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|City||Santa Cruz, California|
|Broadcast area||Monterey-Salinas-Santa Cruz|
|Branding||AM 1080 KSCO|
|Slogan||"Talk Back Radio for the Central Coast"|
|First air date||September 21, 1947|
|Power||10,000 watts day
5,000 watts night
|Callsign meaning||K Santa Cruz's Own|
|Former callsigns||KLRS (1988-?)|
|Affiliations||Premiere Radio Networks|
|Owner||Zwerling Broadcasting System, Ltd|
KSCO (1080 AM) is a radio station broadcasting a news/talk format located in Santa Cruz, California. It can be heard over much of Central California during the day. Since 1991, it has been owned by the Zwerling family. Both son Michael and mother Kay Zwerling take an active role in the station with the former regularly hosting the call-in show Saturday Special and the latter writing and voicing politically conservative commentaries on a variety of topics, especially politics and current events.
KSCO began life in 1947 in a distinctive art deco building, which was built for the station, and still broadcasts there today. The founder was Vernon Berlin. Years later he began KSCO-FM (99.1 FM), which had a beautiful music format.
In 1986, Vernon Berlin sold both KSCO-FM and AM to Fuller-Jeffrey Broadcasting which owned numerous stations around the country. The AM station went to an automated satellite format of adult standards and on March 10, 1987, KSCO-FM changed call letters and its format to KLRS (Colors) with a first in the world new-age music format. The Zwerlings acquired the AM station in 1991, and later acquired another local AM station, KOMY.
On September 25, 2006, KSCO and KOMY received an envelope containing white powder. The envelope, which had no return address and contained no letter, was addressed to "AUNTIE KSCO" in handwriting described by Program Director Rosemary Chalmers as "chicken-scratch." Emergency response teams arrived on scene, and all KSCO personnel in the building were evacuated by a HazMat crew. By the evening of Tuesday, September 26, an FBI lab had determined that the powder was inert, and KSCO/KOMY's broadcast studios were deemed safe. Regular broadcasting resumed at 8:00 PST that evening. None of the four people who came in contact with the envelope have experienced symptoms of any illness.
The station programming is a mix of local, syndicated and brokered programming (meaning a person can purchase an available hour of time and produce their own show). A host can either pay for the hour out of his or her own pocket or find local businesses to sponsor the show in exchange for advertising.
The programming is a mix of local and national shows. The morning hours feature a locally produced news-and-comment program with Rosemary Chalmers. This is followed by nationally syndicated Rush Limbaugh, then local host Charley Freedman, and afternoon drive-time with Dave Michaels. In addition to historical commentary, Freedman serves up vintage jazz from the '20s, '30s, and '40s. The night includes national programs with Alex Jones and Coast to Coast.
Station owner Michael Zwerling does not subscribe to rating services, so listenership is unreported. KSCO solicits donations from listeners to keep it on the air on its web page. KSCO also sells programming hours to augment advertising income. Brokered programing includes that of Dr. Joel D. Wallach, a veterinarian and self-described naturopath who claims most diseases are the result of mineral deficiencies and promotes the sale of "collodial minerals" throughout his programming. The station also broadcasts commentaries by the owner's mother on topics such as whether Obama is really an American, supporting torture of Guantanamo Bay prisoners, and calling for a military draft. Kay Zwerling also sells Dr. Wallach's supplements. The commissions that come from the sale of Wallach's products are, by KSCO's own admission, the station's primary revenue stream, and without it, the station would be unprofitable, as the station is unable to support itself through advertising alone.
Ethan Bearman broadcasts his nationally syndicated show from KSCO. Bearman received attention for discussions on his show of needle exchange programs in Santa Cruz. A fill-in host for Bearman also generated controversy when station chief engineer Bill Graff threatened to turn the station off over comments the host made during a segment parodying Duck Dynasty following the controversy surrounding Phil Robertson’s GQ Interview.
In the early-to-mid 1990s, KSCO's local programs were hosted by Daryl Alan Gault, Rob Roberts, Brian Maloney and others. Current local hosts include Vernon Bohr (A.K.A. Vernon Vernon Vernon), as well as Rosemary Chalmers (host of KSCO's morning commute show, Good Morning Monterey Bay), with engineer and co-host Rick O'Shea, King of the Hill traffic reports, and local news with Alice Vecchiola, Sydney Gellner and Susan Simon. The station also carries a mix of syndicated programs and hosts, including Rush Limbaugh, Alex Jones and Coast to Coast AM.
On August 3rd, 2015, KSCO launched an FM simulcast on 104.1 FM under calls K218CA Mt. Madonna Tower. It's 255 watts.
- "Keeping It Local is KSCO's Key to Success". Talkers Magazine. March 15, 2013. Retrieved February 24, 2014.
- Joel Hersch (August 6, 2013). "Moving the Needle". Good Times. Retrieved February 24, 2014.
- "Friday, July 26, 2013". Talkers Magazine. July 26, 2013. Retrieved February 24, 2014.
- "Wednesday, January 15, 2014". Talkers Magazine. February 24, 2014.