM 90.3 (Jammin’ Z90,) XLTN FM 104.5 (Radio Latina,) and the new XHCR. The other major Spanish language players locally besides HBC are J.C. Gates/Grupo Uniradio with five station including XHFG FM 107.3, XHTY FM 99.7, XHARM FM 94.5, XEMO AM 860 and XERCN AM 1470 … MEC with XMOR FM 98.9 and XEBG AM 1550 … Radio Unica with XEMM AM 800 … and KURS AM 1040.
Califormula is also currently awaiting Mexican approval for a new frequency, the programming for which can already be heard on the internet at http://www.xlnc1.com.
Skeleton in my closet … almost – As promised … ladies and gentlemen, the long awaited Roger Hedgecock story:
Before he held court daily on KOGO AM 600 … before KSDO … even before he was the Mayor of San Diego, forced to resign after being found guilty of campaign irregularities … I knew Roger Hedgecock. Not on a first name basis mind you.
It was 1979. I was fresh out of San Diego State and working as Production Director at KFMB AM 760. We were preparing for our annual radiothon fundraiser for the local chapter of the Leukemia Society. I was pulling every name I could into the production studio announce booth … a tiny little four by six foot room … to do liners for the benefit. Being an AM/FM/TV combo … or as we liked to call it, KFMB AM, FM and BM … we got a fair number of celebrities coming through. I remember having Charlie Daniels, Johnny Rivers, Steve and Cindy Garvey (before Steve was a Padre,) the future Dr. Quinn … Jane Seymour … who from that day on starred in many of my fantasies … and Wally “Famous” Amos who, embarrassed by his own illiteracy, went on to become a big advocate of child and adult reading programs.
We also invited every local politician, police and fire chief to drop by and record something for the radiothon. One of those was then-County Supervisor Roger Hedgecock who dutifully dropped by for his quick session. All went well. He nailed everything in a take or two and got up to leave. Problem was, the door to the booth didn’t agree with that course of action. Though the building was only two years old, the heavy-duty institutional lockset on the door had jammed internally and no amount of twisting from either side could make it work.
Now we were starting to attract a crowd. Sales people, who always seem to be around when you don’t want them, were getting quite a kick out of seeing the captive Supervisor. It was all I could do to keep them from rapping on the glass and teasing him with snacks like a monkey in the zoo. Even the General Manager, Paul Palmer seemed amused.
I just couldn’t get a break on this mishap. Every other door in the building was hung on a flexible aluminum jamb loosely fitted into the gypsum board and metal stud walls. Whenever we needed to get into any locked office, we just pushed the door jamb until the door bolt had room to slide past the striker plate. It was several years before management realized that once you were inside that building, you didn’t really need keys. But the door to the little announce nacelle was the exception to the rule. To top it off, in the confusion I had left the booth mic on. Unless you saw the unlit toggle switch pushed to the right, there was no reminder … so poor Roger never heard any of my apologies or progress reports over the intercom. His hot mic muted the speakers in the booth.
While not outright angry, the future Mayor was definitely doing a slow burn … you know, like those guys in the silent movies. It was almost a half hour before we finally located the building superintendent who took what seemed like another eternity to devise and execute an extraction of the guy. In spite of the tiny dimensions of the room, the door swung in, so removing the hinge pins was not an option, though we briefly considered busting through the drywall and handing Roger the tools to do that himself.
Finally we broke the handle off the outside and dug the lockset out of the door. Paul put his arm over Roger’s shoulders and jovially ushered him to the lobby. For all I know, I had caused him to miss a vote at the county building on something like re-zoning Torrey Pines as a landfill.
What I wasn’t prepared for were the long term consequences of this episode in forced toilet training for Hedgecock. Following his resignation in disgrace from the job of Mayor of San Diego, I was frequently reminded that this never would have happened if I’d just left him locked in that studio forever … that I had somehow defied divine intervention intended to prevent the mayoral mess. And finally … Roger, if you’re listening … I’d love to know if during that 45 minutes or so, some sort of microbe blew out of the duct work and into your lungs, infecting you with the desire to eventually spend every day in a radio studio, or if you took up the calling in spite of your 1979 incarceration in my little booth at KFMB.
Errata other than Demi Moore in Striptease – RadioDigest.com Houston correspondent and San Diego County resident Chris Carmichael e-mails to note a couple of problems with the list of on-line streaming stations in San Diego. First, KOGO’s site is still under construction (I took someone else’s word that it was up). Second, I omitted KXST, Oceanside, which has live streaming available at http://www.sets102.com.
Also, in the item on Noel Confer, I said KDEO AM 910 is now KMJC. That was one set of call letters ago. It is currently KECR.
Meet the new wuss … Same as the old wuss – Borrowing a chapter from Star’s Jeff and Jer … who probably didn’t originate the bit either, Rock 105.3, KIOZ is holding its first Mr. Puny-verse pageant. Only 98 pound weaklings needs apply. The winner gets $1,000 from the “skinny wimp glorification station.”
One unhappy camper – Star 100.7’s first man in line for Star Wars, Jedi Josh and his “benefactors” at Midwest Television’s KFMB FM have parted ways on a sour note. Feeling that being housed in a donated tent, fed for a couple of weeks, given “15 minutes of fame” on local radio and TV, offered a couple of jobs and even a date or two wasn’t enough, Josh decided he was entitled to keep the laptop computer the station loaned him. He quickly sold it for some fast cash after the movie premiere. Now, Star wants it back.. As Jar Jar Binks would say, “How wude!”
Previews of coming contractions – Today is the day KGB FM’s Dawn Patrol of Dave Rickards, Shelley Dunn and Cookie “Chainsaw” Randolph let us all in on the “Baby” mystery that started a couple of months ago with the unattributed “Sell Your Baby” billboards. More recent ones have referred in “Free Baby” and identified 101.5 KGB. GM Todd Little says today is the day KGB will “deliver Baby.” We’ll let you know if it’s a … whatever, in the next column.
Also next time … an interview with the O.B. Ranger himself, Gary Allyn. Until then … Hi-yo Silvia … away!!!!!