Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Silicon Valley Is Aghast That All-News AM KLIV Is About To Switch Format; Where Have You Heard This Before? Tuesday Launch

KLIV, the frenetic all-news outlet tucked way back at 1590 AM is about to dump its format (where have we heard this before?); a lot of people in the South Bay are aghast at all this, but welcome to corporate broadcasting, people.

I'll give credit to Robert S. Kieve, President of Empire Broadcasting, which owns KLIV, for at least being frank:

Here's his statement:

Within a few weeks, KLIV will be changing its format. The high expenses of running a news station and declining ad revenues have become too great.
Indeed, in the 30 years that KLIV has been a local news station, it has never made a profit; it has lost money every year. 2015 was the worst year in our history.
We’ll retain many features that have made KLIV distinctive – Carl Guardino’s weekly programs, our traffic reports, the voice of John McLeod, Phil Cosentino’s Produce Reports, commentaries about local issues by local community issues, speakers from the San Jose Rotary Club and from the Commonwealth Club. And yes, the “Secret Sound.”
In place of local newscasts, we’ll play the best country music of the 80’s and 90’s.
We will miss our small news staff, especially its leader, George Sampson. They’ve done a wonderful job.
We hope that you can view this change with sympathy – and that you give our new format a fair listen. Although the changes are still weeks away, we wanted you to know about our plans.
So, at least he's honest and up front. That doesn't make him an angel but, hey, they're losing money, what to do? They don't spit out mass bullshit like the Cloud Company.
Maybe I'm being naive, but you would think that deep in the heart of CASH country--Silicon Valley; where mega-rich companies like Google and Facebook offer free, home-cooked meals as part of the daily lunch; provide the benefits to their staff that would be the envy of a Dubai sheik; that someone, some company, some BIG entity, would step to the plate and preserve this local broadcast treasure, again, maybe I'm being severely naive.
The idea that a part of the world so connected; literally and figuratively; could be devoid of 24/7 radio broadcast news, even in this environment, seems crazy to me, ludicrous, really.
KLIV is supposedly going country;  I'm going out on a limb and say someone steps up to the plate and places a life preserver out to Empire. Long odds? Sure, but important people read this site and have the financial wherewithal to hammer out deals.
So, stay tuned.
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  1. Good lord, who in the hell is going to listen to 80s-90s country music on an AM station in Silicon Valley? If you are going to play music on an AM station, you may as well play music from an era (50s-60s) when records were produced to be heard on transistor and automobile AM radios.

    Nobody down here wants to perserve anything that is uniquely South Bay, because none of the players in the valley are actually from the valley (or the US, in many cases). You think BillyBob Dillweed from Ohio, working in Marcom at Google, gives a crap about what's happening in San Jose? All he cares about locally is in his hipster-loving San Francisco, where he lives and shuttles from every day down to Mountain View.

    1. Maybe those out of work engineers, replaced by foreign H1-B holders just can't afford FM radios.

    2. The Silicon Valley is trying to bring the third world to their home turf in order to put together their phones.

  2. Well, one could always hope for a re-incarnation of KFAT! Probably not, though

  3. Well, if there is going to be music on AM country music is best suited.

  4. Country music from the 80's and 90's in the bay area? That demo is listening to 560 neo-con radio all day, so good luck getting a piece of that 2.1 share share.

  5. I'm not sure I agree with of Rich's SV's white knight prediction, but I most certainly agree with his sentiment.

    Mr Kieve is an outstanding broadcaster and he has shown a firm commitment to KLIV's audience, employees, community (including the business community), and his advertisers by providing a information resource in a competitive and limiting circumstances. He stuck to it because he was right and my hats off to him.

    While his audience was small according to the ratings, they were loyal and I'm sure sincerely appreciated his and employees efforts.

    And if you look at some of the history of KLIV, it has done well under his stewardship because he served the audience first.

    And while I'm not a country fan, I look forward to streaming what KLIV is playing (I hope).

    So I say, well done Mr. Kieve. Well done!

  6. "Welcome to corporate broadcasting?" Fuck's sake, Rich, Kieve is exactly the kind of owner you've been mourning. He kept the format on the air---AT A LOSS---for 30 YEARS!

    And I don't exactly recall a lot of cyber-ink for KLIV from you in an effort to prop it up. Too busy commenting on the cleavage on KRON.

  7. I don't think Silicon Valley is "aghast" about the demise of KLIV's all-news format. I doubt very many people even know the station exists. And it's a not a surprise that Kieve is changing the format, I just wonder why he waited so long. He admitted KLIV has never made money, and that it was supported by its FM sister station KRTY. One problem KLIV had was that you can't do an all-news format on a shoe string. There would be times where the guy on the air would read wire story after wire story for maybe 10 minutes with no sound bites or anything to break up the monotony. The presentation wasn't that good. Kieve himself did some interesting editorials, and there were some clever stories from time to time. But I don't think San Jose was listening or supporting this station. San Jose is a bedroom community without much civic involvement or people who give a damn about what happens there. It's not like San Francisco, where everybody is some sort of activist. The two San Jose papers, the Merc and Metro, have been dying for years. I think Monday's Merc was 24 pages with few ads. And you may recall that KNTV was originally licensed for the San Jose-Monterey Bay market, but figured out that it would be more successful as a Bay Area station. That switch occurred before it was bought by NBC. But I'm just saying that any San Jose-only media operation is going to suffer.

  8. It must've killed Kieve to dump the news format on KLIV. 30 years as a money loser? Who does that? You can tell that station was his baby. I read that he is giving all of the fulltime employees being fired a years severance. That's pretty damn generous and not at all the way corporate radio operates today. I recall that Bill Weaver (another good guy) gave his KLOK FT'ers six months severance when he sold 1170 back in 1986. And George Snell kept Cottonseed Clark on the KEEN/KBAY payroll for years after he retired. In fact, the checks only stopped when Cotton passed away. Owners like Kieve, Weaver & Snell were unique in the business. Too bad they are the exceptions to the rule.

  9. Local treasure? The atmosphere in the newsroom was toxic, thanks to Assistant ND Kelly, the on air announcing, with the exception of Kim Vestal, was embarrassing, and the news coverage amounted to glorified public service announcements. This isn't a format change, it's a mercy killing.

  10. @1:30, The "switch" of KNTV to San Francisco occurred after it was acquired by NBC.

  11. @4:14, no the "switch" of KNTV to San Francisco happened on Sept. 1, 2000. NBC bought the station on Dec. 17, 2001 and it switched to NBC on Jan. 1, 2002. (http://www.bizjournals.com/eastbay/stories/2000/08/21/daily33.html) (http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/NBC-buys-KNTV-cuts-ties-to-KRON-Deal-affirms-2838310.php)

    1. @6:07, clarification. @1:30 said KNTV was "licensed" to the SJ-Monterey market and switched before the NBC acquisition. KNTV was "licensed" to transmit from Loma Prieta, covering SJ and Monterey, and was re-licensed to San Bruno ("switched" to bay area coverage) on 12/8/2005, well after the NBC acquisition.


      To the extent @1:30 used "switch" to mean KNTV's change in market designation from SJ-Monterey to the San Francisco DMA (per the cited bizjournals article), then that statement is correct, but not in the sense of a "license."

  12. It's the dumbing down of America that is killing off traditional all-news stations and newspapers. More people claim to get their news from Facebook than anywhere else. Really? That is what Facebookers consider news? And you wonder why its Trump and Clinton most likely facing off for President.

    1. Yeah, the dumbing down of America is alive and well. Just look at he 17 dummies who first ran for the GOP nomination. We're down to the 3 Stooges now, making the very smart and very capable Hillary Clinton win this puppy with ease.

  13. I was hoping that they would go oldies full time instead of 12 midnight to 5 am. At least classic country is not on another station in this market.

  14. This is the deal...
    I worked at Empire Broadcasting for a brief stint in 2005/06.
    The place was a dysfunctional "family".
    Kieve (who was 85 at the time) handed over reins to his "Empire" to G.M. Nate Deaton & PD Julie S. McGuirk, who, along with Sales Grand Dame, Tina Ferguson, focused all their efforts on the white horse that is KRTY'S country format.
    While this was happening, Crazy Uncle Bob kept the KLIV fledgling raft afloat so he could play "captain" and personaliy pretend that both he and KLIV were still relevant.
    The kicker was when KLIV became the official broadcast home for the San Jose Stealth (Major League Lacrosse). Now, I don't know about you, but MAYBE if u gave me free tickets and a 12-pack, I might go to a Lacrosse game... but there's no way in hell I'd watch one on t.v... So I'm assuming listening to one on the radio would be akin to the question, "What if paint were drying and no one was around to hear it?!"
    'Nuff said.

  15. Not to disagree with anything you are saying but what family or workplace is not dysfunctional? Dysfuctional is the reality for most folks.. Agreed on the Lacrosse odd choice for sporting programming but so is hockey. But at least he tried and tell me who hurt?

    And at Mr. Kieve knew when to hand over the reins and focus on what he loves: community radio and the community itself I suspect. His actions speak louder than his words.

    And KRTY is still worth a pretty penny. I think he did good.

  16. I give more credibility to KLIV than the 1:10 post. This person obviously has issues which explains the "brief stint" at a station that has been legendary for keeping most of it's air staff for many years.

  17. I totally agree Rabbit...and Mr Kieve is a fair and very loyal guy. This we both agree on. And Hell yes those little towers from Story Rd have generated amazing $$$$$. My hats off to him and the staff he's surrounded himself with on that.
    KLIV on the other hand over the same period...Vanity project (hobby, probably more accurate, if u will) and I assume tax write off. Which was the basis of my original point.

  18. 5:28..I'm assuming your's is the only car in the bay area to have it on your radio preset. Congrats.

    I'll tell you what, if you have any kind of ad budget, feel free to put it on KLIV;)

  19. "Maybe I'm being naive, but you would think that deep in the heart of CASH country--Silicon Valley; where mega-rich companies like Google and Facebook offer free, home-cooked meals as part of the daily lunch; provide the benefits to their staff that would be the envy of a Dubai sheik; that someone, some company, some BIG entity, would step to the plate and preserve this local broadcast treasure, again, maybe I'm being severely naive."

    "The idea that a part of the world so connected; literally and figuratively; could be devoid of 24/7 radio broadcast news, even in this environment, seems crazy to me, ludicrous, really."

    Silicon Valley does have a lot of money, yes. Guess where the money has been invested though?

    YouTube. Facebook. Netflix. Pandora. Spotify. And any other social media/on-demand/interactive outlet/app you can name that puts information consumption in the hands of the customer.

    These new-media outlets have made an old-media fossil like KLIV obsolete especially among younger people. That's the hard truth: why do listeners need to wait for a set time to get traffic reports, when they can just pull up Google Maps or Waze on their smartphones and get instant real-time traffic? And why wait for the top of the hour for news when you can get the latest news anytime on the various news media websites/social media site?

    So YouTube, Pandora, etc. are where the quality advertisers (as opposed to Kars 4 Kids or Safe Light Repairs, whichever corny radio advertisers of the moment are) are going.

    Heck KLIV hasn't had actual 24-hour news updates for several years now (as opposed to KCBS who still does).