If you think there's something different about the address above the entrance of KRON television headquarters, the fortresslike building at 1001 Van Ness Avenue, you're right. The number 552 has been added.
A station exec's astrologer advised that 1001 was a bad number for business.
And business at San Francisco's venerable Channel 4 hasn't been good lately. Advertising is down, its entertainment and local news shows lag in the ratings, and parent company Young Broadcasting, which spent $825 million to buy KRON in 2000, is swimming in red ink.
So the station's honchos turned to East Bay astro-numerologist Jesse Kalsi to provide a “patch,” which is numerology lingo for fixing a bad number. Now, what you see over the door is 1001552.
“Obviously, there are skeptics who think it's a bunch of hooey, but I can tell you things seem to have improved since the change,” says KRON Programming Director Pat Patton, who says he brought in the psychic with the approval of station management.
The change happened in January and since then, Patton insists, not only has the independent station announced a network affiliation deal with Rupert Murdoch's upstart MyNetworkTV to begin in September, but also “morale is better; people seem happier.” He even thinks business is improving, although one might not know it from Young's latest quarterly financials, which showed the company — with KRON leading the way — lost a whopping $91 million last year.
Others scoff at the suggestion that astrology is the answer to the station's woes. “It's nuts, what can I say?” says a staffer, who, like others who roll their eyes at the numerology experiment, insists on anonymity.
One person who doesn't mind being quoted, however, is recently departed former news producer Kevin McCormick. “It encapsulates the absurdity of the place that a numerologist could influence a decision to alter the street address of a television station,” he says.
Kalsi, the numerologist, is said to specialize in helping businesses in trouble. According to his Web site, one of his more recent triumphs was suggesting an address change that worked wonders for a Thai restaurant in Fremont. He's also clairvoyant, although a few of his predictions for 2006 don't seem particularly revelatory. Among them: “The flu epidemic will cause havoc in many Asian countries,” and “Senator Hillary Clinton will be in the forefront of the Democratic Party” in the next presidential race.
Patton says Kalsi made a believer of him several months ago after “patching” his apartment — this, after Patton's girlfriend complained about the “negative energy” there.
“It worked,” Patton says.
Meanwhile, the KRON door patch is paying dividends for Kalsi. In early April, he appeared as a guest on a KRON weekend interview show and the programming boss says he's entertaining the idea of finding a permanent on-air gig for the psychic. “He deals with marriage problems, health problems, financial problems,” Patton says. “We'll see what the future holds.”
So to speak.