Pro sports figures have long been major players in San Diego radio.
John Lynch was a Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker before getting into radio management and launching San Diego’s first sports and modern rock stations (Mighty 690 and 91X).
After selling the Padres for a reported $800 million, John Moores bought and still owns controlling interest of Broadcast Company of Americas (Mighty 1090, Max 105.7).
Helix High’s Bruce Walton (Bill’s brother) played for the Dallas Cowboys before becoming the general manager of pop-jazz KIFM in the ‘90s.
But San Diego’s most understated sports/radio heavy hitter would have to be Chargers QB Philip Rivers, who reportedly committed a large sum of his money toward buying KCEO AM-1000 in 2012. Rivers and his wife Tiffany were a big part of the local drive to raise $3.75 million so that Sacramento-based Immaculate Heart Radio could buy KCEO and turn it into a 24/7 mouthpiece for the Roman Catholic way of thinking.
“St. Sebastian is the patron of athletes, so I wear a medal of him, along with a miraculous medal and a crucifix,” Rivers told the National Catholic Register in 2012. “In a 2008 playoff game I tore my ACL…. My mom asked me on the phone, ‘Do you know that St. Sebastian’s feast day [Jan. 20] is the day of the next playoff game?’ Amazingly, maybe even miraculously, I was able to play that game.”
While Rivers’s career seems particularly blessed this year, is his commitment to pontiff radio is still on fire? A call to the Chargers’ PR office for a request for a response from Rivers was not returned.
But KCEO and Immaculate Heart Radio are presently coming on as strong as the Chargers.
Immaculate Heart, which now owns and programs more than 30 stations in six western states, has just purchased former Los Angeles Top 40 powerhouse KHJ AM-930 AM and will soon flip it to all-Catholic. It was announced last month that Immaculate Heart will participate in the creation of a state-of-the-art TV and radio broadcast facility in the Crystal Cathedral complex in Garden Grove, which was purchased by the Orange County Catholic Diocese and renamed Christ Cathedral.
KCEO spokesperson Cy Kellett says locally generated programming is limited to the two-hour syndicated Catholic Answers talk show which originates in El Cajon, and an hourly show which was recorded in conjunction with the San Diego Diocese called Setting Things Right.
Unlike many AM stations that “broker” or sell time at an hourly rate, Kellett says outsiders, even if they are Catholic, simply can’t buy their way on to AM 1000.
Immaculate Heart general manager Dick Jenkins admits that none of the discourse you hear on KCEO will counter the “catechism compendium.” In other words, you won’t hear any challenges to the church’s official positions on birth control or celibate priests.
“We try to be exactly where the Catholic Church is.”
KCEO’s four broadcast towers in North Oceanside allow it cover coastal San Diego County and south Orange County. The station has been granted a daytime power increase from 5000 watts to 10,000 watts, which will allow it better Orange County coverage. When the power increase is completed by the end of the year, KCEO will have twice the radiated power of San Diego’s more famous AM stations, KOGO and KFMB.
(revised 10/27, 9:45 a.m.)