Sports in San Diego is not a way of life

Why The Fan radio will have tough time

Klein's now famous Twitter account did not address his employment status.
  • Klein's now famous Twitter account did not address his employment status.

The news that shock jock Kevin Klein was fired before he even started his first day on the new “97-3 The Machine” was not surprising to photographer Jesse Cuevas. He took the shot of the Coronado bridge that Klein used without permission in his fateful “Jump” Twitter post.

“I expected it,” says Cuevas. “It seems like the Kevin Klein show was always just one big mistake. He made a joke that was in poor taste and it cost him his job.”

Klein, a morning shock jock who had been on San Francisco’s alternative station “Live 105” for three years but was fired in January, was supposed to start a new morning show on the newly launched “97-3 The Machine” March 29.

Klein’s irreverent post that promoted his show at the expense of Coronado bridge suicides not only cost him his job, but it triggered Entercom, the Philadelphia-based radio group that owns KEGY, 97.3 FM, to torpedo the entire “97-3 The Machine” format after just six weeks on the air.

Entercom is scrambling to put together a new lineup for the new station that will now be called “97-3 The Fan.” It will be San Diego’s third all-sports station.

The format for 97-3 The Machine was an unusual “talk that rocks” hybrid of live Padres and sports talk mixed with classic rock, recorded stand-up comedy bits, and the male-oriented Seattle based afternoon comedy talk show called “The Men’s Room.” The new “97-3 The Fan” will retain only sports talk host Dan Sileo and live Padres broadcasts from The Machine format.

Entercom contacted Ben Higgins, a sports broadcaster on ABC-10 to be the afternoon host on the new Fan. Higgins declined the offer and decided to keep doing his Monday-through-Friday radio morning show on The Mighty 1090.

The Fan will likely use the CBS Sports radio network to fill in time when local hosts aren’t on the air. Entercom co-owns CBS Sports Radio. The other two local sports stations, Mighty 1090 and XTRA Sports 1360 rely on the ESPN and Fox Sports radio networks respectively.

The new lineup on 97-3 The Fan has not been announced. But insiders say it will include Dan Sileo in the morning followed by syndicated sports talk shows hosted by Doug Gottlieb and former San Diegan Jim Rome.

Meanwhile Cuevas says he is still trying to determine whether he will sue Entercom over the use of his Coronado bridge photo. He owns a website that sells photos, many taken with a drone. He admits the bridge photo was not copyrighted.

“I am getting conflicted stories about it,” says Cuevas. “Some people have told me that the minute I created it, I own it and no one can use it without my permission. Others have said I have to get a copyright in order to protect it.” He says he has heard nothing from Entercom.

But does San Diego need a third all-sports station? Singer/songwriter Jefferson Jay has an SDSU masters degree in history but was raised in New York. He says the new “97-3 The Fan” will have trouble stacking up to another station called The Fan.

“I listen to The Fan in New York every day,” says Jay who accesses the station through the Tunein.com app. “You don’t become ‘The Fan’ overnight just because you say you are.”

Jay correctly points out that the ratings for the two San Diego sports stations are dwarfed by those in other metro areas. “Sports in New York is a way of life. It’s a 24/7 passion for many New Yorkers. New York has like ten professional teams. We have The Padres.”

The demand for San Diego’s third all-sports station seems iffy, which was probably why Entercom first wanted to try the new “Machine” hybrid format instead of going all sports. According to the latest Nielsen ratings, Mighty 1090 is in 24th place among all local stations. XTRA Sports 1360 is 27th.

Jefferson Jay has played live on Mighty 1090, playing his own humorous tunes about San Diego sports. He suggests local sports radio would do better if it relied more on local talent. “The main guy on this new Fan will be a guy who is obnoxious and is from Miami,” he said about Dan Sileo.

“It seems like the whole sports radio business is upside down in San Diego,” says Jay. “It’s almost like there are now more sports stations than there are listeners. I’m a huge sports fan but I don’t listen much to local sports radio.”

He thinks The Mighty 1090 was on the right track when it gave rock DJ Chris Cantore and UT columnist Kevin Acee their own show. “Just because Cantore and Acee didn’t work out doesn’t mean they shouldn’t keep giving other locals a chance on the air. For some reason they like to rehire people who have been fired a million times.”

Attempts to get a quote from Entercom or from Klein were not successful. Although it was known on April 9 that Klein would not be returning to 97.3 FM, his recorded voicemail (858-848-YELP) was still up and running and asking would-be listeners on April 11 to record thoughts to be aired on “Kevin Klein Live.” His now famous Twitter account did not address his employment status.

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The best thing that could happen is the demise of this station. If I want sports there are two other stations that have know-it-all has been ex-jocks that can let me know what the coaches and players did wrong.

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