You don't know Jack

Garett Michaels returns to San Diego radio market to reprogram Jack FM

"We're getting the band back together," says Garett Michaels (left) and Mike Halloran.
  • "We're getting the band back together," says Garett Michaels (left) and Mike Halloran.

Don’t expect to hear Justin Beiber or Kelly Clarkson any more on Jack FM.

And whoever that is who squawks “It’s all about the bass (no treble),” has also been jettisoned off the 100.7 airwaves.

An admitted huge radio mistake is finally getting fixed.

KFMB-FM (100.7), home of the hugely successful Dave Shelly and Chainsaw morning show, has finally figured out that it may not be a good idea to follow the popular morning show with teen-skewing pop music that means nothing to DSC’s audience which tunes out en masse when the funny morning ensemble signs off at 10 a.m.

According to Nielsen ratings, Dave Shelly and Chainsaw have long been the number one show among listeners in the prized 25-54 age group. And among men 25-54, Dave Shelly and Chainsaw have more than double the audience than the next highest morning show. But when you factor in the rest of the day, Jack FM is way down at 17th place among all listeners.

The Taylor Swift-dominated playlist was ratings kryptonite when DSC signed off.

Crafting the remedy is a new program director with a ten-year history of programming radio in San Diego.

Garett Michaels, who oversaw FM-94/9’s “all about the music” modern rock format from 2002 to 2012, has been brought in to change the direction of “Jack-FM”/KFMB-FM. The station at 100.7 FM was a nationally famous ratings powerhouse in the 70s and 80s when it was known as B-100.

After being know as “Star 100.7,” the station morphed to a “Jack” format in 2005, focusing on 70s and 80s oldies with no live DJs but a lot of pre-recorded announcements by a snarky sounding guy who read “We-play-what-we-want”-type liners. Within the last few years Jack moved away from oldies and on to modern pop hits.

Knowing that things weren’t working, Midwest Television (which also owns Channel 8) allowed its radio stations — KFMB/100.7 FM and KFMB/760 AM — to be operated by a newly formed five-station group called SDLocal which also oversees 91X, Z90 and Magic 92.5.

Two weeks ago Jack switched to non-stop Christmas music leading many to wonder what new format would arrive on December 26.

Michaels, who first stepped into the KFMB building on Wednesday, is not tipping his hand as to what the new format will be. But it is known that “teaser” commercials about the new format will start running next week on both Channel 8 and 100.7 FM.

Michaels would not even say if the “Jack” handle would continue to be the station’s brand. But radio insiders are weighing in about what the reformatted station might sound like.

Some wonder if it might be the Triple A (Adult Album Alternative) format abandoned by KPRI when it was sold and flipped to a contemporary Christian format two months ago.

But that doesn’t seem likely since the more eclectic Triple A music mix doesn’t seem to mesh with DSC’s more mainstream approach. Also, a Triple A format would compete somewhat with 91X which is now a 100.7 sister station.

The new 100.7 could revert to its original “Jack” days (old hits and no DJs) but it seems unlikely a seasoned radio pro like Michaels would be brought in to oversee such a simplistic operation which many radio pros slag as a cheap-and-easy “jukebox.”

Many insiders are betting 100.7 will start rocking the day after Christmas.

Perhaps…classic rock with a few modern artists thrown in to freshen the mix. Think Zeppelin and AC/DC with the Foo Fighters.

Michaels won’t say. But some insiders reason that a classic rock-based format would mesh perfectly with DSC’s huge male fan base who might actually stay with 100.7 when DSC signs off.

Besides, KGB, owned by iHeartradio/Clear Channel hasn’t had any direct competition since “The Planet”/103.7 FM went away over a decade ago. The current ratings success of KGB and its more contemporary sister station, Rock 105.3, may entice Michaels to make a move on those unchallenged rockers. Besides, DSC built its audience with classic rock during their 14-year tenure at KGB.

While Michaels would not share details about the station he is rebuilding, he is bullish on returning to San Diego. “The band is back together,” Michaels tells the Reader about reuniting with 91X program director/DJ Mike Halloran and newly announced 91X morning man Tommy Hough.

All three helped launch FM-94/9 in 2002, the trailblazing, modern rock station lauded by Rolling Stone, NPR and various industry trade magazines for its adventuresome playlist that challenged the conservative rut that alternative rock had settled into. Michaels’ 94/9 was instrumental in breaking Black Keys, My Morning Jacket and Deathcab for Cutie.

Michaels departure in 2012 was precipitated by a new general manger who Michaels claims came in and “violated the ethic and brand” of FM-94/9 when he brought in the all-talk Mikey Show which didn’t fit with the station’s progressive, pro-music vibe.

The Mikey Show tanked two years ago. The general manager who liked Mikey was fired this year.

Michaels then programmed the alternative rocker “The End” in Seattle for two years.

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Joe Lindsay, Director of Programming for the five SDLocal stations (Jack-FM, KFMB 760, 91X, 92/5 and Z90) said that the original plans to run promotional on-air "teases" on Channel 8 and Jack-FM this week, were cancelled. Unless the identity of the new format leaks before then, the new format will not be known until Christmas Day or the day after. Last week Lindsay said only "three or four" people knew what the new format was.

The new format debuts Saturday morning at 10 a.m. Still no word on what it will be. But one format ruled out was a hard-rockin' metal-leaning station called THE ALL NEW JACK HAMMER. Sadly, also ruled out is naming the station after local radio legends. The station formerly known as Jack-FM will NOT be called SHOTGUN 100.7, CHANNEL CHAINSAW or ALL HACKSAW, ALL THE TIME. Also ruled out: ALL TALK, NO [HEDGE]COCK.

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