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Radio AM to FM: February 26, 1999

News War Heat Up

The two all-news stations in Los Angeles may be owned by the same company, but you couldn't tell: the competition between them is at a greater level now than at any point in the last decade.

Almost as soon as KFWB announced that they were going to debut a new business/financial news hour, KNX beat them to the punch and launched their own business news show fully one week before KFWB's (2/8 for KFWB, 2/16 for KNX). According to sources at both stations, neither knew of each other's plans. Right.

So far the programs seem similar in scope to the overall format of each station: KNX tends to go deeper into each story while KFWB covers more stories in a "headline" fashion.

Getting Nasty

Speaking of KFWB, the station pulled a coup of sorts by signing Joe "The Big Nasty" McDonnell for afternoon drive, effective as of last Monday. McDonnell, as you may recall, was recently fired from all-sports KXTA even though he is one of Southern California's more informed and intelligent sports "insider" reporters.

The move to KFWB reunites McDonnell with programmer Dave Cooke, who commented, "I first worked with Joe at KABC, where he co-hosted the nightly 'SportsTalk' program. He has a tremendous fan base among Southern California sports fans." No word at press time on how -- or if -- the move will affect his weekend topical (non-sports) program on KABC.

And Finally ...

KFWB has also introduced a new monthly one-hour program called, "Ask the Mayor," starring Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan and KFWB morning anchor Kathleen Sullivan (Sullivan being named morning anchor is another story in itself).

You may have missed the first one -- it ran last Wednesday at 10 am. But it will air monthly and feature live telephone calls from listeners asking just about anything. It is the offshoot of a KFWB business breakfast last November at which Riordan spoke.

Did you say Sullivan?

Yes, I did. Kathleen Sullivan, an Emmy-award-winning journalist who was the first anchor hired by the Cable News Network at its founding in 1979 has been hired for morning drive on KFWB. Sullivan says she likes radio, due to its closeness with the listener.

More Commercials

Don Barrett documented commercial break lengths for various Los Angeles radio stations recently on his web page ( Leading the pack with a 13-minute commercial set was KLSX's Howard Stern Morning Zoo. Second-place KPWR ran a 6-minute commercial break.

Somewhat justifiably, KLSX programmer Jack Silver wrote Barrett stating in part, "Is it better to hear a 50-minute interview with (Stern and) Pamela Anderson and then have a long stop-set, or keep getting your morning show interrupted by 'traffic and weather first on the quarter-hour together blah blah blah.?'"

I can answer than one: as a listener, I'd take the Pamela Anderson interview (although Stern doesn't do 50-minute segments as often as Silver wants us to believe). As an advertiser, whose ad gets buried among 12 (or more) other ads, I'd take the "blah blah blah." Admittedly, Stern's listeners tend to listen through longer commercial breaks than listeners of almost any other personality in the universe. Still, does anyone actually hear an ad buried at the end of a commercial break on the Stern program?

Good thing I'm a listener and not an advertiser.


Copyright © 1999 Richard Wagoner and The Copley Press.

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