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 Radio AM to FM: September 15, 2000

The Waggies

I was flipping the television channel-changer the other night (well, pressing the remote control, anyway. Don't want to date myself) not watching anything in particular, and came across a great idea: why not give away awards for the best (and worst) of radio?

All right, all right. I know I've done it before. I wasn't going to do it this year since Clear Channel now owns every radio station in the world and has taken some of the fun out of it, but I recently received a ton of mail ... ok, one letter ... asking me to do it again. So, without further delay, here are the winners of the Radio Achievement Awards (RAA), better known as the Waggies, for the year in radio: 1999.

Station of the Year: KXMX (95.9 FM). You knew this was coming, didn't you. While the big boys in Los Angeles research every detail of everything they do and play, Mix programmer Craig Carpenter did things the old fashioned way: gut instinct. Carpenter personally chose the music played on his station each day, and it made the little station in Anaheim far better than KIIS, Star, KBIG and KROQ. Had Mix been on a signal and promotional parity with the others, it would have creamed them; too bad owner Clear Channel didn't know what they had and let it go away last month.

Oldies Station of the Year: KLAC (570 AM). The only oldies station in town that knows what it means to play a variety of music. Of course the owners (now Clear Channel, by the way) don't know what they have here either, and a lack of personality outside of morning drive makes for a very bland presentation.

Most Improved: KRTH (101.1 FM). KRTH would have gotten Oldies Station of the Year if its play list was a bit more open and adventurous ... like it was before it went all-oldies in 1986. But the addition of some seventies hits has freshened up the format quite a bit. And KRTH's on-air presentation is second to none.

Programmer of the Year: Craig Carpenter, KXMX. He's one of the few remaining programmers anywhere who actually programs instead of listening to some lame consultant . Perhaps that's why his station actually played music that wasn't stale.

Biggest Disappointment: KROQ (106.7 FM). Hey, they used to be really good. Now I can't figure out what the heck they want to be: cutting edge punk or repetitive metal? And yet, their ratings still hold, so what the heck do I know?

Best Place to Get Radio News on the Net: Don Barrett's and Tomm Looney's column on (tie). They are polar opposites: Barrett likes to be positive in tone and accurate about everything, Looney likes to be snide and play fast and furious with rumors. But both are entertaining and both provide thoughtful material for radio junkies everywhere.

General Manager of the Year: Bob Moore, KLSX (97.1 FM)/KRLA (1110 AM). How do you take a low-rated station combo and make it one of the top-billing properties in town? Thirty-minute commercial sets for one. Think what he could do with a format that actually attracted listeners.

Program of the Year: KNX Drama Hour, KNX (1070 AM). Perennially one of the most popular evening shows in town, it showcases some of the best of radio's "golden age." I wonder when someone will pick up this format full time.

Worst Name Change: KFWB (980 AM). Am I the only one who noticed KFWB's ratings decline after adopting the "News 980" name in place of "News 98?" The new one just doesn't sound right even if it is more technically accurate. Of course the decline may also have something to do with the fact that between traffic reports, weather, a huge commercial load, Larry King and whatever else the station runs, it seldom actually runs news ...

Evening Personality of the Year: Matty, KXMX. His stunt getting free food at McDonalds was nothing short of hilarious, even if he did do it accidentally the first time when he was in college. Runners up have to include the amazing Phil Hendrie (KFI, 640 AM) and Mr. KABC (KABC, 790 AM). Between the three (and the Drama Hour) it was tough choosing evening radio entertainment in 1999.

And finally, the little-known radio category called Newspaper of the Year: The Daily Breeze (Copley Press). For over 13 years this newspaper has let me write (for the most part) what I want, when I want, only occasionally reigning me in when necessary. For that I am grateful. Hopefully I have never let my editors or more importantly you, the reader, down. And until Clear Channel buys me out, I promise to continue giving them heck ...

Until next year ...


Copyright © 2000 Richard Wagoner and The Copley Press.

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