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Radio AM to FM: July 9, 2004

All Music

Music is slowly returning to the AM band all across the country, as well as Southern California. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, most of the South Bay can pick up oldies on XSUR (540), standards on KLAC (570) and KSUR (1260), and a kid's version of top-40 on KDIS (1110). And that's not even counting San Diego's KPOP (1360), which has been playing a version of standards for many years.

Now you can add two more to the list, with a slight caveat, courtesy of San Diego.

KURS (1040) recently switched from Spanish talk to, like KLAC, KSUR, and KPOP, what is generically called Adult standards. Unlike the competition, however, this one skews a little bit toward the old Middle of the Road format with the inclusion of some 70s artists such as Abba, James Taylor and the Bee Gees. Musically, it is much like the MOR formats of the 1970s as found on such stations as KMPC. Don Imus' talk show airs in the morning.

Unfortunately -- and perhaps this is just growing pains -- the satellite-delivered Westwood One format is executed so poorly, you can't help but know the new K-1040 is not local. Too bad, since the format sounds fine when all the technical details are worked out.

And if that weren't enough, business-talk KCEO (1000) now runs a blend of ballads, standards and big bands all night long beginning at 6 PM when it becomes "The Owl."

The caveat I mentioned affects both stations until sundown, and that is interference from KTNQ's (1020) digital "HD Radio" broadcasts. The digital signal stomps all over neighboring stations, including KCEO and KURS, which as a result have a high-frequency ring that can be minimized (though not removed) by turing your radio or external antenna if you have one. As soon as KTNQ switches off the HD broadcast for the evening -- or the HD equipment malfunctions -- the neighboring signals come in quite cleanly.

New Talker in Town

KABC (790 AM) announced the winner of its TalkRadio Idol (aka the "who do we replace Joe Crummy with") competition.

From hundreds of entries, a handful were selected to try out their craft on the air. The winner was Bruce Tenenbaum, a former record industry executive with DreamWorks, MCA and Atlantic Records. We'll try not to hold that against him. He left records for acting, with various roles in both film and theater to his credit.

He began his 4-week contract to host a weekend talk show on June 26th; his show airs Saturdays at 7 PM. If listeners seem to like it, you can bet KABC operations director Erik Braverman will extend the contract.

More Traffic

The worth of radio traffic reports has always been dubious to me. Generally they always seem to miss the trouble spots I am in, and even when they do get mentioned, the information doesn't really help ... it just confirms that you are stuck. And that's only if you can actually hear what the reporter is saying; all too often they speak too fast so they can get to the sponsor's message or commercial.

KFWB (980 AM) hopes to change that with its new Drive Time Traffic reports. Every 10 minutes the station not only gives information on trouble spots, it also gives estimated driving times between benchmark locations using a new computerized system that calculates traffic speeds gathered from several sources.

VP of programming, David G. "I am the King" Hall summed it up this way: "Knowing that it will take 30 minutes to get from the Hollywood Bowl to downtown L.A. is more helpful to me than knowing a stalled car is causing a backup." Which is true ... as long as you can hear what they are saying.


Copyright © 2004 Richard Wagoner and The Copley Press.

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