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Airwaves: January 6, 2006

Top Stories

It's hard to argue with fans of the King of All Media ... and even some who are not his fans ... Howard Stern signing off of terrestrial radio was the biggest story in radio for the year 2005.

And not just nationally, where the move left affiliates scrambling to find someone with the listener draw -- and more importantly ad dollar draw -- of Stern. His fans are so dedicated, they are perhaps the only group that will listen, actually listen, to the huge commercial sets that became legendary on the show, often 15 minutes or more.

Locally, it leaves a huge hole in the schedule of KLSX, which recently took on the amazingly bad slogan "Free FM." Stern essentially carried the station for years, both in ratings and revenue, and it will be interesting to watch the transition to life without him. Of course the schedule now is much stronger than in years past, so they may just be OK.

Stern begins on Sirius Satellite Radio January 9th, so you have a clue as to one of the top stories in 2006 ...

Another story that is both national and local is the sudden emergence of Jack FM. Locally we have a Jack in L. A. and San Diego; nationally there are Jacks and Jack clones in almost every major city.

What's the appeal? To owners, its cheap: no pesky DJs to pay. For listeners its a chance to hear a certain variety that's been missing for a long time. That is until you notice that the variety is still a bunch of stale songs you get tired of really fast.

KNX left Columbia Square in Hollywood for the greener pastures of the Miracle Mile in 2005, closing the book on radio in Hollywood and bringing to an end broadcasts from a building that legendary former CBS head William Paley personally oversaw when it was being constructed during radio's golden era.

In 1938, Columbia Square was built as the largest and most advanced broadcast studio in America. It included eight large studios, including one which could seat over 1000 people. The new studios on Wilshire Boulevard are said to be nice, but certainly don't have the history -- and ghosts -- of KNX's former digs.

One story that was supposed to be a story but isn't, at least not yet (clear enough for ya?) is the impending format change at 690 AM.

You may recall that The Fabulous 570 and XTRA Sports 690 swapped frequencies in February. At the time, most observers knew the standards format was doomed on it's new 690 frequency but hoped against hope that it would survive.

No such luck. XTRA 690 is in the process of being sold, so the standards format provided by Clear Channel is going away. It was supposed to be gone by the end of Summer, then by November, then by the end of 2005. As of my writing this, its still on, so enjoy it while you can.

Now ... anyone want to make predictions for 2006?


Copyright © 2006 Richard Wagoner and The Copley Press.

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