Los Angeles, CA (PRWEB) March 8, 2007
"We vowed to fight until we got our music back on the L.A. airwaves. Johnny Cash would have been proud of what we helped to accomplish," affirms Ethan Thomas of Westminster. "And we aren't done yet."
Despite some radio insiders' statements that country radio would not return to Southern California after KZLA FM flipped to a pop format last August, devoted listeners of country music banded together and started a grassroots movement to get their country back. And get their country music back they did.
Almost as soon as their former station flipped, country music lovers began writing articles, letter writing campaigns, and placing advertisements in Los Angeles and Nashville market. They jumped on myspace.com and began sending messages to every country artist they could find to ask for help. Groups of people from their site, countryboards.com, attended country music concerts and handed out "Save Country Music" ribbons and flyers in an effort to let people know there was a fight going on. They even began circulating a petition to get country back.
If that weren't enough, they started targeting radio broadcast companies to consider changing existing formats or investing into a station in Los Angeles area. That is what lead them to Mt Wilson Broadcasting and to Saul Levine.
Patty Young of Brea, sums it up, "We deserve to hear our music just like everyone else does. I contacted Whitney [Allen] and she led me to the [countryboards.com] boards. I suggested an idea of printing out a flyer to let more people know about signing the petition and to let our voices be heard. The boards were like therapy for me. February 26, 2007 will be a day in my life I will never forget!"
Saul Levine heard the pleas and quickly responded with flipping 540 AM October 20th, 2006.
However, 540 AM alone was not good enough for listeners since most in the Los Angeles area could not get the AM station. They pleaded with the station and explained why they needed more. Mt. Wilson Broadcasting then flipped 1260 AM December 1, 2006. Even with a stronger signal, many listeners still could not tune in the station to their satisfaction. That did not deter them. Listeners were thankful for what they had and they intended to show their thanks by actions. As advertisers aired on the radio station, listeners posted the advertisers names and email addresses. They began writing to the advertisers telling them thank you for supporting country music in Los Angeles and in return they would support them for doing so. Word spread quickly.
February 26, 2007, less than 7 months after KZLA flipped format, Los Angeles California had a FM station with 105.1 flipping from classical to country.
"I respect everybody's passion and drive for getting country music back. It is so nice it is to hear country back on FM," states Brian Douglas, former morning show host on 540/1260 AM. Douglas went on to add, "My son loves listening to the station on his way to school." Brian Douglas was also a former KZLA radio personality and now host of Hot Country syndicated shows on Dial Global Radio. He was the first ex-KZLA personality to join the new country format.
What Emmis Communications did not realize is the stronghold that KZLA and it fans had for the music they love. The listeners were definitely not alone. Press releases by ACM and CMA pledged to keep country alive in Southern California and openly offered assistance to any radio station considering a change in format.
CMA also provides numbers to prove country music is wanted and worth the investment in LA stating that L.A. is No.1 in the market for country sales year to date , with roughly 1.3 million units sold, according to Nielsen SoundScan. It was also the top market in 2005, with 2.1 million country albums sold.
"Know what you want. Believe in it. Take what ever action is necessary to bring it about and it will happen. That's how I feel about our successful struggle to get country back on FM radio. There never was a question about what we wanted. It was about believing in it, and our willingness to work to make it happen," states Kat Files of Los Angeles.
Los Angeles has been and can continue to be a vital market for Country music.
Countrykitten from Countryboards.com, states, "You have not seen anything like this in radio and country music before. What has happened in Los Angeles over the past 7 months is historic. More than that, it has sent a clear message to radio broadcasters and radio insiders every where, people are serious about their local stations. Country music is like no other genre. It is a more personal format and artists are more accessible, making us family. What other format has fan fairs? Los Angeles and Orange County country music fans are one big family and people like Brian Douglas, Whitney Allen, and Peter Tilden, are the people who created that family. We fight for family."
KKGO-FM signed on in February of 1959, airing a traditional jazz music format until 1989. KKGO is owned and operated by Mount Wilson Broadcasters, 1500 Cotner Ave, Los Angeles, California,
September 20, 1989, KKGO adopted a classical format in response to KFAC's flip to a more popular music format. The official switch from jazz to classical occured on January 1, 1990. In 2003, the call letters were changed to KMZT to reflect on their rebranding as "K-Mozart".
On February 23, 2007 the radio industry website All Access announced that KMZT would pick up the Country music format that was dropped by KZLA (now KMVN) back on August 17, 2006. The format had been heard on its 1260 and 540 AM (sister stations) since December 2006. When this switch happened on February 26, 2007, it brought the KKGO calls back to the FM dial and 105.1 adopted the new slogan "Go-Country 105". The Classical format continued to be heard on its HD-2 Channel and 1260 AM, which inherited the KMZT call letters. The move brought back a full-powered FM Country music radio station to Los Angeles.
105.1 can be heard worldwide on their website gocountry105.com where KKGO streaming available. Paul Freeman as the Night Time host , Tonya Compos is mid-day host and Music Director while you can still hear Whitney Allen, late Saturday nights. Whitney Allen is the 2006 radio personality of the year and was also heard formerly on KZLA.