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KKGO Go Country has lost its kick-butt spirit. “Gold” could help get him back. – Orange County Register

Some changes are coming to Go Country, KKGO (105.1 FM).

Even though audiences increased last month, some believe the station is underperforming. One of them is the station’s owner, Saul Levine himself, who started the station in the 1950s.

“Entertainment has changed since COVID,” he told me. “Things were put on hold, offices were closed so people weren’t driving, people started working from home more. All this has changed listening habits. At the same time, we have become a little complacent; we let things slide…we lost that “kick-butt” attitude…and I want to kick butt!

These won’t be wholesale format changes, Levine explains. The movements will be closer to adjustments… a “fine tuning” as he calls it. A little “gold”, as he calls it, added to the playlist of artists such as Kenny Chesney, Reba McEntire George Strait, Alan Jackson and Trisha Yearwood, for example. These are artists who helped define country music in the 1990s.

And Taylor Swift. “We also won’t be afraid to play Taylor Swift’s music from the 2000s,” he says.

“We will mainly stay up to date and always play the best new music. But we ignored gold for too long,” says Levine. Allow around four “golds” per hour.

This is a lot like how KHJ (9:30) and many other stations played top 40 in the 1960s through the 80s…mostly new music with some gold/oldies sprinkled in for spice. Considering that today’s country very much mimics yesterday’s Top 40 in sound and scope, this seems like a smart move to me.

I would add that special weekends highlighting a particular focus would also be a great addition…a 90s Country Weekend…a Country Wife Weekend…a Stagecoach Weekend. Simple things to add fun to the broadcast week and give people a special reason to tune in.

And marketing. I was getting billboards, bus signs, T-shirts, bumper stickers… to let people know exactly what I was doing with my station. I told Levine about it, and he agreed. “I want this station to once again become the top-rated country station in the United States,” he said, “and marketing is imperative.”

Levine is one of the few independent owners in the entire country and one of the very little locally. I love his spirit and dynamism, plus his station… Go Country is one of the stations that makes local radio a much better choice than satellite or any other feed.

The station will be led by newly promoted program director Pat Welsh, assisted by consultant Kenny Jay.

What would you do?

The first emails have come in regarding what could or should be done with KABC (790 AM)…wait and enjoy:

“If I had the means, I would turn KABC into a music radio station. I would program either music from the Big Band era (1920-1950) or music from the Oldies but Goodies era (1951-1963). I think we really need to have these music formats somewhere on the radio. —Russell Cinque, Jr., Glendale

“How about talk radio with real two-way conversations between host and caller. Better than the current pontification of the same people every day. —Georges Baron

Following next week…

The wow factor

A while ago I talked about a new format assembled by former KZLA (now KLLA, 93.9 FM) and KHJ programmer John Sebastian called “The Wow Factor.”

Designed to appeal to listeners aged over 50, the format is rich in 70s hits and album samples. Think The Beatles, Gordon Lightfoot, Harry Chapin, The Turtles, The Beach Boys and Led Zeppelin. Ads are set at a maximum of three per break, no more than four times per hour. It’s been airing on KOAI/Phoenix for a good minute now.

And that’s cleaning up. This is a solid 5th in the market in terms of audience, with listeners saying they not only like the music but also the limited commercial breaks. In this case, it’s basically Sebastian playing a format not so different from the one he’s wanted to program his whole life.

Will this attract younger listeners? No, but that’s because of the music, and that’s not what the station is about. This is not so much a new format as a repetition of what has been successful in the past. Take the same elements on the air and combine them with new music that appeals to younger listeners, and you could make a dent again…and attract new listeners to the radio.

Richard Wagoner is a freelance columnist in San Pedro who covers Southern California radio. Send an email to rwagoner@socalradiowaves.com

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