KITS-FM ("Live 105") is a San Francisco, California, USA-based radio station broadcasting at 105.3 MHz. The station is owned by CBS Radio and programs a modern rock format. The station also broadcasts on HD channel L2, locally on Comcast cable channel 986, and is streaming online using Radiomat.
The station's original call letters
. The KITS call letters
arrived in February 1983 when the station adopted radio consultant Mike Joseph's Hot Hits Top-40
music format. Seven air personalities were recruited during a nationwide search from stations such as XETRA Tijuana, Mexico
, Q104 Kansas City
, 92x Columbus, Ohio
, and WCAU-FM Philadelphia
. The transplanted jocks underwent a "broadcasting bootcamp" for two weeks prior to launching the new Hot Hits format. Radio personality Doug Ritter (Doug Ritterling) was the first Disc Jockey on the air (at 9am on February 27
), transitioning KBRG-FM from its Spanish format to Hot Hits.
The station was referred to as "Hot Hits KITS" and followed the formula of a very short playlist with heavy repetition and fast-talking air personalities. The original DJ lineup on 105 KITS consisted of program director Jeff Hunter in mornings, followed by Doug Ritter, Gary Robbins, Todd Parker, Richard Sands, and Rick Neal (George Fryer), Mark Van Gelder was 105 KITS first Production Director, Annette Parks (daughter of pioneer broadcaster and Miss America Pageant Host Bert Parks) was the station's news director, and Michele Meisner (formerly of San Francisco's Fantasy Studios) was music director.
A modest ratings success, KITS fought off competition from the legendary AM CHR station, KFRC (which changed format to live game shows in 1984), KMEL-FM, which had switched from album-oriented rock to CHR in 1984. 105 KITS was, for a while, the darling of the Jet Set; daily visits were common from movie celebrities such as Bette Midler, Tom Cruise, Pat Morita, George Takei, Anthony Perkins and others. The celebs didn't usually make it on the air, but they toured the studios in San Francisco's Merchandise Mart just to see what the industry buzz was all about.
Modern rock station KQAK
changed formats in 1985, and fans of the station were eager for another station to pick up the format. During this time, on-air personality Steve Masters
began experimenting with modern rock
on his evening show and the reaction was overwhelmingly positive. Over time, KITS dropped the "Hot Hits" approach and remained a mainstream CHR
station, but began a gradual musical shift, incorporating modern rock songs into their Top 40
playlist. By October 1986, KITS had completely dropped the pop artists from the playlist and became a pure modern rock station. The station's new moniker became "Live 105" under program director Richard Sands
and music director Steve Masters.
The music ranged from mainstream alternative rock, imports, dance music, and even classic songs from pioneering artists such as Lou Reed, David Bowie and T-Rex. Live 105 became a major influence on the format, and sole source of radio exposure for such artists in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The airstaff lineup remained relatively stable from 1986 through 1997, and included Masters, Big Rick Stuart, Mark Hamilton, Roland West, and Alex Bennett and Lori Thompson in the morning. Bennett was let go from the station briefly in 1989 and replaced by Perry Stone, as Live 105 attempted a 'more music' approach in the morning. This proved to be a failure, and Bennett, who briefly went to WIOD in Miami, Florida, was brought back. Hamilton left in 1994 to accept the program director job at KNRK in Portland, Oregon. Steve Masters departed soon after to take a Promotion job at MCA's new alternative label, WAY COOL. Roland West then moved from night to middays and took over the music director position, eventually becoming the Assistant Program director. Aaron Axelsen, then assistant music director, become the music director and host of specialty programs "Sound Check" and "Subsonic". The station also ran Hibernia Beach LIVE, a gay-themed radio call-in show, from 1989 to 1999.
The modern rock format changed nationwide by the 1990s, moving away from the dance-heavy European sound to a harder direction with artists like Nirvana and Soundgarden, and Live 105 began incorporating it into their sound. After numerous years of success, ratings for Live 105 began to dip during the late '90s, as Infinity Broadcasting's KOME in San Jose switched to a harder modern rock sound. KOME had great success in the ratings and managed to even beat Live 105 with the Howard Stern morning show and its guitar-driven music format, as opposed to the more British, euro-based music Live 105 had carved a niche with.
On March 11
, 1997, owner Entercom
sold the station to Infinity Broadcasting (later CBS Radio
). After the sale to Infinity, on June 1
, the big shakeup occurred. Stern's morning show, KOME's management and programming staff, and a few on-air personalities were brought up from San Jose to take over Live 105. KOME was eventually sold to Jacor
, which moved KUFX
to the 98.5 frequency and the KOME call letters were "parked" on an AM station in Fort Worth, Texas
. Program director Richard Sands, assistant program director/midday host Roland West, and the relatively new morning team of Johnny Steele & Lori Thompson were all dismissed. KOME's program director, Jay Taylor, assumed programming duties at the new Live 105, and Ally Storm and No-Name moved into middays and nights, respectively. Big Rick Stuart continued in afternoons until being let go in 2000, severing the last remaining thread to the original incarnation of Live 105, though Steve Masters returned briefly to host a midday specialty show.
By the end of 2001, Live 105 had drastically lost listeners due to the generally unpopular music assortment that was being played, which included heavier amounts of hip hop and heavy metal. Toward the middle of 2002, the station hired Sean Demery as Program Director in hopes of bringing back listeners and refocused on core alternative rock artists, more popular hits, and established artists such as Social Distortion, The Pixies, and Pearl Jam. They have since begun to play more popular/indie artists than the artists which appealed to the previous "core alternative rock" audience.
ended his syndicated morning show in December 2005, and departed for Sirius Satellite Radio
. In response, CBS Radio flipped the majority of its Alternative-formatted radio stations to an all-talk format known as Free FM
. Live 105 was allowed to keep its music format, and thus decided to go in a music-oriented direction for its subsequent morning show, The Woody Show
(originally The Morning Music Co-op, then The Woody, Tony and Ravey Show), hosted by Jeff "Woody" Fife, Tony Mott, and Renee Ravey, with producer Greg Gory, phone screener "Mother-F'n" Brian (Until April 2008, when Brian left and has since been replaced with Vanessa), and contributor/videographer Jason "White Menace" McMurry. The show made its debut on January 3
. Their contract expired on December 16
but the show announced on December 18
at 5:00 pm they have re-signed their contract. The Woody Show resumed January 7
. Since returning, they have integrated a seven camera "web cam" system to the studio which was installed by "White Menace" and is currently run by interns while on the air. The video feeds are broadcast online at http://www.justin.tv/thewoodyshow.
Live 105 hosts two major concerts
every year. BFD
, (Big Fucking Day) usually takes place at the Shoreline Amphitheatre
in Mountain View, California
in June. This festival-style concert
runs all day with up and coming bands performing on the festival stage during the day, and the more established bands on the main stage at night. The first BFD concert took place in June 1994 with artists such as Beck
, Green Day
, and The Pretenders
. It has since hosted bands which went on to platinum-album status such as System of a Down
, The White Stripes
, Limp Bizkit
, Kid Rock
, Third Eye Blind
, the Foo Fighters
, Panic at the Disco
, Stone Temple Pilots
and the Beastie Boys
as well as older bands such as Duran Duran
, Social Distortion
and The Cure
The other major concert is Not So Silent Night, which rolls around in early December at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in downtown San Francisco, which has featured such bands as Linkin Park, Muse, Blink-182, Franz Ferdinand, The White Stripes, The Killers, Silversun Pickups, System of a Down, Modest Mouse, Green Day, Paramore, Angels & Airwaves, Spoon, Jimmy Eat World, and Death Cab for Cutie.
In 2007, the station was nominated for the top 25 markets Alternative station of the year award by Radio & Records
Other nominees included WBCN
in Boston, KROQ-FM
in Los Angeles, KTBZ-FM
in Houston, KNDD
in Seattle, and WWDC
in Washington, DC.