Tom Yates is the former Program Director of KLSX/Los Angeles. He now owns KOZT/Mendocino.
“You can’t program a Rock station without Simple Minds”…the ultimate turndown line from a very talented personality we tried to recruit in 1986.
“It may have worked in Texas but this is L.A..” …yet another turndown.
“It’ll last maybe three months and burn out”…a competing G.M.
“No one will support you”….a label exec…
“Who would listen to that ?…a prominent consultant….
…And on and on and on.
Some of the keenest minds in the business (at least they said they were) predicted career suicide for anyone signing on to this “Classic Rock” thing. Greater Media saw it differently, and near the end of September, 1986, KLSX became “L.A.’s Classic Rock.” No one loved us except the people. Phones went off the hook, actual letters were written thanking us and, with all the naysaying and doubt of the industry, Southern California accepted “L.A.’s Classic Rock” as a friend and companion… It rolled really fast…
The next mental visual for me? The book clobbered the other rockers, triggering huge market changes. Hosting the former staff of KMET around Valentine’s Day 1987 to say good-bye as The Mighty ‘Met left the format and became The Wave. The graceful message from KLOS G.M. saying “I can make plenty of billing as Number Two.” That’s just some of the emotional stuff…An excellent ride… And thanks to Fred Jacobs and Tom Bender and everyone else who laid the groundwork to make it happen.
At a time when Rock Radio was heading for irrelevance, Fred came up with a plan that not only revitalized Rock Radio, but radio overall by bringing disaffected listeners back as well as creating new ones. This new cume was a big part of what really was a revolution. Classic Rock also revived many a musician’s career and gave the new Compact Disc format a real shot. It’s radio that works for the listener and for the clients… And has for decades now. As radio battles with all the new alternatives, looking for the next Big Thing, that’s an important lesson from Jacobs Media. It’s all about compelling content.