In a surprise, overnight move, Rincon Broadcasting yanked Progressive Talk Radio from its 1490 AM channel on Wednesday morning and replaced the left-leaning slate of programs with a Spanish language music format. The move, which came a month or so after the call letters were changed from KIST to KSPE, was a financial decision, as Progressive Talk was not profitable.
Rincon’s Keith Royer confirmed the move. “It’s always important in supporting a format to give it enough time to get its legs,” he explained. “Having run this format for five years, we just figured that we need to take a direction that would allow the station to be profitable for once.” Rincon is pinning those hopes on “La Preciosa,” which is technically a recuerdos format and is also simulcast currently on 94.5 FM. “It’s growing segment,” said Royer.
“Progressive Talk is no more in Santa Barbara,” said Edward Bear, a radio veteran who co-hosted and co-produced a weekend show with former Assemblymember Hannah-Beth Jackson. He said that Jackson had learned of the decision during a meeting on Monday, but was not sure if and when the other Santa Barbara-based host, Nick Beeson — whose show “Talking with America” aired on Sunday evenings — had heard of the move. Bear understands that the shift came down to money, and knows that Spanish stations repeatedly prove themselves more profitable than progressive talk shows. But it was not expected. “It was done very suddenly,” he said.
The move comes after the station’s call letters were changed from KIST to KSPE in July, said Bear, who explained, “Me as the old radio hand should have recognized something was in the offing the minute they changed the call letter, but I did not.” Bear says his time there was “very good,” and that the station “gave us free reign to do the show as we wanted to do it.”