The Ecphorizer

The Death of KFAT
Barry Leff

Issue #19 (March 1983)

No more "Moose Turd Pie"

KFAT has bit the dust. No more will such tunes as "Drop Kick Me Jesus Through the Goal Posts of Life," "How Can I Love You if You Won't Lie Down?," "The Cutest Little Dinghy in the Navy," "They Ain't Makin' Jews Like Jesus Anymore," and that all-time classic, "Moose Turd Pie," come reeking up the airwaves from the Garlic Capital of the World, Gilroy.

KFAT has been given the KWSS of death; it is being replaced by a station that will be completely indistinguishable from the 15 other stations in the Bay Area that play "mass appeal" music, i.e., "light" or "easy" rock, with occasional nostalgia to some '60s music. A trace of country might show up every now and then, but it is the type categorized by an ex-KFAT DJ as "Perry Como with a steel guitar."

This is part of a trend against individuality and uniqueness in our society; it is also reflected in many other areas. The death of KFAT is part of the same phenomenon that results in ethnic restaurants being replaced by McDonalds'; Mom and Pop grocery stores being replaced by Safeway. Standardization and homogeneity seem to have become the expectation of society.

The trend is very saddening to observe. One of the great things about America is our emphasis on individuality; the individual gets much more attention here than in the Far East. America is a melting pot, but it is the variation brought by different individuals and different ethnic backgrounds that lent a certain uniqueness to us.

Variety is the spice of life; with the demise of KFAT, Bay Area radio listeners have lost a magnificent source of variety. Choosing between KFAT's replacement, KWSS, and competing stations such as KYUU, KEZR, and KPEN (another recent casualty) is no choice at all.

KFAT (and KPEN before their change) had a special segment of the market. It seems that commercial operators are only interested in competing in the largest segment of the market. Yet if they were to use market segmentation, they could probably get a fairly secure share, a specialized niche, by retaining a very unique identity. Why compete head-on in the largest segment of the market when a viable smaller segment can be dominated?

There is a large segment that does not particularly care for "mass appeal" anything -- those of us in that category are left with very few choices now that KPEN and KFAT are gone. Classical stations are fine, but a little variety every now and then is nice; Public Radio has some good programming occasionally, but if I hear about the political situation in Latin America from an extremely liberal point of view one more time I will probably throw up.

The trend toward "mass appeal" and homogeneity seems as if it might be related toward a general trend in America that favors equality over freedom (a topic I may expound upon in the future).

In the meanwhile my fellow ex-Fatheads and I can swap old KFAT tapes, listen nostalgically to those classics like "I'm Proud to be an Asshole from El Paso," and hope that someday KFAT will rise like a
phoenix and make a comeback from its watered-down grave. 

A lecturer at Golden Gate University, Barry Leff is also a scuba divemaster and former life insurance salesman.

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