Sacramento Radio History Montage #3
SacTV.com "Video of the Day" review by
Alex Cosper on March 21, 2012
Sacramento freeform radio was shaped by its owners in the 1960s and 1970s, just as more structured
programming was shaped by more business-minded owners of the 1980s. Dennis Newhall was a KZAP jock
in 1972 when KZAP's first owner Lee Gahagan committed suicide in 1972, which led to new ownership that
preserved freeform but began to give jocks rules to follow. In the report The Legend of KZAP
three different accounts are given as to possible reasons why the original KZAP owner took his own life.
KZAP's first Music Director Jeff Hughson mentions how Gahagan had acquired the station four years earlier,
after the FCC forced an owner to sell the station KXRQ, which he had operated out of a hotel room.
Earth Radio became KZAP's competitor in 1974 and Dennis Newhall became the freeform station's Program Director
in 1976, returning to town from San Jose rock station KSJO. Newhall led Earth Radio in a more rock-oriented
direction with jock freedom while KZAP mixed rock with a lot of other styles, including classical and country.
Both KZAP and Earth Radio were pioneers at giving morning shows to women. KZAP's morning show in 1975 was Marla then
Diane Michaels was the 6-10am voice on KSFM from 1977 to the final days of its Earth Radio programming in 1979.
Tony Cox had worked at AM station 1240 KROY in the late seventies during AM's final era for
being the top choice to hear the latest hits. He made the transition to the station's sister FM that
evolved from top 40 to rock in the early to mid eighties.
The spirit of 1960s and 1970s radio for both AM top 40 and FM freeform stations is beyond description,
although Cox points out that this vibe could be felt throughout the building. He talks about how
spontaneity drove the excitement for radio back then and how that all got lost with too much market
research. Radio shares did, in fact, drop each decade since the eighties, although revenue hit high
peaks in the 1980s and 1990s. By the 2000s, when these interviews were shot, radio had become run
by corporations that struggled with budgets and new competition from new technology, to the degree commerce
clearly overshadowed art, except for public radio.
This montage also features Dennis Newhall, Tony Cox (KROY), Jeff Hughson (KZAP) and Diane Michaels (Earth Radio).
Read more about Sacramento radio history at Playlist Research.
Create professional media in Sacramento
© SacTV.com. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Statement