KNAC is an internet based heavy metal music radio station that carries on the tradition of a former United States, Los Angeles, California area FM radio station.


KNAC on 105.5 FM

The original KNAC was an American radio station based in Long Beach, California which served the Los Angeles, California area broadcasting on the FM dial at 105.5 MHz. KNAC-FM had a variety of different formats. With a relatively weak signal and smaller coverage area (the station was initially signed on as KLFM to serve the Long Beach area and not all of the Los Angeles radio market) KNAC was never a hit in the Arbitron Ratings (usually finishing with only a 1.0 share). During its Heavy Metal era, however, the station gained a huge cult following outside the Los Angeles area from Heavy Metal fans across the United States (via marketing and selling of t-shirts, stickers, CDs etc. via advertisements in Heavy Metal fan magazines).

Freeform era

In the late 1960s through the late 1970s, the Rock format KNAC ran was referred to as freeform. A Freeform radio format gives the on-air talent almost total control over what music to play, regardless of commercial interests.

Popular performers of the time such as Avant-garde Experimental music artist Frank Zappa and comical theatre troupe The Firesign Theatre would stop by the stations studios to perform live or act as guest DJs.

During the early part of this era, the station's on-air personalities would often perform their shifts while smoking marijuana or after having consumed other illicit drugs and alcohol beverages. [ [http://legendarysurfers.com/ffr/blog/2004/05/kmet-fm-history.html Free Form Radio: Kmet Fm History ] ]

As a Freeform radio station, KNAC featured typical rock artists of the day such as The Beatles, The Who, Rolling Stones, The Kinks, Grateful Dead, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Yes, Pink Floyd, Genesis, among others. With its liberal on-air format, however, KNAC also played album tracks or songs by the more popular rock music artists that other radio stations would tend not to play. In addition, KNAC played music artists that received less airplay on more commercial rock stations. These artists could include anyone from San Francisco Bay Area psychedelic music act It's a Beautiful Day, blues rock group Electric Flag, to Italian progressive rock act Premiata Forneria Marconi. Some rhythm and blues, soul and funk artist including Billy Preston, James Brown, Stevie Wonder and Funkadelic were also heard on KNAC.

By the middle of 1970s the underground and counterculture movements of the 1960s and culture surrounding them began to be replaced by newer subcultures. As a result, KNAC started to play more punk rock and new wave music. By the late 1970s, KNAC had begun to evolve into an eclectic alternative music station.

Alternative music era

During the first half of the 1980s, KNAC had an alternative music format. It had a reputation as a cutting edge station that played music that would later be added to the playlist of the Los Angeles areas more popular and powerful alternative station KROQ. Bands like The Jam, Elvis Costello and Dave Edmunds visited the station's Long Beach studio. The station was considered influential in bringing about a thriving alternative music scene in Orange County and Long Beach.Announcers Doug Adams and Manny Pacheco were a few of the popular DJ's of this time. Manny ran the Reggae Revolution. KNAC was know in the early 80's as Rock N Rhythm 105.5 KNAC.

Heavy metal era

In early 1986, under the largely invisible new ownership of Fred Sands, a Southern California realtor, and with consultation from Pollack Media in Santa Monica, KNAC switched to the format for which it is probably best remembered -- heavy metal and hard rock. This emulated the prior success of KESI-FM (now KELZ) in San Antonio, Texas, the nation's first 24 hour metal station in 1981.

Program Director, Jimmy Christopher, (a holdover from the previous format and era), and new addition Kevin Stephens, changed things in a very loud manner. Behind the scenes General Manager and industry veteran, Gary Price lent experience.

The first song played for the new format was AC/DC's anthem, "It's A Long Way To The Top". During the initial year of this format, long sets of music were constructed in terms of actually what would sound good in 20-30 minute blocks of music by StephensFact|date=February 2007 (a practice rarely performed by any radio station at this time with the possible exception of Jim Ladd of KLOS). This was almost a return to the pioneer free form era of FM radio in the late 60s, and the impact was immediate.

As new bands like Guns N' Roses and Metallica achieved greate commercial success in the late 1980s, the station's fan base grew. The station produced rather austere T-shirts and bumper stickers (due to lack of funding for any "extravagance" in their marketing), the latter of which became a common sight on the roads of Southern California.

Some of the bands that were played most included Judas Priest, Scorpions, Rush, Metallica, Iron Maiden, Slayer, Van Halen, Mötley Crüe, Suicidal Tendencies and Guns N' Roses. KNAC was a force behind the popularization of Metallica, in particular. KNAC's large cult following influenced several other radio stations to add more hard rock to their playlist. Also ironically, the success of KNAC, helped to push onetime hard rock FM giant KMET off the airwaves at this time.Fact|date=February 2007

KNAC was also heavily involved in promoting local heavy metal concerts, with the station's disc jockeys, such as "Long Paul" and Tawn Mastrey, often attending the shows to introduce the bands. One early example of this practice was a series of sold out shows by Ozzy Osbourne, with Metallica opening, at the Long Beach Arena.

In March 1989, KNAC gained a competitor with the launch of KQLZ "Pirate Radio 100.3FM". "Pirate Radio" was a "Rock 40" station playing rock and heavy metal (mostly metal in the more pop oriented Glam metal genre) but in a manner similar of that to Top 40 stations. With a larger full powered signal, "Pirate Radio" easily had higher ratings then KNAC. Despite even hiring some KNAC airstaff (Tawn Mastrey being one notable and controversial hire -- a move which damaged her "street credibility" somewhat), "Pirate Radio's" popularity and existence were short lived. By late 1992 "Pirate Radio" had evolved to a more alternative based music format, known simply as "100.3FM". KNAC too, would soon be responding to the new widespread popularity of alternative music.

Decline in popularity

By early 1992 Heavy Metal was losing ground to the growing popularity of various "Alternative Subcultures". In trying to keep up with the times, KNAC began adding more music acts popular in the alternative music genre to its playlist rotation. The majority of these were the more guitar based grunge acts like Pearl Jam and Nirvana. While fans of the more adventurous and alternative earlier KNAC incarnation heralded a possible return to the previous format, many metal fans disliked KNAC's new sound, and the already ratings-challenged station saw further declines in audience shares. In 1994, management announced that KNAC was being sold and was switching to a Spanish-language music format. Heavy Metal fans began tuning in again to find that KNAC had returned to its metal format for the few last months. Once again, headbangers could hear the classic metal they had not heard in a while, like Megadeth or Saxon.

Finally, the last day February 15, 1995 arrived. James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich of Metallica guest DJed to show their support. The last song to be played on KNAC was Metallica's "Fade To Black." At 1:59 p.m., KNAC went off the air with a short good-bye from the manager, Gary Price.

Return via World Wide Web

In 1998, under the guidance of record company promoter Rob Jones Jr., ["Tuning in to radio's wired wave" USA Today December 23, 1998] a group of former KNAC staffers revived the station via Internet at KNAC.com, utilizing the relatively new technology of streaming audio. The music resembles that of the "halcyon days" of the 1980s, complete with the white-on-black KNAC logo and other on-air features.

In June 2007, it was announced that KNAC D.J. Tawn Mastrey had to leave her job as host of Hair Nation on Sirius Satellite Radio as a result of complications caused by Hepatitis C. (She died on October 2, 2007.) [ [http://knac.com/article.asp?ArticleID=5883 KNAC.COM - News - Remembering Tawn ] ] To build awareness to Tawn's situation a KNAC-FM On Air Reunion was held on July 28, 2007 at WPMD.org on the campus of Cerritos College in Norwalk, CA, which included many of the original KNAC-FM air personalities and former General Manager Gary Price. ( [http://mikestark.net/Tawn.html Click here for a podcast of this reunion.] )


External links

* [http://www.knac.com Official website]

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