Celebrating Sacramento's most independent radio station,
KWOD 106.5 (1977-2009)

KWOD's 6a-10a morning show from 1993 through the rest of the decade was hosted by Shawn Cash and Jeff Jensen. Both radio personalities got their professional radio starts at KWOD, although Shawn had briefly interned at rock station KZAP in 1989. After KWOD shifted from top 40 to an alternative direction in 1991, the station went through a series of morning shows. At that time Shawn did overnights and morning news while Jeff interned for the morning show.

By the spring of 1993 it was time for the station to make a decision on a more sustainable morning show that could last for years instead of months. At first Shawn and Jeff began practicing overnight, developing their ideas. The team did such a great job compiling airchecks of their upbeat refreshing shows, no one else was considered for the job.

Off To a Great Start

The station's ratings took off swiftly once it moved to expand its sound from a tight repetitious playlist to a broader library format of alternative music. Shawn and Jeff were part of this transition as the morning slot went from an unclear future to an energized sense of meaning and purpose. Shawn and Jeff did their first show as the official new morning team on May 17, 1993. The station also had a new afternoon show with Giles Hendriksen a few months later. Another big change was the station moved from across Cal Expo to the Renaissance Tower downtown on K Street in June.

Shawn and Jeff basically took control of the morning show and ran with it. They could do whatever they wanted as long as it was within the bounds of community decency standards. It wasn't like a typical morning show of that era that relied on redundant gimmicks and sound effects. Out of every hour they might fit in six songs, otherwise it was more of a conversational talk show about pop culture from the local to national scene. They often had comedians in the studio and put callers on the air to talk about funny stories.

One of their first impressive moves was in June 1993 when they began raising money for students in the San Juan Unified School District. It was the first time in a while KWOD got local TV news coverage. Three TV stations covered the story and interviewed the morning team, which proved they could use radio to help the local community. That was one of KWOD's most memorable qualities as an independently-owned station: community interaction.

In August 1993 KWOD for the first time began calling its programming "modern rock" instead of avoiding the term. New positioning statements included the terms "alternative" and "the cutting edge of rock." So the station had finally moved in a decisive direction on multiple levels.

Decent and Indecent Exposure

Both Shawn and Jeff appeared at various station promotional events at night clubs such as The Rage. They were well-received as they announced INXS at Arco Arena in front of 10,000 people on April 10, 1994. Shawn and Jeff announced many other events as well and regularly introduced movie premieres. They participated in the station's two big volleyball tournaments vs other air staff listener teams in 1993 and 1996.

In 1994 KWOD launched a community project involving listeners calling or faxing in lyrics, which were given to local musicians to create songs for an album called Blank Astronomy. It could today be considered a crowd-sourcing project prior to social media. Shawn and Jeff participated by presenting their musical talents with their friends in EWM.

The track called "Indecent Exposure" actually rivaled the hits the station was playing by major label artists. It was an amazing electronic keyboard production that rocked ... and listeners requested it. So KWOD regularly played the song around the clock as a surprise to remind listeners they participated in an innovative songwriting project. It's a song about media distortion and sensationalism.

Distant Stars on Star Trek: Voyager

The Shawn and Jeff craze wasn't going to be restricted to just radio. One of Shawn and Jeff's favorite topics on their morning show was Star Trek, specifically the TV series Star Trek: Voyager, which ran on UPN from January 1995 to May 2001. In its first season, Shawn and Jeff landed background roles in an episode that was taped in January 1995. During the taping, Shawn and Jeff called in from Hollywood and gave updates on their experience through the week.

The Voyager episode featuring Shawn and Jeff as "Sikarians" aired March 20, 1995 and was titled "Prime Factors." The show was about the crew visiting a planet with powerful technology populated by beings who were hesitant to share it with outsiders. The TV show, which was the fifth incarnation of a Star Trek series, lasted for seven seasons. Shawn and Jeff appeared in the tenth episode of this successful series. It was viewed by 10.7 million viewers, according to Nielsen statistics. It was shown on a big screen at The Rage night club, where Shawn and Jeff celebrated.

The summer of 1995 turned out to be KWOD's best ratings period as an alternative station, making number five in the market overall. KWOD was actually the highest-rated major market alternative station in America that summer, according to Arbitron. It didn't have a bigger audience than stations in bigger cities, but KWOD proved to have a winning game plan as it beat other rock stations in town. By 1995, Shawn and Jeff had helped the station build a following of about 200,000 listeners per week. But that was just in the Sacramento metropolitan area. KWOD's signal was so powerful, it could be heard near the San Francisco Bay Bridge and as far east as Lake Tahoe.

Moving Across The Dial

KWOD went through many changes as the alternative format cooled off in the ratings by the late 90s. The format was getting steadily heavier with harder metal and rap sounds that moved away from the station's core modern rock sound. After awhile many people who grew up with KWOD moved across the dial to 100.5 The Zone (KZZO), which played a more melodic mix of music aimed at adult females. At that time The Zone overshadowed KWOD in the ratings, as the future of Sacramento radio was in question.

Part of the uncertainty of KWOD was whether or not it had been purchased by Entercom, the company that owned Live 105 in San Francisco. KWOD's owner insisted in press articles the station was not for sale, but according to Entercom, the deal was made in 1996. Then rumors swirled that days for KWOD employees were numbered. The Sacramento Bee reported on July 30, 1999 that rumors heard on KWOD about Shawn and Jeff getting fired were part of a hoax.

But less than a few years later Shawn and Jeff actually did leave the station to do mornings at The Zone. They left KWOD for better pay and a chance to work with better resources. The Bee ran a story in the Scene section on April 26, 2001 that KWOD's long-running morning show began working at its competitor on January 2, 2001. They stayed with the station through 2006. KWOD eventually was acquired by Entercom in 2003 after a long court battle.

© Alex Cosper. All Rights Reserved. See privacy statement