THE WASATCH FRONT probably has more radio stations per capita than anywhere else in the United States. Every major Utah radio audience, from young adults to senior citizens, has been tapped. . . .
. . . Except for children. Listeners ages 6 to 15 have been largely ignored - that is, until Monday, Oct. 29, at 5 a.m., when KKDS, alias "The Imagination Station," debuts on AM-1060. A nine-minute promotional "loop" tape that provides a preview of KKDS will begin playing at noon, Friday, Oct. 26, replacing KRSP-AM, which has been playing oldies.The new KKDS is a sister station of KRSP-FM (103.5) and shortwave station KUSW. All three are owned by Holiday Broadcasting Co. The call letters KKDS are, of course, an approximate abbreviation of KIDS. A radio station in Missouri already had the call letters KIDS, so the Utahns went for the next best thing, KKDS, call letters previously held by the U.S. Coast Guard but which were inactive.
KKDS - "Radio Just For Kids" - will broadcast a wealth of material developmentally appropriate for children, including a mixture of children's music, stories, trivia questions, phone-in participation, interviews and local news, its developers say. The station will transmit its broadcasts from 5 a.m. until midnight daily.
"Some of the well-researched quality programming originates on the Kids Choice Broadcasting Network," KKDS program director Tom Robin said. The name "Imagination Station" is a trademark and the term for a new children-oriented satellite radio network - and KKDS is the first station in the nation to sign on.
"KKDS will use a lot of the network programming as well as produce a large amount of local programming, with segments hosted by personality `Jazzy Jana,' " Robin said.
"The Imagination Station can be a positive time filler for latch-key children after school, and the tools to make it work are already in almost every home because 73 percent of children ages 6-15 own their own radio and are allowed to use them independently," he said.
Robin is a radio veteran whose roots go back to Disney, TV and theater and who has six kids of his own. He stressed that parents won't have to worry about ever hearing something offensive on KKDS because materials will be screened to their highest standards.
The local host, "Jazzy Jana," is Jana Lyne, 24. A communications graduate from the University of Utah, she also completed internships at KSL-TV, KUER radio, "P.M. Magazine" and KUSW shortwave radio, and with the public relations office for the U.S. Ski Team.
"All my life I've been told to grow up, dress older and use the big words . . . now I need to learn to be and think like a kid again," Lyne said.
Other entertaining and educational segments will be offered by national hosts like "Sunshine Suzy," "Jammin' Jo Jo," "Sam'n Eggs," "Mighty Matt" and more.
The station plans to be both informative and entertaining, akin to the popular TV show "Sesame Street," and will use Salt Lake area children for all station identifications and even some interviews.
KKDS will also offer a "Teacher of the Week" award. Teachers can be nominated by students, parents or fellow teachers.
A special "Imagination Station Kids Club" is also in the works, through which children can receive discounts for such things as ski schools, amusement parks, food and school supplies. These cards will be available soon at locations to be announced. KKDS even has its own decorated van for going on location.
The station's broadcast coverage will go as far north as Pocatello and Twin Falls, as far south as Piute County, as far east as Kemmerer and as far west as Wendover.
Since KKDS will have such a young audience, the regular radio ratings services (Arbitron and Birch) will be unable to measure its under-age-12 listening group. As a result, the station will follow the lead of TV networks with children's programming: use kids' clubs, club cards, audience size at remote broadcasts and other special children's events to survey its audience size.
Lyne said KKDS is selling a concept, not a rating point, and preliminary interest has been high, with numerous phone calls from interested advertisers, as well as prospective listeners. The new station will offer a "combo" advertising rate with KRSP, or advertisers can just go with KRSP-FM only.
KRSP program director Ralph Carlson and general manager Alan D. Hague got the idea for a children-oriented Utah station at a National Association of Broadcasters' convention last summer.
Hague said he expects some parents to use the new station as a baby-sitter, to help keep their children occupied.
KKDS may also represent sort of a return to the '60s-'70s era in radio, when listeners could interact more on a one-on-one level with a station and its personalities.
And since those in KRSP-FM's target audience are ages 18-34, who knows - some listeners who grow up with KKDS may simply graduate to "Rock 103" when they get older. . . .