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Radio AM to FM: March 22, 2002

Standards Return to the Los Angeles Airwaves

Adult standards music has been missing from the Los Angeles airwaves ever since KLAC (570 AM) decided to go all talk last year and disappear from the ratings almost completely in a move best described as "pulling a Clear Channel."

Fans of the music held out hope that the music would return, although most knew the chance was slim in the short term. Radio just doesn't change that quickly.

Well, its time to change. As of today, Saul Levine's KJAZ (1260 AM) is scheduled to be playing adult standards under the new call letters KSUR ... apparently the closest combination available to "spell" K-SURF.

The move takes the station full-circle, as it once played the same music under the direction of Music of Your Life programmer Chuck Southcott. Twice, as I remember, but my memory is fading.

This time Southcott, who syndicates MOYL nationwide, is not involved. Instead, the station will be programmed locally and will, according to reports, feature the same personalities that played the jazz on KJAZ.

The signal should be cleaner for many listeners throughout the area within the next month or so, as the station is gearing up to increase its broadcast power to 20,000 watts from 5000. No word on if it will be in stereo, however, for the handful of people who own AM stereo radios. Decent ratings, which have been missing from 1260 since Levine dropped standards years back, should return soon enough.

Come One Come All

Of course, in the copycat world of radio, if one station does well with a format, often another station wakes up to the ratings potential and adopts the format as well. This has happened before, and interestingly, when it happens with adult standards stations, it tends to help both of them attract an even larger slice of the ratings pie.

Which stations are ripe for a change? Just about any of the AMs in town, none of which do particularly well outside of KFI (640 AM), KABC (790 AM), KFWB (980 AM) and KNX (1070 AM). And more than a handful of FMs are underperforming.

Of course the old argument will appear: standards attract an older audience. Which is true. Of course, they're the ones with the money, which is why Cadillac, Mercedes Benz, BMW and Lexus go after them full force (BMW pretends not go go after them but come on, outside of USC business grads, who else drives them? Or can afford them?).

Awards Weekend

It's academy Awards time, and KABC is devoting the weekend hyping them, including a simulcast of KABC-TV Channel 7's pre-and post-show coverage on Sunday ... just in case you can't get near a television ...


Copyright © 2002 Richard Wagoner and The Copley Press.

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