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Airwaves: September 17, 2010

FH&F Leaving KABC


An era of sorts is coming to an end: Frosty, Heidi and Frank (FH&F)announced late last week that their contract was not renewed at KABC (790 AM) and that they would leave the station effective October 1st.

The trio, formerly heard on KLSX (now KAMP, 97.1 FM) came to KABC just a year ago. At the time many thought that this was the start of a KABC transformation from political talk to lifestyle talk. And in many ways that would have made sense; KABC had been declining in the ratings for years and appeared impotent when it came to competing against the better-programmed, better-promoted KFI (640 AM).

But it was not to be. Frosty Stillwell, Frank Kramer and Heidi Hamilton arrived with great fanfare, but the rest of the station stayed the same ... schizophrenic and syndication-heavy. The addition of FH&F only added an element of bipolarization to the day, with little audience crossover to or from other programs.

Letters and emails I’ve received over the past year reflect that polarization: people who listen to FH&F don’t understand why the rest of the day exists; fans of the rest of the day think the trio is awful. There seemed to be no middle ground, and KABC’s ratings sank even lower.

I don’t think the trio was necessarily a bad choice, I just think they didn’t fit with the station, and since no other substantive changes were ever made, it left them hanging. Had the station chosen to go with even just a few more “lifestyle” choices, it may have worked. But they didn’t.

Now it’s up to programmer Jack Silver to piece it all together -- meaning fixing the rest of the station -- as he searches for a late-morning replacement. Hopefully he’ll be given the freedom to make his mark, otherwise they might as well give up on the format KABC pioneered and just play music.

New Digs

KCLU (88.3 FM) held a groundbreaking recently for new studios to be built on the campus of the California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, replacing much smaller studios that have served the station since it signed on in 1994.

Expected to be completed by next Summer, the new KCLU Broadcast Center will be a two-story, 6570 square-foot complex with four production rooms, a community room with space for live performances, and a classroom with lab facilities.

Unfortunately, as with most college stations in Southern California, it is an affiliate of National Public Radio, so student involvement is minimal at best. Which makes you wonder why they are going through all this trouble.

Back With Friends

Mike Sakellarides, who holds the record for the longest name jingle in Los Angeles radio history, was cut loose from KGIL (Retro 1260 AM) just in time to meet up with old friends at KTWV (94.7 FM).

No, he never worked at The Wave before ... those old friends are the friends he worked with during his amazing 25-year run at KOST (103.5 FM), including Wave programmer Jhani Kaye who happened to hold the same position at KOST. Still don’t think Kaye is going after his former station? ... Hear Sakellarides 9 AM to 2 PM Saturday.; 3 to 11 PM Sundays.

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Copyright © 2010 Richard Wagoner and Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

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