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Originally published August 20, 2008 at 12:00 AM | Page modified August 21, 2008 at 9:30 AM

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What's next now that KIRO-AM airs on KBSG?

A week after Bonneville International dumped KBSG-FM to simulcast KIRO's AM news/talk content on the former classic-rock station, the results...

Seattle Times staff reporter

A week after Bonneville International dumped KBSG-FM to simulcast KIRO's AM news/talk content on the former classic-rock station, the results are what you'd expect: KIRO fans are enjoying the better FM reception and rockers miss their oldies, according to program director Rod Arquette.

The change went into effect Aug. 12, putting 19 full- and part-time employees of KBSG (also known as B-97.3) out of jobs.

Why simulcast? Were there listeners who couldn't find KIRO on 710 AM?

"I think really what it is, is our attempt to broaden the services we offer on KIRO when it comes to local news, local talk and local traffic," Arquette said. "You have in the radio industry now so many more people who listen on FM than AM that ultimately we hope this will lead to higher ratings."

Based in Salt Lake City and owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Bonneville owns 30 radio stations nationwide including conservative-talk KTTH-AM (770), "The Truth," in Seattle. Its KBSG purge appears to fit another general trend: corporations reducing local broadcast voices to cut costs.

"I don't think that's what Bonneville's trying to do. Here in Seattle, we're very committed. Here at KIRO, we've got live local programming from 5 in the morning to 10 at night," Arquette said. "What's most important to us is serving the local community with local programming, and we're doing a pretty good job of it.

"Had their ratings been down? Yes. Had their revenue picture been as promising as we'd hoped? No. There's really nothing on the FM dial for news/talk but public radio, so this opens a door for us."

Another door that may be open is the option of one of the two stations going all-sports, even possibly teaming with ESPN. Talk-radio news blog, blatherwatch.blogs.com, has suggested as much, and Arquette acknowledged the strengths of the sports lineup.

"We have a lot of wonderful assets now with the Seahawks already here, the Mariners coming on board in 2009, and we'll be working with the new Sounders," Arquette said. "We're in the process right now of looking at the best way of taking advantage of all those assets. We're taking a look at a lot of things."

On the possibility of working with ESPN: "It's always out there. That would be another possibility," Arquette said. "I won't say."

Mark Rahner: 206-464-8259

or mrahner@seattletimes.com

Information in this article, originally published Aug. 20, 2008, was corrected Aug. 20, 2008. A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the Web address for BlatherWatch, a talk-radio news blog. The address is blatherwatch.blogs.com.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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