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Radio AM to FM: July 17, 1998

Here's an interesting idea: take an AM station that broadcasts from Mexico only three miles outside of the US/Mexico border near El Paso. Upgrade the transmitter system so that the station can broadcast at its full clear-channel authorized power of 150,000 watts (100,000 watts more than allowed in the United States). Build a studio in Burbank, California with the plan of sending the signal to the transmitter in Mexico. And hire some well known Los Angeles radio personalities to play oldies on this station.

Far fetched? You bet. But it may be a reality if Steve Ray has anything to do with it.

Ray is working with Group Seven Broadcasting, the American division of Grupo Siete, a Mexican company that owns about 30 stations in Mexico. His goal? To convince Group Seven to go with the concept, and convince some investors to put money into the transmitter site of a station known as "X-Rock," 800 AM.

"The station needs work," admitted Ray. "I am hoping to improve the ground system as well as upgrading the current 30-year old 50,000 watt transmitter." AM stations use ground waves as part of their broadcast system, so a good ground system is essential for good coverage.

The format planned calls for a "broad-based deep playlist" with songs that most oldies stations have forgotten, according to Ray. He also wants to bring some big-name talent into the deal, including some Los Angeles-area legends. Absolutely no one has been signed yet -- indeed, the deal is extremely preliminary at this point so there is nothing to sign -- but Ray hopes to attract the likes of Charlie Tuna, "Humble" Harve Miller, Bobby Ocean, Scotty Brink, Mike O'Neal and Mike Daniels.

Too good to be true? Might be, considering that Ocean is in Northern California, O'Neal is in Las Vegas, and others are similarly scattered around the country. Tuna, for one, just signed on to do mornings again at KIKF in Anaheim.

Add to that the fact that X-Rock's signal may not make it to Southern California -- even at night -- and you see that this is quite a project.

Ray says that he expects the signal to reach into at least part of Los Angeles at night, and a few states during the day, once the transmitter is upgraded. With a good tuner, you never know -- I've received stations from as far away as Minneapolis/St. Paul right here in San Pedro.

More on this as it develops.

Expanded Talk

KPCC (89.3 FM) has expanded their "Intelligent Talk" schedule to include an addition hour each day of Larry Mantle's AirTalk. Effective immediately, AirTalk airs weekdays for three hours: 4 - 7 pm.

In addition, the station has moved National Public Radio's All Things Considered to 1 pm, making it the earliest broadcast of the program in the Los Angeles area.


Copyright 1998 Richard Wagoner and The Copley Press