Itís hard to fathom two gas station-convenience store owners making a transition to broadcasting. However, such is the unlikely but true story of Joe and Anne Gross, who own and operate radio station KDJK in Oakdale.
Lack of broadcasting experience didnít stop the Grosses in their 10-year effort to gain government approval for the 50,000-watt station. Co-owned by Fresno broadcaster Wally Heusser, the new radio station can be heard from Lodi to Madera and is located at 95.1 on the FM dial.
The perseverance of Joe and Ann has apparently been fruitful; the latest Arbitron listener ratings show KDJK #1 in the 12-year old plus category in the Modesto market. That figure gives the station a 13 percent share of the total audience surveyed.
Except for Anneís previous position as an "all-around worker" at Modesto radio station KTRB, neither she or Joe Gross had any broadcasting experience. Before opening KDJK, he owned convenience markets and gas stations in Santa Nella. Joe says his radio experience was limited to his musical likes and dislikes. Ann Gross sees their lack of experience as a positive thing. "We have a totally difference concept," she said, one that includes "no preconceived notions of what we can and canít do and listeners must agree that experience is no prerequisite go success."
Music director Randy Maranz says "the music and personalities speak for themselves," and that commercial time is limited to nine minutes per hour. That policy has meant that some advertisers have been turned away because all commercial time was sold. But Anne Gross says, "Our sound is our product." The new owners contend that if a station clutters that product with too many commercials, it runs the risk of losing listeners. Running less commercials may make those spots more expensive, but the Grosses contend that listeners are more apt to hear those that do air on KDJK. And commercials that tend to be too obnoxious are not accepted for broadcast. While it is obvious that the audience is always at the forefront of the Grosses considerations, there is a bottom line. Joe Gross says: "It is a business first and foremost."
KDJK currently has 17 employees, 10 of whom are disc jockeys. Joe Gross adds that, "half of the 17 have been with the station since its inception, which is unusual for the radio business."