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Numbers aren't lion at 91X

Alt-rock flagship station fires another program director in ratings woes

Folk-rock band Judah & the Lion has the top alt-rock song in the country, so why shouldn’t 91X play it? Ask Halloran...
Folk-rock band Judah & the Lion has the top alt-rock song in the country, so why shouldn’t 91X play it? Ask Halloran...

After “Shotgun” Tom Kelly, Mike Halloran may be San Diego’s best known rock-radio DJ. According to one friend, Halloran is doing now what he usually does when he loses a radio gig. “He’s out riding his Harley trying to find himself.” The indefatigable DJ/programmer has won, then lost, other radio jobs at now-defunct local stations such as Flash 92/5, Independent 92/1, and Progressive KUPR.

Halloran joined 91X when that station was enjoying its ’80s golden years as “the cutting edge of rock.” The successful station wasn’t just a purveyor of artists such as Depeche Mode, Cure, Devo, and the Ramones, 91X identified a lifestyle.

Video:

"Take It All Back"

...Judah & the Lion live at Paste Studios

...Judah & the Lion live at Paste Studios

The 91X of the ’80s and ’90s had solid ratings. Now it’s in 21st place. Halloran’s most recent stint as program director ended January 10 when his two years as programming boss failed to get a rise out of the station’s flaccid numbers.

Optimists at the company that operates 91X, Local Media San Diego, are hoping that the arrival of live Padres broadcasts on competitor FM-94/9 this spring will drive listeners who share time with 91X and FM 94/9 to spend more time with 91X.

But look for other, as-yet-unknown changes at 91X, which just started its 32nd year playing alt-rock. For starters, the staff has been told that “everything is on the table,” meaning music and DJs could also get the heave-ho fate that met Halloran.

One obvious change: the commercial and catchy “Take It All Back” by Judah and Lion was rejected by the 91X “music meeting” crew under Halloran. But last week it was added to the 91X playlist. Former FM 94/9 and KFMB-FM program director Garett Michaels, who is now a consultant and acting program director with 91X, says that the Judah song is the number one alt-rock radio song in the country, so why shouldn’t 91X play it?

Other big questions as 91X apparently tries to go more commercial: will there still be a “Local Break” artist? Under Halloran, each month one local band got tapped for valuable daily airplay. Will there still be a Loudspeaker show at 7 p.m. on Sundays?

Local bands were given hope last summer by Timothy Joseph, the host of the other SD-centric music show, The Local 94/9. When FM 94/9 decided to shorten the Sunday show from 9 p.m. to midnight to 10 p.m. to midnight, Joseph told his listeners that the hour loss was the bad news but that he had good news: he said The Local 94/9 and the station were going to put out a local-band compilation record in 2017 (just as KGB and 91X have done in years past) and that the station agreed to participate by giving all the artists on the album a week of regular-rotation airplay.

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Folk-rock band Judah & the Lion has the top alt-rock song in the country, so why shouldn’t 91X play it? Ask Halloran...
Folk-rock band Judah & the Lion has the top alt-rock song in the country, so why shouldn’t 91X play it? Ask Halloran...

After “Shotgun” Tom Kelly, Mike Halloran may be San Diego’s best known rock-radio DJ. According to one friend, Halloran is doing now what he usually does when he loses a radio gig. “He’s out riding his Harley trying to find himself.” The indefatigable DJ/programmer has won, then lost, other radio jobs at now-defunct local stations such as Flash 92/5, Independent 92/1, and Progressive KUPR.

Halloran joined 91X when that station was enjoying its ’80s golden years as “the cutting edge of rock.” The successful station wasn’t just a purveyor of artists such as Depeche Mode, Cure, Devo, and the Ramones, 91X identified a lifestyle.

Video:

"Take It All Back"

...Judah & the Lion live at Paste Studios

...Judah & the Lion live at Paste Studios

The 91X of the ’80s and ’90s had solid ratings. Now it’s in 21st place. Halloran’s most recent stint as program director ended January 10 when his two years as programming boss failed to get a rise out of the station’s flaccid numbers.

Optimists at the company that operates 91X, Local Media San Diego, are hoping that the arrival of live Padres broadcasts on competitor FM-94/9 this spring will drive listeners who share time with 91X and FM 94/9 to spend more time with 91X.

But look for other, as-yet-unknown changes at 91X, which just started its 32nd year playing alt-rock. For starters, the staff has been told that “everything is on the table,” meaning music and DJs could also get the heave-ho fate that met Halloran.

One obvious change: the commercial and catchy “Take It All Back” by Judah and Lion was rejected by the 91X “music meeting” crew under Halloran. But last week it was added to the 91X playlist. Former FM 94/9 and KFMB-FM program director Garett Michaels, who is now a consultant and acting program director with 91X, says that the Judah song is the number one alt-rock radio song in the country, so why shouldn’t 91X play it?

Other big questions as 91X apparently tries to go more commercial: will there still be a “Local Break” artist? Under Halloran, each month one local band got tapped for valuable daily airplay. Will there still be a Loudspeaker show at 7 p.m. on Sundays?

Local bands were given hope last summer by Timothy Joseph, the host of the other SD-centric music show, The Local 94/9. When FM 94/9 decided to shorten the Sunday show from 9 p.m. to midnight to 10 p.m. to midnight, Joseph told his listeners that the hour loss was the bad news but that he had good news: he said The Local 94/9 and the station were going to put out a local-band compilation record in 2017 (just as KGB and 91X have done in years past) and that the station agreed to participate by giving all the artists on the album a week of regular-rotation airplay.

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