Herbert McCord is the former President of Greater Media.
It seems so simple in retrospect-develop a format that plays nothing but familiar, high testing AOR classics, but it certainly seemed radical at the time and I remember almost every major AOR programmer lampooning the idea. Where are they now?
I was running Greater Media at the time and we had dramatic success with the format at WCSX in Detroit, so we decided to try it at our most important station, KLSX in Los Angeles. We switched from a soft A.C. “Magic” format at 4:00 PM on a Friday, with no warning, and spent all weekend dealing with calls from listeners complaining that a pirate station was interfering with our signal.
Bob Moore, the general manager of KLSX and the Sales Department loved the format, but none of us knew whether it would work or not. We were up against KLOS and KMET, two of the most legendary AOR stations in the world, and they, and the record industry, treated us dismissively.
Several weeks after the format switch and before we had seen any trends, we got one of the biggest orders in our history from a friend of mine who ran an L.A. ad agency that represented most of the independent car dealers in L.A. I called to thank him for the order and asked him why he bought us without any numbers. He told me that their dealers taught their salespeople to ask people what their favorite radio stations were while they were taking down their sales information. He said that by the second weekend we were on the air, we ranked among the top five stations in the market among potential new car buyers. I knew we had a hit on our hands.
As I remember, we beat both KLOS and KMET in the first book and several years later KMET became “The Wave” and dropped AOR completely. As a listener, classic rock remains my favorite format and I can usually tell by listening whether you guys are involved with the station. It’s surprising that twenty years later, how many programmers there are that still don’t get it.