KARS AM 860 changes its radio format to news; Trading Post ends

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Almost a week ago, KARS Radio in Belen made a big change.

They changed their radio format from playing music and airing its popular "Trading Post" to being "All news, all the time AM 860."

KARS now broadcasts morning and afternoon news, followed by a Valencia County evening sportscast.

The long-standing station made the change after conducting a three-month study pinpointing areas in the radio business that weren't being served in Valencia County, said KARS manager Dewey Moede.

"We found the hole in the market was an all news station and it's not being served here in this area," Moede said. "There is no radio station that has constant news."

Prior to the format change, KARS played music from the '40s, '50s and '60s and broadcast local news, sports and weather, along with the "Trading Post," a Belen favorite where residents announced used items for sale, Moede said.

"What we're trying to do here is give (listeners) a brand new radio station that serves the community even better than what we have been," Moede said.

KARS will keep its ties to Valencia County by building upon broadcasting local news, weather and sports.

"The new focus will be in the Albuquerque, Belen area and things happening in the Roundhouse," he said. "It's going to be the same news that KARS has been doing for several years, but with more coverage."

Moving to an all news format may help increase the radio station's listenership to include younger listeners and residents in Los Lunas and Albuquerque.

Moede said the station is constantly searching for ways to strengthen its listenership.

"One of the things that we found with the KARS format was that the format was getting older, there was an older demographic and we needed more of a format that had a mass appeal," Moede said.

The manager said the station received a positive response from sponsors with 95 percent of them deciding to stay on board. The 5 percent that left were religious programs that went to KARS' sister radio station KKIM 1000 AM.

"Yesterday, I got calls in favor of this new format and I didn't get one call saying they didn't like the new format, and I really believe that's because people in Belen really want news and information not only about their community, but about the state and the world," he said.

The morning news is anchored by Frank Haley, the afternoon news by Marina Rockinger and evening sports by Josué Gallegos.

At nights, from 11 p.m. until 4 a.m., listeners can tune into "Overnight America" with Jon Grayson, a broadcast covering daily newsworthy issues.

During the weekends, specialty programs will be aired between news segments, but Moede said they are still determining which ones will be broadcast.

The station is also working toward streaming online on the Internet.


-- Email the author at aortiz@news-bulletin.com.