If you've seen the new Mickey Mouse billboards along I-15, you must realize that some Disney adventure is getting a promotional boost. It isn't a new Disneyland attraction, though, but the debut of a local radio station.
KCNR (AM-860), an all-talk station, has disappeared and, effective Monday, "Radio Disney" has arrived. (The date, we're told, is coincidentally the birthday of Mickey and Minnie Mouse.)ABC Radio is embarking on this enterprise in four initial U.S. radio markets. Utah's wealth of young people makes it especially attractive for such a station. Minneapolis, Atlanta and Birmingham are the three other cities, and Disney Radio hopes to expand to others later.
Designed for children under age 12, the network will broadcast live programming 24 hours a day. It will be music-driven (Disney has a stockpile of music from its animated films and cartoons and will also play other music for kids). Parents can rest assured the station will offer high-energy, wholesome entertainment.
Morning and afternoon programming will feature music for children of all ages. Middays will center on preschool-age children and evenings will have a soft mix of programming for all kids. The station will also have daily contests.
"We've been exploring children's radio opportunities since 1991, and with the debut of Radio Disney we enter a new chapter," said David Kantor, president of ABC Radio Networks.
"The combination of ABC's experience in network radio programming, the great on-air cast and promotional crew and the utilization of material unique to Disney results in engrossing radio for children of all ages," he said. "We're excited about the listening pleasure Radio Disney will bring to children and their parents."
Scott Mahalick, Citadel Broadcasting vice president and general manager for its Salt Lake stations, including AM-860, said the new station will be especially for kids, ages 2-11. However, it will also be "family radio."
As a result of the format change, six talk radio show employees - including Rick Taylor, Martin Davies and Clyde Lewis - will be displaced.
However, Mahalick said Citadel is a large enough company that it will be able to find other employment for all these employees, if they will accept it.
KCNR ranked near the bottom of the most recent Arbitron ratings, taken last summer, with only an 0.3 percent share among adult listeners, ages 25-54.
The Disney channel will compete with Radio AAHS (KKDS locally) for listeners.
One KCNR program Mahalick said he was trying to find another spot for is "Ground Zero." The Sunday evening program has been hosted by Clyde Lewis and may be transferred locally to another Citadel station, such as KBER.