Radio Column for February 6, 1998
There were a few correct answers to my recent trivia question asking about the significance of the call letters KXLA. But none so eloquent as the one from reader Sheldon Altfeld, who wrote,
"KXLA was 'The Home of Your Favorite Western Stars.' Owned by Loyal King and located on the grounds of the Huntington Sheraton in Pasadena (which later became the home of KRLA), KXLA featured a rather eclectic assortment of country and western personalities during the late '40s and early '50s.
"Their lineup included Tennessee Ernie Ford and his 'Bar Nothin' Ranch' program; The Squeakin' Deacon; Cliff Stone and the Hometown Jamboree (which included Speedy West, Harold Hensley, the McQuaid Twins and Molly Bee); and Ole Rasmussen and the Nebraskan Cornhuskers."
Mr. Altfeld says he has "absolutely no idea why I remember all of that so clearly," adding, "I didn't work for the station or know any of the people involved. The mention of the call letters stirred a gush of pleasant memories from a radio era that has sadly gone by."
The easy answer to the question, by the way, was that KXLA was the call sign of 1110 AM before KRLA "Radio Los Angeles" signed on in 1959. As reader Chuck Lindahl pointed out, "it had studios in Pasadena and the transmitter was in the Whittier Narrows area as it is today. It was one of the two stations I could pick up on my crystal set in Montebello because it was so close. The other one was KFI."
When I played with a crystal set, I only received KNX. But that's because San Pedro is so close to the KNX transmitter site, which is located on 190th Street in Torrance. But that's another story...
How Things Have Changed
In the Radio and Records Time line for last week, a mention is made about "Humble" Harve Miller being hired for overnights on KRLA.
That was ten years ago. Back then, programmer Mike Wagner fought the management bean counter that wanted to take KRLA talk and put on a personality-driven oldies format that put others to shame. Today on the modern KRLA, there isn't even an overnight personality, let alone one with the caliber of Humble Harve. Another cost-cutting move by management.
Speaking of Harve
Miller had moved to Dallas, Texas to be part of a nationally-syndicated oldies format produced by none other than former Boss Radio consultant Bill Drake. Word now is that the company that was supposed to produce and distribute the programs is being dissolved.
Speaking of Drake
Head on over to the internet and the Top-40 Radio Repository. One of the newest additions to the repository is a copy of the Drake-produced History of Rock and Roll Time Machine that ran on stations across the country, featuring a snippet of every number one song from 1956 to 1977. Find it at http://www.reelradio.com.