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Airwaves: January 30, 2015

Mark and (Not) Brian on The Sound

I’m not sure if Dave Beasing, programmer of The Sound (KSWD, 100.3 FM) is having more fun planning for Monday’s launch of an all-new morning show -- or the return of half of an old one, depending on how you look at it -- or watching the hijinks surrounding the launch. More on that later.

February 2 is the launch date of the Mark and (Not) Brian Show (actually it’s “Mark in the Morning,” but my name is better) on The Sound, marking the return of former Mark and Brian co-host Mark Thompson to the Los Angeles airwaves after more than two years off the air following his “retirement” in August of 2012 from longtime home, KLOS (95.5 FM). The program will run weekdays from 6 to 10 a.m.

First the basics: Thompson will be paired with Andy Chanley (“not Brian”) who previously handled mid-days, and Gina Grad, who has been been featured on various radio shows as a guest co-host, panelist, news anchor and field reporter. Rounding out the show will be occasional appearances by the show’s official “chick on the street,” Thompson’s daughter Katie.

There will be music. Not lots of it, but it will be there ... about four songs an hour on average to start. My hunch is that it will increase or decease according to audience desires. I asked Thompson point blank if that might be an issue on a station known more for music than anything else.

“Honestly, I feel really bad for those who like lots of music in the morning,” He told me. “I really do. It’s not the show I do, but I understand fully their frustration. I’ve always been a big fan of music myself.”

Doing the show that he does, in fact, is one of the reasons it took so long to get him back on the air. Beasing and Sound General Manager Peter Burton had been talking with Thompson for a while, and he almost signed a while back, Then he slowed things down. “I wanted to make sure that they wanted what I do. That they were sure they wanted me, not something else.” The talks went high level into corporate parent Bonneville Broadcasting, in which Thompson met with a high level executive.

“What are you going to do about your voice?” the executive asked. In listening to the story I cocked my head to the side like a dog hearing something weird. “That’s the same response I had,” Thompson told me. “But then he clarified by stating, ‘I don’t care what you do as long as you do things to make people’s lives better.’ I was sold.”

I asked how the show would be different than the 25 years he spent on KLOS with past partner Brian Phelps. “The show is not just me,” Thompson explained. “Andy Chanley is completely different than Brian, and we have (Gina) Grad who will help break up all the testosterone. (Daughter) Katy will be out around town doing bits and features; “she has an amazing ability to tell a story, and will add a lot to the program,” Thompson said.

Of course the figurative elephant in the room is Phelps. I thought Thompson left KLOS because he wanted to leave radio. Was he actually just wanting to get away from Phelps? Rumor is that the two haven’t spoken since the parting in 2012.

“Brian and I remain good friends,” Thompson insists. “His friendship is important to me and I want to assure everyone that we are on good terms.”

While I was at The Sound, I asked former morning man Joe Benson when he thought of the move, considering that Beasing was essentially trying to hire his replacement almost as soon as Benson started at the station. (Yes, I was kidding, though in reality that is almost the case). Benson laughed.

“We are going to do the same things we are doing now, just later in the day,” Benson said regarding his new 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. show, adding jokingly “and the best part is that -- after more than two years, I don’t have to get up so early in the morning.”

And what of Beasing? I’m not sure if he was involved or not, but an ad hyping the return of Thompson to Los Angeles on The Sound somehow found its way onto the KLOS website, and a screen shot placed on The Sound’s Facebook page (http://tinyurl.com/RadioWaves1). Just like the old days when KLOS and KMET (now KTWV, 94.7 FM) would try to interfere with each other’s promotional events, all in good fun.

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Copyright © 2015 Richard Wagoner and Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

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