Sports talk in St. Louis was born in 1992 at 1380 AM, which had the call letters of KGLD before soon becoming KASP. Now, nearly a quarter century later, 1380 is counting on several big names still around from that era to get it rolling.
Kevin Slaten and J.C. Corcoran, who have worn bad-boy hats on the St. Louis airwaves for decades, form the programming bookends of the operation. And Howard Balzer and Charlie “Tuna” Edwards are on the way.
The station, now known as KRFT, recently was leased by talkstl.com — a web-based programming provider. By taking over the radio station, it is also able to send its content out over the air.
The first move was to put longtime St. Louis sports-talk firebrand Slaten in the key afternoon drive-time slot (3-6 p.m.), when he has been doing his customary raucous show since mid-March.
Starting Monday, the station’s lineup grows again. The marquee name among the newcomers is Corcoran, who will be in the morning-drive slot (7-9 a.m.). Although he doesn’t do a sports show per se, he frequently touches on athletics. And sports will be the focus of the station throughout most of the day.
“Everything’s going to have at least a bit of a sports flavor,’’ said Scott Gertken, who runs the operation. “Probably 90 percent.”
Longtime St. Louis sports talkers Balzer and Edwards are to arrive April 20 from WQQX (1490 AM). And nationally syndicated jock-jabber host Jim Rome is on in early afternoons.
Gertken said he “giggles” when it’s mentioned that some think he’ll have trouble operating a regular radio station after having been in charge of a simpler online business. He said he has people working for him with a good understanding of regular radio, adding, “We couldn’t be more excited about the lineup we were able to finalize. We’ve done a whole lot in 10 days.”
The station, which is using NBC Sports Radio to provide its additional programming, currently is licensed to operate only during the daytime. But Gertken hopes to be on 24 hours by May 1.
Corcoran has been on the St. Louis airwaves for almost all of the last three decades, at many spots on the dial. But vast changes in the business phased out his style — a morning show heavy on talk about news, entertainment, sports and politics mixed with music.
He ended up getting work in Houston last year but also did a show tailored to St. Louis for a time on KFNS (590 AM) — which now is off the air. The Houston gig fizzled after a format change, but he persevered. He has been conducting his program digitally (at jcontheline.com and a mobile app), which he plans to continue to do from 6-7 a.m. before his show starts on the 1380/ talkstl.com operation.
He’s known for his outspoken — sometimes controversial — stances. And he promises no changes in approach or format of the show.
“It will be exactly the same thing I’ve been doing,’’ he said. “Anybody who listens to the show is going to hear J.C. Corcoran — they know what they’re going to get.”
What gets his proverbial goat is the current state of the radio business.
“Its embarrassing to watch the forces that be at some of the bigger stations rumble around putting people on the air you can tell are going nowhere” while proven veterans are available, he said.
He adds that he finds it perplexing that he can be on in big markets (he’s done fill-in work in Chicago in addition to his time in Houston) but has had trouble finding on-air work at a major station in St. Louis — where he is established.
“You explain to me what the rationale is for people who run radio stations here that J.C. Corcoran is good enough to work in (markets ranked third and fourth nationally) but just not in market 21,” he said. “You explain that to me and I’ll write you a check.”
But he’s glad to be coming back on the St. Louis airwaves.
“It will be a general interest talk (show), entertainment and a heavy dose of my twisted mind,” he said.
1380’S WEEKDAY LINEUP
7-9 a.m. • J.C. Corcoran
9-11 a.m. • Chris Razavi, Todd Blackstock
11 a.m.-1 p.m • Howard Balzer, Charlie “Tuna” Edwards (starts April 20th)
1-3 p.m • Jim Rome
3-6 p.m. • Kevin Slaten
6 p.m. • T. Cole, Steve “The Greek” Jones
* Midday lineup before April 20 to be determined.