Kevin Stapleford: "The bulk of the early 91X library was made up of 12-inch singles, most of which did not indicate which speed they should be played at.... the Thompson Twins' 'Lies' sounded better at the slower speed."
"Oh, you mean Cheap Channel?" 91X morning DJ Chris Cantore joked on the air last month. A few years ago, nobody at the modern-rock station made on-air jokes about Clear Channel, the mega-chain that owns 91X. Cantore said what he said possibly because he knew the station was about to leave the Clear Channel fold.
Last week, Clear Channel announced the sell-off of 91X, urban oldies Magic 92.5, and hip-hop hits station Z-90. The FCC ruled last year that Clear Channel had to unload a handful of stations in order to comply with the eight-station-per-market legal maximum.
Finest City Broadcasting, a company created by former Clear Channel vice president Mike Glickenhaus, bought the Mexico-based stations for $113 million, according to one insider. One question unanswered by Glickenhaus and Clear Channel: why will the three stations remain based in Clear Channel's Kearny Mesa headquarters?
Longtime 91X DJs have privately complained about being tethered to Clear Channel. Ratings have slumped since FM-94/9 signed on in November 2002. The latest Arbitron ratings show 91X has 25 percent less of an audience than 94/9.
The success of 91X now rests with program director Kevin Stapleford, who worked in the same capacity at 91X between 1989 and 1995. As a teen, Stapleford answered phones at the station.
"The bulk of the early 91X library was made up of 12-inch singles, most of which did not indicate which speed they should be played at," Stapleford reminisces. "It could be 33 or 45 [rpm]. I had to call the DJs constantly to tell them they were playing things wrong. Although, I must confess, the Thompson Twins' 'Lies' sounded better at the slower speed."