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Audacy returns Live 105 to San Francisco radio

The station had carried adult contemporary hits as "Dave FM" for three years.

The station had carried adult contemporary hits as "Dave FM" for three years.

Audacy revived the “Live 105” branding for its radio station at 105.3 FM in the San Francisco Bay Area on Monday.

Over the weekend, the San Francisco Chronicle reported the station would abandon its three-year campaign to build out an adult contemporary hits station branded as “Dave FM” and return the frequency to its roots.

“We are very aware and respectful of what Live 105 meant to everybody who listened to it over the years,” John Allers, the regional vice president of alternative programming at Audacy, told the newspaper in an interview, vowing that “whatever we do will be authentic.”

The alternative format went full-time at KITS (105.3 FM) in the mid-1980s after the station’s parent company pulled its top 40 playlist from the station. For years, the station helped introduce the San Francisco Bay Area to alternative rock artists like Nirvana and Pearl Jam, and served as a launch point for emerging local artists like Green Day.

The station was sold to CBS Radio in the late 1990s and began carrying “The Woody Show” in the mid-2000s. Shortly after CBS Radio was sold to Entercom (now Audacy), the station adopted the “Alt” branding in tandem with other alternative rock stations owned by Audacy across the country.

KITS began to spiral in 2020 after Audacy laid off long-time KITS musical director Aaron Axelsen. One year later, the alternative rock format was dropped completely in favor of adult hits and the “Dave FM” branding, which continued until late last month when the station began “stunting” ahead of its new format announcement.

Officials at Audacy began sending embargoed press releases to various media outlets ahead of the Live 105 relaunched on Monday. The Chronicle scored several interviews with Audacy and station officials, and published a story on the change over the weekend.

Allers said Live 105 wants to become a cultural phenomenon as much as an alternative rock broadcaster — which might be a tough task, given that the majority of music consumption takes place on platforms that transcend traditional AM and FM radio.

“We recognize that one of the key values we offer is not only playing music that people love, but adding context to that music and becoming a companion to the audience,” Allers told the Chronicle. “We want to help curate the culture as much as the music.”

It isn’t clear how the station will achieve that, but it won’t be for lack of trying. Just how hard Live 105 will try to be “authentic” remains to be seen, but there are already indications that the station will be a shell of its former self and adopt some of the same practices of its sister stations that are indicative of an eroding radio broadcast landscape.

DJ Jayn, who serves as the music director at adult hits station KLLC (97.3 FM, Alice at 97.3), will reprise the role at KITS-FM when the station launches the Live 105 format on Monday. No on-air talent positions have been announced for the station, but the station will likely tap into its fleet of presenters at similarly-formatted stations in Los Angeles, Portland and 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).