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Radio AM to FM: February 22, 2002

Year of the Radio ... Books

Three new books are either out or soon to be released; two focussing on radio's golden age and one on the silver.

• Jim Cox's Say Goodnight, Gracie: The Last Years of Network Radio (McFarland) is set to be released in May. A look at the final decade plus of AM network programming, the book covers the years 1950 through 1960, the year in which almost all network programs were either canceled or moved to television, and follows up with a final chapter featuring 1961 to the present day and the major changes since the networks left radio behind.

Along the way, readers learn about the attempts to save network radio ass advertisers pulled out of show sponsorships and the network executives tried to convince listeners and advertisers alike that the medium was not on its way out. Kind of like today.

• Already releaed is Mitchell Shapiro's Radio Network Prime Time Programming, 1926 - 1967 (McFarland). This is a reference book of sorts, featuring month-by-month prime time schedules for all regularly-scheduled programs from January, 1929 through July, 1961 for all national broadcasting networks, and a detailed listing of all network programming time and day changes from July 1926 through August, 1967.

Included are series premieres, moves and cancellations along with a yearly recap of those moves; single event of special programming is not included.

• Available soon and covering one station from the top-40 silver age of radio is Ron Jacob's Inside Boss Radio, (Zapoleon) a look at the programmer (Jacobs) and the staff of one of music radio's true legends: KHJ in Los Angeles.

Spanning the years 1965 to 1970, the book includes an oral history of the station, anecdotes and a compilation of in-house memos written as the station debuted and then dominated the Los Angeles music radio scene. I have not seen a copy myself yet, but if it is anything even close to the samples I have read, it will be a required book for KHJ junkies like me. More information can be found on the web at


Just when you thought radio station slogans and names couldn't get any worse comes news that Cool 94.3 FM in Orange County has adopted the name "SuperCool" for its new alternative rock format, along with "Independent Radio 94.3."

SuperCool? That's the best they could come up with?

In any event, so far the music is OK with the new format, but the overall presentation leaves much to be desired. When owner Art Astor said the station would sound like Anaheim's Mix 95.9 before it went fishing, I assumed it would, well, sound like Mix. SuperCool does not. It has a good selection of recent alternative music as Mix did, but none of the depth. And the on-air presentation is nada ... which will appeal to some, but I expect radio to be more than just a jukebox: If I wanted a jukebox, I'd play CDs. Of course its still early, so we'll see what happens as the format evolves.

Taking a cue from SuperCool, KRLA (870 AM) has also adopted a bad slogan, calling itself "SmartTalk 870" instead of "NewsTalk." As with SuperCool, I have to ask ... does ANYONE even listen to themselves when they come up with lame slogans like that?


Copyright © 2002 Richard Wagoner and The Copley Press.

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