The Program Directors

PD's were Sandy Beach, Mike Novak (pictured at right), Ric Lippincott and Joe Alfenito. Novak deserves credit for assembling a first class team, but unfortunately, his personal proclivities derailed his career at KYUU -- however, he left a bit of himself behind, in a manner of speaking. Ric Lippincott was excellent at working with the diversity of personalities that gave the station its greatest strength and depth. Ric appreciated the unique qualities of each daypart and had us all pulling in the same direction -- in our own, unique way. His departure signaled the beginning of the end for the station.

Ironically, Terry DeVoto spoke to the entire airstaff before hiring a replacement for Lippincott to see what it was we'd like to see in a new PD. Then, he hired just the opposite. Joe Alfenito was essentially, the wrecking ball. Joe meant well, and was a very nice fellow, but he had never been a PD before he was hired at KYUU and he was in way over his head. It could be argued that it wasn't really anyones fault in the sense that Terry DeVoto had never been a GM before (hence, he'd never hired a PD) and Joe shouldn't be faulted for wanting to go for the brass ring -- I guess. Joe had a flashy wife who wore tight, shiny clothes, bright red platform stilletto heels and lots and lots of make-up. Her name was Cleopatra.

Maybe Randy Bongarten, President of the NBC radio division, should take some blame for allowing the hire in the first place. Maybe he knew that the radio division would soon be on the block and just didn't give a damn. It's hard to speculate, but it was a crying shame -- watching the ocean liner taking on water through tiny pinholes, and not being able to convince the captain that the ship was slowly sinking. As a matter of fact, I used that precise analogy one afternoon in Terry DeVoto's office, to no avail. Terry was more interested in pointing out that the station research indicated the listeners didn't want as much personality in dayparts other than morning drive, anymore.

With all due respect, the number one music station in the fourth largest market in the country is not the place to learn the art of being a PD. Alfenito spent most of his time in front of his computer analyzing the numbers and quickly lost the respect of the air staff by relying strictly on research and zero intuition. After a couple of months, poor chain-smoking Joe was like a lion tamer without a whip or a pistol. In desperation, he radically altered the music mix, and as the numbers plummeted, the tag team of DeVoto and Alfenito changed the calls, to the "Q" (because according to DeVoto, KYUU prounounced aloud spells "Q"). "Consultant" Alan Burns (and I use the term VERY loosely) was then brought on board, who absurdly mandated that the talent had to write out the entire content of our shows before we did them. Finally, the format was changed by management on April 28th, less than five months before the close of the sale, in a futile attempt to salvage their jobs once Emmis took over. In September, 1988, NBC sold all of its stations and network and left the radio business forever.

Within 4 months of purchasing the most profitable station in the legendary NBC radio chain, Emmis Communications managed to completely kill the golden goose and ratings plummeted into oblivion, led by a little banty rooster of a man named Rick Cummings who was the national PD for Emmis at the time, I believe. You know the type. One of those little guys who stand about 5'4", acquire a postion of power and then become "little tyrants". The damned business seems to attract a lot of little men like that. Vickie Jenkins had a great quote in the San Francisco Chronicle shortly after Emmis had fired nearly the entire staff. Something to the effect of: "They told us not to worry, that they were a 'people oriented company' before they took over. I guess we just weren't the right people."

The founding fathers of KYUU were Mike Phillips and Walter Sabo. Thanks, guys.