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Radio AM to FM - June 5, 1998

Car Radio's back!

Well, not really. But Saul Levine is trying his best to make the ill-fated former KHJ format look really good, all the while going against the spirit, if not the actual rules, of the FCC.

Levine, who owns KGIL (1260 AM), KBCX (540 AM) , and KKGO (105.1 FM) has just flipped the format of his KGXL (1650 AM) from a simulcast of KGIL's adult standards format to all traffic, all the time, K-Traffic.

Stop laughing, I'm serious.

Apparently, Levine feels that his nostalgia format could not compete on the 1650 frequency, so he figured it was time to give Los Angeles what it really wants -- traffic radio. His reasoning? 1650 wasn't showing up in the Arbitron Ratings, while simulcast sister KGIL did.

Of course, Levine forgot to consider the fact that both stations were called simply "KGIL" on the air, so all credit would go to the 1260 frequency no matter to which station Arbitron diary holders actually tuned. And he apparently forgot that few radios, and even fewer car radios, actually can tune to 1650, so his placement of traffic reports on that frequency can only be stated as, well, not well thought out.

And if that weren't enough, Levine's move may actually be illegal. The FCC allocated the expanded AM band (1605-1705) as a way to reduce interference on the rest of the band. The idea is that the owner will simulcast the same format as another co-owned station for five years, when the original station will go off the air and reduce interference to all remaining AM stations. It was never intended as a way for an owner to gain a new station without paying for the spectrum.

In any event, the new format proves that Levine has no business running a group of radio stations.

Heftel Expands

Heftel, owner of KLVE (107.5 FM) and KSCA (101.9 FM) has announced an agreement to purchase KJQY and KKLQ in San Diego, continuing to pursue their corporate plan of buying English-language stations and turning them Spanish. The deal is expected to close by mid-Summer; the format changes will occur as soon as the transfer of ownership takes place.

Heftel president and CEO Mac Tichenor, Jr. told (italics)Radio and Records(/italics) that "buying English-formatted stations and converting them to Spanish is an essential part of our strategy." Sounds like he's on a mission.

Formerly very popular in San Diego, KKLQ and KJQY have stumbled under the direction of current owner Jacor, but have still maintained respectable ratings. In the Winter, 1998 Arbitrons, KKLQ earned a 2.3 share, while KJQY was right below at 2.2.