KNAC is a radio station with fans, a playlist and deejays. It lacks just one thing a spot on the dial.
But KNAC’s supporters have a frequency in mind: 97.1, currently home to the struggling FM-talk station KLSX.
In recent weeks, KLSX executives have been deluged with letters, phone calls and electronic mail messages from KNAC supporters urging that the station abandon its talk format and become a heavy metal rock ‘n’ roll station anchored by shock jock Howard Stern’s popular morning talk show.
Hard rock listeners constitute “the only audience that has not been targeted in Los Angeles,” says Radi Todorov, one of the effort’s organizers. “There is an incredible market out there that nobody is tapping.”
KLSX’s response? Thanks, but no thanks.
“We are committed to the FM-talk format,” says Jack Silver, the station’s program director. “There is no chance that we will change.”
But Todorov and his compatriots believe Silver’s resolve could weaken if KLSX’s ratings fail to improve.
While the station thanks to Howard Stern dominates the morning drive time among English-speaking listeners, it has a difficult time holding onto Stern’s listeners after the shock jock signs off.
And Todorov is using that weakness to fuel his campaign for a format change.
KNAC developed a devoted following by playing such aggressive hard rock bands as Metallica, Judas Priest and Megadeth between 1986 and 1995, when the station changed ownership and became Spanish-language station KBUE-FM 105.5.
Since then, “pure rock” fans have kept the flame alive with a hotline and World Wide Web site, which details heavy metal events, local band shows, concerts and new CD releases. KNAC also sponsors heavy metal performances at various Southern California venues.
“We have the most fanatically loyal audience in the United States,” says Todorov. “But our fans have been completely abandoned by L.A. radio.”
There’s a reason for that, says Edith K. Whaley, vice president at Carat/ICG, a media buying and marketing service in Century City.
“(Hard rock) is a small segment of listeners. If the format delivered an audience, it would be on the air,” she said.