Radio AM to FM: August 14, 1998
Los Angeles morning legend Charlie Tuna, now heard on Anaheim's KIK-FM (94.3 FM) called last week to expand and clarify what happened when he replaced Charlie Van Dyke on KHJ in 1977.
"In actuality it was Michael Spears who replaced Van Dyke as KHJ's programmer in 1977," Tuna said. John Sebastian would not come in to destroy KHJ (my words, not Tuna's) as programmer until six months later.
As many fans of his will remember, Tuna left KHJ after Sebastian's arrival in order to fill the morning shift at the new 10-Q (KTNQ, 1020 AM). 10-Q's high-energy approach was a stark contrast to Sebastian's KHJ, which was softening up somewhat to try to compete with FM album rockers KMET (94.7 FM) and KLOS (95.5 FM). A few years later, Tuna would make the transition to FM as 10-Q was sold, became Spanish, and the 10-Q format -- temporarily only -- moved to KHTZ (now KLSX, 97.1 FM).
I was never a fan of Ronn Owens' show on KABC (790 AM). His style was not a good match for Los Angeles and the logic used to place him here -- he beats Rush Limbaugh in San Francisco (the most liberal area of California) so he'll beat him here -- was nothing short of ignorant ... typical of modern large group owners.
Nevertheless, KABC programmer Drew Hayes and manager Bill Sommers showed their true colors and lack of class by not only firing him before his run was set to end August 31 and not allowing him to do a "goodbye" show.
The reason for the firing? Owens told Don Barrett that he felt KABC management didn't like Owens and/or the show from the start of the simulcast with KGO last year. Horrors! I guess freedom of speech doesn't mean anything on talkradio KABC. The reason for the lack of a goodbye show? It's not customary. "He's gone, that's it" Hayes reportedly said.
More third-class thinking from the management team of KABC. No wonder the station is in the ratings sewer.
Jeff Wyatt has left the building at KCMG (Mega 100.3 FM), replaced last Monday by Danny Romero and Irma Blanco, who have teamed with former Wyatt partner Monica Brooks to create another morning zoo show.
Dr. Laura Schlessinger may be extremely popular with her listeners, but it appears that she is less popular off the air. Vanity Faire Magazine has devoted seven pages to the good doctor, claiming in the article that her life is full of contradictions, while many of her colleagues don't hold her in high esteem.
In addition, KLSX's Tom Leykis recently devoted an hour of his show talking about her, essentially echoing what is said in Vanity Faire.
Will the article and the Leykis show affect her ratings? Don't count on it. These complaints have been around for years, yet her show has continued to grow in popularity, reaching second-place nationally just behind Rush Limbaugh. It seems typical of many popular personalities -- in spite of their off-air problems, on the air their listeners love them. Radio is an act after all, and its easy to hide behind the microphone.
Copyright 1998 Richard Wagoner and The Copley Press