The World Famous Comeback

This article was originally posted to AllAccess’ “The Bigger Picture” series, written by Charese Fruge on November 30, 2021 

I just recently returned to Las Vegas after driving to LA for the All Access holiday party. It’s been a few years since I’ve made that drive, but not much has changed. Traffic in both directions on the 15 and mostly at a standstill if you have the pleasure of having to get on the 10 or the 101. The only good thing that comes out of that is that for radio lovers, it’s a great opportunity to play “who wins” on the dial (dating myself) and listen to LA radio. If you work in the business, you know what I am talking about.

As I am sitting in my car at a standstill (after 2 cups of coffee, I have to pee so bad), I am blowing through stations in search mode, expecting to have the same problem I’ve had the last few times I’ve driven through LA : every station in commercials at the same time or unfamiliar music, and/or just plain bad radio. But I was pleasantly surprised to stop on a station I haven’t been able to listen to for the last few years. I typically stop on K-Earth, Jack, KIIS or KYSR. Those are the stations which, when not in commercials, get my TSL while I’m sitting in traffic. But this time it was different, and on more than one occasion, I had to double check which station I was listening to. After a good hour of straight listening, I had to ask myself, “Is KROQ making a comeback?”

I couldn’t help but smile deep down inside at the thought. This is a station I have been listening to since I got into the radio business over 20 years ago. When I lived in Vegas and programmed a Hot AC, I watched KROQ the most because Vegas was a rock market, and the foundation of my station was POP Alternative (and consistently top 3 with ratings in the market). And when I programmed a Hot AC in LA, KROQ was my direct competitor. Those were the days, competing with a “Giant” with a station I had to make rise from the dead thanks to years of 80’s programming. I can’t tell you the number of times I had to fight just to not be “completely locked out” of concerts for artists like Snow Patrol, The Killers, Panic etc. just because of the power of the “World Famous KROQ.” And these were artists that my LA call letters were crossing over to POP. In hindsight, it ended up being a good strategy since that station is now Alt 98.7, KYSR, the new Alternative Giant in the LA market. But I digress.

The good news is, the roller coaster that KROQ has been for the last year or so is starting to sound like its old self again, at least musically, and well, Nicole Alvarez. Like back in the day when it was obvious Lisa Worden was scheduling the music (That station hasn’t been the same since she went across the street). Those were the days of “The World Famous KROQ.” The current play list sounds amazing, bangin’ the hits, not too unfamiliar, and playing and imaging great new music. I’ve been saying this since the initial “changes” came about. The only way to save that format, is to go back and undo everything that was done as part of the new “company strategy” for the Alternative format. Let’s just hope that the damage wasn’t so drastic that there is no chance of the station coming back. A few more tweaks of attitude, Imaging, and solid morning talent, and maybe it can happen, despite the latest ratings. Call me nostalgic, but I for one would be happy to have “The World Famous KROQ” tag line mean something again.