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Radio AM to FM: October 31, 2003

Localism in Santa Clarita

Santa Clarita has something to celebrate: the relaunch of the area's only local radio station was to have taken place on Wednesday.

Carl and Jeri Goldman, who are husband and wife, recently repurchased the station they sold to Clear Channel Communications back in 1998. Clear Channel had dropped all local programming about 18 months ago, and the former owners had been pleading with CC to bring at least some of it back. That pleading led to a deal in May in which the Goldmans would repurchase the station and assume control.

So as of Wednesday, Clarita Valley listeners should have been able to tune into KHTS (Home Town Station) on 1220 AM and hear local news, talk shows, and music. Friday night high school football games are on tap, as are special promotions and awards for local student of the month ... exactly what small-town local radio station should provide.

Of course much of that is what big-city local radio used to provide as well ...

Catching Up

George Nicholaw and Roger Nadel were fired as General Managers of KNX (1070 AM) and KFWB (980 AM) earlier this month, as owner Infinity Broadcasting attempts to remake the stations into "something" else. As of now no one really knows what that something is, but many observers don't like what they are seeing so far.

Nicholaw was the only GM KNX ever had as an all-news station. He was the man who made KNX into a powerhouse news station under former owner CBS, which later merged with Infinity. My opinion is that had Infinity kept its mitts off of KNX, the station wouldn't be in the ratings and revenue trouble it now finds itself. Even Nicholaw couldn't stop orders to reduce costs (i.e. reporters) and add commercials to the point where few turn to KNX for news any more.

Gone already are the editorials and replies that were a huge part of KNX's programming history. Gone apparently is the class that KNX once had as a news station.

Nadel was the GM of KFWB for the past 7-1/2 years, and spent 27 years with the company.

The effect of Infinity on KFWB was the same as with KNX. Pre-Infinity, and especially prior to CBS's merger with Westinghouse, in which it obtained control of KFWB, the two news stations were rarely out of the top-10 in the ratings; under infinity the stations were rarely higher than 20. As competitors, each station's ratings were higher than the combined ratings today. You do the math.

Now the makeover begins.

John and Ken Saga

KFI's afternoon duo John and Ken continued their railing against striking and locked-out supermarket workers last week. At the same time, I received this letter from a reader in Orange County:

"I think the KFI loud mouths have it wrong if gauging support of the supermarket strike/lockout is measured by public action. Get this: even in anti-union, pro-business Orange County the Von's and Ralphs parking lots are EMPTY. The public is supporting the strikers. I think it has to do with the stripping of medical benefits long earned by good faith bargaining. John & Ken are misreading the public.

"They ARE the arrogant media they rail about. Unions are about rank & file workers, not stars who make up 1% of the employees. Rick Dees does not need AFTRA. Tom Cruise does not need SAG. But, weekend DJ's and jingle singers do."

It's War

KNX airs its annual presentation of War of the Worlds by Orson Welles' Mercury Theater on the Air tonight at 9 pm.



Copyright © 2003 Richard Wagoner and The Copley Press.

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