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Radio AM to FM: December 24, 2004

KFI Knocked Out

KFI (640 AM) has been operating at a reduced power since last Sunday morning when a small plane collided with their transmitting tower in La Mirada, causing it to collapse. The pilot and passenger of the airplane died in the crash.

The 750 foot tower -- 760 feet including the base and insulators -- had been in place since 1947, appears on flight maps and was both a hazard and a reference point for pilots, many of whom used it as a landmark to find the Fullerton Airport. Just last year the original guy wires -- used to help support the tower -- were replaced for the first time. No one expected them to last only one year.

Fortunately, the tower folded as it collapsed, and fell to the ground without causing addition damage to nearby buildings, cars or people. It fell fully within the parking lot; no one on the ground was injured.

KFI was off the air for about an hour as the engineering staff evaluated damages and fired up a backup transmitter located on the same site. As of Sunday the station was operating at a reduced power of 5000 watts, with 20,000 - 25,000 watts expected later. There is no word on when a new tower will be built nor when KFI can return to its clear channel flame-throwing signal of 50,000 watts, which normally allows the signal to be heard throughout the Western United States.

For KFI's engineering staff, the collapse is a triple-whammy. The loss of life is tragic, the collapse itself is upsetting, and it also knocks out, albeit temporarily, KFI's digital HD Radio system.

KDAY Calls Return

93.5 FM has officially been awarded the call-letters KDAY, harking back to the days of rap music on AM legend 1580/KDAY.

The new KDAY is just a copy, of course, but it already has a buzz around it. Playing rap, soul and some hip-hop, it will be interesting to watch.

No More Rock and Roll

Brian Beirne, aka Mr. Rock and Roll, has left KRTH (101.1 FM) after nearly 29 years at the station. His last show was December 15th.

"When I came to KRTH in 1976 I was the only voice on the station," Beirne told Don Barrett's "Since then I have had the pleasure of working with great talent and some fine people. I have been blessed with 29 years at one station and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, truly a humbling experience."

A totally unconfirmed, if not made up rumor has it that -- like most of Southern California -- Beirne just couldn't stand hearing the same 20 songs over and over and over again. He plans to spend time with his wife Cindee on their ranch in Arizona and at their home in Newport Beach. If the right opportunity comes along, he says he will return to radio.

Last Minute Gift Guide

Can't decide what to get your favorite radio junkie? How about a subscription to Don Barrett's For only $39.95 per year, Barrett presents nothing but Los Angeles radio news, in depth and uncensored. Add a second subscription for someone who has never subscribed for only half price. Either way, it is truly a great value. Log on to the site for more information.



Copyright © 2004 Richard Wagoner and The Copley Press.

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