Another year has passed. Not only does the calendar say so, but a Salt Lake radio station at FM-94.9 has changed its format - again.
This station, like several others along the Wasatch Front, seems to be out to win audiences over by changing formats and/or call letters annually. About once a year, some stations decide they need a better format and switch over.The FM-94.9 station made its fifth change in as many years by going off the air (of sorts) at the end of December and then reappearing at 6 a.m. Dec. 31 as "KZHT" instead of "KTOU." The station's new format is a "dance/modern music" mix that is billed as "the rhythm of the '90s."
If you heard a lot of hammering, sawing and drilling last week on FM-94.9, it was the station's "promo" for "building" up to this most recent format switch. (I guess I missed the mark, though, because initially I assumed the pounding was some sort of heavy rock beat and switched past the station many times before I heard some talking. Then I realized the construction noise signaled an upcoming format change.)
The construction sounds on FM-94.9 were reminiscent of August 1985 when KLUB used beach sounds - waves, fog horns and sea gulls - over and over for days to signal and buffer its format change from "Music of Your Life" to adult contemporary.
Consider the lengthy history of FM-94.9:
- Located in the Crane Building at Third West and Second South, the station started as "Color-95" in 1982 - its longest-running format for the first three years of its life. (Maybe it was those TV commercials for the station that "T. Buff" did when he'd get walloped by buckets of paint that kept the station steady at first.)
- Then in February of 1985 the station started its annual trend of switches with a move to "Z-95." (Remember the "Z-Morning Crew" with Dan McKay?) This format was FM-94.9's most controversial, but at least it did some really bizarre things that gave it a unique place in the market!
- In August of 1986, it was a switch to KBNG - the "Brite 'n' Gentle" stuff - with the morning personality team of Dick Jacobson and Dale Houston.
Next was KTOU - "K-Touch" - on May 22, 1987, with Brad Stone and Barry Moll as key personalities.
Now it has a modern music/dance format, but don't worry. If you don't like this format, maybe you'll like next year's format.
Some stations keep their formats for very short periods in the competitive Wasatch Front market, and KZHT is only one example. But listeners must wonder if these constantly changing stations keep a format long enough to even establish a stable audience in the first place.
- Stone continues as KZHT's program director, while the morning team (5:30-10) features Pat Gray and Sue Kelly.
Stone also handles mid-morning deejay duties for KZHT (10 a.m.-1:30 p.m.), while Mike Parsons airs from 1:30-6:30 p.m. Roberta Chase broadcasts from 6:30 p.m. until midnight.
John Griffin, formerly of KEMX, is the overnight broadcaster.
KZHT kept all of the KTOU employees, despite the programming change.
(KJQN, Ogden, is another station that has a "modern music" slant in this market.)
-KDAB's program director is gone but not lost . . .
After seven years with the Ogden-based radio station at FM-101.1, program director Chris Owens is leaving to join sister station WKYS in Washington, D.C., as its production manager.
Owens will still serve as a long-distance consultant to KDAB since he was instrumental in developing "the quiet storm," an unusual adult contemporary format, for FM-101.1.
"We're sorry to lose Chris on a day-to-day basis," KDAB general manager Randy Mathis said. "He has been a big part of developing this format, but we are happy he is continuing to work with us."
Replacing Owens is Jeff Harrington, also the morning personality, who will do double duty.
-KSL (AM-1160) will feature U.S. Ski Team member Tori Pillinger on the Chris Tunis "Sportscentral" program tonight at 6:30.
- The BYU at UTEP basketball game airs Saturday at 2:30 p.m.