Capital Public Radio, which launched a nationwide search this summer for a new president and general manager, ultimately didn't have to look far.
The station’s board of directors announced today that Rick Eytcheson, best known locally for running Sacramento’s news-talk giant KFBK (1530 AM) from 1985 to 1997, will assume the reins beginning next week.
CPR, which includes news and jazz station KXJZ (90.9 FM) and classical station KXPR (88.9 FM), has been without a general manager since Michael Lazar resigned in June. Baltimore radio consultant Tom Livingston, who served as interim GM and led the search committee, says Eytcheson's commitment to news and to Sacramento swayed the board.
“He was leading KFBK when it clearly was the leading local news organ on the radio,” Livingston says in a phone interview today with The Bee. “Commercial radio has sort of dropped the ball on news, and public radio is trying to move into that gap. What he brings is knowledge about how to do it.”
Eytcheson has more than 30 years of experience in radio. He ran KFBK (as well as sister stations KGBY-Y92.5 FM, KHYL-V101.1 FM and KSTE-650 AM) when it was owned by Chancellor Media Corp. Those stations now are part of the Clear Channel chain.
Livingston downplays fears that some diehard public radio fans might have about Eytcheson's background. Just because KFBK is a commercial station - which launched the careers of Rush Limbaugh and other right-wing pundits - it doesn't mean Capital Public Radio will stray from its nonprofit, nonpartisan mission, Livingston says.
Eytcheson, who since departing KFBK has worked as a syndicator of radio shows, was unavailable today for comment.
"The search committee felt strongly that Rick has the right set of values," Livingston says. "Any time somebody new comes in, that’s the challenge.
"He has a few things to learn about public radio, but he certainly is an expert on radio in general. One of the things he’s known for is being research-oriented and knowing the audience."
Thomas Atkins, chair of CPR's board, says in a prepared statement that Eytcheson is a "strategic thinker" who knows Sacramento. "He is a member of the fabric of our community, having served on many local boards and public agencies," Atkins says.