Everett’s KRKO radio adds new sports coverage

EVERETT — KRKO’s broadcasting power is set to increase tenfold on Monday, allowing the Everett-based radio station to expand its market with a new sports programing lineup.

Four radio towers built last year in the Snohomish River Valley are set to start broadcasting Monday, said Andy Skotdal, whose family owns KRKO-AM 1380. That’s expected to boost the station’s broadcasting power from 5,000 watts to 50,000 watts at night and to 34,000 watts during the day.

“This is a big day for the city of Everett and Snohomish County,” Skotdal said Wednesday, adding that the full-powered station would improve local emergency responses and enhance the county’s economy by sending the messages of local advertisers to a broader network.

KRKO has permission from the Federal Communications Commission to broadcast the new signal during a testing period, Skotdal said. It has yet to receive final licensing.

The new programing lineup includes Fox Sports and local anchor Jeff “The Fish” Aaron. All programs will air live, and listeners are encouraged to call in. The lineup is expected to help KRKO cultivate new listeners and boost its business.

“It’s a hugely popular format,” he said.

The radio station has about 33,000 listeners; it wants to triple its audience in two years, Skotdal said. As it grows, the station wants to increase its news coverage in Snohomish County.

“I’m a news junkie,” he said. “I love news.”

With the new radio towers, KRKO is set to expand its coverage area and reach listeners all the way from Tacoma to Mount Vernon during the day.

KIRO-AM 710 in Seattle is scheduled to switch from news to sports in early April, said Rod Arquette, program director of KIRO radio.

“Competition makes it better for all of us,” Arquette said. “We welcome the competition.”

KIRO’s new programing lineup will be made of syndicated and local programs, Arquette said.

“We are looking at several hours of local programing every day Monday through Friday,” he said, adding that the station plans to use ESPN shows.

KJR-AM 950 in Seattle already serves sports fans with various local, live shows, said Rich Moore, program director for KJR. That’s different from the KRKO lineup that relies on syndicated programs.

“I don’t see them as a competition,” Moore said.

KRKO has come a long way to expand its new signal.

The station’s plan to build new radio towers has faced strong opposition from Snohomish residents for more than a decade. They worry that the towers would cause health problems, lower their property values and ruin the aesthetic of the area.

The four towers went up last summer after numerous hearings and appeals. Three of the towers are 199 feet tall; the other is 349 feet tall.

The Snohomish County Council on Wednesday gave the Skotdal family a go-ahead to build an additional two AM towers in the valley. The family wants to erect the towers to put a proposed new frequency at 1520 AM to reach all of Snohomish County during the day and some cities at night.

Opponents plan to appeal the council’s decision.

Yoshiaki Nohara: 425-339-3029, ynohara@heraldnet.com.

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