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Radio AM to FM: January 5, 2001

RadioDigest Calls it Quits

As predicted here December 15th, RadioDigest.com has ceased publication, effective December 26th.

According to a letter on the web site, the decision was made to shut down the site due to a lack of funding, effectively shutting down the radio publication that began eleven years ago as a print publication, The Bay Area Radio Digest.

According to Los Angeles radio historian Don Barrett, author of Los Angeles Radio People and owner/operator of companion radio news site laradio.com, making money reporting about radio is a difficult task. "Radio aficionados soak up radio news like a sponge, but most are unwilling to support it financially. An outlet with radio only news can't tap into the record or tech side of things and radio will not support radio news."

So true. Los Angeles Radio Guide launched as a monthly magazine in the early 1990s, only to disappear five years later due to lack of support. Of course in that case, major distribution and production problems didn't help.

I thought RadioDigest.com would be different. The internet version was launched in 1996 covering just San Francisco. Atlanta was added in January, 1998 and by May of that year coverage was expanded to 20 cities throughout the United States.

March, 2000 brought even more expanded coverage with 74 of the top 75 markets in the United States along with 20 in Canada. Revenue was available from non-radio sources via banner ads, and for a while it seemed the site was really on a roll.

It was a short while, however. Within just a few months of the big expansion, coverage was cut to just a handful of markets. John Fox's entertaining San Diego column was cut completely. Bill Mann's excellent San Francisco column became available only by subscription. Ratings reports were months old and major stories were not being updated.

The writing was on the wall even before Los Angeles correspondent Tomm Looney left to give himself more free time and to concentrate on his own web site, looneynews.com. Looney's last column was just two weeks before the shutdown.

Where does that leave radio fans? Well, the Daily Breeze, for one. I've been writing this column since 1987 (and reading it long before that) always with full support of management. Many other newspapers still run weekly columns, the notable exception being the Los Angeles Times, which dropped radio coverage earlier this year after years of half-hearted coverage filled with mistakes.

Online, there's the web editions of the various newspapers (including the Breeze, at www.dailybreeze.com), Barrett's laradio.com and Radio and Records at rronline.com, among a few others. But there's nothing quite like RadioDigest that I have found. If you have any suggestions, send them my way. I'll print them in a future column.

KRLA Update

It's official: Effective January 1st, KIEV (870 AM) has dropped their own identity in favor of one from KRLA.

You might ask, why would a talk station in Glendale adopt call letters of a station that was known far more as a top-40/oldies station than it was for talk when the calls were found on 1110 AM. I asked that too.

It seems that KIEV wants to shed it's image of being a little Glendale station and promote itself as a true Los Angeles talk alternative. Plus, according to manager Dave Armstrong, it just wouldn't have been right to allow legendary Los Angeles calls leave the city that made them famous ... although I'm not sure if that city is Los Angeles or longtime KRLA city of license Pasadena. The original KRLA became all-sports KSPN in December.

No personnel changes at the new KRLA are planned.

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Copyright © 2001 Richard Wagoner and The Copley Press.

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