In a world where controversy seems to rule the media, it's kind of nice to find a radio talk program that is actually non-controversial and is still able to find a strong niche among listeners.
"The Herb Jepko Nitecap Show" returned to the radio waves March 5 after a decade of absence and can now be heard locally on KTKK (alias "K-Talk, AM-630), weekdays from 11 p.m. until 6 a.m. and weekends from 10 p.m. until 6 a.m.Jepko's "Nitecap" show originally went on the air Feb. 1, 1964 with KSL radio as its flagship station. In its heyday, the show had 10.5 million listeners nightly and was heard over 255 U.S. radio stations via the Mutual Broadcasting Network. Jepko hopes to rekindle interest in his show and amass another large, loyal following.
How does Jepko describe his program for night owls, insomniacs and graveyard shift workers?
"It's a conversational-type program," Jepko said. "And it's not controversial. I don't take sides."
Jepko's show allows listeners to call in, preferably only once a week, and talk about anything except specific religions for up to five minutes.
The show, gearing up to be a syndicated nationwide program once again, occasionally includes guests and avoids not only controversy, but also the common talk show format of interviews with authors of new books. The show also provides news on the hour.
Jepko's son, Randy, helps out by hosting the show from 3-6 a.m. weekdays and on weekends. Dick Castle and Joe Redburn, handle the engineering duties.
"Nitecap" was the first nighttime, network talk show. In 1975, Mutual wanted Jepko to develop a more controversial style. He refused and kept his own talk network going for five years. Mutual hired a man named Larry King and the rest is history.
Jepko said he isn't sorry that he didn't take the offer from Mutual, despite King's current national presence on both radio and TV. Jepko said it just wasn't his style to be controversial, and he didn't want to relocate to Washington D.C. - he loves Utah, although snow-packed roads don't always bring out his best side.
There have been a lot of changes in the world since Jepko's show was last on the air. American society has truly become a 24-hour world with all-night stores and services. There's also still a core of people who work all night. Also, whereas the original "Nitecap" show had to use the telephone lines to link up with other radio stations, today's technology uses satellite linkups.
Jepko's show is always live, and its time schedule spans all U.S time zones.
The main problem with overnight talk shows still remains the same after almost three decades - convincing stations and sponsors that there really is a strong group of radio listeners in the wee hours of the night - the so-called "wasteland of radio" by some.
Jepko is in his 36th year of broadcasting. Born in Prescott, Ariz., he worked in radio sales work before going into the U.S. Army, where he did numerous radio and TV shows. He started commercially on-air at KFI (California) and then came to KSL in 1962, where he did the popular "Crossroads" show.
Following his first "Nitecap" stint from 1964 to 1980, he spent one year at KDYL, more than three years at KLUB and a year each at KCPX and KMGR.
He spent another year pursuing his love of animals as the executive director of the local Humane Society. He likes world travel, tennis and music and plans to put together some cruises similar to those the old "Nitecap" used to sponsor.
How long might Jepko keep up his "Nitecap" schedule and grueling hours this time around?
"I'm good for another 10 or 15 years," he said. And then, he indicated, there's always his son Randy to take over. "I'm a night person," he said proudly.