(Updated May 2008)
As has been happening in radio stations since they were invented there was a change of management at KKQV. It happened near the end of 1987. I seem to recall that it might have been an ownership change too, I’m not sure. The new manager fired the old Program Director and brought in a new one. In our case this new PD was one Jay Fox. His On-Air name was The Fox That Rocks.
To this day that name still embodies all that is stupid about the radio business. Maybe it’s just me but god what a self-important idiotic name to give yourself.
Anyway, Jay was new to Wichita Falls, he came from somewhere in the midwest: a long way from North Texas. On his first day in town (or damn close to it) he had a meeting with the air-staff to announce his plans for this perpetually floundering Top 40.
Though KKQV had just won Billboard Magazine’s 1987 Small Market Top-40 Station of the year award, our ratings never recovered from the beating that KJ Stone engineered when he took over the PD position from Eddie MacMurphy sometime in 1985. KJ added a lot of oldies. A lot of strange oldies to a fairly successful format.
When KJ took over, KKQV enjoyed a 25 share (25% of the radio market) and was number two behind the perennial Country station winner KLUR. No one ever beat KLUR. Everyone in town loved country music, even the rockers. Three quarters of our listeners at KKQV also listened to KLUR. Same with all the other stations. But we were quite happy being the #1 Top-40 station. God only knows why KJ changed the format or why he was allowed to change it. but when the first book came out KKQV went from a 25 share to about a 12-15.
The other Top-40 in town, KNIN, kicked our ass and continued to do so the entire time I was there. In the 3-plus years I was there KKQV changed owners once or twice and Program Directors several times but it never regained it’s top position. All thanks to, in my opinion, the bonehead move by KJ to add all those oldies to the format.
For you students of the radio biz this was just about the time that “Hot Hits” came onto the scene. The Hot Hits stations had a playlist of about 20 songs and they were wiping the floor with the “established” stations in towns all across the country. The ones that had bigger playlists including a bunch of oldies. Did KNIN change to Hot Hits? Nope they just continued to execute a real nice, clean Top-40. We shot ourselves in the foot. Something radio stations still do to this day.
OK where was I? Ahhh yes, The Fox that Rocks had his first meeting with the KKQV air-staff. Much to our surprise he announced a format change. Or more correctly a format shift, a change in direction. We were still going to be Top-40 (or as it was then being called CHR or Contemporary Hit Radio), but with a difference. I still remember, to this day, what he said.
“We are going to do something that has never been heard in this market. We are going to play music that they [the listeners] haven’t heard in a long time: Oldies. Lots of great forgotten oldies.”
First of all how does this moron, who just arrived in town, know what has and has not been done before? Did he do any research? Did he even poll the staff? Did he even take his head out of his self important ass long enough to look into the history of the station he was about to make over?
- He doesn’t
I walk out of that meeting shaking my head. As we walk to our cars, dazed looks in our eyes, I turn to legendary Wichita Falls DJ Mad Martin and say, “You do remember what KJ Stone did a couple of years ago, right?” He just shook his head.
A few months later I am in New Jersey. I seem to remember hearing that “The Fox that Rocks” didn’t last much longer at KKQV. Hope he learned from his mistakes.
The day after this went live a friend that I met at KKQV, Jim Crossan wrote me about this. It’s fun when a personal catharsis provokes a similar reaction.
I got off the plane in Wichita Falls in early April, ’85. I heard McCartney’s “Venus & Mars/Rock Show” on my Walkman (which I liked a lot as an AOR tune) before even leaving the airport. I thought for a minute about getting on the next plane out and heading back home.
A couple weeks later I tuned in to hear KJ Stone at night playing “Roll On Down The Highway” by Bachman Turner Overdrive… a great rock tune but not appropriate for that station at that moment. I remember the record skipped and right after that the station went off the air for a couple of days. During the Spring ratings book!
Next thing I knew the ratings came in and QV went from something like a 20 to a 10. KNIN went from around a 10 to a 20. I thought -after being there about a month- they were going to put me on a plane home! QV might as well have been simulcasting QVC at that point! It really had become “WKRP In Wichita Falls.”
But things eventually worked out when 1) the very creative Don Baillargeon, who could do a lot with a little, became GM, 2) Don brought my wife Joanne in as morning show cohost, which led to a lot of AM Drive fun and 3) The Stever [God I forgot I used that awful “nickname -sigh-] was made PD! We had a great Fall at QV. I wish it had lasted longer but it was what it was, a good time, a fun place to work, great memories and a couple of lifelong friendships.
My good pal Steve Reggie from Metro Traffic NYC has always said that Steve Chambers was better than the market and belonged on in afternoons in Orlando or Austin. […]
And BTW, I recently got back in a couple days a week with Citadel Broadcasting here in my hometown on their Oldies & Hot A/C stations. It’s much more fun when you’re not working as a deejay to pay the mortgage. I’ll show up until they tell me not to or change the locks! It’s now what I do instead of golf or play cards…
And as fate would have it…
It’s April 2008, two years since I wrote this. I wrote it not because I had an axe to grind, rather because I was bored, between jobs and climbing the walls. It was an anecdote from my past: fodder for the website. And nothing more.It’s been twenty years who cares anymore?
Ahem, it seems like The Fox That Rocks cares.
Nice Blog on me. However, I NEVER added Oldies to the format and was not known as Jay Fox then. We added DANCE Music. It was not my idea, it was Reggie Jorden’s idea. If you’ll remember, we went from LAST Place to first place in 14 weeks with the format you were against.
Until today, I had fond memories of the staff at QV103. Thanks for beign a jerk.
Jay Fox ABC Radio Network ( I’ve been here for 16 years, where have you been?)
Dude get a grip, that was twenty years ago. Really my last couple of months at KKQV went by in a blur, the only thing I remember is that one meeting, I remember nothing about the music you put there nor the ratings as I was already halfway out the door. You seemed like a nice enough guy, for what it is worth. I certainly hold no ill will. See the first sentence as to why.
I guess I hit a nerve. I mean why else the pathetic dig at the end?
Originally posted before I added WordPress to this site. Published date is approximate.
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