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Radio AM to FM: April 6, 2001

KLAC still around ... for now

I received more mail after last week's story on the change of KLAC (570 AM) to talk than on any other topic of which I have ever written.

Comments such as "tell me it isn't so" were the norm, with 100 percent of the letters and e-mails against the move to talk. Some letter writers pointed out the glut of talk and sports stations already in place, along with questions regarding where to tune for music once KLAC is gone.

Happily, the music hasn't gone anywhere, at least for now. Late Thursday (March 29), less than 100 hours prior to the change (and unfortunately after Rave! was printed), owner Clear Channel nixed the idea. Reasons are currently unknown, although speculation has centered around contract problems with the hosts as well as possible balking at the cost of running the new station -- with odds against its ultimate success, especially in the short term -- compared with the almost zero costs associated with running the current music format.

Unknown also is if the stay is permanent. Operations Manager Mark Austin Thomas told laradio.com's Don Barrett that "all the pieces were not in place" and that the change would be delayed "for a couple of months." KLAC personality Bill Nesbitt announced on the air that the rumor had been some kind of April Fools joke, which makes for a good story but is highly unlikely. Other sources say look for a change this Fall.

For now, however, it appears the music is safe for a time. Hopefully Clear Channel and KLAC executives will notice that KLAC's current audience may skew older but is extremely loyal and dedicated ... any ad salesperson who can't sell this demographic to advertisers should be fired.

Felony

Todd "Bubba the Love Sponge" Clem, morning host on WXTB/Tampa, turned himself in to police and then was formally charged with a third-degree felony for cruelty to animals.

The charge stems from an on-air prank in which Clem, a listener, and Clem's producer Brent Hatley (who were also charged) castrated and slaughtered a boar as a stunt. If convicted, the three face a maximum sentence of five years in prison; all were released on bail.

Clem told the St. Petersburg Times that he did not do anything illegal and that he is "so ready to leave this town." WXTB manager Dan DiLoreto issued an apology "to the people of Tampa, our advertisers and the entire community," stating that the stunt was indeed in poor taste. But he agreed with Clem that nothing illegal was done and that his employees are prepared to prove that they are innocent of the felony animal cruelty charges.

I personally think that WXTB should lose its license. RKO was forced to sell its entire chain over billing discrepancies back in the 1970s; this charge is far more serious. Too bad the FCC has no guts to enforce the standards of community decency as it once did.

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Copyright © 2001 Richard Wagoner and The Copley Press.

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