|Broadcast area||Sacramento metropolitan area|
|Frequency||102.5 MHz (also on HD Radio)|
|First air date||February 4, 1961 (as KATT)|
HD2: Urban AC
|HAAT||152 meters (499 ft)|
|Callsign meaning||K Sacramento's Favorite Music|
|Former callsigns||KATT (1961–1968)|
(Entercom License, LLC)
|Sister stations||KIFM, KKDO, KRXQ, KSEG, KUDL|
KSFM (102.5 MHz) is a commercial FM radio station serving the Sacramento, California market with a rhythmic contemporary radio format. Its city of license and transmitter are located in Woodland in Yolo County, but the studios and offices are at 5345 Madison Avenue in Sacramento. KSFM is owned by Entercom, which also owns Sacramento-area stations KIFM, KKDO, KRXQ, KSEG, and KUDL.
KSFM's previous slogan was "Sacramento's #1 Station for Hip-Hop and R&B" from 2006 to 2010, when it changed its slogan to just "1025" with a broadened mix of R&B, hip hop, and rhythmic pop music. Entercom bills KSFM as a rhythmic top 40 station due to its multicultural listenership.
KATT / KRBT
On February 4, 1961, the station signed on as KATT ("The Tiger Tail"). The station aired a middle of the road format and was owned by the Interstate Broadcasting Company, but by 1968, KATT went silent.
In 1970, the station returned to the air as KRBT ("Robot 10-25"), a contemporary hit radio (CHR) outlet. It started out with live disc jockeys, but became automated shortly thereafter. On August 31, 1971, the station's owners, Tiger Broadcasting, sold the operation to KULA Broadcasting for $94,000. KULA Broadcasting, owner of KGMS (1380 AM, now KTKZ), took control of the station on April 1, 1972 and switched the format to easy listening. Remaining an automated operation, KRBT adopted new call sign KSFM that June. (Previously, the KSFM call letters were assigned to a station in Sacramento on 96.9 FM, but that station was sold to the owners of Pacific Southwest Airlines and renamed as KPSC.)
In early 1974, KULA Broadcasting searched for a new programmer and new format for KSFM after upgrading the station's transmitter and improving its signal to cover the Sacramento radio market from suburban Woodland. The owners hired Don Wright, formerly of KZAP, KXOA/KNDE, and KRBT. His plan for the station was "formatted" progressive rock. Unlike freeform KZAP, KSFM's new format would be rock-based, but a bit more structured. The air talent would have a mid-tempo delivery style (neither fast and screaming nor completely laid back). The station kept the KSFM call letters, but used the moniker "Earth Rock 102 KSFM".
Earth Radio 102
On April 15, 1974, "Earth Rock 102" made its debut. Drake-Chenault, owners of KXOA-FM (107.9 FM), attempted to sue KSFM because KXOA-FM had recently used the "Earth Rock" name on the air. As a result, in July 1974, KSFM was rebranded as "Earth Radio 102". Within six months of its debut, "KSFM Earth Radio 102" reached number six in the Sacramento ratings. When the station management only delivered a $25 monthly pay raise, much of the air staff left to run KSJO (92.3) in San Jose, where they installed the Earth Rock format. Nonetheless, KSFM continued to obtain positive ratings.
The format featured both well-established and "up and coming" rock artists. While the station would play popular rock acts, the announcers often focused on their deeper album cuts. Additionally, the music flow was diverse enough that one could hear a searing Led Zeppelin track and a folksy Joni Mitchell song in the same set, yet the music would flow naturally. The air talent programmed much of the music without the use of a set playlist. While a listener could hear an occasional country record by Jerry Jeff Walker or a reggae tune by Peter Tosh, they knew it would be followed by a rock record along with song information from the knowledgeable air talent. KSFM's format was dayparted: listeners would be treated to a softer rock sound in the daytime and hard rock at night. With Earth Radio 102's limited song repetition, listeners were often surprised by what would play next.
Earth Radio had several additional programming features that contributed to its unique sound. KSFM ran a news block each weekday morning from 9:20 to 10:00 known as "Earth News". The alternative news program included nationally syndicated interviews with rock stars of the day, as well as odd information that would interest the station's audience. Also on weekdays at 9:40 a.m., 1:40 p.m., and 6:40 p.m., the station announced upcoming concerts in both local and regional venues. Some evenings, the station would play an entire album from start to finish; starting out as a weekly feature, it was expanded to three nights a week. Between record sides, announcer Dave Whittaker would play an "Instrumental Interlude", a track from a completely different artist without vocals.
In late 1976, the station hired Dennis Newhall as an on-air staff announcer. He had experience working at KZAP and KSJO. Subsequently, he was promoted to program director in 1977.
Earth Radio 102's success continued until the summer of 1979. In January 1979, KZAP's new owners installed radio consultant Lee Abrams' "Super Stars" format on the formerly freeform station. KZAP's new format was rock-oriented, stressing the biggest selling artists. The change brought KZAP stellar ratings at the expense of Earth Radio. KSFM went from a 4.7 share to a somewhat disappointing 3.1 share in the Spring 1979 Arbitron ratings. Initially, there were rumors of KSFM either becoming more mainstream or switching to a country music format.
In August 1979, the station announced it would be switching to more "mass appeal" music the following month. On August 20, the Sacramento Union featured an article on the format switch. The entire air staff would be replaced. KSFM management hired radio consultant Jerry Clifton to initiate the new format. In the Union article, Clifton described the "Earth Radio" format as "esoteric ... similar to a Jazz station".
KSFM broadcast its last full day of progressive rock on September 9, 1979. The following day, the station began a five-day stunting period where it played a full day of music by a well-known established artist. The stunting period acted as a buffer between the vastly different formats. The first day. September 10, featured a full day of Led Zeppelin, followed by a day of the Beatles. By the fifth day, the station was playing Donna Summer and the Bee Gees as featured artists. On September 14, 1979, KSFM flipped to a hybrid disco/top 40 format.
Disco, contemporary, and urban
Under the leadership of incoming programming director Jeff Lucifer, and based on the recommendations of radio consultant Jerry Clifton, KSFM began to gradually work its way up in the ratings with its dance-friendly "churban" (a mix of contemporary hits and urban) format. Clifton would later apply this formula to other stations like KGGI in Riverside, California, WJMH in Greensboro, North Carolina, and WPOW in Miami (the latter two both sister stations to KSFM). By June 1983, KSFM evolved all the way to its current rhythmic CHR direction under the guidance of future WNOW-FM program director Rick Gillette and music director Chris Collins, who also hosted The FM 102 Morning Zoo and later succeeded Gillette as operating manager and PD.
The move occurred after KPOP, the market's urban contemporary outlet at the time, flipped formats to a rock-leaning top 40 direction. Gillette and Collins realized that dance music, popular in the clubs and the streets, wasn't getting any airplay in Sacramento. KSFM took advantage of this opportunity, leading the station to several number one Arbitron rankings in the market under their guidance, eventually beating the more-mainstream top 40 stations. The station continued to lead the market and become the top 40 station of choice in Sacramento until the arrivals of competing CHR outlet KDND (107.9 The End) and rhythmic top 40-formatted KBMB (103.5 The Bomb) in 1998. KSFM offered a current-based mix of rhythmic pop, R&B, and hip hop product in its playist. Those ingredients helped KSFM distinguish itself from KDND, which offered listeners a broad-based playlist, and KHHM (Hot 103.5), which played hip hop but wasn't as popular as KSFM.
CBS Radio era
In 1998, KSFM was bought by Infinity Broadcasting Corporation, which had already been acquired by Westinghouse Broadcasting. Westinghouse merged with CBS Radio shortly thereafter. Under CBS Radio ownership, the KSFM lineup featured programming director Tony Tecate in mornings, Bre in middays, Short-E in afternoons, Nina in evenings and The Specialist overnights. Featured programs included Club 102 with The Specialist on Friday and Saturday nights.
In January 2010, KSFM's Arbitron ratings stood at a 3.1 share for persons ages 12 and over — the lowest since the Spring 1979 report, when the station aired profressive rock. However, by April 2010, KSFM rebounded, although it achieved nowhere the record breaking numbers from 1994 to 1997 when 11 and 12 shares under PD's Rick Thomas and Bob West were common. In the June 2012 PPM report, KSFM's ratings rose enough to bring the station to fourth place in the Sacramento market. On June 1, 2010, KSFM relocated its studios from 1750 Howe Avenue to 280 Commerce Circle in Sacramento, home to the CBS Radio cluster there.
On October 10, 2017, CBS Radio announced that KSFM would be the only station in the company's Sacramento cluster that would stay with Entercom after the merger of the two companies. Entercom's decision to keep KSFM while spinning off the other former CBS stations was due to its rhythmic top 40 format, seen as less desirable for future owners. KHTK, KNCI, KYMX, and KZZO were divested into a blind trust with Bonneville International operating them under a local marketing agreement (the company subsequently announced its intent to acquire them completely).
The CBS Radio-Entercom merger was approved on November 9, 2017 and was consummated on November 17. Upon the change of ownership, KSFM relocated to Entercom's studio building on Madison Avenue in Sacramento. The pairing of KSFM with KUDL, much like the strategy with rock siblings KKDO, KSEG, and KRXQ, gives Entercom two top 40 stations to serve as flankers in the market.
In May 2018, Entercom replaced the KSFM staff. Michael Burhman, on-air personality from sister station KQKS in Denver, took over as the new PD and afternoon host, with Mia Amor from KRBQ in San Francisco working mornings, Nina Hajian voice-tracking middays from WBBM-FM in Chicago, and SOOSH*E (who was let go from KHHM after Entravision made major job cuts) taking evenings.
KSFM broadcasts in the HD Radio format. Its HD2 subchannel was launched in 2008 with a commercial-free dance top 40 format. In August 2017, the subchannel flipped to hip-hop music. As of January 2018, KSFM-HD2 broadcasts an urban adult contemporary format known as "The Love Train".
- "Hip-hop radio prank". Sacramento Bee. 2006-07-21.
- "CBS Radio Format directory".
- "Directory of AM and FM Radio Stations in the U.S." (PDF). Broadcasting Yearbook. Broadcasting Publications Inc. 1963. p. B-28.
- "For the Record" (PDF). Broadcasting. Broadcasting Publications Inc. September 20, 1971. p. 66. Retrieved July 6, 2018.
- "For the Record" (PDF). Broadcasting. Broadcasting Publications Inc. June 12, 1972. p. 66. Retrieved July 6, 2018.
- "ChangingHands" (PDF). Broadcasting. Broadcasting Publications Inc. July 19, 1971. p. 60. Retrieved July 7, 2018.
- "For the Record" (PDF). Broadcasting. Broadcasting Publications Inc. November 15, 1971. p. 72. Retrieved July 7, 2018.
- Selvin, Joel (March 13, 1976). "Varied Radio Formats Spread Across Bay Area Vastness" (PDF). Billboard. Billboard Publications Inc. p. SF-21. Retrieved July 7, 2018.
- Leader, John (December 14, 1979). "1979 in Review: Top 40" (PDF). Radio and Records. p. 26. Retrieved July 6, 2018.
- "Gillette Rejoins KSFM As PD" (PDF). Radio and Records. July 8, 1983. p. 3. Retrieved July 6, 2018.
- Cosper, Alex. "KSFM 1980s". Playlist Research.
- Cosper, Alex. "KSFM 1990s". Playlist Research.
- "Directory of Radio Stations in the United States" (PDF). Broadcasting and Cable Yearbook. 2005. p. D-91. Retrieved July 6, 2018.
- Venta, Lance (October 10, 2017). "Entercom Narrows Down 16 Stations To Be Divested To Complete CBS Radio Merger". RadioInsight. RadioBB Networks.
- "Bonneville Turns San Francisco and Sacramento LMAs Into Purchase". RadioInsight. 2018-08-03. Retrieved 2018-08-05.
- "Entercom Receives FCC Approval for Merger with CBS Radio" (Press release). Entercom. November 9, 2017. Retrieved November 17, 2017.
- Venta, Lance (November 17, 2017). "Entercom Completes CBS Radio Merger". RadioInsight. RadioBB Networks. Retrieved November 17, 2017.
- Venta, Lance (May 29, 2018). "KSFM Adds Michael Buhrman As Program Director; Mia Amor and SOOSH*E To Airstaff"". RadioInsight. RadioBB Networks.
- "California HD radio guide".
- "HD Radio station lists".