KYNO will move up to 50,000 watts

Imagine a showdown between gunfighters where one is armed with a derringer and the other a sniper's rifle. It's never going to be a fair fight.

That's what's been going on with KMJ (AM 580) and KYNO (AM 1300).

The fight between the two news/talk radio stations to attract listeners has been lopsided because KMJ broadcasts at 50,000 watts and KYNO's signal is 5,000 watts during the day and a mere 1,000 watts at night.

In other words, KMJ's signal reaches a potential listenership of 5 million from south of Bakersfield to Sacramento to the coast. KYNO's signal covers Fresno and reaches 1.5 million.

That changes April 1.

John Ostlund, who with his wife, Katrina, owns KYNO and KJWL (FM 99.3), will move KYNO's programming to his recently purchased KWRU (AM 940), which will then be on AM 1300.

This is a big deal. KWRU is the only other 50,000 watt radio station in Fresno. (There are only 94 full-time 50,000 watt radio stations in the United States and 11 are in California.)

Now the two news/talk stations will at least be fighting on equal wattage.

Ostlund says being able to go head-to-head with KMJ was not the primary reason for the frequency change.

"It's one of the consequences of having 50,000 watts but our main objective is to better serve the greater Central California market," Ostlund says. "The fact the move is a game-changer is a bonus."

Ostlund talked with the KWRU owners about purchasing KYNO in 2008, but he couldn't make a deal. He says owning both allows him to blend the local radio legacy of KYNO and the reach of KWRU to create "KYNO on steroids."

Unless there is a last-minute change by the Federal Communications Commission, Ostlund will make the frequency shift April 1. There will be a month of simulcasting and promotional broadcasting on KWRU to get listeners to move to the new KNYO frequency.

In about three months, Ostlund promises some surprising changes to the KWRU programming that now features multicultural productions.

"We have big plans and will be doing everything we can to attract listeners and build a bigger audience. I have a holster full of ideas," Ostlund says.

KMJ operations director Skip Essick says he never comments on competitors because he prefers to focus his energy on his own station.

Your votes are needed

Two Fresno natives are finalists in Doritos' "Crash the Super Bowl" commercial-making contest. Joelle De Jesus has created the video "House Rules" and Stephen Yao has edited "Casket."

You can vote at until Jan. 31. The winner's commercial will air during the Super Bowl and they will pick up $2 million.

Register at the site and vote.

Other news

Survey says: The Long family of Fresno faces the Islas family of Ontario on "Family Feud" airing at 10:30 a.m. today on KMPH (Channel 26.1).

The Longs include: Rebecca, an oral surgery assistant; husband Nick, a UPS driver; father Jonathan, a teacher; mother Katherine, an administrative assistant; and sister Caroline, a high school student.