In case you missed the story by The Daily News’ Tom Hoffarth, who broke the news earlier this month, KFWB (980 AM) has been sold and -- pending FCC approval -- will be changing formats when the deal closes sometime on or near February 15th.
KFWB has been running sports programming as The Beast 980 since September 2014; my understanding is that both listeners are distraught. KFWB has never been able to muster more than a small share of the local audience: since its inception it has hovered around a 0.3 share of the audience aged 6 and over.
Not that anyone outside -- or likely even inside -- of owner CBS Radio ever expected anything more. Sports talk just doesn’t fly in Los Angeles as witnessed by the combined ratings of KLAA (830 AM), KFWB, KLAC (570 AM) and KSPN (710 AM) totaling only 2.3 in the December Nielsen ratings. KFWB and KLAA added only 0.5 to that.
What I don’t understand is why it took CBS so long to sell a station it was illegally holding since 2002 when the company’s purchase of KCAL-TV Channel 9 put it over the legal ownership limit. Did it really take CBS 14 years to find a buyer? The station should have had to forfeit the license back in 2002. That they were allowed to hold it for so long proves (in my opinion) how inept, if not corrupt, is the modern FCC.
Regardless, KFWB hasn’t been a contender for years. At one time it was the top-40 music leader in Los Angeles; later it was the source for news and often beat KNX (1070 AM) in spite of being the scrappy underfunded station it was under then-ownership Westinghouse. But recent years have not been kind to the former leader; the last time the station earned a rating over 1.0 is at least five years ago.
In fact, KFWB’s decline mirrors the decline in radio itself as corporate ownership destroyed stations. Even though it was KFWB parent Westinghouse that bought CBS Radio (and kept the CBS name), the station lost its luster as all the attention was given to sister KNX. Eventually KFWB left news to KNX as it became a talk station, then later sports.
What will become of it now? Rumor is that CBS specified that the buyer had to change to a foreign-language format so as to not compete with any current remaining CBS stations. So, as of sometime around mid February, you can expect new owner Universal Media Access, which owns stations in San Jose, Seattle and Boston and focuses on Asian, Indian, Chinese, Spanish, Korean, Russian, German, and Vietnamese programming, to take The Beast multicultural.
Programmer Dave Beasing kept his promise of “shaking things up” at The Sound (KSWD, 100.3 FM) last week. Replacing Julie Slater is Andy Chanley, most recently the technical ringleader of Mark in the Morning who launched Andy in the Afternoon on January 15th.
Joining Chanley is Christian Hand, also heard most recently on Mark in the Morning as the super-producer who dissects the music tracks of classic rock songs.
What Beasing hopes to do is a true shake-up. This is personality-driven afternoon drive music radio, something that really isn’t done any more. It’s an interesting evolution in a station that at one time barely allowed the DJs to speak, and has the potential to wake up the entire bland, safe corporate McRadio world. I can’t wait to see how it goes.
And, of course, if it doesn’t work, I’m still waiting by the phone.