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Airwaves: July 10, 2009

KMET ... Finally

Today is the big day ... the day that legendary rocker KMET “returns” to the local airwaves, courtesy of 100.3 FM The Sound.

As of press time, Finally a KMET Friday organizer Jeff Gonzer, Ace Young, “Paraquat” Pat Kelley, Dr. Demento, Jack Snyder, David Perry. Billy Juggs, Rick Scarry, Rick Lewis, and the master KMET programmer herself, Sam Bellamy, are confirmed to attend the re-creation, and more will be heard via calls and original recordings of the station.

The special day begins at 7 AM ... now that we’re all older I guess we need more sleep ... with Gonzer and Young, and ends at 8 PM after a special hour from the Doctor. Can’t get to a radio? The Sound streams -- just point your computer to www.thesoundla.com.

The Other Jackson

All the hoopla surrounding the passing of pop star Michael Jackson ironically brought back fond memories of the wonderful talk host of the same name, who spent 32 years at KABC (790 AM) entertaining and enlightening us.

I had a chance to talk with Jackson this week to find out what he’s up to.

Turns out he’s keeping his voice in shape through voiceover projects he’s doing for European radio and television stations. And he says he is in discussions with both a local television station and a local radio station to get back on the air in Los Angeles.

Radio and television? Absolutely. If both happen to work out and become reality, “they would complement each other splendidly,” Jackson said.

While he wouldn’t reveal either potential station, I’d say the good money for radio would be on KABC, which is in desperate need of a makeover. As Jackson himself states, “I was told that at my peak on KABC, I had a rating of 9.1. Now KABC stands at about 1.7.” Certainly they could use some help.

Adding to the potential connection: Bob Moore is general manager, and it was Moore who brought Jackson in when he took the original KRLA (now KDIS, 1110 AM) talk. And my memory may be fuzzy, but didn’t Jackson do some commentaries for KNX (1070 AM) when David G. Hall was programmer there? Hall is now working under Moore as programmer of KABC.

Personally, I think it would be a brilliant move. In fact, longtime listeners of KABC may recall that it was past programmers who messed up the station as they responded to the competition of then newcomer KFI (640 AM) ... at the time programmed by, you guessed it, David G. Hall. KABC tried to become more “in your face” and let go many of the people who helped build KABC into a top-notch highly-rated talker, including Jackson. The station quickly lost class, credibility, and ratings, and has been the also-ran against KFI for years.

If KABC focussed on intelligent talk, it would be a bold old-school move that just might work. But Jackson stays out of the discussion. While he definitely wants to be back on the air, he wants to do it “his way.” And he certainly wouldn’t dream of leaving town.

“Everything I dreamed of in this world happened here,” Jackson told me as he spoke of his wife (his 44th wedding anniversary is this October), his children and his grandchildren. I have no intention of leaving.”

And while he has interviewed more famous newsmakers, world leaders and stars than perhaps any other person in history, you wouldn’t know it by his demeanor. Jackson is in a class by himself, humbled by his own life experiences and associations. “I respect every person I have ever had the blessing to interview” he told me.

I’d say Jackson deserves to do it “his way.” Any takers?

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Copyright © 2009 Richard Wagoner and Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

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