Here is a photo
that appeared in Billboard Magazine. Vince
Neil and then new partner Steve Stevens met
up with the Pirate Radio Harley Girls.
In September, 1990,
Shadow Steele and Katie Manor were live at
the MTV Music Awards, mingling with the
stars. Shadow interviewed Riki Rachtman (of
MTV's Headbangers Ball) and Pauly Shore.
Katie had Mark Slaughter (of Slaughter) on
the air with her.
In its third year,
Pirate Radio's ratings dropped into the 2's,
and as low as 1.7 during its last year. It
was suffering from a 1980's "hair band"
image when Los Angeles was experiencing the
90's Grunge explosion, thanks to bands like
So, in February, 1991,
Westwood One ended Scott Shannon's morning
show (after 699 days) and changed formats
from Rock 40 to Album Rock. Billboard
reported the changes in this article: 1
Early in April, 1992,
the Pirate started playing an advance copy
of Kiss's new single, "I Just Wanna", nearly
a full month before the debut single from
the band's album was due out. On the 13th of
April, PolyGram Records issued a 'Cease
& Desist' order against the station. The
song, from their upcoming new LP "Revenge",
somehow found its way onto Pirate's 'Heavy
Rotation' play list, despite the fact that
the first single, 'Unholy', was not expected
to be shipped until the first week of May.
On Christmas Day, 1992,
the station dropped the "Pirate" moniker for
a new name, "Southern California's Cutting
Edge, 100.3". Listener research indicated
that "Pirate Radio" was synonymous with what
had become cheesy 1980's pop music. Ratings
had dropped to a 2.3 in the summer ratings
book, 18th place in the market. Those
running the station wanted to take it to the
next level and felt it needed something new.
And so, the Pirate changed to an alternative
format. Tom Barnes had become involved, and
moved the station through this evolution.
The station was
formatically a year or two ahead of its
time. It was a hybrid of rock and
alternative music. The alternative format
had not yet taken over the rock world. But
KQLZ began showing signs of growth again.
And, during its last two months, it used the
"The Cutting Edge of Rock" moniker, borrowed
from 91X in San Diego. Still, the ratings
were down to a 1.4, well below expectations
in a market like Los Angeles.
Ironically, Westwood One
would have gone with the flow of the "new"
KQLZ, and it likely would have survived,
burying KLOS, outliving hard rocker KNAC,
and taking a big chunk out of KROQ. Can you
imagine where it would be today?!
Westwood One had huge corporate debt at the
time ($167.6 million) and decided to sell
some of its less profitable assets. KQLZ was
considered such at the time as was WYNY.
Viacom bought Westwood
One's KQLZ assets for $40 million, a $16
million discount from the price Westwood One
paid just four years earlier. It was rumored
that Westwood One retained 120 minutes of ad
time per week but neither company would
comment on that. The sale of KQLZ and WYNY
reduced Westwood One's debt by $90 million.
The then recently revised FCC Rules
permitted a company to own two FM stations
in the same market for the first time, and
Viacom took advantage of the rule change in
buying KQLZ. For Westwood One, KQLZ was its
last remaining radio station. WYNY was sold
three months earlier.
Viacom, in its infinite
wisdom, viewed the station as a losing
proposition. It wanted an older, Adult
Contemporary (AC) sister for Star (KYSR
98.7). So, on Friday, April 2, 1993, it
dumped the format unceremoniously. KQLZ
became KXEZ, "EZ 100", and the entire Pirate
staff was released. Nancy Leichter, Pirate
Station Manager since the inception, was
also shown the door. The eight person sales
staff was forced to interview with KYSR's
general and local sales managers, with no
guarantee of retaining their job. KYSR had
been given the reigns, programming and
overseeing sales of KXEZ. It was the end of
KQLZ "Pirate Radio". Incredibly, Viacom
didn't even have the decency to make it a
smooth transition. At 3 pm straight up, in
the middle of a Black Crowes tune, KXEZ
signed on and told listeners to go elsewhere
for rock music. Ouch.