Radio AM to FM: September 23, 2005
Some of the most memorable moments from radio stations come from what would first seem to be a very unlikely source: an FCC requirement to state the station's call sign and city of license as close to the top of the hour as programming will allow.
Yet these legal IDs are memorable because they are one of the very few constants on many stations; now that jingles are relatively rare, they are often the only constant a station has.
Keeping in mind that I am a radio dork, I can actually remember quite a few legal IDs from the past and present. From the famous "KHJ, Los Angeles" to the less famous "Maximum Hits, K-E-Z-Y, Anaheim;" from the quick one that was heard on the original great KMPC to the "voice" of KIIS-FM, I remember them all. Or at least many.
KFI has a long tradition of great IDs. Back when they played music, mention was often made of being "Western America's Most Powerful Radio Station" before the singers sang "KFI Los Angeles." Now you always know to what station you are tuned when you hear a woman's voice whisper "Los Angeles, Orange County" right before a sample of the song "Round and Round" by Ratt introduces the news.
I even recall the cool Spanish ID for XETRA when I listened to the Mighty 690's top-40 hits ... hits played at fast speed, if you recall, and the explosion that preceded the calls of "KFM - BFM, San Diego."
Turns out I'm not the only radio dork around. Brian Davis, assistant programmer and music director at WKSZ/Appleton-Green Bay, Wisconsin, has set up a web site dedicated to legal IDs.
www.tophour.net started life in 2001 and now has recordings of hundreds of legal IDs from all over the country. Large cities and small. As I browsed the San Diego, San Francisco, Chicago and Los Angeles selections I noted an overabundance of more recent IDs, but I'll try to help fix that with some donations from my own collection of airchecks. Davis told industry newspaper Radio World that he gladly accepts contributions.
And I thought I was cynical. So far the email is so genuinely negative that I wonder where the broadcast industry gets its information that people are supposedly satisfied with radio.
From Linda in Torrance: "It sucks. You can drive up and down I-5 and hear way better radio than you get here in LA. It is so impersonal." Mentioning Jack-FM, she continues, "I don't need some a-- voice telling me he's doing what he wants; I had parents to do that and now I'm all grown up and know what I like. It's not that"
Ed in Carson: "How can you not get cynical with all the trash that is offered as programming? You seem to hit the nail square on the head every week and I am disappointed when your column is missing. I feel we have enough talk radio and would appreciate some personality with the music; my biggest gripe with Jack-FM and neighboring Jill-FM is that they have too many commercials and they assume you know the artist performing. Most of my radio listening now is to KMZT or KUSC."
There were others, including an amazingly articulate letter from a reader in Oxnard which I will feature next week. My overall hope? That it's not too late, and owners and programmers will take these letters to heart. It's not just me after all.
Send your comments on the state of radio -- good or bad -- to me via the Daily Breeze or through email. I'll print as many as possible.
"What ever happened to longtime radio and television announcer Bern Bennett?" -- David, Canoga Park
I don't know. Bennett, staff announcer for CBS radio and television programs dating back to the 1930s or so was a San Pedro resident in recent years. But it has been quite some time since anyone I know has heard from his. Hopefully a Daily Breeze reader knows and will write back.
Copyright © 2005 Richard Wagoner and The Copley Press.
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