KYOT (95.5) – Phoenix – Sep ’93 (stunting: Amer. Radio Museum)
At Noon on September 2, 1993, following a sale from Edens Broadcasting to Sundance Broadcasting, CHR “Y95” ceased to exist on KOY 95.5 FM in Phoenix.
For the next 24 hours, a stunt known as “American Radio Museum” would air on the frequency. According to Wikipedia, the stunt featured “loops of quotes from famous people and figures from American pop culture and history.” This aircheck contains two sweepers from that stunt, along with one of the “special Arizona exhibits”.
On September 3, 1993, “95.5 the Coyote” debuted with a format known as “Rhythm and Rock”. This aircheck also contains a promo that aired during the early days of “The Coyote”, featuring feedback from the station’s listeners. (Six months later, the format switched to Smooth Jazz, with “The Coyote” name remaining intact.)
At the end of the aircheck is a promo that begin airing on Rhythmic CHR KKFR “Power 92” on the afternoon of September 2, 1993, inviting displaced Y95 listeners over to 92.3 FM. The promo claimed that Power 92 “won’t sell out” — yet that’s pretty much what happened 3 1/2 months later, as their successful Rhythmic CHR format (and almost all hip-hop and R&B songs) was replaced with a considerably less successful Modern Rock-oriented Mainstream CHR format.
The final days of Y95 (although not THE final day) can be heard towards the end of this aircheck.
Thanks to Beau Duran for contributing the logo!
EDIT: And thanks to John Davis for the amazing behind-the-scenes insider info posted as a comment below!
Since it will take longer to find the post on the former R-I site than it would be for me to tell it again, here’s a view of KYOT from someone who was there.
Was Rhythm & Rock a stunt? No. The late Mike Jorgenson was absolutely serious about that format working. I don’t think that’s what was intended to happen to Y-95, but it did.
When Sundance bought KOY-AM & FM, they hired some AOR people to create a rock station to go along with its AAA KZON. I doubt that they kept this stop on their resume, though. There was a PD and jock that used to work at KLPX in Tucson, a very well known voice imaging talent who had been on air in the market at KUPD, and an off-the-wall guy from KFOG. I heard a snippet of a composite done in the prod room and it sounded like a Rock-40 approach. Whether or not this composite was the decided upon format I’m not sure, but it’s what they were going to bring to Jorgy.
But Edens got in trouble for not keeping a good EEO file right before the sale was announced and shortly thereafter the FCC got involved in an internal dispute over what would be a fair punishment for EEO violations. Until the FCC could make up its mind over the proper fine, they wouldn’t settle the violation and until the violation was settled, the sale couldn’t be approved. This took the FCC at least 6 months. So all the people hired for the station had about 6 months to cool their heels and wait.
Somewhere in between, Jorgenson got inspiration from sitting in what was then known as America West Arena. During time-outs at Phoenix Suns games, the arena played upbeat rock and R&B songs. These songs made people happy and dance around. This, in his eyes, was an untapped radio format. Rhythm and Rock. Given his affinity for the obscure, some of the R&B oldies had to be tracked down by Johnny D and dubbed from vinyl.
Also, the disc jockeys heard in the earlier composite were out. Mike decided that disc jockeys made too much money standing around in the studio (his ultra conservative politics were legendary) and thus to make them more useful their job would be to produce commercials and imaging all day. [Jorgenson tried this approach on KZON for a disastrous period of time where all jocks voice-tracked their shows and spent the rest of their time doing production later. He could never quit tinkering with the place.] So voice actors were hired to record vignettes to go between the records, including Pat Buttram (Mr. Haney from Green Acres). The end result was if the music mix didn’t make you ask what the hell you just heard, the production between the songs did.
So, all the songs were loaded into giant CD jukeboxes and the audio was loaded into one of the first hard drive systems and set to press play.
Except for two problems. After pulling off the Radio Museum stunt in less than a week, the production folks were sent home to rest. After pulling an all-nighter getting the automation ready to go, I (a part-time college student) asked what was supposed to introduce the format. They forgot to ask production to create one before sending them home. So the creative director and I came up with something to play at noon. Second problem: the PD scheduled music from noon to midnight for the first day because the station was stunting until noon. (the stunting was being played off of DAT in a temporary control room) The new automation couldn’t handle a 12 hour long music log. So noon to midnight was copied into midnight to noon to create a 24 hour log.
Meanwhile, down the hall, a client party was happening. A media buyer, who had won the right to fire the first song off of the touch screen (hey, this was cutting edge in 1993) was ushered into the studio, where a TV crew from channel 10 was set to cover it live. At 12 noon, the board op fired the cart that we produced earlier in the morning. Down the hall in engineering, the engineer waited for me to shout “now” at the end of the cart so he could pull the patch cord to make the control room live.
And then the wrong song played.
The last song from the 11 AM hour (which was intended to play just before midnight that night) was Todd Rundgren “Bang The Drum All Day.”
The first song of the Noon hour was Ike & Tina Turner’s “Nutbush City Limits.” That was Mike Jorgenson’s handpicked tune.
Somebody didn’t clear off Bang The Drum, so that’s what song got played first.
And it went downhill from there. Within a matter of months, all of the people hired for KYOT were let go. I was made full-time as Operations Manager and my job was to “run” the radio station namely because I understood the automation. I could never schedule music too far in advance because the direction changed first weekly and then daily. One day it was alternative. The next day more R&B. The edict to never play a ballad really hamstrung us. The PD for the group got his hands on a printout of the ARRO music library from KCBS, which was the hot format of the day. We couldn’t play most of it because Mike didn’t like it.
The ratings came in: we inherited a 1.9 from Y-95. KYOT took it to 0.9. Mike finally said that it was a sign he should stick to sales and let programming do its thing. That’s not to say he stopped micromanaging the radio station, but he did open R&R, saw that a station in Seattle had just changed format from Smooth Jazz, called them up, bought their CD library, found their former PD, and hired him.
We sent DAT machines and RE-20 mics to several well known NAC air talents and hired them as freelancers. One of the “Customer Service Reps” hired to answer the request lines while the stations were automated was made full time and his job was to dub the voice tracks into the automation system. Geoffrey Holder (the Cola Nut man from the 7-Up commercials, in addition to his acting work in Bond films) was hired as the imaging voice. KYOT became successful.
And this time, I got to be the guy to fire the first song. I fired the correct one. Of course, the dodgy next-event button sent two pulses and briefly also started the second, but that’s another story.