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Radio AM to FM: August 8, 2003

KFI Gets the Buzz

Every so often, a radio station gets a "buzz" going. Difficult to pinpoint, that buzz can occur seemingly randomly, but the effect is profound: people talk about the station, and what was done on the station. Usually ratings go up as people tune in be part of the buzz.

KFI is that station right now. People are listening, and listening long. To be sure, KFI has led the talk ratings for years, but now it is the third most popular station in Los Angeles, and only one point behind the leader. KFI is on the verge of doing what hasn't been done in years: they are in striking distance of making an AM station number one in Los Angeles.

How are they doing it? Riding the crest of anger against California Governor Gray Davis, in part, as well as publicizing the views of the typical Californian when it came to taxes and crime.

The powerhouse afternoon team of John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou is one of the key forces behind KFI's buzz. They've been hounding politicians and suspected wrongdoers for years. They led the revolt against the Trevor Law Group earlier this year after Trevor filed hundreds of law suits against auto repair centers and restaurants. The action from John and Ken led to an investigation against the Trevor Group, eventually leading to harsh penalties.

John and Ken were outside Scott Peterson's house with a bullhorn when he became the prime suspect in the Lacy Peterson murder case. They've detailed the moves Governor Davis and the legislature have used to hide tax increases. They are even two of the plaintiffs in a suit to overturn the increase in the car registration tax.

At times they may appear silly and over the top, but they go where the news is, or at least the news that their listeners want to hear, and that's what helps create a buzz.

While other stations generally forget weekends, KFI is placing a new emphasis on them, with a variety of hosts that should appeal to almost anyone. From "marginal legal advice" to food to fine wine, KFI has it on the weekend. If you own a Macintosh, you can even tune into to Jeff Levy's computer show to hear about all the problems you never have.

Perhaps that buzz is the reason KFI is the only station in Los Angeles to receive a nomination for the National Association of Broadcasters Marconi Award for 2003. While most stations in town are bland and forgettable, KFI sticks out from the crowd.


Another integral part of KFI's success, Rush Limbaugh celebrated 15 years on the national airwaves August 1st.

Originally airing on Sacramento's KFBK in Summer, 1984, Limbaugh moved to New York in 1988 for the national debut. He was originally heard on 56 stations, but quickly moved into the hundreds. Now he's found on over 600 stations across the United States, with a weekly audience of about 20 million -- the largest audience of any show on the radio.

Limbaugh's show airs weekday mornings from 9 to noon on KFI.

Say What?

Don Barrett's reported this week that popular morning zookeeeper Howard Stern feels that Bob Hope was not nearly the performer that Stern is.

“I’m so much more the King of All Media than Bob Hope ever was. The comparison insults me," Stern said on his show which airs locally from 5 to 10 am, give or take a few hours, on KLSX Apparently Stern feels that Hope was the king of the one-liner that was written for him, but that he could never sit in front of a microphone 4-5 hours a day and be funny.

I could mention that Stern can't do that either, for between the numerous commercials and boring, idle chatter that goes on there is only a few minutes left to be funny each day on the Stern Morning Zoo. But maybe his quote is best left on its own.


Copyright © 2003 Richard Wagoner and The Copley Press.

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