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 Radio AM to FM: March 24, 2000


After spending the past year hyping that it was "live and local" in afternoon drive time, KFI (640 AM) has apparently had a change of heart. It is moving the syndicated Phil Hendrie Show to the afternoon drive slot, trading places with Karel and Andrew who now man the 7-9 pm shift.

It is a somewhat bazaar decision on the part of KFI programmer David Hall. Both shows had established audiences; Hendrie does a program that cries out to be heard at night, not during the day when people are in their cars craving quick news, traffic reports and perhaps a hot-button issue to distract them while they are stuck on the freeway; and Karel and Andrew do an issues-oriented program that fits quite well in afternoon drive.

So why the change? The easy answer revolves around Hendrie's syndication deal, and the hope that a 4-7 shift on the West Coast will translate to more affiliates on the East Coast ... now that they can run the program live, 7-10, rather than during the UFO-induced hours of 10 pm - 1 am. And as Hendrie's flagship station, KFI does not want to run him tape delayed.

Will the move work? My gut instinct says no. Sure, I know that Hendrie's past success included afternoon drive. But that was not in a city like Los Angeles, where most people listen in their cars during that time. And while his show is still one of the most creative on the planet, I can't help but feeling it's getting past its prime, as even I notice the same voices appearing on the program over and over again.

Maybe that's why it WILL work: a brand-new time gives a brand-new potential audience, one that doesn't already know Hendrie's voices.

In any event, Karel and Andrew aren't too upset out about their move out of radio's "prime time." They just signed a new contract, got a raise and now work one less hour per day. Sounds great to me.

Monday Night Limbaugh's Tomm Looney has reported that Rush Limbaugh, heard locally 9 am to 12 noon on KFI, is supposedly on the "short list" of candidates to replace Boomer Esiason on ABC Television's Monday Night Football.

That list also supposedly includes Regis Philbin, Dan Moreno, Hulk Hogan, Terry Bradshaw, Steve Young and John Elway in addition to Limbaugh.

For his part, Limbaugh says that this is news to him. "If I'm on ABC's short list, this is the first I've heard about it," Limbaugh said recently on his program. He does want the gig, however, and has campaigned for the position on his nationally syndicated program. Fans of his program also know that he is an extremely knowledgeable NFL football fan.

Going, Going ...

Stephanie Miller, who recently lost Los Angeles affiliate KABC (790 AM) as a carrier of her program, has just lost her entire program. ABC has decided to let her contract lapse and stop distribution of her program on July 1st. Her 20 or so remaining affiliates will have to find another obnoxious unfunny comedian to play fart sound effects.


Copyright © 2000 Richard Wagoner and The Copley Press.

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