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"K-LITE IS THE ONLY station in the history of CBS to repair itself without a format change," says AC KLTR Houston PD Ed Scarborough, discussing his station's turnaround since 1986, a rebound that took place with few staff changes.
     When Scarborough arrived from KKHR Los Angeles in 1986, KLTR was third out of four FM ACs and had dropped twoshares in less than a year. With KFMK, KJYY, and KQUE in the market - and KKHT set to join the AC fray a year later-K-Lite needed a fixed position.
    Scarborough's game plan was to first get KLTR's product "in line with our image"-one of a "friend" that a listener could relax with, or take to work. Then to turn the personalities from "background" into real people; emphasize music that appealed to the older end of his target demo; and market the station heavily
Since that time, however, KFMK and KJYY have gone oldies. KKHT is   now Top 40 / dance KNRJ. And KLTR  has  risen 4.2 - 5.5 in the summer Arbitrons, up from a 3.7 two books ago.  
     Scarborough grew up  in West Hartford, Conn., started in radio during college, and eventually became MD of an all news station.  "I didn't see much future in it."     
     He went crosstown to CBS's KMOX-FM as PD, but his career really took off after the AC station became KHTR during a top 40's renaissance in 1982.   "It's like we
were on a rocket ship," he says of the station's dramatic 3.4 - 10.6 rise.  "At that time, the CBS combo [KMOX/KHTR] had a third of the numbers in the market."    
    But in 1983, Scarborough was transferred to Los Angeles, where "mellow rock" KNX-FM was about to become top 40 KKHR, and the rocket ride suddenly came to a halt. Facing KIIS-FM at its 10-share peak, KKHR was constantly outgunned by its rival. "We were battling a station that had a $3-million promotional budget," says Scarborough. "We had a $356,000 promotional budget, including TV. We went to war with rubber bullets."
     Still, Scarborough is quick to point out KKHR's achievements. "People often fail to realize that KKHR cumed over a million people in its first year, and that's amazing. We may have failed on the surface, but it's a miracle we kept it up for three years in that competitive environment," he says.
     When KKHR became KNX-FM again in 1986, Scarborough went to Houston and had to readjust to an AC mindset, which, he says, was not a problem, because, "I'm more in the AC audience . . . .Although now I don't have to care when a new Madonna record comes out, there are just as many pressures in AC radio as there are in top 40.  The hardest [part] is that there's just no way to tell if a current is working.

     "We have to watch our musical range. We don't want
to play anything so maudlin or deadly slow that it [under - mines] the benefits of listening to K-Lite.   We watch  the  tempo of  a  song and ask ourselves  if  it fits the environ - ment of our radio station.  Does   it  stand out  in any way and,  if  so, is  it  in a positive or a negative way?"

     Two  songs  KLTR   rejected,  for  example, were  Gloria Estefan's "Get On Your Feet" (too uptempo) and Roxette's "Listen  To  Your  Heart" ( "because  of  that  heavy  fuzz  guitar"  says   Scarborough ).   About  30% of  the   music   heard  on K-Lite  is  from  the  '80's,  50%  is   '70's material, and  the remaining 20% is pre-1970.
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A recent p.m. drive stretch of KLTR included:  Medley   & Warnes,  "Time  Of  My  Life";  Firefall,   "Just  Remember
I  Love You";  Rick Astley, "Never Gonna  Give You Up; " 
the  Temptations,   "(Ain't)   Too  Proud  To  Beg,"   Linda  Ronstadt, "When Will I Be Loved"; Percy Sledge, "When  A Man  Loves  A Woman";      Naked   Eyes,    "Promises Promises;" Air Supply, "Lost In Love;" Stevie Wonder, "I
Just  Called To Say  I  Love  You;" the Beatles, "Michelle;"
and Expose, "When I Looked At Him."

    KLTR's  marketing  efforts  have centered  around   its       Frequent   Listener    Club,  one   of    the  earliest    such
promotions.  Club  members are contacted  by  mail on a    regular basis  and   are   the  only  ones   eligible  to  win  station  contests. "There are no losers   in our contests," says Scarborough. "If  a club member doesn't call within
an  allotted  time,  we'll  send  them  two  concert   tickets anyway."

    Scarborough says the club, which now boasts 35,000 members;  has been "a marvelous marketing tool."  FLC promotions, according to Scarborough, are good for an automatic increase in TSL; cume is built by other means, including TV and mailouts to non-members.   
     At  present,  KLTR  does  not    really  have  a  direct competitor:  "Classic Hits"  KFMK  plays  few currents;  KQUE plays an odd mix of AC and adult standards; and easy listening KODA "has modified its music somewhat and is now stepping on our turf.

     "I realize that right now we're on top of the game, and
a  lot  of  people are responsible for that," he says.  That
includes our GM Miles Sexton, who has been "a guiding
force in the marketing  of  this  radio station,"  the "brass"
at CBS in New York who  have  given "tremendous moral and financial support as well as the patience to let us turn
this thing around," and KLTR's air staff.

     "I'm  a  realist regarding K-Lite and  its   future growth," says Scarborough.  "My personal  goal for   the station is just to defend our turf.  The challenges will  constantly be coming at us. Good  PD's  are  the ones who maintain  the   numbers,  not necessarily those who achieve them. "
                                                                                                           PHYLLIS STARK