KFBK drops ABC for Fox, scores with heart series
Sacramento Business Journal - August 12, 2005
by Mark Larson
Beginning Aug. 1, KFBK Newstalk 1530 dropped its affiliation with the ABC Radio Network to become a Fox news affiliate. Fox and about 175 of Clear Channel's 1,200 radio stations have been setting up the relationship over the past year.
Ken Kohl, Clear Channel's director of news/talk programming for Northern California, says the switch changed the way the market's top local station presents news at the top and bottom of the hour. Both segments will now present a mix of local news and Fox's national fare.
"We'll get the top stories that we believe matter most to us," Kohl says, "rather than some editor sitting in Manhattan." Big heart, big story
Todd Starnes, senior reporter and weekend anchor at KFBK, checked into the hospital in early May, figuring he had bronchitis. It turns out he had a life-threatening heart problem. By May 17, Starnes was on the operating table and doctors were transplanting an aortic valve into his heart.
Seeing a chance for some compelling radio reporting, Starnes made his problem a first-person story for the station and recorded an audio journal before, during and after the operation.
"It was a way to let our listeners understand what it was like to face your own mortality," he says.
KFBK arranged with Sutter Memorial to have a reporter in the operating room during Starnes' open-heart surgery, and listeners heard the procedure via sound equipment set up in the room. The nine-part series prompted a deluge of letters and e-mails to the station from people wanting to learn more about heart disease.
Starnes returned to work Aug. 1 about 62 pounds lighter, and now does speeches for the American Heart Association.
Jeff Holden, who manages KFBK and all other Central Valley stations for Clear Channel Communications Inc., of San Antonio, says the station staff gave Starnes food during his layup, since he has no family in the area.
"We were all moved by the detail of his description, both technically and emotionally," Holden says. "This was just a wonderful experience all around."