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 Radio AM to FM: November 6, 1998

"The Coach" Passes On

KNX Sportscaster "The Coach" Charleye Wright -- whose sign-off slogan "keep your eye on the ball" is one of the best-known slogans in Los Angeles radio -- died on October 27th from complications resulting from surgery related to a previous kidney transplant.

Perhaps best known to many as Rick Dees' sidekick and sports reporter on KIIS-FM for an entire decade (1981 - 1990), Wright came to Los Angeles in 1969 to work news at KLAC. In 1970 he moved over to KIIS (AM) -- at the time programmed by Chuck Blore -- before switching to KPOL (now KCTD) in 1975. After leaving the Dees show in 1990, he moved on to KKBT to do the same thing with John London's House Party, and finally wound up in the sports department of KNX in 1995.

He was born in Inglewood in 1937, and graduated from Lynwood High School and Compton College. He changed his name to Charleye, because he felt "Charles" -- his given name as well as his father's -- was a "sissy" name. He taught high school for two years before entering the world of commercial radio, working in Waco and Dallas, Texas before making the big move to Riverside and KPRO, then owned by Dick Clark.

In the early 1980s Wright's dialysis treatments, which he had been on for five years, began to fail, and he underwent a successful kidney transplant. His recent hospitalization was related to that transplant, and first signs showed that the surgery seemed to have gone well. Due to be released from St. Vincent's Hospital on Tuesday, October 27th, he developed complications the Monday before and was rushed into surgery again Tuesday morning. During that procedure, his heart failed.

Friends and colleagues have been sending messages to Don Barrett's Los Angeles Radio People web site (, remembering the life and career of Wright. Wright was one of the good guys, who, according to KNX news director Bob Simms, was a gifted storyteller and a "warm-hearted, easy-going, friendly man." "The whole newsroom was very silent (the day he died)," added KNX's Raul Moreno, "as we all feel his loss. Having known Charleye for the past 17 years, I can say that I have lost a friend and we have all lost a great broadcaster."

More Talk, Less Music

From the rumor mill: KRLA is moving slowly but surely away from musical programming as the station adds syndicated morning man Don Imus to its lineup. No official date has been set, but it appears Imus will make his debut on the station sometime in early December.

If true, the move would leave no doubt that manager Bob Moore really doesn't know what to do with the once-proud station that has seen its reputation tarnished by blunders that include the firing of most of its staff, the decimation of its promotional budget, and the addition of sports programming that splits the station's audience directly in half. Since former programmer Mike Wagner left three years ago, ratings for the station have declined dramatically; Wagner fought hard against all of the above decisions while he programmed the station. For his part, Moore is denying the rumor.

On the other hand, the addition of Imus to mornings might just allow new listeners to sample the station. I doubt that the mostly Latino audience that likes KRLA music will like Imus, but perhaps there are a few Imus fans that will like hearing oldies that aren't played on the major FM stations.

Over at KLAC, the rumor is that a major announcement will be made as to Imus' replacement. Will that replacement be a former KHJ Boss Jock? Stay tuned ...


Copyright © 1998 Richard Wagoner and The Copley Press.

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