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Radio | AROUND THE DIAL

Mega 100 Parties On

After 12 months on the air, KCMG-FM continues to leap in the ratings with unique urban oldies format.

October 15, 1998|KEVIN BAXTER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Apparently Bob Visotcky likes to celebrate. Or maybe it's just that, in his short tenure as vice president and general manager of KCMG-FM (100.3), there's been much cause for celebration.

Either way, Tuesday he treated his staff to a long lunch that featured toasts all around to mark another milestone ratings period for his station's unique format of urban, rhythmic oldies. And next month, he's treating 8,000 of his closest friends to a party at Disneyland to mark KCMG's first birthday.

When Visotcky introduced the station last November, the launch party featured synchronized swimmers, so in just 12 months KCMG has gone from nose plugs to mouse ears. It's also gone from a 1.7 Arbitron rating and 23rd place in the market--the last figures posted by dance-music station KIBB, which previously broadcast at 100.3--to a 3.2 rating and 11th place.

But more significant is the fact that Mega 100, as the station is known, improved for the third straight ratings book and finished second among English-language broadcasters in the key 25-54 age group demographic most sought by advertisers, beating such established stations as KRTH-FM (101.1), KPWR-FM (105.9), KROQ-FM (106.7) and KIIS-FM (102.7).

"When you have a two-to-three book average that shows you're still growing, it proves to the audience that you're for real," Visotcky said. "To be the No. 2 station in such a short time shows something. And we haven't peaked yet."

Although morning show co-host Monica Brooks, formerly of KPWR, and midday deejays Cristina Kelly and Mario DeVoe, have built loyal listenerships, the real impetus behind KCMG's success is the music. The station's well-defined playlist of rhythmic oldies by the likes of Santana, War, Kool & the Gang and Marvin Gaye, plus slow jams from Heatwave, the Stylistics and others, has allowed it to cross ethnic lines and build a multicultural audience of Latinos, white, blacks and Asians.

It has also established Mega 100 as a "flanker station," one that doesn't directly compete with any other in the marketplace, but rather draws listeners away from a number of stations--in this case, from urban music and classic oldies stations.

This isn't the first time Visotcky has turned a station around. In 1994, when he took over Chancellor-owned KWLD-FM (107.7) in San Francisco, the station was struggling to hold its 2.9 share of the local audience. But by the time Visotcky left three years later, that number had nearly doubled.

"He's a great motivator," remembers Kathy Adams, KWLD's executive assistant to the general manager. "What makes the success of his stations is he knows how to make a team."

Oh, and there's one other thing Adams remembers about her former boss.

"Bob," she says, "loves an excuse to party."

Renaissance Man: The new station managers at KIEV-AM (870) gave Raul Martinez an unusual gift last August to mark his second anniversary on the air. They gave him a pink slip, canceling his weekly cigar-themed interview show.

But after a month of uncertainty, Martinez has come to view his sacking as an opportunity--one that led him across town to KLSX-FM (97.1), where his show has been given the 11 p.m.-midnight time slot on Sundays.

"I don't take it personally," says Martinez, whose show made its FM debut Oct. 4. "It's business."

And it's a business that's likely to grow for Martinez. Not only has his show expanded by a half-hour, but KLSX's younger-skewing demographics seem much more appropriate for Martinez's unique, lifestyle-oriented program. Not to mention the fact that KLSX's affiliation with CBS radio should give him a step up in his goal to syndicate the show.

"Realistically, I have a guest list nobody in L.A. radio--much alone the nation--has matched," Martinez says. "The fact the program is a cigar lifestyle show makes it all the more intriguing."

Especially for his guests. The invitation to talk at length about cigars has smoked out such diverse interview subjects as Francis Ford Coppola, Milton Berle, Dean Stockwell and Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal, the man who once allegedly ran Las Vegas for the mob. Martinez has even upstaged the big boys, outmaneuvering two television networks by arranging an exclusive interview with smugglers who have grown wealthy by running the U.S. embargo on Cuban tobacco.

"CBS and Telemundo came into the studio and filmed the show," he says proudly.

Martinez, 39, got his start on radio as a student at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, where he produced a daily jazz program for KUNV-FM (91.5). After college, he worked for a while in his family's two Southern California nightclubs and eventually became enamored with the social side of cigar smoking.

"It's an opportunity for people to get together to talk," he says. "Any time you light up a cigar, you're talking about a commitment of time. You're talking about 35 minutes. It's a chance to relax and talk."

Martinez briefly entertained thoughts of opening a tobacco store before a more natural approach revealed itself.

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