Airwaves: January 25, 2008
New Host Suits KFI Just Fine
KFI (640 AM) has selected their permanent replacement for John Ziegler, who left recently under a supposedly mutual agreement. His name is Bryan Suits and he made his debut last Monday at 7:00 PM.
Suits actually comes full-circle with his KFI gig: he began his radio career in the early 1990s as producer of KROQ's (106.7 FM) Kevin and Bean morning show. He later left for Reno, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Bosnia and Iraq.
Yes, Bosnia and Iraq. Suits served as a member of the Army National Guard in Bosnia and Iraq, was part of Operation Desert Storm, was decorated with a Bronze Star and awarded a Purple Heart for wounds received in combat during his last tour of duty in 2004 and 2005.
During one of his deployments in Iraq, he broadcast war updates for Tony Snow's syndicated program, before Snow became White House Press Secretary. Those 30-minute weekly updates described life in the war zone for Snow's listeners, and had the added benefit of keeping Suit's own talk host skills honed.
I had no idea what to expect when I tuned in Monday evening for his debut show. What I heard was someone who was actually very pleasant and entertaining. Conservative, but not ultra, and willing to hear and discuss opposing views. Monday's focus, at least while I was listening, was on the Democrat candidates debate. I think Suits will fit in quite well with KFI.
Speaking of Ziegler
When Ziegler left KFI earlier this year, he said that leaving the talk powerhouse was mutual.
Apparently "mutual" means something different than I thought.
Ziegler has written a scathing indictment of KFI, focussing primarily on programmer Robin Bertolucci, and afternoon hosts John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou. You can read it on the web at www.therealkfi.com or through a link on his web page, www.johnziegler.com.
Highlights include calling John and Ken frauds, with Kobylt being singled out as a racist, according to Ziegler. Bertolucci was unsupportive and indecisive, he says. Included on the page are numerous audio clips chosen to help make his points. If you get a chance, read it and tell me what you think. I hope to get reaction from the various people involved at KFI in the near future.
Interestingly, while one would think this essay would be the death-knell for his career as a talk host in Los Angeles, one would be wrong: he's already back. Not for a full show and not on a powerhouse signal, but fans of Ziegler can tune in to KGIL (simulcast at 1260 and 540 AM) Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 7:20 AM and 5:20 PM. According to the station, Ziegler's commentaries "dig deep on the news of the week to find the real truth of the story. Unrehearsed, honest and challenging ... a strong dose of the world according to Zig."
Will this lead to a full position? Don't be surprised. Station owner Saul Levine is trying to build a real alternative to other mainstream talk stations in Los Angeles. Adding Ziegler to a roster that includes Michael Jackson and Lars Larson may make a difference.
Copyright © 2008 Richard Wagoner and Los Angeles Newspaper Group.
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