What's Up, Chuck?
Oinkers United--Truce called in KPIG mud fight, roots wrap up.
Thursday, March 19, 1998
At least for the time being, KPIG disc jockey Mr. Hedge can continue describing the station as "the best damn radio station in the whole world."
Charles Cohn, president of New Wave Broadcasting, parent company of KPIG, met with the KPIG staff on Monday (3/16) to discuss the company''s rumored changes to the station''s format. In the last month, KPIG has altered its format to include more classic rock and rumors of further changes incited listeners to show their support through hundreds of telephone calls, "Hog Calls," e-mail and letters. At Monday''s meeting, Cohn allayed fears that the station''s format would be further changed but said the changes already in place would remain.
Cohn told Coast Weekly, "Basically KPIG is going to stay KPIG. There was really never any doubt that the integrity of KPIG is going to stay. If we were going to put on a classic rock station, we would put it on KMBY."
Cohn speculates the rumors were born out of comments that he made on Travus T. Hipp''s March 5, Sunday-morning talk show. (Since then, radio station KISE 103.9FM has switched their format to classic rock.) Cohn says he made comments about the lack of a true classic rock station in the Monterey market and people may have interpreted that to mean there would be major changes at KPIG. Cohn says big changes were never in New Wave''s plans but that KPIG is changing to reach out to a bigger market.
Cohn shies away from using "classic rock" to define the music that''s been added to KPIG''s play list--which may be a semantic distinction that does more to control damage than anything else.
"KPIG clearly comes from the KFAT tradition," says Cohn, "but there are a lot of other listeners who come from other progressive radio traditions who are not happy [with mainstream radio]. We are going to make a conscious effort to make the old KSAN, KLRB listeners feel at home when they listen to the radio station. I think the term that the disc jockeys used is "KPIG rock": roots rock like the Allman Brothers, The Dead, Dylan, and whatever new music comes out that they feel is appropriate."
KPIG''s format that blends an eclectic mix of music (from folk and country to rock, fusion and blues), humor and personality is acknowledged in the radio industry as being nearly unique.
Less talked about is the rabid loyalty shown by the station''s listeners. Few organizations, much less radio stations, have created the sort of community feeling where listeners are almost immediately apprised of each rumor, change or activity. Not only do the on-air personalities talk openly about their concerns and questions, listeners call each other to inform them about what''s going on. This grapevine worked wonders over the last week as an outpouring of support deluged New Wave''s offices in New Jersey and Monterey. Cohn says he apologizes to the listeners who left him voice mail, but he got so many messages that he hasn''t been able to return all the calls.
"We certainly heard [the listeners] loud and clear," says Cohn. "I think we were a little surprised at the passion of the KPIG listener. It''s a good thing. It''s not the kind of thing you see all the time, that kind of passion and loyalty to a station.
"We have rock stations all over the country, but with most formats people believe that someone else will come along and create a format to serve that market. KPIG listeners feel differently. They feel the opportunity for a KPIG is not available all over the country, that if the station goes away there''s a real good chance that it won''t come back."
For now, however, PIG listeners needn''t worry about wholesale changes at the station.
"We''re committed to keeping the integrity of the radio station," says Cohn. "As long as we own the station, there will be a KPIG."
And about New Wave and that "classic rock" thing?
"Actually we''re going to be dealing with KMBY over the next couple months and we''re going to be playing some classic rock," says Cohn. "But I don''t think it will ever become a true classic rock station; there''s so much good music out there you hate to limit yourself to old music."
You want eclectic? Here''s a roundup of this week''s roots music offerings.
Blistering blues guitarist Tommy Castro is playing Doc''s Nightclub on Saturday. He''s on the road backing his 1997 release, Can''t Keep a Good Man Down. If you like blues that knows how to rock, Castro is your man. He''s considered by many critics around the country as one of the leaders in the new generation of blues musicians.
Living Blues magazine says, "Castro''s stinging, clean guitar tone shines. A talented guitarist who shows much promise, Tommy Castro can play with both scorching power and restraint."
Tommy Castro, with Electric Playground opening, Friday, 9pm. Doc''s Nightclub, 649-4241.
Oscar Frog and the Phantom Bass Playercelebrate the release of their CD, Mass Hypnosis, with a party at Borders Bookstore on Friday. The self-published album, the group''s first, reveals a polished country blues sound that bears repeated listening. With Frog''s exuberant personality and some good musicianship to back it up, this should be a real fun concert.
Oscar Frog and the Phantom Bass Player, Friday, 7:30pm. Borders Bookstore, 899-6643.
And Boston singer/songwriter Ellis Paul returns to Morgan''s for two shows. A highly regarded musician, particularly on the East Coast, Paul is known for his ability to tell touching tales.
"A master storyteller, Ellis Paul combines the sensibilities of Bob Dylan, Bill Morrissey and John Gorka, and delivers it with a passion that undeniably sets him apart in the company of a new breed of songwriters," wrote the Nashville-based Performing Songwriter Magazine.
EllisPaul, Wednesday and Thursday (3/25-26), 8pm. Morgan''s Coffee and Tea, 655-6868.