[JPL] KKJZ stays Jazz

Dr. Jazz drjazz at drjazz.com
Sun Oct 8 18:39:53 EDT 2006

New KKJZ owners to keep all that jazz
CSULB offers station to L.A. classical music operator.

By Kevin Butler, Staff writer
Long Beach Press Telegram
Article Launched:10/05/2006 11:13:27 PM PDT

LONG BEACH - Cal State Long Beach intends to end its 19-year relationship 
with the operator of its KKJZ-FM station and hire the owner of a Los 
Angeles classical music station to run the jazz outlet instead, a 
university body decided Thursday.

The board of directors of the private CSULB Foundation, which holds the 
radio license for classic jazz station KKJZ (88.1), unanimously voted to 
begin negotiating a management contract with Mt. Wilson FM Broadcasters, 
owner of the classical station KMZT-FM (105.1) and pop standards station 
KKGO-AM (1260/540).

Pacific Public Radio, which has operated KKJZ since 1987, had sought to 
continue managing the station, but it was among three bidders rejected 
Thursday. PPR has managed the station month-to-month since its contract 
expired in December.

The foundation chose Mt. Wilson, headed by independent radio owner Saul 
Levine, because of its financial strength and its dedication to jazz, said 
Joseph A. Latter, the foundation's assistant treasurer.

The firm also pledged to promote the university and involve CSULB students 
by providing them jobs, internships and scholarships, he said.

"They will provide a greater promotion of CSULB, both on and off the air, 
particularly at events," Latter said.

Levine's firm also promised to retain as many current KKJZ staffers as 
possible, he said.

Latter said that assuming negations go well, Mt. Wilson could begin 
operating the station in three to six months.

KKJZ is one of the few stations in the country focusing on classic jazz, as 
opposed to the soft or smooth kind. The classic genre includes the works of 
such jazz pioneers as Miles Davis and Charles Mingus.

The university is committed to keeping KKJZ a jazz station, Latter said.

The foundation has been "disappointed" that PPR has not adequately promoted 
the school in the station's posters, concerts and other events, Latter said.

"You would have never known that CSULB was involved in those activities," 
he said.

Matthew Knabe, a member of PPR's board of directors, called those 
statements "outrageous."

"We promote Cal State Long Beach all the time," he said. "Everybody knows 
we're from Cal State Long Beach."

Knabe said that the station's 300,000 local listeners are going to be "very 
upset" about the university's decision.

Latter said he anticipates some negative reaction, but believes that 
Levine's firm will make KKJZ a stronger station.

Knabe said that by opening the bidding process this spring, the university 
hurt fund-raising by putting doubts in potential donors' minds about the 
station's future.

As a result, revenue from its spring pledge drive was down about $180,000 
from the previous year and receipts from its Long Beach Blues Festival were 
down about $175,000, he said.

"Nobody's going to give you money if they don't know if you'll be around," 
he said.

Knabe says that the university has "systematically dismantled the station 
since the beginning of the year to get us to a position of weakness so that 
they could take us over."

Cash flow was so weak PPR turned to the university for help, he said. Two 
weeks ago, university officials asked all members of the PPR board of 
directors to resign, Knabe said.

Some PPR members stayed on, but university and foundation officials occupy 
six of the nine board seats, he said.

"To me that is a huge conflict of interest," Knabe said.

The university owns the building the station is located in and pays for 
electricity and maintenance. Knabe said PPR owns the jazz library, 
equipment, antennae and transponder.

The other bidders for the management contract were the Los Angeles Jazz 
Institute and Southern California Pacific Radio, owner of all-news station 
KPCC-FM (89.3).

On the Net: www.jazzandblues.org

Kevin Butler can be reached at 
<mailto:kevin.butler at presstelegram.com>kevin.butler at presstelegram.com or 
(562) 499-1308

Dr. Jazz
Dr. Jazz Operations
24270 Eastwood
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SKYPE:  drjazz99 

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