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Radio AM to FM: September 21, 2001

Media Stocks Dip

Radio-related stocks took a tumble Monday, the first day of trading after last terrorist attacks on the United States. Particularly hard hit were Disney, Clear Channel Communications and Viacom, which together own just about every station in the country.

Industry newspaper Radio and Records reported Tuesday that the R&R Index declined 10% Monday, taking it to the lowest level since October, 1998.

Why? Certainly some of the decline was part of the general decline of the market, but it appears that investors are worried that any economic slowdown will hit media companies -- especially radio -- hard, as advertisers cut back on their ad budgets.

Ironically, some of the decline may be related to radio and television stations doing what they are supposed to be doing: report the news. But the constant coverage combined with temporary format adjustments and (more importantly) noncommercial periods means that the companies may not meet their quarterly earnings expectations.

Go figure. The companies are being punished for finally broadcasting in the public interest.

Bach Back

540 AM has changed back to classical with the return of its X-BACH moniker, fueling rumors that Saul Levine's Jazz station KJAZ (1260 AM) will return to standards with Chuck Southcott's Music of Your Life format. KJAZ used to simulcast 540 AM.

The move would make sense, considering KLAC's (570 AM) constant move away from the format and the success Music of Your Life has had throughout the country. Time will tell, however.


I've been hooked on eBay lately, the online auction. I haven't sold anything nor have I won the bidding on anything (my one bid, on a Delco tube table radio, was outbid with three seconds left in the auction).

But looking through the various items has been fun. There is a lot of radio memorabilia, including hit lists from legendary top-40 stations like KHJ, KCBQ, KFRC and KGB. You can also find airchecks, KMET bumper stickers and a lot more.

I am sure the worth of such things is debatable, but it does give me an idea ... perhaps its time to clean out my attic.

Pledge Break

Don Barrett's web page,, began as a way to promote his book, Los Angeles Radio People. But it has become much more. Many people, including myself, consider it to be the web page of record for the Los Angeles radio scene.

It appears now that the future of the page may be in question. In a recent Pledge Break, where he thanks the week's voluntary subscribers, Barrett wrote, "As the last quarter of the year approaches, some major decisions will be made about the future of the web site," and "the economic model will have to make sense in order to continue."

Barrett wrote that he is committed to the page through the end of the year; I would guess that the radio community, including fans, will support whatever decision he makes.


Copyright © 2001 Richard Wagoner and The Copley Press.

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