Thursday, October 16, 2008

Changes in the Mediascape and Corporate Control

KGST had not been an independent station since 1961, but in 1988, it was bought by an even larger party, Lotus Corporation, no late-game newcomer. The corporation had started up in 1961 with the purchase of KWKW, a Spanish-language station in Pasadena, and had just kept acquiring. By 1980, it had nine stations, mainly in California, but also in Tucson, Phoenix, Las Vegas and Reno and by 1990, it had 14- eight AM, six FM. KGST’s current general manager, Dan Crotty, says the corporation currently has 25 stations, eight of which are Spanish-language.

“Times have changed a lot. Technology and competition make you do some changes. Like for instance, here in Fresno we have 17 to 19 radio stations now so everybody’s competing for the same pie, the same listeners… You cannot give to everybody what they want.” –Stella Romo

The changes at KGST were not immediate. Howard Kalmenson, founder of Lotus Corporation, was an older man who largely let the station run as it had been for decades since KGST had a strong reputation in the community. Even so, fearing changes, program director Daniel Vallejo and deejay Samuel Herrera (who edited El Informador) both quit at the time. The last holdover from that time, Stella Romo, said that the biggest changes had been material: a better facility, computers and newer equipment. She remembered that when Kalmenson began negotiations for the station, it was the heat of summer in the Central Valley, which means consistent temperatures over 100 degrees, and the air conditioner had broken down so everyone was working in the tiny, unshaded building, sweating buckets. Before the paperwork was even signed, Kalmenson bought an air conditioner and put it in right away. “It was life again,” Romo said.

No comments: