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Radio AM to FM: May 13, 2005

Radio's Star Power

Thousands of fans gathered to watch the unveiling of radio personality Jim Ladd'sstar on the Hollywood Walk of Fame last Friday.

Currently playing the closest thing to "free form" radio in Southern California on KLOS, Ladd first started in Los Angeles-area radio back in 1967 on KNAC/Long Beach (now Spanish KBUE). He gained his real popularity in the 1970s and '80s on KLOS and KMET (now KTWV), then worked at KMPC-FM/KEDG, and KLSX before going almost full circle by returning to KLOS back in 1997.

Rockers George Thorogood and Jackson Browne were on hand for personal tributes as were current and former colleagues Mark Goodman, and Pat "Paraquat" Kelley, among others.

"Rock and roll is freedom," Ladd told the crowd, "and music can make a difference." He added later, "Keeping free form radio alive is more than a job for me, it is indeed a calling."

This celebration came just weeks after another famous radio personality received his star: The legendary Ryan Seacrest received his on April 20th.

Ryan Seacrest? A guy who's been in radio only 15 years? He must have a great agent. To put it in perspective, however, you might recall that other lightweights have "earned" a star, including Britney Spears, Michael Bolton, David Spade and the Olsen Twins.

In any event, Seacrest's ceremony was attended by fans as well as Fox Television colleagues Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell, judges on American Idol which Seacrest hosts. One of the most humorous lines came during the ceremony from Cowell, who remarked,"I cannot believe that April 20th is going to be Ryan Seacrest Day. I am officially taking this day off my diary."

Sirius Musings

I've now had Sirius satellite radio for over four months, and I like it more and more. Sorry, broadcast radio, whether you like it or not, your days are numbered as a popular mass media if you don't change your tune fast.

While broadcast radio is falling all over itself with copycat "Jack" formats and trying to achieve supposed audio parity using a system that actually creates analog interference, I'm hearing radio that is fun again. And after four months, it is still fun. Features like the 70s channel "Jukebox From Hell" add spice to the format ... in exactly the same why top-40 stations used to do with their "goldens" and "time machines" as heard on such stations as KHJ and KWST (now KPWR).

In other words, broadcast station owners, satellite radio is kicking your butts using formatics you used to use but forgot in the era of cost-cutting and consolidation. They're also kicking your butts using personalities you lost ... including Bobby Ocean (KHJ/KWST/KGB/KFRC) who is now found on XM.

Not everything's perfect, of course. Sirius has the absolutely awful Barry Williams on its roster (and while I'm thinking of it, they don't have me). I also cannot tell the difference between the various soft-rock stations or a couple of the oldies stations, a few of which could most certainly be put to better use. There is no Beautiful Music format, nor a pop/rock format that plays mostly currents and a bit of '80s, '70s and '60s gold ... like the late-great formats such as KHJ, K-WEST and even KIIS-FM. Seriously, Sirius should hire Chuck Martin to program one of their stations in the same manner as when he programmed KHJ and K-WEST.

But to be clear: satellite radio is here to stay. I've re-upped for two more years, and I am continually making myself unqualified to write this column by listening less and less to traditional broadcast radio.

Frighteningly, I am not even close to being alone. Radio: you should have listened to me years ago. I've been documenting your problems in this very space since 1987. You're losing listeners right and left, and you've only got yourself to blame.


Copyright © 2005 Richard Wagoner and The Copley Press.

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