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Radio AM to FM: April 23, 2004

B Debut

Jonathon Brandmeier -- Johnny B to his fans -- made his debut on Arrow 93 this week, marking his return to the Los Angeles airwaves more than three years after leaving KLSX. Brandmeier had been the midday host on KLSX for almost three years when he was replaced by Heidi, Frosty and Frank.

A legend in Chicago from his time at WLUP-FM in the 1980s and early 1990s, Brandmeier is known as being one of the Windy City's wackiest DJs. He made his name doing comedy bits including covers and spoofs of popular songs, as well as original tunes, with his band The Leisure Suits. The Leisure Suits even played in venues around Chicago.

Chicago certainly has its share of legendary radio personalities. Larry Lujack from WLS and "Super CFL" comes to mind. If the fine people of Chicago want to place Brandmeier in that category, I'm fine with it.

But in listening to Johnny B's first week, I have to ask, what's the big deal? Sure, he's pleasant enough. Yes, he's more professional than many of his competitors, which is a nice change considering the many lightweights that have been given air time in town. And I am happy to report that I was wrong: Arrow does still play music in the morning, even if it is less than before.

Yet one thing stood out in my mind the entire time I listened, as when I heard him on KLSX: he's really not that funny.

Perhaps he's an acquired taste. It takes time to develop a feel for the audience and for the audience to develop a relationship with the DJ. It would not be the first time I was wrong about a new personality, and I would not be a bit surprised if he gets better over the next few weeks and months. I wish him well, and welcome him back to Southern California.

But he needs to lay off trying to do bits in the middle of the news, and I already miss Scott St. James' sports reports. The old show with Joe Benson was filled with music and information the adult audience of Arrow craved, and I would hate to think Arrow pushed Uncle Joe out just to have another morning zoo. I expect that Brandmeier is better than that, if his fans in Chicago are even close to being correct.

Still Off

Air America is still off the air in Los Angeles, due to problems with their local affiliate. The liberal talk network was on the air only two weeks before being pulled.

The reason is in dispute. Air America claims that the affiliate, KBLA, was reselling air time that they had already purchased, and thus stopped payment on a check. KBLA claims that the check bounced, thus forcing them to stop the broadcasts.

In the meantime, Air America is apparently looking for a new station with which to purchase air time. Some observers are making wild predictions such as KTNQ and KHJ, both of which I doubt, considering that neither station's owner has ever leased out time on their major properties. Unless the dispute with KBLA is resolved soon, it may be a while before Air America in back on the air locally.


Copyright © 2004 Richard Wagoner and The Copley Press.

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