|Broadcast area||Sacramento, California|
|Frequency||102.5 (MHz) (also on HD Radio)
102.5 HD-2: Dance
|First air date||February 4, 1961 (as KATT)|
|Callsign meaning||K Sacramento's Favorite Music|
|Former callsigns||KATT (1961-1968)
(CBS Radio of Sacramento, Inc.)
|Sister stations||KHTK, KNCI, KYMX, KZZO
part of CBS Corp. cluster with KOVR and KMAX-TV
KSFM (102.5 FM) is a Rhythmic Contemporary Hits formatted radio station serving the Sacramento, California, area. Its city of license and transmitter are located in Woodland in Yolo County but the studios and offices are on Commerce Circle in Sacramento. KSFM is owned by CBS Radio, which in turn is part of CBS Corporation's Sacramento radio and TV cluster, which includes Adult Contemporary 96.1 KYMX, Hot Adult Contemporary 100.5 KZZO, country music 105.1 KNCI, sports talk 1140 KHTK, CBS affiliate KOVR TV, and CW affiliate KMAX-TV.
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 on R&B/Hip-Hop and Rhythmic Pop product. CBS Radio bills KSFM as a Rhythmic Top 40 due to its multicultural listenership, as it currently holds the spot for the 4th most listened to radio station in Sacramento, averaging around 500,000 listeners per day. Its core audience includes teens, and adults in the 18-34 agegroup (mostly females).
KSFM originally signed on the air in 1961 as MOR KATT ("The Tiger Tail"), but by 1968 went dark. The call letters KSFM were previously assigned to a station in Sacramento on 96.9 FM, but that station was sold to the owners of PSA airline and renamed as KPSC. In 1970 the Woodland station returned to the air as Top 40 KRBT ("Robot 10-25"), which started out with live jocks, only to go automated shortly thereafter. The station's owners (Tiger Broadcasting) sold the operation to Kula Broadcasting for $94,000.00. Kula Broadcasting, owners of KGMS-AM (1380) took contol of the station on April 1, 1972 and switched the format from automated Top 40 to automated Easy Listening. In early 1974, Kula Broadcasting searched for a new programmer and new format to run on the station, after upgrading the station's transmitter and signal. The owners hired Don Wright, formerly of KZAP, KXOA/KNDE and KRBT. His plan for the station was “formatted” progressive rock. Unlike mostly freeform KZAP, KSFM’s new format would be rock-based, albeit somewhat eclectic in approach. The air talent would have a mid-tempo delivery style (neither fast and screaming nor completely laid back). The station would also keep the KSFM call letters, but would have the moniker “Earth Rock 102, KSFM.”
As "Earth Radio 102"
On April 15, 1974, "Earth Rock 102" made its debut. Drake-Chenault, owners of KXOA-FM (107.9) attempted to sue the owners of KSFM, because they had recently used the “Earth Rock” name for their station. As a result, in July 1974, the station was rebranded as "Earth Radio 102." Within six months of its debut, “KSFM-Earth Radio 102” made the top six in overall “twelve-plus” ratings in the Sacramento area. When the station management only delivered a $25.00 monthly pay raise, much of the air staff left to run KSJO (92.3) in San Jose. Nonetheless, the station continued to obtain stellar ratings.
The format was a combination of well-established “mainstream” and “up and coming” rock artists. While the station would play mainstream rock artists, 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, seamlessly followed by a casual back announcement from knowledgeable air talent. KSFM’s format was dayparted, so listeners would be treated to a much harder rock sound at night. Earth Radio 102 had little or no musical repetition. A listener truly did not know what they would be hearing next.
Earth Radio had a number of additional programming features that made it unique. For example, it ran a news block each weekday morning from 9:20 to 10:00 known as “Earth News”. The alternative news included nationally syndicated interviews with rock stars of the day. The news also included odd information that would interest the station’s audience. Each weekday, at 9:40 AM, 1:40 and 6:40 PM, the station would run a “Concert Calendar”, where they would announce upcoming concert venues in both local and regional locations. On Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesday evenings at 9:10 PM, the station would track an entire record album from start to finish. Initially, this was a weekly feature, but was so successful; it had been expanded to three nights a week. The program was initially known as “Record a Record”, but the name eventually changed to the “Whole Earth Record.” In between record sides, the announcer (Dave Whittaker) would play an “Instrumental Interlude”, where the listener would hear an instrumental song from a completely different artist to break up the album.
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, but with more of a Top 40 approach in how it scheduled songs, attracting 18-34-year-old male listeners from both types of stations. The change brought KZAP stellar ratings at the expense of “Earth Radio”. KSFM went from a 4.7 “twelve-plus” 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 on-air it would be switching the format to “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, 1979) was 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, KSFM started what would become a major success story that would continue today when it flipped to a hybrid Disco/Top 40 direction.
From the start, KSFM began to gradually work its way up in the ratings with its Dance-friendly Top 40 direction under the consultancy of Jerry Clifton (who would later apply this formula to other stations like KGGI/Riverside, WJMH/Greensboro and WPOW/Miami) and by June 1983 would evolve all the way to its current—and, as of today, still dominant—Rhythmic Contemporary Hits direction, under the guidance of (future WNOW-FM/New York City) PD Rick Gillette and MD Chris Collins, who also hosted the "Morning Zoo" program and later succeeded Gillette as OM/PD. The move occurred after KPOP—the market's Urban Contemporary outlet at the time—flipped formats to a short-lived rock-leaning Top 40 direction in 1983 that would later become the current KRXQ that resides at the 98.5 frequency. Gillette and Collins realized that there was a unique niche to take advantage of the Urban and Dance/Club product that was popular in the clubs and the streets but wasn't getting any airplay in Sacramento, as well as tapping into the growing audience that KPOP left behind, so KSFM took advantage of this opportunity and ran with it, leading the station to several number one Arbitron books under their guidance, eventually beating the more-mainstream KWOD and a revived version of KROY, both of whom would exit the Top 40 race by the early 1990s (KROY in 1990; KWOD in 1993). Despite the loss of the two mainstream competitors, KSFM continued to lead the market and become the de facto Top 40 in Sacramento until the arrivals of Top 40/CHRs KDND (107.9 The End) and Rhythmic Top 40 KBMB (103.5 The Bomb) in 1998.
KSFM offers a current-based mix of R&B/Hip-Hop product in its playist. Those ingredients have helped KSFM distinguish itself from KDND, which offer listeners a broad-based playlist, and KHHM (Hot 103.5), which had favored Hip-Hop when it was KBMB from 1998 to 2010, when it shifted its direction to match KSFM until evolving to a Top 40/CHR direction outright in 2011, resulting in Nielsen BDS and Mediabase moving KHHM to their Top 40/CHR reporting panels that year, leaving KSFM as Sacramento's only Rhythmic Top 40 outlet again (KHHM would make a brief return to Rhythmic in March 2014, only to transition back to Top 40/CHR by August 2014). It also has competition from Rhythmic Adult Contemporary rival KHYL, whose direction shifted from a Gold-based R&B presentation to a current-based direction in 2013; KHYL officially transitioned to Rhythmic Top 40 by August 2014, but would exit the format for Classic Hip-Hop in January 2015.
As of 2013, the current KSFM lineup features "Wayne, Jay & Lexi In The Morning," Bre in middays, Doug Lazy in afternoons, Short-E in evenings, The Specialist in overnights, and various talent during weekends. Featured programs include Club 102 with The Specialist on Friday and Saturday nights and MTV's TRL on Sunday Mornings.
In January 2010, KSFM's Arbitron Ratings stood at a 3.1, 12 plus. The shares were the lowest since Spring 1979, when the station programmed a Progressive Rock format. The drop in ratings might be attributed to the proliferation of similarly-formatted Pop-Music based CHRs KBMB and KDND, eroding KSFM's listener base. However, by April 2010 KSFM rebounded in terms of ratings and audience, although nowhere the record breaking numbers achieved in 1994-97 when it was common to see 11 and 12 shares under PD's Rick Thomas and Bob West. In the June 2012 PPMs, KSFM's ratings picked up some to allow the station to claim 4th place across the Sacramento Market.
On June 1, 2010, KSFM relocated its studios to 280 Commerce Circle with all of its sister CBS Radio Sacramento stations, moving from its previous studios at 1750 Howe Avenue, Suite 500.
- KSFM official website
- Query the FCC's FM station database for KSFM
- Radio-Locator information on KSFM
- Query Nielsen Audio's FM station database for KSFM