Tuesday, April 12, 2016

San Jose Radio: KLIV to Drop News For Country

KLIV 1590 AM -- among the last independent, all-news radio stations in Northern California -- abruptly announced it would change its format to country music in the coming weeks.

According to Mercury News, Under the steady hand of the station's 94-year-old majority owner, Robert Kieve, the focus remained stubbornly local: If you were tuned to 1590 on the AM dial, you heard traffic and weather reports about San Jose and Silicon Valley -- not San Francisco or the East Bay.

Kieve blamed the cost of news gathering and declining ad revenues for the shift. "Indeed, in the 30 years that KLIV has been a local news station, it has never made a profit," he said, "it has lost money every year. 2015 was the worst year in our history."

With only five news staffers, KLIV has far fewer guns than a robust news-gathering operation such as KCBS-AM, which finished No. 5 in the most recent San Jose Nielsen rankings -- it was No. 1 in the larger Bay Area market. KLIV ranked 20th in San Jose.

KLIV was trying to appeal to a Silicon Valley audience that skews younger, but the ratings repeatedly showed its listeners mostly had a hand cupped behind their ears, straining to hear. "Our ratings were pretty fair in the older demographic," Kieve said. "But most advertisers really don't care about old people, and as a result we haven't been getting much advertising."

KLIV 1590 AM (5 Kw DA-N) Red=Local Coverage Area
Some time in the next few weeks, the station will switch to "country classic" music from the 1980s and '90s, in tandem with its sister station, "hot country" KRTY 95.3 FM, which had been carrying KLIV financially for years. "That's probably a good tactical move for them because they'll have younger listeners on FM, and slightly older listeners on AM," Abrams said. "As a sales tool, that would be a good pairing."

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