Country music returns to L.A. FM radio dial

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At 6 a.m. PST Monday morning, Mt. Wilson Broadcasters flipped classical KMZT (K-Mozart) to country KKGO (Go Country 105), marking the return of country music to the FM dial after a six month hiatus.

When Emmis flipped 26-year country outlet KZLA to rhythmic AC KMVN on Aug. 17, 2006, it left the nation's number two radio market without a country station, in spite of consistently strong album sales and a vibrant concert touring market. Mt. Wilson Broadcasters actually got country back on the air in Los Angeles last December, when it flipped adult standards KKGO to country on both its 540 and 1260 AM signals. Last month, the stations added longtime KZLA personality Shawn Parr for mornings. Parr stays on with "Go Country 105," with sidekick Robin Banks, and will soon be joined by another longtime KZLA staffer, Tonya Campos, who joins the station as midday personality and MD March 12. Mike Johnson continues as OM of the Mt. Wilson properties, but will be KKGO PD, as well.

The classical format will be simulcast on Mt. Wilson's AM 1260 signal and the HD channel at 105.1. That means a format flip for AM 1260, which is currently simulcasting country music with AM 540. Mt. Wilson director of marketing Michael Levine told Radio & Records that AM 540, XRSF, will simulcast with KKGO and provide strong southern California coverage. Levine also claims the FM 105.1 signal is "one of the top five signals in Los Angeles" with 18,000 watts of non-directional power. It is widely known that a strong contingent of country fans reside in Orange County, which contributes approximately a quarter of the in-tab diaries for the L.A. metro.

Mt. Wilson Broadcasters president Saul Levine is an independent owner who has owned the 105.1 frequency since 1958. He told the Los Angeles Times on Saturday the format flip of KZLA was "an act of God."

Bob Romeo, executive director of the Los Angeles based Academy of Country music, tells R&R, "We are thrilled to have country back on a full signal in Los Angeles and Orange County," adding, "We trust that the KZLA listeners who have felt disenfranchised will find 105.1 on the dial, and with their support, the format will continue to grow in the L.A. market."
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