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Radio AM to FM: January 12, 2001

Bell's Swell

Art Bell, who left as host of he syndicated program Coast to Coast last April due to supposed pressures from family and legal issues, has announced his return to the program beginning February 5th. Bell originally created the program back in 1993; his return is being heralded by extra terrestrials everywhere.

The show will air Monday through Friday from 1 am to 6 am Eastern time, although some stations around the country delay the program to fit their schedules. In Los Angeles, it looks like the program will have a new home, as KABC (790 AM) recently dropped Coast to Coast with Mike Siegel as host in favor of local programming. KFI (640 AM) appears to be the new affiliate.

Bell has a history of leaving the program for reasons as strange as the topics discussed, so don't be surprised if he leaves for unexplained or just plain weird reasons again ... I am personally thinking of starting a contest with the prize awarded to the person coming closest to guessing when he leaves next and for what reason. Mike Siegel's last show -- for now -- is January 26th.

Mega Dud

The big announcement of the "Megalution" on KCMG (Mega 92.3 FM) turned out to be just another radio dud January 2nd. The "news": comedian George Lopez is the new host of the morning show replacing John London, and the new slogan is (yawn) "Mega 92.3 Jams." Programmer Mike Marino says Mega will be more uptempo and fun.

If uptempo and fun means predictable and bland, it must be a Clear Channel station. Oh, yeah, it is.

In the Sky

Big news on the satellite radio front: XM has announced that Sears will be among the retailers selling XM-compatible receivers, receivers that can access satellite audio services for a monthly fee much like cable and satellite television. In addition, XM recently unveiled 24 different XM models manufactured by Pioneer, Alpine and Sony and signed One on One Sports (soon to be The Sporting News Radio Network) as the featured sports channel.

One on One Sports has a local affiliate in Los Angeles, KMPC (1540 AM), but rumor has it that the station is up for sale. XM is still a short while off of actually launching its subscription audio service.

Not to be outdone, competing satellite radio service Sirius has announced a deal to carry Discovery Channel and Weather Channel programming on its system, and has signed a cross-marketing deal with the House of Blues. Sirius recently completed in-orbit testing of its third satellite, and should be "live" by the end of January.

You Ask, We Answer

Reader Julie Jones wrote via e-mail, "I keep watching your article for news of Don Imus returning to Los Angeles in the morning. And nothing ... do you have any idea when, if ever, he will broadcast here, and if so, on which station?"

Actually, no. His ratings were not good on either former Los Angeles affiliate, so I don't expect him to be back soon. However, things in radio can change daily. His lack of success may have stemmed more from lack of promotion -- most listeners found him by accident and then became big fans -- and Los Angeles is too large of a market for the syndicator to ignore.

In the meantime, fans can get their fix by setting their VCRs to record MSNBC at 3 am weekdays: Imus' program airs live on the cable network.

And Finally ...

Note to KRLA (formerly KIEV, 870 AM) manager Dave Armstrong: you're missing a huge opportunity with your new call letters. KRLA stands for K-Radio Los Angeles. Rather than "the new KRLA," use the slogan "News/Talk Radio Los Angeles, KRLA." Trust me, it works.

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Copyright © 2001 Richard Wagoner and The Copley Press.

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