In January of this year, KGIL changed to an all-Beatles format, a move planned to be only a one-month transition before switching to show tunes. But a positive listener response prompted Levine to keep the Beatles until July.
"People really enjoyed it," Levine said.
Whether the new format will work for advertisers remains to be seen.
"It's a format that I have never experienced before in my 17 years in the advertising business," said Alison Winston, a media buyer for the L.A.-based Fuller Group. "I'm curious to see how they're going to execute it."
Winston gives this word of advice to the station:
"If they want to make any kind of an impact, they need to stay away from the image of an older format. Florence Henderson was 'The Brady Bunch,' Gary Owens was 'Laugh-In.' They need to mass-appeal-market the station to even entice anyone to sample it."
But radio veteran George Green, who retired last year as station manager of KABC-AM 790 after 38 years, predicts KGIL will likely pull in an affluent audience that advertisers should find attractive.
"Their demographic will be 35 to 64, high-income, professional, San Fernando Valley to Pacific Palisades," Green said.
The compatibilty between KKGO and KGIL, says Levine, is one reason Mt. Wilson Broadcasters made the switch.
"People who listen to classical would also want to listen to show tunes," said Levine. "We feel there's a certain synergy."
Levine believes KGIL will lure advertisers like Mercedes Benz and Neiman Marcus, which currently sponsor KKGO a station that draws a weekly audience of about 600,000. The new format will allow Mt. Wilson Broadcasters to sell advertising on both stations to a single sponsor, thus allowing the advertiser to reach a bigger audience.
In addition to its two L.A. stations, Mt. Wilson owns classical music stations KKHI-FM 100.7 in San Francisco and XBACH-AM 540 in Tijuana (a station with many listeners in San Diego).
Earlier this year, the company paid about $300,000 for an unused part of the AM spectrum, allowing it to simulcast KGIL programming on 1650 AM and thus blast show tunes all over Orange County, in addition to its current coverage in L.A. County.
"We feel it could be a very profitable format by serving the needs of people who don't want to listen to rock n' roll," said Levine. "There are a lot of people who don't enjoy that music."
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