2/7/88-New Oldies Format Wants To Bridge Generations

February 7, 1988 – Last week’s introduction of “K-Best” is an example. The new radio station has an “oldies, adult contemporary” format, replacing the contemporary hits of the old KNBQ, 97.3 mHz.

The station is drawing on the dyslexic-spelling skills necessary nowadays to make call letters mean something. Legally, K-Best is KBSG.

The KBSG version of oldies features standard artists of the ’50s and ’60s, including the Everly Brothers, Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley and the Four Tops. But it peppers the playlist with more contemporary “oldies.”

In announcing the new format, Bill Figenshu, president of the radio division of Viacom Broadcasting, said K-Best oldies are a new format “unique to the metropolitan area” designed to have broader appeal than other oldies stations.

“This exciting new format, which is a blend of the top songs of yesterday, will be specifically oriented to adults,” Figenshu added.

That seems odd, because oldies, particular the “solid gold hits of the ’50s,” have appeal for young listeners, who like the hard-driving early rock. Older listeners yearn to recapture memories.

Oldies rock is a musical form that bridges two significant generation gaps.

Bruce Raven-Stark, vice president and general manager of KBSG-FM, said the format was devised after comprehensive market studies of Seattle-Tacoma radio audiences.

I think that means they know that KVI plays “hits of the ’50s and 60s,” and KZOK plays “classics of the ’50s and ’60s and ’70s” and KMGI and a dozen others play “favorites of the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s.”

Clearly, K-Best will first try to take on KVI.

Will vintage rock sound good on the FM band? Maybe not, says Dick Curtis, program director of KVI. “Oldies rock belongs in automobiles. It’s cruisin’ music.”

Mike Webb, KVI’s music director, played down the need to research oldies. “We know what was popular and when, how many records were sold, but putting together a format that encompasses 38 years of music has to be a seat-of-the-pants operation,” he said.

But K-Best has done its research. Raven-Stark said the station interviewed more people than Arbitron Ratings Co. interviews when it assembles its quarterly ratings.

“Every bit of research was done here, in Seattle and Tacoma,” Raven-Stark said. No radio consultants, no satellite delivery, no pre-packaged music supplier. More than 1,500 original lps, eps, 45s and tapes, and another 1,500 new compact discs.

The “best” thing you can say about the future of rock radio is it will fragment more.

Audio destiny

It had to happen. Disc jockey Jeff Nelson has moved into the morning shift at KITZ, in Silverdale. So, in Kitsap County, anyhow, listeners hear head-to-head father-son competition, Jeff on KITZ, 1400 kHz., and father Larry Nelson on KOMO, 1000 kHz.

Twisting the dial

– In between songs this week on KVI, 570 kHz., you might hear a “big, sloppy Valentine’s kiss.” That’s a clue to dial-in for a prize. Phil Strider will feature “love songs” on Friday’s “Ten at 10,” 10 a.m. on KZOK, 102. 5 mHz. But since Valentine’s Day is a Sunday, most other radio stations are skipping it. Sort of a non-event, like President’s Day.

– Through the President’s Day Weekend, KKFX, 1250 kHz., will broadcast afternoons from Festival Sundiata, an event celebrating black history, at Seattle Center. The broadcasts run from noon to 6 p.m., beginning Friday.

– Sky Walker, personable announcer with past work at KPLZ and KJR, next week returns to KVI as the afternoon disc jockey and as assistant program director. He replaces Humble Harve, who is returning to California after a year in the Northwest.

– David Littrell, who has been station manager of KEZX-AM-FM since 1981, has resigned effective March 31. Littrell said he is looking for other radio opportunities in Seattle.

Author: Victor Stredicke

Former radio columnist for the Seattle Times (1964-1989). --- View other articles by Victor Stredicke

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