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Radio AM to FM: July 15, 2005

Radio Blunders

I was surfing around the internet this week looking, as I always do, for story ideas to steal. Lo and behold, I found a great one on the Los Angeles radio forum of It was a thread on the worst blunders to ever have happened in Los Angeles radio.

I, of course, have my own ideas. KHJ going country in 1980, for example, a format change that reversed the hard work programmer Chuck Martin and crew did for the station when they brought it back to top-40 glory -- and increased ratings. Country fizzled on the station due to a few factors: KLAC still dominated the format, KZLA added to the competition, and the popularity of the movie Urban Cowboy never brought any long-term effects.

Other blunders as I see them: the change of Martin's (later) top-40 K-WEST to new PD Jeff Salgo's Magic 106, one of the lamest formats ever to hit the airwaves. Salgo also had the bright idea of changing the call letters because he thought KMGG was better than KWST. Or how about the infamous Car Radio KHJ? Or just the idea of dropping the legendary KHJ call letters?

On radio-info, some of the blunders mentioned included KFI dropping the Dodgers in the early 1970s -- back when the Dodgers actually brought ratings to stations carrying them; KUSC attempting to drop classical music in favor of some sort of new age format; KTZN, The Zone: talk radio exclusively for women (it lasted about 5 minutes); KODJ/CBS-FM ... as if sterile oldies on KRTH weren't enough; Fred Sands business radio on 1580 KBLA ... it is said they never sold a single advertisement in the eight months on the air.

Others: KABC passing on the chance to carry Rush Limbaugh'sprogram ... credited with making competitor KFI a success and ultimately the dominant talk station in town; KMPC dropping standards for talk, Jim "Poorman" Trenton on urban KPWR ... Poorman was synonymous with alternative KROQ; KMET becoming The Wave.

Anything you'd like to add? Drop me a line!

Rumor Mill

Word on the street has Clear Channel looking to buy up ABC owned and operated radio stations ... if ABC is indeed looking to sell.

What would that mean for local radio? Well, since Clear Channel is already at their station cap, they'd have to sell as many stations as they bought. With their standard mode of operation, you could expect them to keep the best signals and formats, dumping the remaining ones to a broadcaster who agrees not to compete directly.

No, it would not be a good thing. Let's hope this one never gets past the rumor stage.

The Legend Continues

Competition is supposed to make things better, right? If two companies compete, quality is supposed to go up while costs go down.

So why does KLOS sound so much better ever since the demise of sole format competitor Arrow 93 a few months ago? Is it some sort of renewed spirit on the parts of the jocks, staff and programmer Rita Wilde? Is it having Joe Benson back on the air? Or is it ... something else?

Regardless, I'm giving credit where credit is due. KLOS, you're sounding great!


Copyright © 2005 Richard Wagoner and The Copley Press.

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