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MEDIA / KEVIN BRASS : Club’s Promotion Process Was a Hard Rock to Crack

Almost every radio station in San Diego was salivating over Saturday’s grand opening of the Hard Rock Cafe in La Jolla, described by one promotion director as a “promotional watermark” for local radio.

At different times, both KKLQ-FM (Q106) and KGB-FM (101.5) believed it had nailed down the right to use its name in conjunction with the party. KKYY-FM (Y95), KFMB-FM (B100), KGMG-FM (Magic 102) and KCBQ (Eagle 105) also were among the stations that talked with Hard Rock over the past few months. Eventually, after Hard Rock confirmed Stray Cats as the entertainment, the deal went to XTRA-FM (91X), just two weeks before the opening.

“The whole process was just a bit confusing,” said one sarcastic promotions director, who asked not to be named.

The main problem was arranging for the act. Bruce Hornsby, the Bangles, Belinda Carlisle, Richard Marx and Little Richard were all discussed at various times.

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“When they first contacted us, there was no act, then it was Little Richard,” said B100 promotions director Joan Hiser. “Little Richard didn’t send anybody’s chimes ringing over here.”

Most bands are not touring at this time of year, which made it difficult for Hard Rock to find an act. In frustration, and needing to solidify its promotions schedule, one of the leading radio station candidates, KGB, eventually removed itself from consideration.

Finally, Stray Cats was signed Nov. 30, and 91X--a likely choice, given the style of music--was contacted. “I didn’t even know we were in the running,” 91X promotions director Dawn Gallagher said. “But when they called, I told them if they gave it to us we’d go on the air with it in five minutes.”

Coincidentally, 91X’s public relations representative, Berkman and Daniels, was also handling publicity for Hard Rock, a fact that had a few radio people in town grumbling. Contacted Friday, both Jack Berkman and Hard Rock’s Karla Peterson emphasized that the agency had nothing to do with the selection of the radio station, pointing out that Stray Cats’ rockabilly sound perfectly fits the 91X format.

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That the opening of a club would develop into such a big deal alone is interesting. It can be interpreted to reflect the impressive popularity of the Hard Rock operation, or the desperation of locals looking for anything even remotely different and classy.

“We have some highly competitive radio stations in the market,” said Leslie O’Neal, Eagle 105 promotions director. “Everyone saw an opportunity to be involved in a new, fun club.”

Hard Rock was not offering the radio stations anything except the right to promote the event on its station. Hard Rock doesn’t buy radio advertising, so there was no tantalizing contract to lure the radio stations. In fact, 91X had to buy tickets for the party, a fund-raiser for a child abuse prevention group.

KSDO-AM (1130) talk show host Roger Hedgecock, who once upon a time talked like a politician, had this to say to a recent caller: “You’re scum, you’re slime. I don’t want you on this program and I don’t appreciate you stooping in the gutter by attacking me personally.” The former mayor has scheduled a press conference for today to discuss his “future plans” . . .

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All three local television news operations were tipped (apparently by different sources) late Tuesday night about the investigation of drug use among San Diego Zoo employees, scooping the daily newspapers . . . The zoo story sent KNSD-TV’s (Channel 39) Bill Ritter into a Geraldo-like frenzy. The station used tape of him chasing an uncooperative zoo executive down the street . . .

Channel 39 anchor Denise Yamada is engaged to marry attorney Michael Liuzzi . . . Mike Halloran has left KROQ in Los Angeles to return to 91X and host the 6-10 p.m. slot . . .

Former Editor Bill Missett is set to return to the Oceanside Blade Tribune on Jan. 2. In addition, Gregory Dennis, who has been editor of the Blade’s sister paper, the twice-weekly Citizen, will move up to managing editor of South Coast Newspapers. Meanwhile, former Blade Editor Earl Biederman, forced out by Missett’s return, has landed the editor job with a daily in Provo, Utah . . .

New KCBQ (Eagle 105) program director Sonny West plans no major changes at the station. “I just want to sit back and pull in some of the reins,” he said. One thing he would like to do, though, is make their annoying eagle logo even more visible in the community, if that’s possible. West replaces John Forsythe, who resigned that job to concentrate on his morning show, which has been slipping in the ratings . . .

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Brian Hackney, who lost his 5 p.m. weather job to hokey Bob Dale, reportedly is leaving Channel 39 by “mutual consent” with the station. The station has extended Dale’s contract, and he now handles both the 5 and 11 p.m. reports . . .

The power blackout at Channel 39 on Thursday brought out the pioneer spirit in employees. While reporters and producers scurried to use equipment at local production houses and other television stations, others huddled over manual typewriters, using flashlights to see by. The phones were down, too, so reporters were forced to use car phones . . .

At a Wednesday staff meeting, Channel 39 General Manager Neil Derrough told employees that the sale of the station is definitely off. He also said the station will purchase the remote satellite truck it had promised to buy earlier in the year. The bad news: Channel 39 will not be adding any new news programs, i.e. a 4:30 or 6:30 p.m. edition, until late in 1989 at the earliest, Derrough told the staff . . .

Real life often tops fiction. In the movie “Scrooged,” the television network run by Bill Murray proudly presents “Robert Goulet’s Cajun Christmas.” That’s certainly a scintillating night of entertainment compared to “A Crystal Christmas in Sweden,” starring Crystal Gayle, John Davidson, David Hasselhoff and Michael Damian, airing at 5 p.m. Sunday on KTTY-TV (Channel 69).

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