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Adult Alternative Album Format Back on Dial

Radio: Sister stations KACD-FM and KBCD-FM pick up where the old KSCA-FM left off, offering a blend of folk-based and classic-rock artists.

October 24, 1998|IRENE GARCIA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

When KSCA-FM switched from an adult alternative album format to Spanish language almost two years ago, the station received a deluge of letters, faxes and calls from upset listeners.

The station was never a ratings hit, but it had a loyal following of mostly upscale baby boomers who threatened to boycott radio if their beloved format was eliminated.

Well, listen up. Adult alternative made a comeback this week, this time on KACD-FM and KBCD-FM (sister stations in Los Angeles and Orange County that both are heard on the 103.1 frequency). The format includes a blend of folk-based and classic-rock-rooted artists, both old and new, electric and acoustic.

And Nicole Sandler, former music director and on-air personality at KSCA, has the same role at KACD/KBCD, based in Santa Monica. Like the old KSCA, she says, KACD/KBCD will feature artists like Eric Clapton, Bob Marley, U2 and the Dave Matthews Band.

"It's also almost two years later, so there's a lot of new music to play," she said.

The station is billing itself as World Class Rock, and Sandler is calling the operation a dream come true. "It feels like we were away a lifetime," she said. "I can't tell you how great it is to be back."

Sandler was working at a San Diego radio station owned by media giant Jacor Communications when the company took over operation of KACD/KBCD (formerly Groove Radio) last week with the idea of making it adult alternative. Jacor, whose 201 stations made more than $607 million last year, also owns KIIS-FM (102.7).

"They knew my love for this format," Sandler said. "There are a lot of artists that are ignored by L.A. radio."

Not anymore. Adult alternative made its debut at 103.1 on Monday at 5 p.m. with an emotional speech from Sandler, followed by Ziggy Marley's "People Get Ready."

By Monday night the station had received a barrage of calls from ecstatic listeners, and an Internet chat group in YellowRoom, a Web site dedicated to "quality music," was flooded with mail from fans.

One called the last 20 months without adult alternative "the dark period." Another said of Sandler's return to L.A.: "This must be a dream. Somebody pinch me." Another wrote: "Excellent, excellent, excellent selection of music. Not too loud, not too soft."

A lot of former KSCA listeners won't get 103.1 loud and clear, however, because the station's signals reach only Orange County and the Westside of Los Angeles clearly.

And that isn't likely to change, says new KACD/KBCD general manager Roy Laughlin, who is also the general manager at KIIS-FM. "This format is not a commercial giant, so it can't command a commercial giant signal," he said, even though his sales staff says many San Fernando Valley advertisers are disappointed.

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