Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Black Talk: Katz Says Switch Will Fill Niche

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Black Talk: Katz Says Switch Will Fill Niche

Article excerpt

The phone lines are buzzing at KATZ-AM 1600, St. Louis' first 24-hour black talk-radio station.

African-Americans in St. Louis are tuning in to discuss viewpoints on the O.J. Simpson verdict, the Million Man March and other political and social issues.

"African-Americans can now talk openly about how they feel and what they go through in the workplace anytime they want without being scrutinized," said University City Councilwoman Betty L. Thompson, 56, a listener. "We think differently, and the O.J verdict is a reflection of that."

Noble Broadcasting Group owns KATZ, at 10155 Corporate Square Drive, and two other urban radio stations in St. Louis - KMJM-FM 108 and KNJZ-FM 100.3. Steve Mosier, general manager of the stations, said he is targeting a niche market ignored by general-market talk radio.

"We corner the urban contemporary music market in St. Louis, and to draw listeners we have to look at the community and `superserve' them, not only with music and entertainment, but with news," he said.

KATZ is the fourth station in the country with a news format for African-Americans. WOL-AM in Washington, WHAT-AM in Philadelphia and WLIB-AM in New York have all survived well over a decade with 24-hour news for African-Americans.

Thompson is not alone in her support of KATZ's 6-week-old format.

Joyce Conner, 40, of University City, said: "Other, so-called mainstream radio just didn't give me solace on issues I face. I call into this station and know that the host will give me the truth because he or she can relate to my experiences."

Sharon Harkness, 33, of St. Louis, said, "I think the format is good, and it will be interesting to hear black news all day along."

Mosier said KATZ listeners are ages 25 to 45-plus. The station switched to talk from soul music because music on AM radio is dead, he said, and like cable television, radio is becoming fragmented.

"African-Americans are not monolithic," he said. "Their interests are in various areas, and St. Louis needed a medium for the African-American viewpoint. This will not be whiners' radio."

Noble Broadcasting Group, based in San Diego, bought the three stations in 1992 from Inner Urban Broadcasting; the company owns 13 stations in other cities. …

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