Letting Go in San Diego Radio

iHeartMedia, TEGNA, and Entercom have each released a number of San Diego employees in January in order to reduce their count and expenses. iHeartMedia conducted a huge, nationwide, layoff earlier in the month. The migration of listeners to an almost infinite variety of online streaming sources has put the free over-the-air radio advertising industry in a slow decline. One media observer in upstate New York noted its local iHeart market group had more radio stations than on-air employees. More programming is coming from syndicated sources outside any given market. 

TEGNA told its KFMB-AM-FM employees they would have their jobs only until February 7 (with the exception of the sales department). Engineering Supervisor Steve Cilurzo, who has been maintaining their radio division equipment, was spared due to his role in TV engineering down the hall. TEGNA sold KFMB-AM and -FM to Local Media San Diego, operators of XHITZ “Z90”, XETRA “91X” , and XHRM “Magic” 92.5, but the employees were not invited to move as a group to the new owners. LMSD will have to change call letters and begin paying for a lease for tower and transmitter space. Included in the layoffs were morning show personalities Chris Cantore and Meryl Klemow, as well as Robin Roth, Rick Lawrence, Brent Winterble, Mike Slater and Mark Larson. 

iHeartMedia in San Diego laid-off IT specialist Casey Frink and Engineer Drew Hougan. Casey had been there for a total of five years. Drew Hougan was in the market two years, previously with Nexgen (now RCS), the iHeart subsidiary that produces the automation that runs its stations. On the on-air talent side, Coe Lewis, Nina “Ruth 66″ Reeba and Jim McInnes of KGB Radio, Chris Merrill of talk radio station KOGO, Chris “Qui West” of Jam’n 95.7 and Steve Kramer of Channel 93.3 all lost their jobs. 

At Entercom, Bob Bolinger lost his job as Senior VP and Market Manager. A.J. Machado and Sara Perry, co-hosts of the A.J. and Sara Morning Show on KXST Sunny 98.1 were given notice on Jan. 22. Dana DiDonato and Jayson Prim of the morning show on KBZT Alt 94.9 were also sent walking.

John Barcroft Steps Down as Frequency Coordinator

After at least twenty years of coordinating broadcasting auxiliary frequencies below 1 GHz, John Barcroft is passing on those duties to Gary Stigall. Fred Swift of KUSI coordinates channels above 1 GHz.

Those wishing to submit frequency coordination requests should use the form posted on the SBE 36 Coordination Page. There are links posted there for NFL and Southern California Frequency Coordination Committee that handles coordination outside of San Diego County.

Barcroft was KGB (FM) and KPQP (AM) Chief Engineer for decades before leaving in 2006 and was quite active in the SBE during his radio career. He and Ron Foo produced the SBE Chapter 36 newsletter until 1997.

Jan. 2020 Meeting: Yellowtec and the ABC’s of Audio Over IP

To start off the new year, Jeff Williams will stop by to give us a primer on Audio Over IP.

Yellowtec includes a line of mic and data monitor support, on-air status lamps, for the modern studio. They’re also famous for recording microphones, Intellimix mixers, USB interface boxes, and POTS interfaces.

Join us Wednesday, January 15, at noon at iHeartMedia, 9660 Granite Ridge Road, San Diego. We’ll feed you lunch before Jeff’s presentation. As always, our meetings are open to all.

Remembering Jack Rabell

Jack H. Rabell, 88, died January 2, 2020, a resident of Alpine and long-time San Diego broadcast engineer, on-air personality and car aficionado. His obituary in the San Diego Union-Tribune mentions that he moved from New York in 1946 and worked for 27 years at KOGO. He then worked at numerous stations, including KSON as a country radio personality and engineer with Dick Warren, then as an engineer at KSDO AM/FM, and later at various stations including KPRI-FM 102.1, helping to move the station to Mt. Soledad.

According to his printed obituary, “While working, he chased his passion for cars on the weekends as a classic collector, rallyist and restoration artist. His restoration talents are world-renowned and include credit for Mel Torme’s 1936 Jaguar SS-100 now on display at Peterson Museum in Los Angeles. When not working or playing with cars, Jack could be found with his family at his mountain cabin, camping around the southwest, cruising the oceans or soaking up the Mexican beaches with a cold beer in his hand.”

Services will be private.


Days before the dawn of the new decade, the TEGNA group sold the KFMB radio properties for $5-million to Local Media San Diego.

According to radioINSIGHT.com, the deal does not include rights to continue using the 78-year-old call letters, nor does it include any of the property at Santee (AM transmitter), Kearny Mesa (studio), or Mt. Soledad (FM transmitter).

Local Media San Diego currently leases three Mexican-licensed FM stations: CHR “Z90” 90.3 XHTZ, Alternative “91X” 91.1 XETRA-FM, and Rhythmic AC “Magic 92.5” XHRM.

TEGNA bought the three KFMB stations in December 2017 for $325-million and owns no other radio broadcasting properties, so the radio sale was expected.

It’s going to be interesting watching what happens with KFMB-AM since that entity has not turned a profit in recent years. Technically, the KFMB-AM Harris DX-50 transmitter is nearly 30-years-old. Its programming leaves it at the bottom of the San Diego market Nielsen ratings list.

Colleagues speculated that iHeartMedia might buy the KFMB radio properties, but they own the maximum number of FM stations allowed by the FCC for the market and are financially strained as a group.

Apparently, KOGO-AM has plans to multiplex on the KFMB-AM towers in Santee, though the 300-foot towers are electrically short for 600 kHz.

Society of Broadcast Engineers, San Diego