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Airwaves: January 23, 2009

Goodbye Indie

It figured to happen sooner or later. In fact, I expected the change a few years ago when control of the station switched back to owner Entravision from Clear Channel, which had been programming it under what is called a marketing agreement. That was back in March of 2005.

But it still was hard to take for the loyal fans of alternative rock Indie 103.1, shocked to tune in late last week to her their favorite music and instead heard “El Gato” -- The Cat -- playing Spanish pop hits.

Why the change? The real question is why it took so long. Entravision just doesn’t do alternative rock, especially in English. Those last few years were a gift from the company as it figured out exactly what it wanted to do with the station. Unfortunately the small signal combined with the downturn in radio advertising spelled doom for the format.

So what is a radio fan to do? Reader Dean Case of Torrance called with a common suggestion: satellite radio. “I guess I’ll have to give in,” he lamented. Case is like me -- every station he likes tends to disappear. In his case it was Rock and Rhythm KNAC (now KBUE, 105.5 FM) followed by numerous more.

I wouldn’t throw in the towel just yet, though I also recommend satellite radio for those who want real variety. For example, The Sound (KSWD, 100.3 FM) would be smart to expand a bit to pick up some Indie listeners. Heck, The Sound right now is a worthy contender, though I wish it were a bit more current. Owners of HD Radios have a few adult alternative formats to choose from as well. And I’ve heard from a few people who are big fans of 98-7 FM.

Speaking of HD Radio

Reader Mike Dangott of Orange County wrote in to suggest HD Radios for fans of talk on KGIL (1260 and 540 AM). Dangott mentioned something I had forgotten, partly because it was off the air for a few weeks: KGIL is simulcast on KKGO’s digital HD-2 signal. So if you get KKGO cleanly on a regular FM radio, you can probably get KGIL on the simulcast if you own an HD Radio. And it sounds pretty darn good.

Clear Channel Cuts

It was predicted by many a few months ago, but another huge media company is making massive cuts in the wake of continued softness in advertising revenue. Clear Channel announced last week that it would be cutting nine percent of its workforce almost immediately, and the layoffs have indeed begun. 1,850 jobs will be cut, or perhaps already have been cut. Few specifics were available at press time, but you can expect changes in almost all Clear Channel stations as the cuts take effect.

Already, Dave “Chachi” Denes has been removed from the programming chair of KBIG (104.3 FM). R. Dub was removed from the same position at KHHT (92.3 FM). Will the positions be filled? I wonder. Down in San Diego, rumor has it that the entire staff of X-TRA sports (KLIB, 1360 AM) was let go.

Considering how much was already cut in previous rounds, and I think the writing may be on the wall: Clear Channel’s days may be numbered. it will be interesting to see if the company can finish the year intact, if the general economic downturn continues.

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Copyright © 2009 Richard Wagoner and Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

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