Fresno Beehive

KKDJ is back on the radio airwaves, and now on TV, too

Gary Cocola has amassed on odd collection over the years.

Odd, unless, like Cocola, you have an almost nerdy interest in local broadcast media.

“I’m a collector of old call letters,” says Cocola, who started his media company, Cocola Broadcasting, in the early 1980s. He acquired and archived the call letters K-JOI and KJEO, which some will no doubt remember as the former call letters for local CBS affiliate Channel 47.

And also KKDJ.

Cocoal acquired the call letters to the iconic Fresno radio station when it went off air in 1996 and helped bring the station back to the airwaves on two FM frequencies (94.7 in Firebaugh and 99.7 in Fresno) last year.

Now, the station is on television, too. This month, KKDJ began broadcasting on digital channel 27.1 and online at kkdjtv.com.

On the radio, the station plays to its roots, with a mix of mostly `70s and ’80s rock, along with some blues and soul thrown in. For television, it plays a collection of music videos, ala old school MTV.

The idea is to have the two media synced with the station’s DJs also acting as VJs, says Chris White, the station’s CEO. As radio listeners are hearing a particular song, TV viewers will see the accompanying music video. So far, only Conor Flangan’s weekday morning show has been synced, but White hopes to eventually have all the programming run concurrently.

He also hopes to take the station hyper-local, creating an outlet for local bands and musicians. That will include a local Sunday night video show. He’s also looking to add to his roster of on-air personalities, which already includes longtime Fresno DJ Athena Matsikas.

“That’s what made KKDJ in its heyday,” White says.

Indeed, the station was known for its offbeat play lists (Joni Mitchell followed by AC/DC, for example) and wild antics – all drive by on-air talents like Dean Opperman.

In fact, some on social media have taken issue with the fact the station is back on under the KKDJ call letters, using the original logo even, without any of the original staff and especially Opperman, who was part of the station’s original morning show and created some of it most iconic characters.

White says the station was in talks to have Opperman and others involved in the rebirth, but it just didn’t work out. The station is trying to bring some of the original employees back into the fold. That hasn’t happened, yet.

“We’d love to have the original staff back,” White says.

The station also is dealing with an interference claim from the Bott Radio Network, which owns KCIV at 99.9 FM out of Modesto and has listeners in Fresno who have not been able to get a clear signal since KKDJ has been on air. KKDJ is working with the Federal Communications Commission and the Bott Radio Network to mitigate issues, White says. KKDJ has gone so far as to offer by buy new, up-to-date digital radios for KCIV listeners who have been affected.

“We in no way want to interrupt anybody else’s programming,” White says.

Joshua Tehee: 559-441-6479, @joshuatehee
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