Whatever Happened to KROY and KANDIE?
by Alex Cosper
Take a virtual tour of Sacramento at SacTV.com
see also American Radio History
see also KZAP, KROY, KSFM, KWOD, KRXQ, KNDE, K108, index
The eighties opened with two dying AM top 40 relics scrambling for identity in a new era where FM was becoming king of music.
,br> KNDE switched back to the old KXOA call letters in 1979 with the AC format under Art Schroeder, who transitioned it from AOR-based "AM 14." It went top 40 again in February 1980 under PD Terry Nelson while Shroeder focused on K108 FM. In September 1980 the AM changed again, this time as gold-based "14K," overseen by a San Diego consultant. In 1982 the format flipped to AC under Terry Nelson.
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. 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.
History of KROY
KROY's Early Years
Musical chairs between KROY and KXOA
KROY Spends 6 Years at the Top
Analysis: Inside the KROY Machine
70s mark the end of the AM top 40 giants
Tony Cox tells how FM took over
Whatever happened to KANDIE and KROY?
KROY veterans advance nationally
The return of KROY
Late 80s: KROY Shifts, FM 102 Drifts
The Eagle takes off
"KROY Story" Video Interview Series with Johnny Hyde