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Clear Channel shuffles music, talk stations in Sacramento

Starting Thursday, Sacramento radio listeners will be able to hear Rush Limbaugh on three stations — at least for the next few weeks.

KFBK's new logo bearing the FM frequency change. (Photo: KFBK/Facebook)
KFBK’s new logo bearing the FM frequency change. (Photo: KFBK/Facebook)

KFBK 1530 AM, branded as “NewsRadio KFBK,” began simulcasting on KHLX 93.1 FM early Thursday morning. Clear Channel, which owns KFBK and KHLX, is moving their simulcast off 92.5 FM, where it has aired since 2011.

The change on Thursday marked the end of KHLX’s four-year stint as a “classic hits” station. Since November, the station has played holiday music. The last song played on KHLX before it began simulcasting KFBK was “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

A decline in “ratings and revenue” was behind Clear Channel’s decision to end the “classic hits” format on KHLX in favor of the KFBK simulcast. Rival station KCCL-FM (“K-HITS 101.5”), which also broadcasts as “classic hits” format, declared victory over KHLX’s demise.

KFBK’s move off 92.5 FM allows Clear Channel to “reclaim” the frequency for other uses. Since 2007, the company has struggled to make 92.5 the powerhouse station it once was when it broadcast as KGBY and was the home of the wildly-popular “Paul and Phil” morning show.

In 2007, Clear Channel drastically changed KGBY when it changed its modern adult contemporary format to Top 40 and fired its on-air staff in favor of automation. The move was meant to draw in millennials who tuned out of traditional radio in favor of internet services like Pandora.

The new format flopped, prompting Clear Channel to do away with music on 92.5 FM altogether. In 2011, KGBY began simulcasting KFBK-AM, the talk radio powerhouse that launched the careers of Rush Limbaugh and Tom Sullivan. After getting acquainted with new listeners on the FM dial, “NewsTalk KFBK” relaunched as “NewsRadio KFBK” in an attempt to brand itself as a 24-hour local news station (the station currently commits less than one-half of its broadcast day to locally-produced programming, and less than one-third of the day to local news).

Clear Channel will continue to air KFBK on 92.5 FM for the next few days while directing listeners to update their car radio presets to 93.1 FM. Though station executives haven’t announced what’s in store for 92.5 FM next month, radio trade publications speculate the station will relaunch with a country music format. If true, it would be the third country music station in the Sacramento market.

For “classic hits,” KFBK is encouraging listeners to tune to KQJK (93.7, “Jack FM”), an adult hits station that occasionally plays music from the 1970s and 1980s.

Sacramento Bee: KFBK moves from 92.5 to 93.1
Sacramento Business Journal: Clear Channel switches KFBK on FM
Radio Insight: Clear Channel readies country launch in Sacramento

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).