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Airwaves: May 10, 2013

ShotgunÕs Star-filled Morning

As reported here (and elsewhere) recently, popular KRTH afternoon personality Shotgun Tom Kelly received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on April 30. And it was quite an event with so many people attending -- some from as far away as San Diego, where Kelly spent most of his career -- that the sidewalks near the ceremony were a solid mass of humanity.

Speakers included KRTH programmer Jhani Kaye and special guest Stevie Wonder, who managed to work in an absolutely perfect impression of Kelly. For his part Kelly did a decent impression of Wonder, though I am sure Kelly plans to keep his day job.

On hand were numerous other colleagues and friends such as legendary DJ Charlie Tuna (KRTH), programmer Chuck Southcott, and talk host Tom Leykis. But the most inetresting guest to me was legendary DJ, programmer and record producer Art Laboe.


What made Laboe so interesting was the crowdÕs reaction. Fans wanted his picture, but not just any fans ... generational fans. Entire families who grew up listening to him.

And all of it got me thinking: if hundreds of fans will show up to see their favorite DJ get a star and also get photos with said DJÕs friends ... when will radio programmers once again realize that having good personalities makes a bond between a listener and a station that is stronger than any other?

In other words, why do so few of todayÕs programmers see how important personality is in local radio?

By the way, you can see a video of the ceremony online at www.walkoffame.com.

Changes at KOLA

San Bernardino powerhouse KOLA (99.9 FM) has been making some subtle -- and other not-so-subtle -- changes to its format over the past few months.

Gone are most of the songs from the 1960s; in are relatively recent hits from the 1980s and, believe it or not, the 1990s.

As strange as that may sound for an oldies, er, classic rock station, some perspective needs to be used. For example, when KRTH (101.1 FM) first launched in 1973, they played a selection of oldies from the 1950s and 1960s starting with the first Rock Ōn Roll hits from 1955. This means that the oldest song played on KRTH in those early days was only 18 years old.

Today that music is well over a half-century old, and the music that is 18 years old falls into the mid 1990s. KOLA is nothing more than appealing to an audience that wants to hear oldies from their youth, not someone elseÕs youth.

This is a trend that will most likely continue at stations nationwide, as they try to maintain their audiences without skewing into Ņtoo oldÓ of a demographic.

Imagine if KRTH played songs from 1915 when they launched in 1973. Believe me, IÕm not putting the music down by any means, and you can check the playlist on my iPod if you donÕt believe me. The music from the 1950s and Ō60s is timeless ... to me; to some. Just not to the younger audience KOLA is now going after.

In a related move the station dropped the Sunday morning Beatles programming. But they are keeping the American Top 40 rebroadcasts Sunday from 6-9 AM (the 1970s) and 6-9 PM (the 1980s).

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Copyright © 2013 Richard Wagoner and Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

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