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Radio AM to FM: September 30, 2005

Be Prepared with ABC Radio

Watching and listening to all of the hurricane coverage on radio and television stations over the past few weeks got me thinking: am I myself prepared for a devastating emergency? Do I have supplies such as clean water in order for me and my family to survive under bad conditions?

Apparently I am not the only one who was thinking along these lines. ABC Radio was thinking that way too, and they want to do something more than think.

It's called Operation: Get Your Kit Together, a 65-hour radiothon that starts this morning at 7:00 and presented by ABC radio stations KLOS (95.5 FM), KABC (790 AM) and KSPN (710 AM). KDIS (1110 AM), which is also owned by ABC, is not taking part in the event.

The radiothon serves two purposes. First, it is an effort to promote emergency preparedness through the sale of special emergency kits for both humans and pets. Various kits are available at various prices, and include such items as emergency drinking water, emergency food, masks, towels and first aid supplies. Second, those same kits serve as a fundraiser to benefit agencies and organizations that have assisted residents in the Gulf Coast region of the United States.

As part of the radiothon, key officials from throughout Southern California will provide information about Southern California's disaster relief policies and instructions for families on how to create effective emergency plans in the case of a major disaster ... such as a flood, fire, earthquake, or attack.

The radiothon runs through Midnight Sunday/Monday.

The State of Radio

Miguel Fernandez of Oxnard sent a letter discussing some of his radio habits. It could have almost been written by me. Highlights:

"My favorite aspect of broadcasting has always been the talented and entertaining on-air people. 'Personality Radio' they used to call it. KMPC in the days of Gary Owens, Wink Martindale, Geoff Edwards and Dave Hull will always hold the top spot in my heart as my forever favorite radio station. KMET had the same vibe, with Jeff Gonzer, Paraquat Kelley, Jim Ladd, etc. A decade later, KROQ was purely magical (as was) Rick Dees on KIIS-FM.

"Those days are pretty much gone. There is not one single station I can listen to for an entire day. Most of the creativity is gone from commercial radio. Although there is still some really good talent still on the air -- Charlie Tuna, Kevin and Bean, Mark and Brian -- they don't work at stations that are worth listening to, and therefore I don't listen to them.

"Maybe it's an aspect of getting older, but I started listening more and more to talk radio ... not because I'm politically motivated, but because I was seeking great on-air personalities. Talk radio seems to be the latest (perhaps last?) incarnation of "personality radio" over the commercial airwaves.

"I still have a couple stations like Jack, KLOS, and a few Ventura and Santa Barbara FM stations preset on my car stereo buttons, but I never listen to any of them for more than a few minutes at a time. And never, NEVER, do I listen to commercial music radio at home."

While I agree with most of Miguel's sentiments, I find the letter and others like it very sad. We're witnessing one of the worst stages of radio ever, yet programmers and owners go on as if everything was fine. And they may be right: commercial radio may be fine, like the Titanic was fine.

Sadder still: while I received numerous letters telling me how bad radio has become, I have yet to hear an opposing view, one telling me that I am off-base and that radio has never been better.

Even the local programmers and owners are staying silent. And that, perhaps more than anything, says the most.


Copyright © 2005 Richard Wagoner and The Copley Press.

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