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Radio AM to FM: June 11, 1999

Freeform Ladd

KLOS may be moving back in time musically, but is it moving back in time formatically? Yes, at least somewhat. And that's good.

As part of the station's modified direction and hokey new slogan ("classic rock that really rocks"), KLOS has moved Jim ladd to late nights (10 pm to 2 am) and given him the opportunity to do a (supposedly) real free-form show reminiscent of the old KPPC and early-KMET.

"I go in each night and literally start with a blank canvas," he said, adding that he has "total freedom" to play anything he wants and to put together any musical set that comes to his mind. Does that make him happy? "I'm thrilled to death," Ladd said.

Chalk one up for KLOS programmer Rita Wilde. But get a better slogan, won't you Rita?

Where are they now?

Radio programming consultant Walter Sabo doesn't get a lot right when it comes to radio programming. Sabo is the one, you might recall, that launched the "Car Radio" format on KHJ, the "Game Zone" format on KFRC/San Francisco and "Moron Talk" on KLSX. All three failed miserably.

One thing he did right at KHJ, though, was hire some damn good personalities to present his ill-fated music and traffic report format (that some consider ahead of its time, by the way). One of those personalities was Mike O'Neil (afternoon drive), who was so good he made even "Car Radio" KHJ sound (italics)great(/italics).

I happened to receive an e-mail from O'Neil this week, and figured it would be as good a time as any to launch my new Radio AM to FM feature, "Where are they now." So, I'm sure you're asking, just where is Mike O'Neil now?

Where everyone goes after leaving Los Angeles: Las Vegas.

O'Neil spent 23 years in radio, most of which in Southern California. He worked at KHJ, KWIZ/Santa Ana, KUTE, KGFJ, KIQQ, KIIS, KLAC, KRTH and KMPC. He moved to Las Vegas to be on the air at KBGO and built himself an all-digital production studio with which he began a voiceover business, providing produced spots for radio stations across the country.

"Yes, I am homesick," he told me, "as I was born and raised on the beach in Santa Monica and my wife is from Burbank. We may move back at the end of the year, but not for radio. Radio has changed for the worse everywhere."

In addition to the radio spots, O'Neil has done promos for the television networks as well as trailers for movies from Paramount and Universal.

Want to know where your favorite personalities from the past have gone? Drop a note to me and I'll do my best to find them.


Former KEZY morning man John Fox is now doing fill-in shifts at KOLA in San Bernardino as well as writing and reporting on KFWB. "Fortunately I live between the two," Fox said. Which I suppose means he has a long-distance commute no matter where he goes ...


Copyright © 1999 Richard Wagoner and The Copley Press.

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