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Radio AM to FM: October 5, 2001

Putnam's Last Stand

George Putnam's last show ran without him. And while that was his idea, the idea for going off the air was most certainly not.

It all began September 21st when Putnam was told by KRLA (870 AM) manager Dave Armstrong that he was going to lose his daily shift after 27 years on the air. When Armstrong asked the veteran newsman if he would be interested in doing a daily commentary (such as Paul Harvey does) or a weekend show, Putnam said "no."

Well, "no" as only Putnam would say. "I told them to put it where the sun don't shine," Putnam told Gary Lycan of the Orange County Register.

When the change was mentioned on the air that Friday, all heck broke out, with callers flooding the lines with questions and complaints. It was then decided by station management that the September 21st show would be the last, save for the farewell show that was scheduled for September 28th.

Putnam decided not to show for his own farewell, but it went on without him, featuring tributes from Zev Yaroslavsky, Dick Sinclair and former KIEV (the old call letters of the new KRLA) owners Ron and Fred Beaton.

Rock Lobster

Need another reason to attend the Lobster Festival in San Pedro this weekend? Here's one: Joe Benson. The award-winning Arrow (KCBS-FM, 93.1) morning man will be roaming the grounds of the festival tonight at Ports O' Call Village from 7:00 to 9:00.

Tickets are $6 (12 and under free); the festival runs through Sunday. Info: (310) 366-6472.


Clear Channel Communications has been cutting back personalities left and right across the country as it scrambles to survive the modern era of radio that it created.

Gone locally are KOST (103.5 FM) afternoon personality Bryan Simmons and most of the weekend personalities from KOST and KBIG (104,3 FM): Archer, Christine Martindale, Antoinette Russell and Janine Wolfe. All are being replaced by Prophet, the computerized voice-tracking system that tries to fool listeners into thinking that the personalities they hear on the radio are local, in the studio, or give a damn about them or the community (communities).

Will it be enough? As the largest -- by far -- radio broadcast group in the United States, owning or controlling about 1500 stations, Clear Channel is extremely vulnerable to downturns in the economy and subsequent decreases in radio ad revenue. The company is still in good shape, but it appears to be cutting everywhere; eventually it will run out of positions to cut ... you need at least a few people around to run the Prophet computers, right?

Perhaps the economy can do what the regulators keep failing to do: break this monopoly up.

It's a Bird

XM Satellite Radio is on the air. Details next week.


Copyright © 2001 Richard Wagoner and The Copley Press.

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