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Radio AM to FM: November 26, 2004

Karmazin Gets Sirous

Mel Karmazin, the former president of Viacom, has been named CEO of Sirius Satellite Radio, replacing Joe Clayton who will remain Chairman as well as stay on Sirius' Board of Directors.

Karmazin, who helped make Viacom's Infinity Radio division what it is today -- a bloated, unimaginative company with far too much attention paid to the bottom line -- was hired just weeks after Howard Stern announced his move to the satellite radio service. A funny circumstance, to say the least, since Karmazin was a key factor in Stern's hiring and syndication at Infinity.

The hiring -- in spite of my personal opinion of Karmazin -- gives Sirius two huge names in radio, and credibility that it never had before. Sirius, and satellite radio in general, is really taking off.

Grapes. Wrath. Play.

Tomorrow night at 10:00 PM, KPCC (89.3 FM) presents a special 2-1/2 hour edition of The Plays the Thing. It's a special radio version of John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath starring Shirley Knight, Jeffrey Donovan and Frances Guinan.

The broadcast will include an interview with director Richard Masur, and like always will also be available for the next week on KPCC's web site,

Short Takes

• KOST (103.5 FM) transitioned into its annual all-Christmas music format last Friday -- slightly less than two weeks before Thanksgiving. But they certainly aren't the first ... rumbles of holiday programming began over a month ago, and even the national Starbucks coffee chain has been playing the music in their stores for weeks.

• Howard Stern appeared on CBS Television's David Letterman Show November 18th, hyping his impending move to Sirius Satellite and announcing that as expected, his entire crew will accompany him to his new broadcast home next year. Earlier in the day he held a rally in Manhattan's Union Square; XM Satellite's Opie and Anthony crashed the event, but no one really cared.

Rumors down South have Clear Channel dropping its association with stations licensed in Mexico, including XTRA (690 AM) and XHTZ (90.3 FM). Will it happen? Only if forced by the FCC. If it happens, will the effect be good? As much as I hate to say it, probably not. But then, nothing is certain, and the rumors out of San Diego have been false quite often lately.

Speaking of satellite radio, the program lists of old time radio shows on both Sirius and XM are quite extensive. Enough to probably make a subscriber out of me soon ...

AM stereo broadcasts did not "officially" begin until 1982, but design and testing began at least 30 years before. There were demonstrations in 1953, and there was a movement to have AM, FM and TV all in stereo by 1959. Only FM made it by then; AM stations would have to wait until most of their music formats -- and listeners -- had already left for FM.

• The Fish 95.9 FM will start giving away 1000 tickets on December 3rd for their 2nd annual free holiday concert. This year it's A Very Special Christmas with John Tesh and Special Guests by the Tree.


Copyright © 2004 Richard Wagoner and The Copley Press.

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