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4 stations 'spring cleaning' their formats

It must be spring cleaning time for Wasatch Front radio; four different stations are making format changes. In addition, a new station is headed for Salt Lake County.

Here's a summary of the alterations:

KUER (FM-90.1) has started some new daytime programming, and is abandoning classical music; KFVR (formerly "Fever 107.9") has switched to a hit-music format; KPCW (FM-91.9) in Park City is abandoning its almost 21-year tradition of free-form music, in favor of airing rock music from a 1,000-song list; KOVO (AM-960) is set to go back on the air in early April with an all-sports, Fox Network format; and a new station, KEFX, will premiere in May — probably at FM-88.7 — offering alternative Christian-rock music for Salt Lake County and south Davis County.

Here's a little more detail on each format change:

KUER has added four new weekday programs to its daytime lineup — "The Diane Rehm Show" (9-11 a.m.), "The Connection" (11 a.m.-noon), "Talk of the Nation" (noon-2 p.m.) and "Fresh Air" (2-3 p.m.).

These changes accent news and programming, capping a three-year review of station programming. However, the big downside is that classical music will no longer air on KUER. (That leaves KBYU, FM-89.1, as the area's only classical-music station.)

Jazz music will remain.

The changes took effect March 19.

KFVR is no longer the "movin' " oldies station. As of last weekend, it is "Dianna," as the station plays hit music, beginning with 10,000 songs in a row — without commercials or DJs. It is also simulcasting its signal on FM-103.9.

KPCW, the Park City-only version, is changing formats, but Salt Lake's version isn't (KCPW, FM-88.3, 105.1).

Station manager Blair Feulner said the KPCW morning news programs reach 73 percent of the adults in Park City, a phenomenal number. However, the station's musical programming was seriously underperforming because only 6 percent of KPCW news listeners knew the station played oldies music the rest of the day.

After spending $20,000 for extensive research into what music listeners want in Summit and Wasatch counties, KPCW will air what is known as the "AAA" rock-music format, beginning Monday, March 26. It's the closest to what the old KUMT ("The Mountain") in Salt Lake City had a few years ago. (That's disappointing news for Salt Lake fans of the old "Mountain" format, because the signal doesn't reach here.)

"It's a mix of cutting-edge new artists that appeals to baby boomers that also want to hear album cuts from high school and college days," Feulner said.

He also said that down the road, there will be a way to give Salt Lake City this music format too. But he doesn't want to just simulcast the KPCW format in Salt Lake City because the station has lots of local public-service ads that wouldn't go over well anywhere outside Park City.

"We're really excited that for the first time in 20 years, we have what listeners want to hear," Feulner said.

He stressed the station's 60-70 volunteers aren't being pushed out, and most are expected to remain after the switch. Music will come from a 1,000-song library.

With four full-time news reporters at KPCW, it probably provides more local news than any other station in Utah each morning.

KOVO was discussed in detail here last week; the station hopes to be on the air by April 6.

KEFX is aiming for May 15 — or earlier — to premiere its Christian-rock format on a non-commercial station. However, according to station-representative Gotz, if the station has to remain with an 88.7 FM frequency, it will be limited in range from Draper to Bountiful. That's because KUSU used FM-88.7 as its Utah County frequency.

Otherwise, he said, the music will have all the energy and noise of regular rock music, but without the tasteless lyrics and profanity.

There will no commercials, only brief requests for listeners' financial support, and 30-second devotionals airing with the rock music. Skillet, DC Talk and Pack 217 are some of the artists that will be played.

Music will air 24 hours a day, and the target audience will be junior high to college age.

The music comes from the "Effects Radio" portion of Calvary Satellite Network and is associated locally with the Calvary Chapel of Salt Lake City. The format currently airs in 30 locations across the country, including Twin Falls, Idaho.


Deseret News radio editor Lynn Arave can be reached by e-mail at lynn@desnews.com or by phone at 237-2168.