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Airwaves: December 27, 2013

Suits Joins KABC


Former KFI (640 AM) talk host Bryan Suits made his KABC (790 AM) debut on December 16, replacing both local boy John Phillips (one hour) as well as the syndicated Geraldo Rivera (two hours) with his 9 a.m. to 12 noon weekday shift.


His first week was perhaps a little tentative ... not quite up to the level I am used to with Suits. But I believe that is due to getting his feet wet at KABC and trying out an entirely different shift than what he had at KFI, which was most recently weekends and previously included evenings.


But the topics were local, Suits is a pro, and I believe his hiring was a great decision on the part of KABC management. In fact, just having Geraldo gone makes mornings that much better. I expect Suits to work out quite well.


But the move begs the question: what of John Phillips? Phillips is one of the best local hosts in Los Angeles when it comes to rationally discussing conservative-leaning politics. When his show was on in the same tike slot on KABC, it was a nice alternative to KFIÕs syndicated Rush Limbaugh Show. It was the cutting of PhillipsÕ show to one hour and the addition of Geraldo to the lineup that destroyed any chance KABC had of competing. Yes, Suits is a great addition, but if it means losing Phillips, the net effect on KABC will be negligible.


Unless ... Phillips is given (for example) the 12 noon to 3 p.m. shift. In fact, if KABC had the weekday lineup of Doug McIntyre (with a little cleanup and more serious news coverage), Suits, Phillips and Larry Elder, that would be a fairly solid lineup with which to start the year 2014. Oh, sure, theyÕd still be stuck with Mark Levin -- his contract still has time to run -- but perhaps someone like former KFI host Joe Crummy could be brought back to town to take over at 6 pm. Levin could then be switched to a time after midnight when his low ratings wonÕt count against the station in the overall calculation ... Nielsen does not measure listening between midnight and 6 a.m.


Perhaps KTLK (1150 AM) host Stephanie Miller could be tried out in the evening? With KTLKÕs upcoming change to conservative talk, sheÕs certainly available. I doubt heÕd be interested, but if I were programming, IÕd consider trying to convince Tom Leykis to come back to the traditional airwaves ... his talents would add much to KABC. Or how about KFWB (980 AM) newsman Phil Hulett, whoÕs podcast called Phil Hulett and Friends (http://philhulettandfriends.podbean.com) is ready-made for a station that wants to finally compete?


KFI is formidable competition, and it will take a steady programming hand and smart promotion, along with some engineering improvements, to truly make a dent in its armor. Does KABC management have the guts to do so? Time will tell.


Happy New Year


This being the last column of 2013, I want to wish you a very happy and healthy new year. If you have story ideas, questions about the whereabouts of a radio personality, a station that you want to know more about, or just want to tell me about your love of radio, IÕd like to hear from you. IÕll try to include as many ideas and letters in the column throughout 2014.


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Copyright © 2013 Richard Wagoner and Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

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