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Last year’s X-Fest, headlined by Offspring and Pennywise at the Concerts on the Green facility near Qualcomm, may have ended the event’s 25-year run.

When it became clear that 91X would not bring back X-Fest this May, 91X staffers told listeners that the alt-rock festival would be held in August or September. Now they’re saying X-Fest is probably not going to happen in 2009.

“They have no money,” says a former 91X employee. “Plus, back in the glory days, it was just 91X and KGB. Radio revenue is down for everybody, but now you have 91X as the fourth of four stations that play new rock.”

The latest Arbitron ratings show Rock 105.3 in 9th place among all listeners, 94/9 in 16th, KPRI in 17th, and 91X in 20th.

General manager Trip Reeb would not respond to a request for comment about why 91X is postponing its annual event indefinitely.

“It’s just easier for [91X] to piggyback on other concerts,” says one promoter. “They are hanging their name on the Del Mar racetrack concerts and on the Warped Tour, which they are presenting. But they don’t want to risk losing money on their own shows.”

In previous years, promoters such as AEG have backed X-Fest, assuming all the financial risks and booking the bands. This year neither Live Nation nor AEG offered to step up.

“Radio is not as relevant as it used to be,” says one longtime promoter. “Your major concert promoters are struggling like everyone else, and they just don’t see the benefit in partnering with 91X just for the free radio ads.”

One 91X competitor managed to stage its own multi-band concert in June: FM 94/9 acted as the promoter for Independence Jam at the Oceanside Amphitheatre, which featured national acts the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and the Black Keys as well as local bands. “We sold out in a week and a half,” says 94/9 program director Garett Michaels, who adds that 91X didn’t do itself a favor when it had emo darlings My Chemical Romance headline its ’06 Christmas concert. “They have swung to whatever bad flavor of the month is happening at the time, from that awful rap-rock to corporate rock to emo. Now they are just trying to copy KROQ in L.A.”

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Barbarella Fokos Aug. 7, 2009 @ 4:51 p.m.

I wouldn't mind the "slut" part, it's the insinuation of ignorance that would get on my nerves. ;)

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surfingsd Aug. 5, 2009 @ 1:50 p.m.

There were other years without X-fest. And 91X's Christmas show with My Chemical Romance sold out the sports arena. Mr. Michaels will take any cheap shot, and Ken Leighton salivates to slam 91X. Get lives, you two.

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619yuasa Aug. 6, 2009 @ 8 p.m.

Print media doing a story on the financial struggles of radio?

The least trustworthy "journalist" in SD doing a piece on the most maligned radio station in the city?

Irony.

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kenl Aug. 5, 2009 @ 3:15 p.m.

There were years when there were no X-Fests but there were never any years out its first 25 when the station didn't throw at least one multi-band concert. I think this is a story because thousands and thousands of us can relate to those great shows with Green Day, New Order, Jane's Addiction, Social D, The Ramones, Tom Petty and X. Remember the Mex Fest with Oingo Boingo at the Agua Caliente racetrack? The station used to be bigger than life. Now they are getting all excited about giving away tickets to get on a bus to see some show in Pomona ON THE SAME DAY AS THE SD WARPED TOUR. Yes the My Chemical Romance show which was headlined by AFI sold out. What's your point? My point is that My Chemical Romance, Fall Out Boy, Paramore and some of the other artists that 91X has played over the last five years pretty much tells the story of what 91X has become. Maybe that's why Mr. Reeb did not want to comment. Some of us still think radio could matter.

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kenl Aug. 7, 2009 @ 11:59 a.m.

An anonymous blogger throwing out "least trustworthy." Irony. I would like 619yuasa to point out what was "untrustworthy" about this or any other piece. And when you do so, please sign your name. The last personal slur I got was "ignorant slut" written by an assistant editor of CityBeat regarding the necessary name change of North by Northpark. Turns out she had no idea what she was talking about and she embarrassed herself and her paper. But at least she signed her name.

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David Dodd Aug. 7, 2009 @ 3:19 p.m.

I'm lucky. I don't know squat about the San Diego music scene. And what's more, I really couldn't care less; if I like the music I'll buy the CD or go see a show. I don't want to know what's behind the scenes and I don't care to meet the artists backstage. I simply want to be entertained.

Unfortunately, Ken, you're missing the points of whatever negative comments you receive here. It's because you're "in the business" so to speak. The perceptions by many seem to be that you often encounter some sort of a conflict of interest. In other words, if you worked as a wedding photographer and wrote music industry or club blurts on the side, your defense would be justified.

I'm not basing my opinion on this particular article (although I will point out that KROQ ceased to be relevant well over twenty years ago, and perhaps even thirty), but overall on what I've read of your content in the last year or so. The classy thing to do, realizing that some readers are going to accuse you of bias, is to refrain from defending yourself on account of their anonymity. Sometimes the best thing to do is to grin, realize that you are a controversial contributor, and that your employer appreciates the fact that controversy sells.

And my name, for whatever reason you need it in order to justify my statements, is David Alton Dodd. Why that is important to you I have no idea.

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kenl Aug. 7, 2009 @ 3:53 p.m.

Thanks for being honest and up front David. I understand that there are people out there who are unhappy. One person I know of just cost SDSU $3,000 because of his involvement in a lawsuit that SDSU lost in good part because of him. I wrote the story, now he's on the warpath. I heard second hand that the program director of 91x is now unhappy as well, but if his boss doesn't want to answer honest questions, I don't think I'm the bad guy. I ask you: is the X-fest story above not significant? I think any reasonable would say that it is. I could give you examples of tons of important stories that blurt has broken over the years. Most recently we covered reggae at the Del Mar Fair and the U-T wrote about five days later. We wrote about the all-ages dance parties and the next Monday it was on TV news. Sometimes these stories involve people ripping other people off and some of those people are just not going to be not happy. I know being called an "ignorant slut" just goes with the territory.

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David Dodd Aug. 7, 2009 @ 5:17 p.m.

"Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe."

  • Albert Einstein

We're all ignorant, it's the easiest and truest insult to hurl at each other. My point to Ken was about alliances. As a reporter, two things are constant: The reporter is generally aligned in some way and often times the reader is aligned in another way. This is what happens. It makes the position of the reporter undefendable, where an attempt at a defense seems ridiculous. However, this invites controversy. Defending a controversy is impossible. You simply let it be.

Barb, yours is a different situation. You get to write about your life, from whatever perspective floats your boat. You write about eating meat, and the vegetarians attack. You can defend that. You enjoy meat. Enjoying meat isn't a perceived alliance, it's a preference. With Ken, he's going to be judged based on his history and alliances in the industry. If he writes about an underage club in a negative way, he's going to get a lot of underaged kids mad at him, especially if he's aligned with a club or a promoter that doesn't do underaged clubs.

It isn't defendable, you simply accept the negativity and enjoy the ride.

And let's face it, we're all sluts. Anyone accepting a paycheck for doing something for someone else's interests is a slut. Again, it can't be said enough, this is what happens.

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Russ Lewis Aug. 7, 2009 @ 5:26 p.m.

"One person I know of just cost SDSU $3,000 because of his involvement in a lawsuit that SDSU lost in good part because of him." Really? What did he do exactly?

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antigeekess Aug. 7, 2009 @ 7:42 p.m.

Aw, refried, your initials spell "DAD?" That's sweet. Can I call you that? ;)

But to get technical, I think what you're describing is a "whore." I'd say that all of us who are employed by someone else are whores, not sluts. A slut does it for the pure joy of sluttiness itself, without expecting any payment. Not that you can't be both. On alternating days, even.

So I guess volunteers are "sluts."

Why does it give me such evil pleasure to say that?

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Russ Lewis Aug. 7, 2009 @ 7:58 p.m.

Just so users know, stating one's legal name is not a prerequisite for using this website's comment board. In fact, picking a screen name is part of the process of registering with the site, and registering is essential to using the site.

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David Dodd Aug. 7, 2009 @ 8:55 p.m.

antigeekess: I stand corrected. I reckon I'm both a slut and a whore. I'm a whore when I realize what I'm doing is for a paycheck and a slut when I enjoy it ;)

russl: Of course. And, obviously, no matter the anonymity of the poster, he or she has the responsibility not to post slanderous or libelous content on the comment board. That would be my guess as to why your link was quickly removed from this thread earlier. Disagreeing with content is your right and maybe even your duty as a reader, but there are limits.

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Russ Lewis Aug. 8, 2009 @ 12:27 a.m.

(#9) Nothing, Mr. Leighton? Oh, surely you must know something. Do tell. It sounds like a great story.

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619yuasa Aug. 8, 2009 @ 9:20 a.m.

I also have no idea why it is so important to you, but my name is Brian Yuasa. I am a long time fan and supporter of the local music scene, including many of those bands that you have consistently misquoted, misrepresented, and generally maligned. Im no fan of local radio, but your biases- against 91X, certain local bands, types of music, and generally anyone that wont treat you with the kid gloves that you require- are obvious and contribute to you being the least trustworthy columnist in the city.

It does seem odd that in half of your attempts to write "controversial" pieces, the end result is that the people that are featured prominently in the story complain that they were never contacted to participate. Between that, and your use of language like "I heard secondhand", you cease to be a relevant journalist. You are revealed for what you are: a bitter old man still smarting from some perceived slight at the hands of some beloved local band or the big newspaper, or the big bad radio station.

And to answer your question: No. This isn't a "significant" story. It's filler that came off as a hit piece, with obvious bias in play, and no first hand knowledge of the situation. Interviewing the guy at 94.9 about whats going on behind the scenes at 91.1 is kind of like asking the CEO of wal-mart to provide answers about internal policy at Target.

Again, I am no fan of local radio, but this piece really captures the essence of who you are, Ken- and why your reputation is well-deserved.

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Russ Lewis Aug. 8, 2009 @ 10:30 a.m.

(#9 again) Nothing, Mr. Leighton? No specific accusations? Tell you what. Reread the summons and quote us the actual charge(s) against this defendant. Go ahead. I wouldn't want you to be thought "untrustworthy."

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Jay Allen Sanford Aug. 8, 2009 @ 8:14 p.m.

This is very much a relevant local music story, particularly to those who've been around long enough to witness the rise and fall (and further fall) of a radio station that was once THE music culture touchstone and identity stamp for several generations of rockin' San Diegans. Inviting insight from others with a long local history in the radio biz is a perfectly legit - and frequently insightful - way to flesh out such a multi-sided story.

As a fellow Blurter, I can vouch for what a challenge it is to report on a longterm, ongoing, and complicated local music topic in 350 words or less. Almost all of the gripes I see on this website directed at Ken are clearly from people with a personal beef and/or bias against him, the person, as opposed to truthfully and accurately addressing his actual reporting - most of the tirade comments are so specious that they'd be comical, if they weren't so mean-spirited and - in some cases - libelous and slanderous.

The X-fest MIA is a worthy story, topical and well-reported in this new Reader ish (and hardly reported anywhere else, as with MANY stories that break first in Blurt) - the fact that it has engaged so many commentators is only proof of this.

If yer personal bias compels you to repeatedly poke the Blurt bear with pointy sticks, try sharpening a pencil instead and submit your OWN Blurt, on this or any other topic you feel is important RE local music. The Reader is always open to well written, topical, balanced, and timely submissions.

In addition, I'm always open to giving story submissions exposure on our Rock Around the Town blog and at myspace.com/sandiegoreadermusic (no paycheck for blog and MySpace articles, but lots of exposure) - BUT, you'd better be prepared to do a helluva lotta work, talk to a helluva lotta folks, and piss off a helluva lotta people (justifiably or not) if you think YOUR article can inform, entertain, AND engage as well as the one above ---

Jay Allen Sanford

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Russ Lewis Aug. 8, 2009 @ 11:58 p.m.

(#6:) "a lawsuit that SDSU lost..." Oh, and Ken? SDSU did not lose that lawsuit. SDSU settled with the plaintiff for a piddling amount rather than going to court and spending far more money to devastate the plaintiff's groundless lawsuit. (It was prepared to though.) You do that because it's cheaper, period. Why did SDSU pay out that $3,000? Because it was the victim of a frivolous lawsuit. Get it straight.

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Josh Board Aug. 9, 2009 @ 11:22 a.m.

And everyone knows that cases are settled all the time for that very reason. It's why so many people still aren't sure about whether Michael Jackson molested kids, and he settled for $20 million. $3,000 is a drop in the bucket.

But Jay...I'll tell you this right now. Defending Ken is going to be a losing battle.

I've had friends in bands, that told me the exact story, about how a quote got turned around and wasn't what they said. I had one friend start insisting he read back the quote he was going to use. That person once said "Uh...that's not what I said," and was able to correct him. But, had they not have him read it back, it would've went to print wrong.

I've had bouncers at clubs tell me horror stories. I had a reliable source, at one of the biggest clubs in town, tell me about him going in and fishing for a story when ownership was changing, even making waitresses cry with talk about them possibly losing their jobs.

I had a bar owner at another place in the north county, tell me he did a story saying his waitresses made something like a thousand dollars a night on tips, which was completely wrong.

The list of things I've heard (from reliable sources) is endless.

Obviously, if we write a story about a band and they don't like it, we hear from them. I did a cover story on Pyschotic Waltz, which had been featured on the Reader 25 years earlier or something. The piece was positive, but one idiot in the band hated it, and went on the warpath. But think about it. Why does it seem that 75% of the things Ken write about, end with people saying they were misquoted or that the story was wrong? It just makes no sense.

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Russ Lewis Aug. 9, 2009 @ 12:19 p.m.

"And everyone knows that cases are settled all the time for that very reason." Josh, everybody except Ken Leighton knows that. You don't let the facts get in the way of a good story.

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Jay Allen Sanford Aug. 10, 2009 @ 4:21 a.m.

I don't think I've ever met Ken, and I think we've only corresponded via emails cc'd to others - what I'm defending is the worth of this particular story and how it was reported, as well as defending the journalistic integrity of the Blurt column itself, which I've contributed to almost every week for over ten years. I wasn't aware of the lawsuit details RE "settled" rather than "lost" but, tho I'm no lawyer, I think most people would consider being forced to pay out money over a civilly litigious allegation to be a loss. No matter the amount.

There may be a legal distinction to the settlement-VS-lost terminology I'm not aware of which renders Ken's phrasing arguable, but surely not worthy of such mudslinging at ALL his reporting, at the entire Blurt column, and even with allegations that the Reader allows reporters to grind their personal axes publicly. That's ridiculous - if the Reader DID do that, I'd write articles once a month about ex-girlfriends and roommates who've stolen half the crap I ever owned ---

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Josh Board Aug. 10, 2009 @ 11:06 a.m.

Jay....the SDSU story, and the settlement, were written about in Blurt. I believe it mentioned the "settlement".

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Russ Lewis Aug. 10, 2009 @ 11:09 a.m.

(#9:) It's been two days now, Ken. Here's your last chance. Take the next 24 hours to present ONE SPECIFIC CHARGE against this person to defend yourself against your critics' accusations of "untrustworthiness" that so rankled you or you de facto concede the point. This'll help: read through that summons and find a charge in it. Just one. Go ahead. (As Spliff Adamz would say, "SPEAK ON IT OR BE SILENT THE CHOICE IS YOURS!!!!!!!!")

Time's a-wastin'.

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Josh Board Aug. 10, 2009 @ 3 p.m.

Well, you can't fault Jay for trying to fight the good fight. Us writers always seem to get reemed. In another publication I write for, I just saw a letter from someone that said they might not subscribe anymore because they hate my "antics."

I, myself, would've kept quiet on the whole thing, as it really has nothing to do with me. But when so many bands and bar owners didn't want to talk to me, because of something Ken has written. And I'd hear the stories from them, and I can IMMEDIATELY tell who was right and who was wrong...well, it gets old. And annoying.

And with my friends, I was actually able to sit down, and ask follow up questions. I would play devils advocate, and Ken would still come out wrong.

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Russ Lewis Aug. 10, 2009 @ 1:46 p.m.

(#20) Jay, first of all, this ain’t got nothin’ to do with you. Or “Blurt.” So just stay away from your high horse for a minute.

OK, now with that out of the way, let’s say your wife got hit with a frivolous lawsuit, a plain old harassment suit filed by some bored idiot with nothing to do. The two of you now have to respond in court. She prepares an extensive, well-documented defense, but you find out eventually it’s way cheaper just to settle and get the nut case out of your hair, and so you do.

Now Ken Leighton comes along and picks up an easy paycheck by telling the story – half of it, anyway – and prints that your wife “just cost Jay Sanford X dollars because of her involvement in a lawsuit that Jay lost in good part because of her.” Seem fair? Ken seems to think so.

Oh -- also named as a defendant in the SDSU suit? President Steven Weber. Honest. Duzzat tell you anything? Funny, Ken forgot to mention that. How much was President Weber responsible for SDSU forking out $3,000? Now THAT'S the story, Ken! Run back and get it! Quick, before you get scooped! City Beatoff reads these comments too!!!

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Russ Lewis Aug. 11, 2009 @ 12:25 p.m.

"'One person I know of just cost SDSU $3,000 because of his involvement in a lawsuit that SDSU lost in good part because of him.' Really? What did he do exactly?"

Time's up, Ken.

Nothing? Nothing? This whole time you didn't have a single specific charge against this person? You couldn't name one single thing this person did whom you accused of wrongdoing? Your "insider" couldn't specify anything either? The plaintiff didn't specify one single action in his subpoena? You mean you print false accusations about people based on groundless claims by one of your "insiders" that you don't investigate? Apparently so. There's a name for that where I come from. If that happened to me, I'd go on the warpath too. The legal warpath.

Maybe that's where the title "least trustworthy 'journalist'" comes from.

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Russ Lewis Feb. 10, 2010 @ 9:48 p.m.

Nothing, Ken? Six months and still no answer?

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