It's no secret that AM radio is on the decline. FM radio has 80 percent of the audience, leaving AM with only 20 percent. What AM radio needs to survive are good reasons for listeners to tune in.

One more good reason to switch to AM radio begins Monday, Sept. 21, 6-10 a.m., when Hans Petersen, formerly of KALL radio, premieres on KISN (AM-570).Petersen is the cornerstone for a refreshing change coming next week on KISN-AM, away from the usual simulcast of an FM station on many AM radio stations. (As of next week, KISN-AM will have its own distinct identity instead of being a simulcast of its sister FM station, except for sports and Utah Jazz programming.)

An unusual radio personality, Petersen is unlike anyone else in Utah broadcasting. He said his show on KISN will include all the elements of his previous show on KALL, plus 10 new creations and characters.

Petersen has been absent from Utah radio since he was let go at KALL on June 30. During his radio absence, Petersen said he's been astonished at how many fan letters - about 300 - he has received. Others are also amazed.

"I've never seen anything like this," KISN general manager Randy Rogers said of the large amount of fan mail Petersen has received.

And, contrary to what you may believe, Petersen is no stranger to morning radio. He spent 12 years as the top-rated morning radio personality in Augusta, Ga., and Rochester, N.Y., prior to coming to KALL.

"I want to go back to the original concept of radio as a theater of the mind," Petersen said.

The target audience for Petersen's show will be ages 25-54, with 35-54 being the core audience.

Although Petersen will only be on the air live until 10 a.m. weekdays, selected recorded segments of his show and characters will be replayed between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. After that, "Sportstalk" will air, as well as Utah Jazz pro-gram-ming.

Adult contemporary music will be included in Petersen's show, along with news updates by Charla Haley twice an hour.

Rogers said his AM station has perhaps Utah's second-best AM radio signal, behind KSL. KISN-AM can reach as far south as Cedar City during the day and even further at night.

Here are some of the new segments Petersen is adding next week:

- "Wasatch Woman, Llwanda MaFarfar," continuing daily soap opera. She will move from her Panguitch home to Salt Lake City, and eventually to the Stateline in Wendover, Nev., where she'll meet Norm Bangerter (at least after he's out of office, Petersen said). The soap opera will air at 7:15 a.m., and be repeated at 9:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.

- "Chautauqua," a speakers forum. Petersen will hold speak-outs, every other Monday. They'll be recorded to air, one a day, for the following two weeks. These will be held in the lecture hall at the Salt Lake City main library and the next one is Sept. 28. Ten invited speakers will have 3-5 minutes to talk.

- Petersen has lined up Phil Riesen to introduce many of his radio characters. He said the former KTVX news anchor will act serious when making introductions.

- FORMAT CHANGES - This has been a big week for programming changes at several radio stations. KZQQ (alias "Z-Rock," heavy metal) died Monday and has been replaced by KRGO (FM-107.9, 103.1 and AM-1550) and a country music format. Also Monday, KBCK (reported last week to be officially leased via an "LMA" by US Radio) has changed from a traditional country music format to a hip blend of album-oriented rock.

- KRGO used to be a prominent country music station in the 1970s and is being revived with a "hot country music" format and with some prominent radio personalities - Skinny Johnny Mitchell, David B. Smith, Joe Jackson, Paul Mitchell, J.C. Hackett and Lee Fanes.

The Z-Rock format just didn't work along the Wasatch Front, but there is room for at least one more good country music station to go along side KKAT and KSOP, since regular country music fans account for at least 20 percent of radio listeners, by some estimates.

KRGO is boasting it has fewer interruptions and more continuous music than either KKAT or KSOP.

- "The Mountain" has come to the Wasatch Front with album-oriented rock.

"If I had to name one group or artist that was the essence of the format it would be Steely Dan," said David Ferraro, general manager of KBCK.

Other artists featured in the new format are Jackson Browne, Eagles, Billy Joel, Van Morrison, Bonnie Raitt and Linda Ronstadt.

Besides its new "Mountain" nickname, the station hopes to secure new call letters soon.

- There are also rumors that KZHT and KMGR-FM might soon be altering their formats, but nothing can be confirmed at this time.

- KBZN (alias "The Breeze, FM-97.9, FM) - Charles Bernstein will be the Sunday, Sept. 20, guest on "Musical Starstreams," (8-10 a.m.). Later in the day, Tom Grant will be the guest on "Jazz Trax," (7 p.m.-midnight). The "Grand Piano Canyon, by Bob James, will be the show's "Archive Album" segment.

- Here's a schedule for the station's "7 O'Clock CD" show next week:

Monday, Sept. 21: "From the Asylum," by Windows.

Tuesday, Sept. 22: "Shell Game," by Don Harris.

Wednesday, Sept. 23: "Every Act of Love," by William Aura.

Thursday, Sept. 24: "Polar Shift," by various artists.

Friday, Sept. 25: "Nick of Time," by Bonnie Raitt.-

- FAIR RADIO - Numerous radio stations are camped out at the Utah State Fair this week. There's KLZX, KKAT, KSOP, KBER - just to name a few of the stations that are broadcasting live on location.