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Radio AM to FM: June 19, 1998

Sebastian Exits KZLA

No sooner had John Sebastian resigned the programming post at country/crossover KZLA (93.9 FM) than the station reversed two years of programming to become Los Angeles' full-time country station once again.

"This parting is a byproduct of the new consolidation age of radio," Sebastian told industry newspaper Radio and Records, referring to the fact that he was hired by KZLA's previous owner. "I didn't make the choice to work for Bonneville and they didn't choose me. We were thrust upon each other; it's not surprising we experienced conflicting ideas on the direction KZLA should take."

I imagine the 0.4 drop in the Winter Arbitrons didn't help either.

Sebastian came to KZLA and immediately altered the format to include pop and Southern Rock crossover artists such as Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Eagles in addition to today's popular country artists. He called it "Southern California's Country" and positioned the station to attract listeners turned off by the predictability of regular adult contemporary stations.

His moves were not dissimilar to changes he made at KHJ when he programmed that station in 1977. To the regular format of Bee Gees and Peter Frampton, he added traditional rock artists like Led Zeppelin in an attempt to keep more "FM listeners" on the AM band. Many people credit Sebastian with destroying KHJ.

At KZLA he was more successful. "We improved upon the share and cume of the radio station to levels not seen in many years," Sebastian commented, adding, "In several books we made KZLA the No. 1 station in Los Angeles (in the target demographic)." Share and cume are two elements of the radio ratings process. To his credit, Sebastian reversed a decade-long decline in the listenership of KZLA.

Assistant programmer Bill Fink will take on full programming duties until a replacement is found. Until then, expect KZLA to play it relatively safe musically ... perhaps even after then ...

Coach Hendrie

KFI (640 AM) night talker Phil Hendrie is expanding into the world of animation: He's set to play the voice of Hank Hill's high school football coach in an episode of Fox Television's King of the Hill early next year.


Who should be the permanent replacement for Robert W. Morgan on KRTH (101.1 FM)?

Reader Karen Richards thinks it should be the interim replacement, Jim Carson. "He and Joanie Carroll make a great pair!" Richards writes.

"Dave Hull" counters Terry Benson. "He did a great job filling in for Morgan on a couple of Morgan's vacations, and there's no zanier person qualified."

I still vote for Charlie Van Dyke, Charlie Tuna or Bobby Ocean. But I'm still lamenting the loss of Boss Radio KHJ.


Copyright 1998 Richard Wagoner and The Copley Press