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Radio AM to FM: April 22, 2005

Living Radio

Satellite radio is about to get fancier. Sirius announced this week an exclusive four-year agreement with Martha Stewart to create a women's lifestyle channel, the Martha Stewart Living Radio channel.

Expected to launch later this year, the programming will focus on Stewart mainstays: cooking, gardening, home-keeping, decorating, holidays, health, crafts, weddings, pets and projects.

"This will be the first around the clock channel devoted entirely to areas of interest for women in particular," CEO Mel Karmazin said in a press release. "We are all about information and inspiration that is pertinent to every family's everyday living, and we know that our new partnership will enable an even broader audience to partake of our brand of practical, useful, sensible and nurturing information."

Funny ... Mel never spoke like that when he was running Infinity. Oh, wait, that was a Stewart spokesperson talking.

While this is the first channel devoted to women, it isn't the first gender-specific channel. Maxim Radio officially launched on Sirius during this year's Superbowl. Devoted to things of interest to men, the channel focusses on women. And sports. And women. A little music. And women.


Roy Laughlin, General Manager of KIIS-FM, co-VP for Clear Channel Los Angeles and prolific upbeat spokesman for the company many like to condemn, has left the building. Former co-VP Greg Ashlock has assumed the full Regional VP position.

There has been no word on why he left, but rumors hint that his management style may have run too far and too long from that of his corporate bosses. Still undecided: a replacement GM for KIIS-FM. Also undecided: the fate of Ellen K, co-host and "newswoman" for the Ryan Seacrest morning show ... Ellen K happens to be married to Laughlin ...

Jack This

The Jack-FM format is spreading everywhere, including San Diego where the once-great B-100 (KFMB-FM, 100.7) once stood.

Oh, don't get me wrong. B-100 has been gone for years, and KFMB-FM has more recently been a bad version of Star 98.7. But it does show how radio falls all over itself copying successful stations -- even when they aren't successes ... at least yet.

And it's happening all over the country, with such innovative station names as Jack-FM, Fred-FM, Jill-FM ... OK, I haven't actually heard of a Jill-FM. But I bet there will be.

The spread of the format, described as an iPod on "shuffle," reminds me of the spread of all disco formats in the late 1970s. Stations all over the country picked up on the format in spite of it being successful in only a few cities; eventually all those stations faded away. Will Jack suffer the same fate? Is it spreading too far and too fast before it has a chance to prove itself? Time will tell.

The important thing right now: My wife, Jean, likes it.


Copyright © 2005 Richard Wagoner and The Copley Press.

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