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Airwaves: February 24, 2006

XM Nabs Winfrey

XM Satellite Radio has signed Oprah Winfrey to a three-year deal worth $55 million, and calls for a new channel -- to be launched in September -- on the service called Oprah and Friends.

No details were released on what exactly her channel would feature, nor which of her friends will be on the bird. However, it will be new content, not just what is currently available on her current program or network.

Will this be a reason to subscribe? Too early to tell, but XM apparently felt they had to do something. After leading the subscription count almost every month since it launched, XM found itself being trounced by Sirius in the final quarter of 2005 due at least in part to the Sirius debut of Howard Stern.

(XM had a year head start on subscriptions, so the final word on who will be the "winner" is still unknown).

What's interesting to me is that XM actually felt a need to do something For months, XM fans stated that their favorite service already had a Stern-beater in Opie and Anthony. Perhaps XM realized that is not enough. or perhaps they signed Oprah just to keep her off of Sirius.

No matter. I would think that this will be the last of the big-ticket signings. Unless someone can convince Rush Limbaugh to move to satellite. And that, I predict, will not happen.


The other day I'm listening to one of my regular Sirius channels when the DJ mentions coverage of the Olympics on another channel. So I tune in and hear ... NASCAR coverage.

Last Sunday I'm listening to KZLA when suddenly the countdown show ends early in order for the station to air ... NASCAR races.

I never knew that NASCAR radio coverage was so big.

We've Got Mail

Reader Robert Billingsley wrote: "Every time I read your column, I'm reminded of radio past, and the people on it. I'm wondering whatever happened to Rege Cordic, I believe on KNX back in the 60's, and the team of London and Engleman. L & E had some of the best little skits on radio, like 'The new adventures of Leave it to Beaver,' and 'Fantasy Island.' They had some others which are not coming to mind right now."

Thanks for writing. You've inspired me to bring back a popular feature of the past:

Where Are They Now?

I remember Rege Cordic from 1110 KRLA in the early 1980s, but he came to Los Angeles in 1966 to replace Bob Crane on KNX when Crane left radio for Hogan's Heroes.

He arrived at KNX after a long run at KDKA/Pittsburgh where he once commanded an amazing 85% audience share. yet he only lasted one year on KNX ... the lure of television was just too strong, and he left radio for acting.

Cordic passed away in April, 1999 due to complications from brain cancer. He was 72.

London and Engelman made a huge splash on KRTH back in 1979. With their popular skits and contests -- my favorite was "I'm Better than You" -- they helped make KRTH a powerhouse in the ratings.

When former KHJ programmer Chuck Martin was getting set to switch K-WEST to a top-40 format (think KHJ on FM), he was thinking of hiring Rick Dees for mornings, but instead went with London and Engelman. Under Martin, L&E thrived at the new K-WEST, and the team quickly became my favorite way to wake up.

Unfortunately, management soon changed at K-WEST, so L&E made their way first to Florida, and then to San Francisco's KMEL. It is there that they split up.

Now John London is working mornings in San Francisco, while Ron Engelman is out of radio and living in Central California.

Wouldn't it be great to launch a real top-40 station in Los Angeles again and convince London and Engelman to get back together? I'd love it.


Copyright © 2006 Richard Wagoner and The Copley Press.

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