Mexican Music Station Regains Some Ratings Ground

Media
by Claudia Peschiutta

Mexican music station KSCA-FM (101.9), toppled from its spot atop the local ratings scene last year by the entrance of competing Mexican outlet KXOL-FM (96.3), has staged a comeback.

After losing share to KXOL, the station was replaced at the top by alternative music station KROQ-FM (106.7). In the latest spring rating period, the station climbed to No. 2 in the L.A. market, beating out KROQ, which has slipped to third.

"I'm so stoked," said Ken Christensen, vice president and general manager of KSCA and the other Hispanic Broadcasting Corp. stations in L.A., of the resurgence.

He attributed KSCA's rise to the return of listeners that had defected briefly to KXOL. "They tried it, it didn't really meet their expectations and they've come back to KSCA," he said.

KROQ made headlines when it knocked off KSCA in the spring 2001 ratings, making it the first English-language station to dominate in L.A. since 1995.

KROQ lost its market lead to the new No. 1, hip-hop station KPWR-FM (105.9). KSCA came in a close second, according to the latest Arbitron ratings.

That KPWR, which draws a large Latino audience, and Spanish-language KSCA hold the top two spots also says something about the growing influence of Latino listeners. "The population shift continues to be reflected in the ratings," said Don Barrett, founder of the local industry Web site LARadio.com.

Rounding out the top five were pop station KIIS-FM (102.7) and adult contemporary station KOST-FM (103.5). KFI-AM (640) came in at No. 6 but remains the top talk station in the market, despite have dropped a bit in the ratings. Competitors KLSX-FM (97.1) and KABC-AM (790) also saw their numbers go down. Meanwhile, low-rated talk station KLAC-AM (570) managed to show some improvement.

Overall, the spike in ratings for news and talk stations that followed the Sept. 11 attacks has proven to be only a temporary gain. KFWB-AM (980) is back where it was last summer. While KNX-AM (1070) continues to beat out its sister station, its ratings were slightly down.

Tennis Anyone?

The timing isn't great in the midst of a severe media recession, but that's not stopping the Santa Monica-based Tennis Channel from serving up its programming launch later this year.

Tennis coach and promoter Steve Bellamy and David Meister, who helped start Cinemax and The Sundance Channel, have amassed a group of investors for their 24-hour tennis network that include tennis pro Pete Sampras, former Viacom Inc. executive Frank Biondi, and powerhouse sports and talent agency International Management Group.

The network has been working on a long-term affiliation agreement with the National Cable Television Cooperative, which reaches 14.5 million cable subscribers. A letter of intent was recently signed for an affiliation that would continue through 2011.

Last month, the channel signed an affiliation agreement with Time Warner Cable that will offer the service to some of its 12.8 million subscribers.

Aside from live tennis coverage, the channel will feature news, instructional programming and profiles of tennis players, Bellamy said.

While The Tennis Channel has a "great group of investors," Bellamy conceded that the uncertain economy has slowed efforts to launch the ad-supported network.

Jazz Mystery

KLON-FM (88.1) will be changing its call letters in August but the new name is being kept secret. Rumors that the public radio station is interested in the call letters KJAZ formerly used to identify the station that recently became KSUR-AM (1260) are untrue, according to KLON Program Director Rene Engel.

Someone from the Long Beach station had expressed an interest in the call letters, according to Saul Levine, owner of KSUR, but earlier this year, the KJAZ call letters were moved to a Northern California station owned by Levine's Mount Wilson FM Broadcasters Inc. and are no longer available.

Levine recently agreed to donate the KJAZ name to a public FM radio station but he would not reveal which one. The call letters cost Levine about $60,000.

"The KLON call letters are a heritage thing in this marketplace," said Mary Beth Garber, president of the Southern California Broadcasters Association. Engel declined to comment on the pending call letter switch.



Staff reporter Claudia Peschiutta can be reached at (323) 549-5225 ext. 229, or at cpeschiutta@labusinessjournal.com.

Morning Anchor Looking at Options

It took the "KTLA Morning News" a while to recover from last year's departure of popular anchor Barbara Beck. Now, the future of another member of the morning news team is in doubt.

Carlos Amezcua's contract runs out next month and while negotiations with KTLA-TV (Channel 5) continued as of last week, La Opinion recently reported that the co-anchor is considering making a change.

"After 11 years, I think about my future, in doing more than what I'm doing now," he told the Spanish-language newspaper.

Mendes Napoli, Amezcua's agent, told the Business Journal that "we are in negotiations with KTLA right now and they would like him to stay. We are trying to work that out."

But he added, "It would be customary at a time like this to look at other options."

KTLA News Director Jeff Wald said the station wants Amezcua to stay, but he declined to comment on the negotiations. While not familiar with Amezcua's contract, local television insiders said local morning anchors generally make between $500,000 and $1 million a year.

Beck left during the May 2001 sweeps period, during which time the "KTLA Morning News" posted a 3.1 rating. That put the show behind rival "Good Day L.A.," the KTTV-TV (Channel 11) morning news program, which earned a 3.3.

"There was some sampling of our competition in that period," Wald said. "Whenever you make a change, even if it's for the better, there is a dip for a short period."

Giselle Fernandez, a former KTLA reporter and co-anchor, returned to the station in October 2001 to replace Beck. The competing morning shows came out tied in this year's May sweeps.

Claudia Peschiutta

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