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Radio AM to FM: May 18, 2001

Talkin' Bout KLAC

Just one month after abruptly canceling a long-planned format switch to "guy talk," KLAC (570 AM) surprised almost everyone by going "half talk" ... standards, swing and big band, too mornings, evenings and overnights (unless preempted by the Lakers or the Angels); talk from 10 am to 7 pm.

And it's a far cry from the male-oriented non-issues format originally envisioned: Michael Jackson, 10 am to 2 pm; Dr. Dean Edell, 2 pm to 3 pm; and Clark Howard, 3 pm to 7 pm.

Don't be too impressed with the 3-hour Howard block, though. Tuesday's 4 pm hour was nothing more than a repeat of the 3 pm hour run Monday on KFI (640 AM) which, at press time, was still carrying Howard.

Will the station go 100 percent talk? Probably. Will the new shows help ratings? Probably not. KLAC already had ratings higher than anything Jackson had over the past decade. Edell (my favorite of the three) was moved from afternoons on KFI due to limited success, and Howard -- while a semi-powerhouse on KFI -- does well precisely because he's on one hour per day. More than that and he drives me nuts ...


So where can one find standards on the radio when KLAC is talkin' it up? Unfortunately, hardly anywhere in Southern California. If you have a good radio, KPOP (1360 AM) in San Diego is a good bet. Outside of that, you're out of luck, broadcast-wise.

Have a computer? If not, perhaps it's time to think about getting one. Connect your iMac to a good set of speakers and go over to, where you can hear Peter Marshall, Wink Martindale, Chuck Southcott, Gary Owens, Johnny Magnus and Carl Hampton playing favorites from the 1940s through today. The production is good and the sound is clean. Make a few tapes and you can play them in your car.

Otherwise you'll have to subscribe to a music service (cable/satellite) or do things the old-fashioned way: play the songs yourself.

What I Like About ...

I really like Power 106 (KPWR, 105.9 FM).

No, not the music. I can't stand that. But technically speaking, Power 106 is one of the best-sounding stations on the air. And it has been for years.

The reason for the sound? Chief Engineer Tom Koza.

Koza has been the man behind the sound of 105.9 FM since Emmis bought the station in the early 1980s. Back then it was "adult contemporary" Magic 106 (KMGG). 1986 brought in dance-oriented Power, which later evolved into the hip-hop/rap station that it is today.

Throughout the various format incarnations, Koza has strived to make the station sound its best ... a tough job to do when programmers and engineers fight about what is "best." To Koza, "best" is a clean sound, not too punchy, not too bright. Definitely not over-processed. Back when KMGG/early KPWR and KIIS-FM (102.7 FM) played much of the same music, the difference was amazing: KMGG/KPWR sounded full, KIIS sounded harsh.

So, Tom Koza, take a bow ... we salute you, one of the top engineers in Los Angeles.


Copyright © 2001 Richard Wagoner and The Copley Press.

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