It looks like the end is nearer than ever for local alternative station 92/1 FM. On Sunday night, Rick Savage and Scott Riggs, the hosts of the popular local radio show "Go Loco," announced it was their final show. They'd been canceled, and Riggs had been let go from the station entirely.
"Last night was my last night at the station," Riggs said Monday. "Last night for "Go Loco,' the new music show, and also "Coup détat,' although I didn't do one of those for the last couple weeks."
Since the firing of program director Michael Halloran a few months ago (who is now at 94.9FM), rumors have been abundant that station owner Art Astor was, once again, planning to change the station's format.
"It's kind of strange. It was reminiscent of the days of 92.5" Riggs said. "In the last three or so months we heard rumors of the owner changing the station or switching the format. It was the same sense of impending doom, but we just kept plugging away until someone told us to stop.
"It wasn't altogether unexpected. But when it finally did happen it was somewhat sad and heartbreaking to put two years into a show and have it end like that."
After their show the week prior, station GM Rick Rome informed Savage that, after a successful two-year run in which they won two local media awards for best local radio show, they wouldn't be doing any more "Go Loco." But Savage-promising not to slander the station or drop F-bombs on air-convinced Rome to let him and Riggs have one more week to say goodbye to loyal listeners.
"Rick [Savage] was able to convince them to let us do one more show and say goodbye and thanks and say something to the effect of, "We'll see you soon,'" Riggs explained. "I honestly don't think Rick and I will do a local show together at any station. I have been in talks with another radio station to do another local show. Rick is still officially employed at the radio station."
Riggs and Savage both said that the station is also discontinuing its "Independent" campaign. The word "independent" will no longer be used in reference to 92/1, and the "I Am Independent" commercial spots-which featured real listeners giving testimonial for the station-have been discontinued.
Insiders say that Astor is gearing the station for another format switch to "light alternative."
Though broadcast on 92/1FM's meager signal strength (580 watts, compared with the 100,000-watt signal of 91X), "Go Loco" became the most popular local radio show in town due to both its time slot and length (6 p.m.-10 p.m. on Sundays). Though comparable in terms of quality, 91X's local show, "Loudspeaker," is relegated to Monday nights from Midnight to 2 a.m.
Many in local music feel that "Loudspeaker"'s lousy time slot is disrespectful to local music. But at least they have a local show. Though plans are in the works for a local show on new alternative station 94.9FM, "Loudspeaker" stands as the only pure local radio show on San Diego's FM dial.
Commercial radio stations have long viewed local music shows as a community service, not as a viable, ratings-generating product. Yet, for the last ratings book, "Go Loco" ranked as the highest rated show in the history of the station's alternative format. Riggs hopes that he and Savage proved to other local radio programmers that there is a large audience in San Diego that is hungry for music from their own backyard; and moreover, that local music is more than just a crappily recorded amateur hour.
"We had this huge outpouring of people e-mailing us. And it wasn't just the stereotypical high school kids listening in their garage," Riggs says. "It was couples who said that instead of having dinner together on Sunday nights, they'd sit around and listen to our radio show. For them, it was a ritual.
"More so than ever before did we prove that it's viable in local radio. I wouldn't say that it was just Rick and I, or just the music or the time slot or the length of the show. I think we proved that if you put a show that plays good music, is programmed sensibly, and has relatively honest and entertaining people behind it, it can do pretty well."
For their last show, the two reminisced about the good and the bad times of the show. They said they hadn't expected such a large pool of strong local talent that they saw come out of the woodwork. They spoke of their strong friendship, which came across in their broadcasts, and Riggs told his friend "this will be a good opportunity for him to start a new career path at a nice young age and get the hell out of radio."
They also confronted their dissenters-local bands that were angry about not getting airplay-by playing some of the dregs that were submitted to them for play. The unlistenable songs proved their point.
For their last tune, Riggs and Savage turned to their own success story, playing "Curbside Prophet" from the new album by Jason Mraz.
"We championed him long before anyone knew who he was," Riggs says. "So that one was a personal victory for us in a lot of ways."
Knowing 94.9FM's plans for creating a local show, could Riggs be up for the host position? he wouldn't say whether he'd been contacted or not. As for Savage, he is still employed by 92/1, but with the station apparently flailing, his future doesn't seem bright.