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Radio AM to FM: March 14, 2003

KLOS's (95.5 FM) morning team of Mark (Thompson) and Brian (Phelps) will trade in their microphones for golf clubs on Sunday, March 23rd at 9 AM when they host the Third Annual Mark and Brian Celebrity Golf Tournament.

To be held at the Coyote Hills Golf Course in Fullerton, the tournament will feature more than 30 celebrities including Martin Sheen, Judd Nelson, Tim Matheson, Ken Howard and George Lopez. Spectator tickets are $15 and available at merchants in historic downtown Fullerton; for a complete list visit the Mark and Brian portion of the KLOS web site,

Proceeds benefit the KLOS Food Bank and the Orange County Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.

New Exhibit

New to Uncle Ricky's Reel Top 4o Radio Repository ( is a recording of Charlie Tuna on KHJ from June 1, 1978 ... near the start of the ill-fated "All Music" format, which left KHJ lacking energy at a time when Ten-Q was hot.

Perhaps one of the best quotes regarding this recording came from one visitor who commented, "You can almost read (Tuna's) mind: 'I don't wanna be here ... when is Ten-Q gonna call?'"

Ten-Q did, in fact, call. And Tuna switched over within the next few weeks, if my memory is correct. Still, the recording is an interesting case study of how programmers of AM powerhouses overreacted to the growing popularity of FM and actually drove listeners away. By the time master programmer Chuck Martin came to fix things in 1979 by bringing back the personality, it was almost too late.

Well, actually it was too late, for even though Martin gave KHJ its best ratings in years, the RKO suits in New York made the moronic decision to go country in late 1980. And you thought Clear Channel was bad.

Speaking Of The Evil Empire ...

"If anyone said we were in the radio business, it wouldn't be someone from our company," Lowry Mays, founder and CEO of Clear Channel Communications told Fortune Magazine for its March 3rd issue. "We're not not in the business of providing news and information. We're not in the business of providing well-researched music. We're simply in the business of selling our customers products."

That quote comes toward the start of Fortune's article entitled "The Bad Boys of Radio," in which, ironically, Mays and family try to state that they really aren't the Bad Boys and are in fact the Good Guys.

It didn't work.

Too many people know the truth: That Clear Channel celebrates programming mediocrity. That personalities are nothing more than a nuisance, replaceable by computer voice tracking. That you don't need to program well when you are effectively a monopoly that owns the majority of stations in most cities, selling excess stations only to those who promise not to compete.

Mr. Mays, with all due respect, your quote is exactly why you and your company are loathed by people around the world. Radio uses airwaves that -- like it or not -- belong to the public. You as a broadcaster are supposed to broadcast in the public interest, and if this was a different era -- an era when the FCC had guts -- your quote would be reason enough to have your company investigated to determine if it is even fit to hold a broadcast license.

In another era ...


Copyright © 2003 Richard Wagoner and The Copley Press.

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