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Radio AM to FM: August 26, 2005

Sirius Musings

As radio falls over itself trying to keep listener deflections to a minimum through the use of formats such as Jack, I've decided that except for a few exceptions and this column, I really don't need radio any more.

Or more accurately, I've decided that radio no longer wants me as a listener. Otherwise, they would treat me with more respect.

I recently took the family on a vacation to Pismo Beach. Much of the way we listened to Sirius satellite radio, as we usually do whenever we are in my truck or in the back yard. Along the way, though, I did sample some local stations. Here's what I found:

KFI still rules when it comes to news and traffic. Not that the reports are necessarily the best (though KFI is among the best radio news sources in the country), but they are absolutely dependable. News every 30 minutes and traffic every break. It's been this way since KFI played music, and probably dates back to the station's beginnings. And the weekend computer show on KFI is so much better than the competition.

KYSR -- Star -- could actually be a decent station if they'd loosen up the playlist just a bit (hiring former Mix programmer Craig Carpenter as PD could help here) and dump the morning show. Morning host (for lack of a better word that can be printed in a family newspaper) Jamie White is to radio what oil is to water: they don't mix and the result is a big mess that people want to avoid.

The best rock station I heard is in Ventura: KRUZ. Unfortunately it's 97.5 FM frequency is shared by a Riverside station that overpowers it in most of Los Angeles, but programmers in Los Angeles could -- should -- learn a lot from this station. It is so much better than anything in Los Angeles, that LA programmers should hide in shame. KRUZ, in fact, is the only station that allowed me to turn off Sirius for long stretches.

I like the music on Jack, but I can't listen to the bad presentation. "We play what we want" ... as if that's not what all stations do. I want to hear what I want; stop reminding me that you're doing it for you. And hire some intelligent DJs so you can drop the stupid copycat "voice of Jack." Otherwise an iPod does much better, thank you. Jack would be trampled in the ratings if Star worked a little harder.

Overall, though, I'm glad I had Sirius and didn't have to rely on local radio. Not that Sirius is without problems. Not the least of which is the '70s Channel's Barry Williams (aka The Brady Bunch's Greg Brady) who is absolutely awful. Why does XM get people like Bobby Ocean and Sirius gets Barry Williams? At least Sirius has J.J. Walker. he tends to make up for the lameness of Williams. This is, by the way, a channel on which I would thrive. I just can't figure out how to apply.

Mighty Quinn

Speaking of Sirius, word just came in that the satcaster has hired former MTV VJ Martha Quinn for Saturday nights on the '80s Channel. Her weekly show, Gods of the Big '80s, starts tomorrow at 8 AM and will be repeated throughout the week at seemingly random times.


Copyright © 2005 Richard Wagoner and The Copley Press.

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