Low-Rated KEDG-FM to Change Its Format

Times Staff Writer

KEDG-FM 101.9(the Edge), the troubled radio station that was a favorite of the record industry and adults with a taste for adventuresome rock, will play its last song Friday night.

The station will become K-LITE, changing its format from album-oriented rock to adult contemporary music beginning Saturday morning, executive vice president and general manager Bill Ward said Wednesday.

Where listeners had heard such critically acclaimed new artists as the Cowboy Junkies and Melissa Etheridge as well as such veteran figures as Bruce Springsteen and Elvis Costello, they will now hear Barbra Streisand, Neil Diamond, Diana Ross and Barry Manilow, Ward said.

Ward expects that the new station will attract a larger audience than KEDG did and will fill the void left last month when another adult contemporary music station, also called K-LITE, went off the air to give way to KQLZ, "pirate radio."

"We chose this format because K-LITE had a very loyal and large following and it was on the air in the market for about 3 years," Ward said. "We felt there was an obvious void and that it would be a real good companion station to our AM station, KMPC."

Ward said the change in formats was due to KEDG's low Arbitron ratings, which put KEDG's audience at about 14,700 listeners, or a .9 share.

Loyal listeners and employees at "the Edge" were shocked when they heard of KEDG's demise, which was announced to the staff Tuesday afternoon.

"The deejays are just the greatest," said listener Kay Reindl, 23, of Reseda. "All my friends listened to it. We thought nothing could touch 'the Edge.' "

Said J.J. Jackson, the station's program director: "We were completely blown away. The general manager's a very nice man but I just think he didn't understand what we were trying to do."

What Jackson, who also functions as music director and deejay, was trying to do was "widen the parameters" of a rock station by playing mainstream favorites.

"I felt there had to be enough people in enough numbers to support a station that had parameters as wide as we do," Jackson said. "We purposely didn't want that hipper-than-thou attitude that many stations get. We just tried to play those parameters real wide but keep away from formula bands."

For Ward, the station's philosophy--and its playlist--didn't work.

"It was quite inconsistent," he said. "The programming was never exactly in the position we had hoped it would be." But Ward said the decision to change formats was aimed at attracting a larger audience. "It has nothing to do with personal taste at all," he said. "It's purely a business decision."

Jackson said he thought the station was not given enough time to catch on and had not received sufficient promotion.

In spite of that, the audience, which he said "had the most intelligent listeners--doctors, lawyers, television producers, artists," had actually grown in the past few months.

"We still get people all the time who say 'Gee I just found your radio station,' " Jackson said. " We did all this with word of mouth."

The station made its debut as KMPC-FM in October, 1987. In March, its call letters were changed to KEDG to avoid confusion with its popular sister station, KMPC-AM, Ward said.

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