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Take a virtual tour of Sacramento at SacTV.com

see also American Radio History

see also KZAP, KROY, KSFM, KWOD, KRXQ, KNDE, K108, index

Sacramento Radio in the 80s

KZAP Rides to the Top

In the early 80s under the direction of Chris Miller then Les Tracy, KZAP soared to the top of the Sacramento ratings. The popularity of the album oriented rock format crafted by Lee Abrams combined with unique jock personalities made KZAP a household word. KZAP's orange cat logo could be found everywhere and the music was simply rock at its most powerful, fueled by albums like AC/DC's "Back in Black." KZAP rose to double digit market share with a cast of personalities that included Tom Cale, Bob Keller, Charlie Weiss, Tim Bedore, Jon Russell, Jonah Cummings, Bob Galli, Curtiss Interruptus and Kevin "Boom Boom" Anderson.

Anderson was one of Sacramento's all time most controversial radio personalities. He had come from Top 40 station B-100 (KFMB) in San Diego. In between radio gigs he worked at his then wife's father's gas staton in Pine Grove about 90 minutes outside Sacramento, where they were saving money to build a house on their 5-acre property.

Anderson recalls in 2010, "One day after work, one of the other gas jockeys told me a DJ on KZAP had just quit - on the air! Sensing opportunity, I contacted KZAP's PD, Les Tracy. It wasn't hard - he was listed in the phone book. He had me come in on the overnight show to do a live audition. Thank you, Bob Galli, for letting me horn in on your show! I was quickly hired for weekend duty. Not long after, the midday show opened up when Tim Bedore was fired ... I lasted about 2 weeks in middays before Les Tracy switched me with the morning guy, Bob Keller. And thus, a legend was born ..."

Boom Boom says the way he got his name was by complete accident. "I was on the air one weekend," he says, "when I found myself coming out of a commercial break with nothing to say. Wanting to spice things up a bit, I referred to myself not as 'Kevin Anderson,' but as 'Kevin Boom Boom Anderson.' There was no purpose behind it other than to goof around and eat up 5 seconds of dead time. But what I hadn't counted on was the fact that the KZAP staff was playing a softball game at the time, and was listening to me on their portable radios. The next day, when I came in for a meeting, everyone greeted me with: 'Hey Boom Boom!' I figured it would be smart to roll with it."

One of the themes to Boomer's morning show involved the winos surrounding KZAP. "The elevator in the building was used as a wino bathroom - which was why all the employees used the stairs," jokes Boomer, who is also being serious. "The winos were a problem because many of them lived in the park directly across the street. It's now known as Caesar Chavez Park, but back then it was 'Wino Park.' I have fond memories of doing weather reports on the air, saying: 'It's 73 degrees under the wonderful wino trees.' 2010 update: A recent visit to the park revealed that it's still frequented by winos, and it still reeks of urine."

Inevitably, Anderson's "Jimi Hendrix choke off" bit got him fired. He resurfaced at top 40 station KPOP in the afternoons but it was short lived. "It ended when I was fired for not agreeing to keep all my sets to 10 seconds or less," says Anderson. He later went on to have one of the most successful morning shows in Sacramento history on KRXQ.

The last AMs standing are KFBK, KCRA and KRAK

By the early eighties, FM had become the desired band for music listeners while AM mainly remained strong as a talk medium with KFBK and KCRA as the leaders in local talk and news. KCRA, which had flipped from adult contemporary to news/talk in 1975 with Larry Page as the morning anchor, changed call letters to KGNR in the early eighties. Although they initially stuck with news/talk, KGNR went through a series of format changes that included big band music in 1985 and then later in the decade it went oldies. Eventually in 1990 it became KCTC AM and played elevator music before swinging back to the swing era.

KRAK (1110 AM) remained strong in the ratings as a country music station throughout the eighties. Morning man Joey Mitchell, who came to the station in 1975 and stayed through the early nineties, helped keep the numbers up. Another big name on KRAK that lasted just as long was Big Jim Hall. As late as the Spring of 1985, KRAK AM was beating sister country station KRAK FM in the Arbitron ratings. KRAK AM even consistently beat challenger KAER (92.5 FM) to the bloody end until 1986 when KAER dropped country for "love songs." KRAK AM's ratings finally began to drop off in 1987, although it did not change its identity to KHTK ("Hot Talk") until the Winter of 1994.

The turning point in which KFBK took the lead over KGNR was the mid-eighties. KFBK did talk shows in the past such as Gil Krause in the seventies and Erik St. Johnn in the early eighties. But starting in the eighties, KFBK began to feature more controversial talk hosts.
Read more about Rush Limbaugh and KFBK's climb to number one.

Whatever happened to KANDIE and KROY?

The eighties opened with two dying AM top 40 relics scrambling for identity in a new era where FM was becoming king of music. KNDE had switched back to the old KXOA call letters and billed itself as "The New 14K." It was the same format of high rotation hits and high energy delivery - they just made a hoopla about their new identity. It didn't make sense to the audience and it withered away, becoming an oldies station. Bryan Davis jumped from KROY to KZAP to KXOA-AM, where he stayed until 1982, when he moved to Los Angeles to work at KOST as Bryan Simmons, where he continues to work in the 2000s. Also in 1982, KXOA-AM flipped to big bands.

Another jock who worked at both KROY and KNDE/KXOA in the 78-80 era was Rob Tonkin. At age 15 and a half, he became the second youngest radio personality in Sacramento history when he began doing a show on KROY in 1978. Previously, Toby Browning had set the record for youngest DJ at age 15 when he joined KNDE for weekends and fill in the fall of 1974, staying through 1978. Browning went on to do voice work for the radio industry and has his own website at
TobyBrowning.com. Rob Tonkin went on to become Promotions Director for 91X San Diego in the eighties during their run as one of the top modern rock stations in the country. Rob then moved on to a series of L.A.-based music industry positions involving talent acquisition, sponsorships and television production.

KROY-AM in 1981 flipped from CHR/top 40 to adult album rock and maintained the KROY call letters until November 1982 when the call letters switched to KENZ. At the same time KROY-FM moved deeper into album rock. KENZ flipped to automated satellite AC from 1982 to 1984 when the format shifted to "Format 41" (Big Bands). Then in 1984 the KROY call letters briefly left the Sacramento radio dial as KROY-FM flipped to AC and became KSAC. In the spring of 1986 the FM was sold and the call letters shifted back to KROY and the format returned to contemporary hits. Richard Irwin remained OM of KENZ AM, which moved out of the building as the combo was split by different owners.

On Labor Day of 1986, Irwin and his assistant moved the KENZ automation from 620 Bercut to the second floor of 1021 Second Street in Old Sacramento, where Sacramento Magazine had already relocated. Around that time KENZ changed to KSAC as the KENZ call letters, named after owner Ken Jonsson, disappeared from the dial in Sacramento. Richard Irwin recalls in May 2005, "Ken Jonsson went to a lot of trouble to get those KSAC call letters, and they were shocked when Commonwealth dropped them and wanted the KROY-FM call letters instead. We continued with the Transtar 41 format on KSAC for quite a while from upstairs. But Ken Jonsson wanted to do something new with his remaining radio station. (GSM) Don Early and I tried to talk him into jazz. But he wanted classical, and sent John Stolzenberg and me to San Francisco to talk to the GM of the long-time classical station (KDFC) there."

The result was KSAC flipping to classical in 1987. "We built all new studios downstairs and ordered these giant CD jukeboxes and a PC to run them," Richard continues. "Then there was another night I remember when we moved the automation from upstairs to our new basement digs, where 1240 KROY had been when I came to Sacramento in 1978. For awhile, Sacramento Magazine operated upstairs and KSAC was in the basement. Eventually, Jonsson sold the magazine to Mike O'Brien and they moved out. And of course, eventually KSAC became All Sports. KSAC was Sacramento's first all digital radio station. We were running everything on a PC with a giant $1000 hard drive by 1992 and the transmitter ran 'unattended' overnight and on weekends. I could control all of it with a dial-up connection from my 486 at home."

As for KXOA-AM, it continued its long decline into obscurity, with occasional renewed interest. On Saturday, March 15, 1982, it flipped to big bands and other 40s-styled MOR music with the syndicated "Music of Your Life" format. KGMS failed to compete with a similar format they launched a few months later. Then in the summer of 1988 KXOA-AM flipped to an unsuccessful attempt at "Business News." So in 1990 the station shifted to 50s/60s oldies as "Cruisin' 1470." By the end of the decade the frequency had gone country as KRAK but became KIID in 2001 as an outlet for the syndicated "Radio Disney" format.


KHYL relives the fifties and sixties

The oldies format highlighting the fifties and the sixties made KHYL (101.1 FM) out of Auburn a top choice for the people who had grown up with KFRC, KROY and KANDIE but had now outgrown the teen scene. The station's star morning announcer in the early eighties was Sue Ryan, who stepped off the air in 1984 to take the PD position, only to wind up out of work a year later over "philosophical differences" according to the Sacramento Bee. In 1986 KHYL/KAHI owner Auburn Broadcasting decided to sell the combo to Parker Communications for $8 million. For awhile KHYL drifted into the "soft sounds" format but inevitably began calling itself "Oldies 101" and then "Cool 101."

Mark Lennartz worked at KHYL from the summer of 1989 through January 1995. For awhile he was the PD. In 2008 he recalls, "I was there at the transition when Parker Communications took it from a mid-tempo AC station to Oldies. Before that KHYL had a colorful history with some talented players, but it was always considered 'the Auburn station' and few in Sacramento took it seriously until Parker began tweaking it. I was the second PD under Parker, brought aboard to help make the move to Oldies 101. It was a hybrid station. John Parker and I felt we could live with a bigger 70s influence than your average oldies outlet, but after about a year realized what every oldies station needs to realize: concentrate on the 60s."

The air staff of the early nineties included Lennartz in the morning, JR Jackson in middays, Ric Santos in afternoons, Ken Hunter in evenings and Ron West did overnights. John Clark Fourtner did morning news with Lennartz, who says, "Few PDs could find a better group of pros, considering our working conditions. We were 30 miles out of market in a run-down building linked to our transmitter by a fragile microwave beam." Meanwhile, the sales staff worked in Sacramento. When Arbitron numbers came out, the Auburn team would visit the Sacramento office to watch the numbers download and print. In the early 90s Parker moved the entire station to Marconi Avenue in Sacramento.

Other air talent that surfaced later in the decade included Terry Nelson, Bob "The Godfather" Galli, Tony Cox, Bobby Angel, Dean Stevens and newsman Mike Reynolds, who had done mornings with Chris Collins on FM102's Morning Zoo in the eighties. Lennartz says, "The oldies format had been honed to probably 350 to 400 songs with the majority of them in the format's wheelhouse of 1964-1969." The Oldies 101 Super Picnic was a huge summer event that featured oldies mainstays such as Johnny Rivers and Paul Revere & The Raiders.

Parker inevitably sold KHYL to American Media out of San Francisco in 1993, marking the station's end of its mom and pop era. New ownership, however meant new management, as the story frequently goes. Brian Chase, a successful oldies programmer from Arizona, took the PD job while Mark Lennartz moved to middays and Production Director. Around that time Oldies 101 changed into Cool 101. Another innovative move was to carry San Francisco 49er games. Chase left after a year and Jon Brent aka Johnny B came in as the new PD while Lennartz went to mornings for awhile until Joey Mitchell arrived in early 1995. In 1994 the station sold to Chancellor, who also picked up KFBK and Y92.

Two weeks after Lennartz was let go in early 1995, Arbitron numbers for the quarter were released that showed Chancellor had the top three stations in town: KFBK, Y92 and Cool 101. "The station worked because we were blue-collar guys in a demo-rich format," explains Lennartz. "We were personalities that all truly loved the music. It wasn't a job for us, it was a way of life. That's what we tried to get across each and every day."

The station became a strong force in the ratings for many years. One of the most memorable and entertaining talents on the station was singer John Young, who would bring his guitar in on the morning show in the nineties and perform cover songs of classic hits. Young eventually became a regular figure on the show. After the station went through its ill-advised late nineties facelift that ended its rein as oldies leader in the market, Young moved on to do mornings on the "John and Jen Show" in nearby Vacaville at KUIC-FM, which bleeds into the Bay Area. After Clear Channel dropped the "Cool 101" handle in 1999, it opened the door for a slightly different frequency to call themselves "Cool 101.9."


K108 grabs the baby boomers

For those who preferred a more classic rock sound and didn't like the bouncy bubble gum oldies on KHYL, the choice tended to be K108 throughout the eighties. The station had a very ingrained "mellow rock" image in Sacramento, which had been their heritage. What was different in the eighties, however, was that they took on a more calculated hits approach and kept the flavor of the music a blend of pop and rock recurrent hits along with a vast library of oldies. Perhaps the hardest record they played was "Listen To The Music" by the Doobie Brothers.

The station consistently wound up in the top five, which was helped by the familiarity of long-time talent Dusty Morgan, Tom Nakashima, Dave Allan and Phil Brooks. Some may recall Craig Andrews, who did weekends and fill-ins in the late eighties. Art Schroeder programmed the station from the mid-seventies through the mid-eighties before moving on to a similar position in San Diego.

The K108 story began in June 1974 when KXOA-FM debuted its newest format -- "Super Stereo K-108." The original air staff included Dusty Morgan (by way of KMEN San Bernardino), Les Thompson (their first PD), Ed Hamlin (from Salinas) and Jim "Night Train" McLain (just in from KAFY Bakersfield).

Dusty Morgan says, "Super Stereo was put together by legendary Program Director Ron Jacobs, who at the time was programming Willet and Mike Brown's two stations (KGB AM and FM) in San Diego. The format was basically Top 40, but the listeners could enjoy...evolving FM radio. That was pretty much the planned concept. After a few unsuccessful months of playing the hits - 108 evolved into what was to become a heritage legend in Sacramento radio during the last part of the seventies and the early nineties. During its run as one of Sacramento's big dog stations - General Manager Phil Melrose and Program Director Art Schroeder were steady, guiding hands at getting and keeping 108 always in the top numbers."

In the mid-eighties, Art Schroeder had left for a programming gig in San Diego, while Melrose was promoted to President in charge of all the expanding Brown Broadcasting stations from San Diego to San Francisco and Utah. K108 continued to show strong ratings in the late eighties, but after the winter of 1988, they only hit an eight share one more time a few years later.

One of the things that made K108 stand out from other stations, was the use of their mascot the "Mellow Beaver." It was actually a beaver costume worn by many. Dusty confirms: "There were many, many guys and one woman who suited up as the Mellow Beaver. Our very first Beaver was a young kid who'd just moved up from San Diego where he'd done some chores for Ron Jacobs at KGB. Another of our early Beavers was a young guy who'd just come into our shack on Loma Vista Drive to do some 'go-fer' assignments for Art Schroeder. That skinny fellow went on to be the other half of the successful KGNR and (later) KFBK morning news duo - Dave (Williams) & Bob (Nathan)."

Bob Nathan actually told stories on KFBK about an event in the mid-seventies involving a PR appearance of Linda Lovelace at an adult movie theater in North Highlands. "I recall," says Dusty, "there was this long line of guys waiting to get her autographed picture. When Bob (the Beaver) stepped up to Linda's table...she busted up laughing so hard she had to stop signing for a few minutes. Everybody just cracked up at the sight."


FM102 and KWOD play the hits in the eighties

The king of all formats throughout the eighties was still considered top 40 in the music industry, although rock radio had proven to be a legitimate culture existing outside of the mainstream. In the industry top 40 was now called Contemporary Hit Radio or CHR, coined by the industry trade magazine Radio & Records. The CHR showdown in town was between FM 102 and KWOD (106.5 FM), which debuted as a jazz station in 1977, but within a few years was playing the latest hits on the pop charts. KWOD was one of the last independently-owned stations in town under the Ed Stolz company Royce International Broadcasting. Several of the jocks had spent time on the air at KROY including Tom Chase, Mr. Ed, Dave Diamond, Dean Stevens and Russ "Mooseman" Martin. Sports reporter Ken Gimblin had also done KROY sports in the seventies before starting his own service for several media outlets including KWOD. In 1983 KSFM's morning show was Billy Manders up against KWOD's Doug Masters. Within a year both stations would create new morning shows, with Chris Collins and the Morning Zoo on FM 102 while Doug Masters teamed up with Marty Johnson as the "Masters & Johnson Morning Radio Clinic" on KWOD.

The Morning Zoo's Chris Collins and Mike Reynolds lead the market

Chris Collins worked on air at KKIQ in Livermore when Mike Preston, the Production Director of FM 102, and the PD began listening in December 1979 to Chris' afternoon show, leading to him getting hired in early March 1980 at FM 102. Collins started out doing weekend overnights but began doing mornings on June 1, 1983 as the Morning Zoo was born with Mike Reynolds. The show was a smash and helped lead the station to the top of the ratings. It would be a long successful ride as "FM 102."

Program Director Rick Gillette led the station to the top of the Sacramento Arbitron ratings. Collins was Gillette's Music Director. Collins says in 2010, "Gillette and I were like two peas in a pod ... both fired up about everything and unafraid to say and do what needed to be done. I thought Gillette was a great night jock, one of the best I've ever heard or worked with. I thought he was the perfect piece of the puzzle to take us to the top. I cleared the table so Rick could come in, interview, and get the job." Collins did not click with the previous PD, who he complained about to management because he "pushed too hard," leading to a change. Collins asserts "Gillette was and is visionary, courageous and wired just a bit awkwardly to understand how 'vibe' works and resonates."

Collins developed the Morning Zoo into a fun, often outrageous comedy theater of the mind show. "I think in my 'early' radio days doing nights helped with my outward approach and my focus as a morning guy on 'in your face' involvement with the audience both on and off the air in the streets helped. I believe the stunting I did and posturing inside the community helped and obviously I know that Prince, Madonna, Michael J and others hit at the right time with the Zoo so a repetitious cognitive behavioral pattern kicked in."

Some of the stunts Collins did included spending 12 days at Country Club Center on top of a twenty foot tower as a benefit for Families First, Inc., and getting involved in a wrestling match with personnel from the Syrian embassy in Washington D.C. after he tried to burn a Syrian flag. One of the many funny features on the show was "toss the boss" in which listeners would call in venting their anger at their bosses, and then Collins would play the sound effects of a body falling down a flight of stairs.

Indeed, the top 40 radio format, which had come to be known as "contemporary hit radio" was bending in new directions never heard before as some stations leaned toward dance music and others leaned toward whatever was popular. FM 102 played a lot of dance music, usually avoiding rock, while KWOD stayed closer to the whatever is popular principle which included rock. Much of FM 102's music had a female-friendly r&b or pop dance sound.

KPOP plays new wave "rock of the eighties"

In 1983 KPOP (93.7 FM) dropped its long-time soul format and began flirting with the format that
Rick Carroll had invented at KROQ called "Rock of the '80's." Carroll, who programmed KROQ, started a consultancy in which KPOP was a client along with a handful of other alternative stations around the country and MTV. It was based on new wave, punk and techno/pop music, with a heavy emphasis on British acts. But after a year of failed ratings KPOP flipped to regular top 40 to compete with KWOD and FM 102. KWOD and KPOP started having a similar pop sound while FM 102 played beats. The battle of morning shows in 1984 became FM102's Morning Zoo, KWOD's Masters & Johnson and KPOP's Robbins, Kinney and Cowan.

Fuller-Jeffrey in the pre-consolidation era

For awhile Fuller-Jeffrey ruled the golden state when radio chains weren't so gigantic. The radio group was started by Bob Fuller. After moving to California from Maine in 1967, Bob began selling advertising for KROY in 1969. By the eighties he was a radio owner. The company bought KPOP (93.5 FM) and KPIP (1110 AM) on Jan. 1, 1984 from Don Reeves, an original founder of the station who also was a broker in the sixties selling radio properties for Hamilton/Landis. Reeves also launched KWUN AM in Concord, CA.

Shortly after Fuller-Jeffrey moved in, KPOP's format flipped to teen oriented top 40 and a few years later to rock, which marked the birth of 93 Rock. KPIP became KRCX, which stood for "Radio Capital." In the nineties Fuller-Jeffrey sold off those stations and put Talk 650 KSTE on the air. It started as a Spanish station at the same studios once used by KQPT The Point in Rancho Cordova. KPOP operated out of Quail Lane off Eureka in Roseville then the FM moved to Madison Avenue in 1984.

Bob Fuller remembers in 2005, "In the summer of '88 we finally got our upgrade from 3,000 watts and moved to 93.7. In order to upgrade the power of KRXQ I had to purchase South Lake Tahoe and Chico (stations) and work out an arrangement with an Anderson, CA station. They were all on co-channel or adjacent channels to 93.7. It took four years." In addition to moving the signal, power was raised to 25,000 watts. This new upgraded signal was transmitted from the old KFIA 710 towers near Old Auburn Road.

"When we bought KPOP as a 3kw in '84," Fuller continues, "it had massive interference in Downtown Sacramento from 92.5 KAER. Running over 100kw from a very short tower, when they moved out to the Rio Linda area with more height and less power, the interference went away. KPOP was then transmitting from Citrus Heights off of Auburn Blvd."

The power increase certainly helped the station's ratings from that point on, as KRXQ cornered the rock market and drove their heritage competitor out of the market. But Fuller-Jeffrey didn't just make waves in Sacramento. As Fuller says, "Hard to believe now, but before deregulation, for awhile Fuller-Jeffrey was the largest owner of stations in California in the late eighties, as far as number of stations, not revenue, obviously." The group's roster of stations beyond Sacramento included KHOP/Stockton-Modesto, KHOV/Mariposa, KFMF/Chico, KSCO and KLRS/Santa Cruz, KRLT/South Lake Tahoe, KSRO and KHTT in Santa Rosa. They also had stations in Iowa, Colorado, Maine and New Hampshire.

Dave Skyler's morning stunt turns KPOP into 93 Rock

Dave Skyler probably holds the record for working at the most stations in Sacramento. He came from Southern California to Woodland to do evenings at FM 102 in late 1984. Six months later he jumped to KWOD to fill the overnight show vacancy due to Melanie Evans taking his shift at FM 102. But after KWOD's incredible three point jump to 8.9 (KWOD's all-time high) in the Spring Arbitron 1985 12+ ratings, KWOD went from long shifts to four hour shows as Skyler found himself doing 10p-2a.

On August 7, 1985 the Sacramento Bee reported that KPOP morning team Robbins, Kinney and Cowan were leaving for Detroit radio. Soon after, Skyler was contacted by KPOP about doing the morning show. Skyler says in our March 2000 video interview, "KPOP got a new Program Director from WZOU in Boston, who I had met previously, Dave Gariano. He called right away and offered me morning drive." It was an offer for a prime shift, more money and even health insurance, so he couldn't refuse.

The new KPOP morning show was called the Rude Awakening, anchored by Dave with Andy Roberts. Despite a funny show with lots of phone bits, KPOP continued to trail FM 102 and KWOD in the ratings. So one day Skyler was called to a meeting at a local hotel that involved Gariano and consultants who began to discuss format change. Skyler says, "I was invited to the hotel room. We discussed what we were gonna do with the format. We had definitely said yeah, top 40 ain't workin' for this station. It never has. So they thought well, let's play rock...but not just rock music because you have legendary KZAP, you know, a heritage radio station and it would probably be suicidal to go up against them. So why don't we give them a rock hits type format? Originally it was designed like the Arrow in Los Angeles. I remember I'm the one who suggested 93 Rock. Bill Cloutier wanted it and Gariano didn't have a preference."

Then on January 10, 1986 KPOP decided to go after KZAP. Morning man Dave Skyler barracaded himself in the station with his new partner Rusty Humphries for six hours during their "Rude Awakening" show until management agreed to switch the format to rock, which actually began during that show. They made fun of their own call letters and jingles and severely criticized the competition even saying "KZAP sucks." According to Skyler this was a staged event. Nevetheless, it got local television coverage. After that, the new station went through an identity crisis and continued to have low ratings the next few years.

FM 102 becomes the Valley's hit leader

FM 102 dominated the ratings, sometimes reaching double digits, while KWOD usually trailed with single digits. KWOD actually had an edge in the ratings in 1982 but following an FCC fine and a penalty that lowered KWOD's power for a couple years stemming from KWOD's signal bleeding over onto an adjacent signal (KRAK 105.1 FM), FM 102 took the lead and almost never looked back. Once KWOD's power was restored to 50,000 watts in 1984, the race began to tighten again as KWOD started making steady gains for several books. KWOD's all-time peak was when it hit 8.9 in the Arbitron (12+) ratings for the Spring of 1985. It didn't quite eclipse FM 102's 10.4 share, but it created shock waves in the market when KWOD jumped three points, only to fall three points in the next book. KSFM's all-time ratings high was 12.5 in the Spring of 1986, hitting number one in the market for the fourth straight book. Much of FM 102's popularity of this period can be attributed to the controversial and entertaining Morning Zoo. Chris Collins says in 2010 his favorite memories of FM 102's legendary era was "Laughing constantly. Causing sales people stress and going for the throat of any and all assholes in the region and globally, friend or foe. I think we accomplished all set goals."

FM 102's success was certainly attributed to Program Director Rick Gillette, a former KROY jock, who said in trade magazines that the station was "the pulse of American dance music." Some called the format churban because it was a cross between CHR and urban (soul music). The station had a fairly consistent line-up through the Gillette years including the Morning Zoo's Chris Collins and Mike Reynolds, Roy Kinji in afternoons and Lisa Kay in evenings. Kay, who had worked at KROY in the late seventies, briefly moved to Florida and was ultimately replaced by KWOD's overnight host Melanie Evans in 1985. FM 102 Late night jock Greg Lane moved to KWOD during this time to do overnights and would later move up to late nights. Lisa Kay returned to Sacramento in 1986 to host the morning show on KNCI. She was joined by Pat Still in the early nineties. In 1994 she moved to afternoons on the country station.


A National Concept from Roseville

Several Sacramento and Bay Area air personalities were heard all over America from the mid-seventies through the early nineties via Concept Productions. It was a national radio syndication firm based in Roseville founded by former Fresno PD Dick Wagner. The firm delivered full programming to dozens of radio stations with big reel to reel tapes sent by mail each week. Jocks would come in once a week and lay down voice tracks for an entire week based on pre-programmed music logs. In other words, they had to pretend they were talking over music and the vocal tracks would be mixed with music later.

"It was the hardest work I've ever done," reflects Dave Williams in 2004. "I had to track a full week's worth of 'shows' with nothing whatsoever to work with except my name and the titles of the records. No time, no weather, no local flavor, no news references...nothing except the vague and occasional holiday season to talk about. Just the name of the record and the artist. I did know a little about country music at the time and it helped but God, I dreaded those sessions!"

Many of the jocks actually got fan mail. "I, too received fan mail from all over the country," says Martin Ashley, who worked for the company from 1975-1988. "But one of the strangest things I encountered was the interview I did for a Fordyce, Arkansas newspaper. A feature writer called with questions about the station, yet I couldn't really blow the 'syndication' cover by telling him I didn't even know where Fordyce, Arkansas was! Then, there was the time I visited one of the Concept stations near Key West, Florida while I was on the air! It was very strange to hear yourself doing a full radio show in some town you've never been to, talking about Big Pine Cay and road marker 95!"

The return of KROY

After over a year of failure, KSAC-FM became KROY-FM again in the spring of 1986, returning to top 40, now calling themselves "Hot 97." Under PD Bob West the station began taking on the same type of churban sound that had put FM 102 on top. KWOD continued to take on the more white suburban pop/rock sound under Program Director Tom Chase, who tended to let Music Director "Mr. Ed" Lambert guide the sound of the music. Mr. Ed went on to program stations around the country, including the number one Dallas station in the nineties, KHKS (Kiss FM). He returned to his hometown of Sacramento to program KZZO (100.5 The Zone) in 2002 before moving on in 2004.

The new KROY, unlike their two competitors, became very aggressive with new music and jumped on rap records early such as "Walk This Way" by Run-DMC, the first rap-rock record to score high on the charts. KROY quickly leaped from the absolute bottom of the Sacramento ratings to a tight race between FM 102 and KWOD. West lasted until a market shake-up in November 1987 as Tom Chase went from programming KWOD to KROY. Mr. Ed followed Chase to KROY in early 1988 as MD. Greg Lane had already moved from KWOD to KROY prior to Chase's arrival as Promotion Director.





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