Interview with Jeff Hughson #1: The Dawn of Freeform Radio
SacTV.com "Video of the Day" review by
Alex Cosper on March 26, 2012
Freeform radio is an experimental form of radio programming that allows its presenters to choose whatever
music they want for their shows. Sacramento's history of freeform radio traces even further back to the late
sixties when KZAP entered the FM dial. KZAP is most remembered as the region's freeform time marker
because the freeform approach lasted the longest and was the most successful of all attempts to let
jocks pick their own music. The frequency 98.5 in Sacramento had already been somewhat of an experiment and made
local radio history when the FCC mandated the owner had to sell KXRQ, who played soft hits in the day
and jazz at night, due to not meeting operation standards. The station had broadcast from a hotel.
Another station that originated its broadcast from a hotel, also on Auburn Boulevard, was KJML at 106.5 FM, which
became KWOD in 1977. Cary Nosler was playing progressive music on KJML in 1966. Perhaps the earliest
show in town that featured new music you couldn't hear in regular programming was "The Gear Hour"
on AM top 40 station 1470 KXOA, hosted by Johnny Hyde, who later programmed 1240 KROY, which his #1
in Sacramento in 1968. After KXRQ went dark for about four months and was built by a team that
included Jeff Hughson, KZAP was born on November 8, 1968.
Hughson and Nosler were among the original air staff hired at KZAP along with Fred Gaines and
Charlie Weiss. The station was owned by Lee Gahagan and managed by Ed Fitzgerald. Jeff Hughson was
the station's first Music Director and Promootions Director. Hughson was the only KZAP jock who
also had worked at KXRQ before it went dark. Hughson built KZAP's original music library with a
little help from his friend, Tom Donahue, who programmed legendary freeform stations in KMPX
and KSAN in San Francisco. This video footage was shot on Feb. 28, 2004 and stands up as historic
content that describes the early days of KZAP. Read more about The Legend of KZAP at Playlist Research.
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