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Airwaves: December 26, 2014

The Doctor in In at KABC

KABC (790 AM) has already found a replacement for Larry Elder, who was let go earlier this month. Well, it’s not exactly a “replacement,” but an addition to the station while another show slides into Elder’s former slot.

If that sounds too confusing, let me cut to the chase. Dr. Drew Pinsky will -- barring last minute changes -- take over the 12 noon to 3 p.m. shift formerly held by John Phillips and Jillian Barberie. Phillips and Barberie will then handle afternoon drive in Elder’s former 3 - 6 p.m. shift.

The selection of Pinsky surprised me. He certainly would not have been my first choice. I’m not sure he would have even been my last. But in some ways it shows the realities of talk radio, and KABC may -- just may -- be on the cutting edge.

Political talk radio is dead. Ratings of political talk shows on both sides of the spectrum are down. Some a lot, some a little, but the trend is undeniable. Talk stations need to branch out into a more general talk arena, and that means finding hosts not just trying to copy Rush Limbaugh (heard locally on KEIB, 1150 AM 9 a.m. to noon).

Pinsky is well known as the longtime host (or assistant back in the days when the show was in it’s prime with show originator Jim “Poorman” Trenton) of Loveline, heard locally on KROQ (106.7 FM) Sunday nights at 10 p.m. That show has wide appeal to a relatively young audience ... perhaps decades younger than the typical AM talk listener.

If Pinsky on Dr. Drew Midday Live with Mike Catherwood can work his magic on the AM band and bring some of the FM fans over to FM, it would help KABC immensely. New blood and a younger demographic. Perfect lead-in for Phillips and Barberie as well as a potential audience for the LA Kings hockey games that the station now carries.

Not everyone agrees with the choice. Tom Leykis, who is a talk radio veteran and currently has a weekday online talk show vie BlowMeUpTom.Com, figures the show will actually attract callers such as a “68-year old great-grandmother” who will ask questions I can’t repeat here and then “hang-up and listen” for the answer. “It won’t make a difference, Leykis says.

Personally, I like the move, whether or not Pinsky is ultimately successful. Perhaps it will open the door for other good non-political talk shows to hit the airwaves, such as Phil Hulett’s Phil and Friends that started developing an audience but was cut off when KFWB (980 AM) changed to sports. (You can still hear that show on the internet at www.PhilHulettandFriends.Com).

Lawyered Up

ReelRadio.Com, which has been fighting with the RIAA over the ability to stream “unscoped” airchecks -- recordings of old radio stations as originally aired featuring uncut music -- has a new partner: The Law Firm of King and Spaulding has agreed to provide pro-bono services to ReelRadio for the purpose of clearing up any music licensing issues. ReelRadio has been paying the RIAA licensing fees for years, but a problem arose last Summer when the recording organization (or is it recording mafia?) sent a letter asking for changes in the way ReelRadio streams music.

Hopefully this will finally settle the issue to the benefit of radio history fans everywhere.

Movin’ On Up

This just in: The Cal State Long Beach Foundation that runs nonprofit/educational KKJZ (88.1 FM) has voted to allow the station to move its studios to Westwood, in the home of Saul Levine’s Go Country (105.1 FM) and KMZT (1260 AM, 105.1 HD2). Levine’s Global Jazz has operated KKJZ out of the CSULB studios for the past few years.

Details are sketchy and I was unable to get through to Levine or KKJZ for comment by press time, but I plan to follow this move closely. I am already biased against “college” radio stations that have nothing to do with students; moving the studios 30 miles away from the University would in my opinion be a reason for forfeiture of the license. Fines for the Board may be in order as well if they approved the move against the terms of their FCC broadcast authorization. Certainly no one can rationalize how students OR staff of CSULB benefit by owning s station that isn’t even located in the same city ...

... UNLESS the University maintains a studio on campus for use by students and continues to carry student-run K-Beach on the KKJZ HD-2 digital broadcast stream.

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Copyright © 2014 Richard Wagoner and Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

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