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KITS (105.3 MHz, Alt 105.3) is a commercial FM radio station in San Francisco. Owned by Entercom, it broadcasts an alternative rock radio format. The studios and offices are located on Battery Street in the North Beach district of San Francisco.
|City||San Francisco, California|
|Broadcast area||San Francisco Bay Area|
|Slogan||The Bay Area's Alternative|
|Frequency||105.3 MHz (also on HD Radio)|
|Repeater(s)||See § FM Boosters|
|First air date||December 28, 1959 (as KBCO)|
|Format||FM/HD1: Alternative Rock|
HD2: Classic Alternative "Live 105"
HD3: "Radio Zindagi" South Asian
|HAAT||366 meters (1,201 ft)|
|Callsign meaning||Hot HITS (reference to former Top 40 format)|
|Former callsigns||KBCO (1959–1964)|
(Entercom License, LLC)
|Sister stations||KCBS, KFRC-FM, KGMZ, KGMZ-FM, KLLC, KRBQ|
Listen Live (HD2)
KITS's transmitter is located on Radio Road, at San Bruno Mountain in Daly City. It has an effective radiated power (ERP) of 15,000 watts, from a tower at 366 meters (1,201 feet) in height above average terrain. KITS broadcasts in the HD Radio format. Its HD2 subchannel airs classic alternative rock, known by the station's previous moniker "Live 105." The HD3 subchannel carries "Radio Zindagi," a South Asian radio service.
In January 1964, Apollo Broadcasting acquired the station. On June 1, 1964 the call letters were changed to KBRG. In 1969, the station changed hands again, this time acquired by Entertainment Communications, Inc. At the time, the Spanish-speaking community in San Francisco was growing, but only several AM stations were broadcasting in Spanish. KBRG switched to a Regional Mexican music format as the market's only full-power Spanish-language FM station.
In February 1983, Entertainment Communications (now known as Entercom) decided to go in a more mass-appeal direction. The station adopted radio consultant Mike Joseph's Hot Hits Top 40 music format, with the call letters switching to KITS. Seven air personalities were recruited during a nationwide search, coming from stations such as XETRA in San Diego-Tijuana, KBEQ-FM in Kansas City, WXGT in Columbus, Ohio, and WCAU-FM in Philadelphia. The transplanted disc jockeys underwent a "broadcasting bootcamp" for two weeks prior to launching the new Hot Hits format. Radio personality Doug Ritter (Doug Ritterling) was the first DJ on the air when the new format premiered at 9 a.m. on February 27, 1983.
The station was referred to as "Hot Hits KITS." The format featured a short playlist of only current hit songs, with heavy repetition, frequent jingles and fast-talking air personalities. The original DJ lineup on 105 KITS consisted of program director Jeff Hunter 6–9a.m., followed by Doug Ritter 9a.m.–Noon, Gary Robbins Noon–3p.m., Todd Parker 3–7p.m., Richard Sands 7–midnight, and Rick Neal (George Fryer) midnight–6am, Mark Van Gelder was 105 KITS first Production Director, Annette Parks (daughter of pioneer broadcaster and Miss America Pageant Host Bert Parks) was the station's news director, and Michele Meisner (formerly of San Francisco's Fantasy Studios) was music director.
When Hot Hits debuted, it was a ratings success. In 1983, San Francisco only had one Top 40 station, the legendary KFRC. The following year, KMEL flipped from album-oriented rock to CHR, giving KITS new FM competition. Due to losing their core listening audience to KITS and KMEL, KFRC would switch to adult standards in 1986. The 105 KITS studios were a popular place with celebrities. Visits were common from movie and TV stars such as Bette Midler, Tom Cruise, Pat Morita, George Takei, Anthony Perkins and others. The celebs didn't usually make it on the air, but they toured the studios in San Francisco's Merchandise Mart just to see what the industry buzz was all about.
Modern rock station KQAK "The Quake" changed formats in 1985, leaving San Francisco without a station specializing in the genre. Fans were eager for another station to pick up the format. During this time, KITS personality Steve Masters began experimenting with modern rock on his evening show and the reaction was quite positive.
Over time, KITS dropped the "Hot Hits" approach. It remained a mainstream CHR station but began a gradual musical shift, incorporating modern rock songs into the Top 40 playlist. By October 1986, KITS had completely dropped the pop and rhythmic artists from the playlist and became a pure modern rock station. The station's new moniker became "Live 105" under program director Richard Sands and music director Steve Masters.
The music ranged from mainstream alternative rock, imports, dance music, and even classic songs from pioneering artists such as Lou Reed, David Bowie and T-Rex. Live 105 became a national influence on the format, and sole source of radio exposure for such artists in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The DJ lineup remained relatively stable from 1986 through 1997, and included Masters, Big Rick Stuart, Mark Hamilton, Roland West, with Alex Bennett & Lori Thompson doing a comedy talk show in the morning. Bennett was let go from the station in 1989 and replaced by Perry Stone, as Live 105 attempted a "more music" approach in the morning. However, the morning ratings dropped, and Bennett, who briefly went to WIOD in Miami, was brought back.
Hamilton left in 1994 to accept the program director job at modern rock station KNRK in Portland, Oregon, and Steve Masters departed soon after to take a promotion job at MCA's new alternative label, WAY COOL. Roland West then moved from night to middays and took over the music director position, eventually becoming the Assistant Program director. Aaron Axelsen, then assistant music director, become the music director and host of specialty programs "Sound Check" and "Subsonic." The station also ran Hibernia Beach LIVE, a gay-themed radio call-in show, from 1989 to 1999.
The modern rock format changed nationwide by the 1990s, moving away from the dance-leaning, synthesizer European sound to a harder, guitar-driven direction with artists, such as Nirvana and Soundgarden. After numerous years of success, ratings for Live 105 began to dip during the late 1990s, as Infinity Broadcasting's KOME in nearby San Jose switched to a harder modern rock format, coupled with carrying the syndicated Howard Stern Show in the mornings. KOME had great success in the ratings and managed to even beat Live 105, which was still playing some euro-based music.
On March 11, 1997, owner Entercom sold the station to Infinity Broadcasting (later CBS Radio). This meant that KITS and KOME were both co-owned. After KITS came under Infinity ownership, a big shakeup occurred on June 1, 1998.
Stern's morning show, KOME's management and programming staff, and a few on-air personalities were brought up from KOME in San Jose to take over Live 105. KOME was eventually sold to Jacor, which moved Classic Rock KUFX to the 98.5 frequency and the KOME call letters were "parked" on an AM station in Fort Worth, Texas. Program director Richard Sands, assistant program director/midday host Roland West, and the relatively new morning team of Johnny Steele & Lori Thompson were all dismissed. KOME's program director, Jay Taylor, assumed programming duties at the new Live 105, and Ally Storm and No-Name moved into middays and nights, respectively. The syndicated call-in advice show "Loveline" was also brought to Live 105 as its late-night program. Big Rick Stuart continued in afternoons until being let go in 2000, severing the last remaining thread to the original incarnation of Live 105, though Steve Masters returned briefly to host a midday specialty show.
By the end of 2001, Live 105 saw drastic reduction in listeners due to an unpopular music assortment that was being played, which included some hip hop and heavy metal titles. Toward the middle of 2002, the station hired Sean Demery (formerly of 99X in Atlanta) as Program Director in hopes of bringing back listeners. Demery was charged with refocusing on core alternative rock artists, adding more popular hits, and establishing new artists, while playing a mix of critically acclaimed music from The Cure, The Pixies, Depeche Mode, The Clash and current artists such as Franz Ferdinand, Bloc Party, and The Killers.
The station regained its reputation as a leader in new music and respect in the industry, winning numerous awards for creativity and playing new bands before they caught on nationally. Muse, The Bravery, Silversun Pickups, and Yeah Yeah Yeahs were among the popular bands which enjoyed huge success after early support from Live 105.
Howard Stern ended his syndicated morning show in December 2005, and departed for Sirius Satellite Radio. In response, CBS Radio flipped nearly all its Alternative-formatted radio stations to an all-talk format known as "Free FM." Live 105 was allowed to keep its music format, and thus decided to go in a music-oriented direction for its subsequent morning show, The Woody Show (originally The Morning Music Co-op, then The Woody, Tony and Ravey Show). It was hosted by Jeff "Woody" Fife, Tony Mott, and Renee Ravey, with producer Greg Gory and assistant producer Jason "White Menace" McMurry. Woody, Tony, and Ravey had previously worked afternoons on Chicago alternative rock station WKQX.
The show made its debut on January 3, 2006. The show started gaining popularity, retaining many of the original listeners from Howard Stern. In November 2006, the station hired a new Program Director, Dave Numme, who was already programming KUFO in Portland (now KXL-FM), another station owned by the CBS Radio.
Originally thought to be an April Fools' Day joke, The Woody Show was taken off the air on April 1, 2009. It was later confirmed that several members of the program were fired by CBS Radio management. (The Woody Show is now based at Alternative Rock station KYSR Los Angeles and syndicated nationally by iHeartMedia.) On April 20, 2009, KITS announced that No Name would lead KITS's new morning show, to be known as The No Name Show, originally with Greg Gory and Katie as side kicks. The DJ known as No Name had formerly been the morning show co-host on KLLC and a former night jock on KITS in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Greg Gory was fired from Live 105 on July 16, 2009, with Matty Staudt taking over producer duties. Staudt and No Name had worked together at KLLC for numerous years. However, the morning show was unable to gain traction in the ratings and Staudt was let go after one year. In October 2009, Dave Numme was released from his position as Program Director and the programming reins given to CBS Radio San Francisco VP of Programming, Michael Martin.
On March 30, 2010, the Oakland Raiders football team announced a multi-year agreement for Live 105 and its sister station, KFRC (now KGMZ) to broadcast play-by-play coverage of the team’s pre-season, regular season and post-season games. KITS and KFRC would serve as the team's flagship stations.
In December 2010, the DJ line-up was overhauled by management. The most notable of the changes was airing the syndicated Kevin and Bean show, originating from co-owned Alternative station KROQ-FM in Los Angeles, as the new morning drive time program (5:30–10 a.m.) beginning January 3, 2011. As a result, the No Name Show was broken up as sidekick/traffic reporter Katie was released from the station and No Name was moved from mornings to afternoons, displacing long-time afternoon host Jared Aman. Midday host Kat was also released from the station as part of the changes.
Kevin and Bean lasted nine months. On September 3, 2011, the Kevin and Bean Show was dropped in favor of a music-intensive wake up program. The duo was subsequently dropped  from its syndicator, Westwood One, due to the loss of outlets carrying the show. It continues on KROQ-FM for Los Angeles listeners.
Shortly after the dropping of Kevin and Bean in 2011, "Menace," formerly of The Woody Show, took over morning show hosting duties. In August 2012, the show was renamed "Megan and Menace in the Morning." By December, Megan moved back to her previous midday shift, and in April 2013, Steve Masters returned to the station to host the morning show. In December 2013, Steve Masters left the station.
A new morning show, Kevin Klein Live, debuted on September 2, 2014. Host Kevin Klein previously worked at Playboy Radio. He is not related to the actor or the hockey player. Klein is also a frequent gambler, which has resulted in many bets made live on the show. One loss resulted in Klein having to pose for an erotic photo-shoot with cats and kale, two things he hates. Co-host Ally Johnson is a Bay Area native with a background in comedy. The show has received press coverage for some of its stunts, including a flash mob parade for competitive eating champion Matt Stonie. Klein also led a campaign to rid San Francisco of selfie sticks.
Some of Klein's most notable interviews include Drew Barrymore, Dave Grohl, Ronda Rousey, and Lisa Johnson, an African-American woman who made headlines after getting kicked off the Napa Valley Wine Train.
On February 2, 2017, CBS Radio announced it would merge with Entercom. The merger was approved on November 9, 2017, and was consummated on the 17th. The merger returned KITS to its former owners for the first time in 20 years. On December 22, 2017, the station re-branded as "Alt 105.3," with no change in format. The branding was modeled upon that of sister stations WBMP (now WNYL) in New York City, KVIL in Dallas, and WQMP in Orlando, which also flipped to alternative rock following the Entercom acquisition.
On January 3, 2018, Kevin Klein told his listeners that he would be leaving the station. Klein announced that his show would move to co-owned KEGY in San Diego as its new morning show, beginning March 29, 2018. However, Klein's show was cancelled before it even began. Klein posted a social media advertisement for the pending program that some thought made light of suicide by bridge jumping.
After running without a morning show after the "Alt" rebranding, KITS added Elvis Medina in mornings on May 30, 2018. Medina had co-hosted mornings on KHQT (now KJLV) and also was heard on KYLD. Medina would leave the station the following May, leaving the show to his co-host Daena 'DK' Kramer.
KITS hosts two major concerts every year. One is held every June at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California. It is known as "BFD." This festival-style concert runs all day with up and coming bands performing on the festival stage during the day, and more established bands on the main stage at night. The first BFD concert took place in June 1994 with artists such as Beck, Green Day, and The Pretenders. It has since hosted bands which went on to platinum-album status, such as AFI, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The White Stripes, Blink 182, Hole, The Killers, The Strokes, 311, Third Eye Blind, Foo Fighters, Panic! at the Disco, The Offspring, Stone Temple Pilots, and the Beastie Boys as well as older bands such as Duran Duran, Social Distortion, and The Cure.
The station's winter concert is Not So Silent Night, formerly known as the Green Christmas Ball and Electronica Hanukkah. It occurs in early December and has featured such bands as Linkin Park, Muse, Green Day, Kasabian, The Killers, My Chemical Romance, Smashing Pumpkins, System of a Down, Blink-182, David Bowie, Franz Ferdinand, The White Stripes, Silversun Pickups, Modest Mouse, Cake, Paramore, Angels & Airwaves, Spoon, Jimmy Eat World, Death Cab for Cutie, and Everclear.
In 2009, Live 105 added a third annual concert, Subsonic Halloween Spookfest. This concert debuted on October 30, 2009 at the Cow Palace in San Francisco. The Halloween-themed concert featured three stages of entertainment. Performers have included The Faint, Basement Jaxx, Crystal Method, DJ Steve Aoki, Crystal Castles, MSTRKRFT, Underworld, DJ Shadow, and many other electronic and rock artists that are regularly featured on the station's Saturday night show, Subsonic.
KITS is rebroadcast on the following FM boosters:
|City of license||Facility
|KITS-FM1||105.3||Walnut Creek, California||18524||610 (Horiz.)||−39 m (−128 ft)||D||FCC|
|KITS-FM2||105.3||Pleasanton, California||18521||44 (Horiz.)||378 m (1,240 ft)||D||FCC|
|KITS-FM4||105.3||Antioch, California||18526||330 (Vert.)||−19 m (−62 ft)||D||FCC|
In 2007, the station was nominated for the top 25 markets Alternative Station of the Year award by Radio & Records magazine. Other nominees included WBCN in Boston, KROQ-FM in Los Angeles, KTBZ-FM in Houston, KNDD in Seattle, and WWDC in Washington, D.C.
Members of the Live 105 programming and air staff have also received awards. Program Directors Richard Sands and Sean Demery were awarded Program Director of the Year by various trade magazines, as well as Music Director and DJ Aaron Axelsen, who received the Best Terrestrial Radio DJ in San Francisco award from the weekly newspaper San Francisco Bay Guardian in 2009.
- Broadcasting Yearbook 1960 page A-121
- Broadcasting Yearbook 1965 page B-21
- Broadcasting & Cable Yearbook 1998 page D-61
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- Fong-Torres, Ben (2006-11-19). "Radio Waves". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2009-06-28.
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- "Live 105 Brings Kevin Klein Live To Mornings". All Access. Retrieved 2016-01-11.
- "Live 105 To Launch New Morning Show Featuring Kevin Kline Next Month". Retrieved 2016-01-12.
- "Kevin Klein Pictures With Cats And Kale". live105.cbslocal.com. Retrieved 2016-01-13.
- "Biography: Ally Johnson". Retrieved 2016-01-12.
- "San Jose: Boisterous, improvised march celebrates hometown hot-dog hero". www.mercurynews.com. Retrieved 2016-01-12.
- "KITS' Kevin Klein Wants Your Selfie Sticks". All Access. Retrieved 2016-01-12.
- "Drew Barrymore Tells Kevin Klein Live How Her Wild Years Have Made Her A Better Mom". Retrieved 2016-01-13.
- "Dave Grohl w/ Kevin Klein Live". live105.cbslocal.com. Retrieved 2016-01-13.
- "Interview: Kevin Klein Live Gets Ronda Rousey To Reveal Her Biggest Fear". Retrieved 2016-01-13.
- "Napa Valley Wine Train incident". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2016-01-13.
- CBS Radio to Merge with Entercom
- "Entercom Receives FCC Approval for Merger with CBS Radio". Entercom. November 9, 2017. Retrieved November 17, 2017.
- Venta, Lance (November 17, 2017). "Entercom Completes CBS Radio Merger". Radio Insight. Retrieved November 17, 2017.
- "Live 105 San Francisco Relaunches As Alt 105.3 - RadioInsight". RadioInsight. 2017-12-22. Retrieved 2017-12-26.
- "Kevin Klein Live announces departure from Live 105 as radio station rebrands as Alt 105.3". SFGate. Retrieved 2018-01-04.
- "Week Ends With 'Kevin Klein Live' Still Missing From KEGY (97.3 The Machine)/San Diego ..." All Access. 6 April 2018. Retrieved 7 April 2018.
- "Former ALT 105 hosts of morning show Kevin Klein Live relocate to revive program in San Diego". SFGate. Retrieved 2018-03-03.
- Kenney, Kirk. "Padres flagship radio station goes all-sports and rebrands as 97.3 The Fan". San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved 2018-04-12.
- "Elvis Medina Joins Alt 105.3 San Francisco For Mornings". RadioInsight. 2018-05-29. Retrieved 2018-05-30.
- "2007 Industry Achievement Awards". Radio and Records. September 28, 2008. Archived from the original on May 11, 2008.