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Airwaves: October 13, 2006

All That Jazz

Saul Levine has been selected by the trustees of KKJZ (88.1 FM) to run the professionally-staffed jazz station on the campus of California State University, Long Beach.

It's somewhat of a homecoming to the format for Levine, who once programmed jazz on his own KKGO (now KMZT) before he took that station classical. The announcement that Levine was chosen over three other bidders to manage the station was made last Friday.

KKGO was "America's Jazz Station" for 30 years, with such well known personalities as Chuck Niles and Sam Fields. Levine wants to recreate what he had at KKGO with an exciting straight-ahead jazz format tied to the jazz community. It appears that Levine's experience in the format as well as his company's (Mount Wilson Broadcasters) financial strength helped in making the trustees' unanimous decision.

Students are currently not really welcome at KKJZ, which I personally believe invalidates the educational license the foundation holds for the station. I cannot understand why the FCC allows colleges and universities to own radio stations where students are not allowed.

But Levine claims that he will indeed allow students inside the doors of what was once totally student-run KSUL, which was forced off the air in 1981. And they won't just be there to clean the toilets; they might actually be able to do real radio work both at KKJZ and at KMZT through jobs, internships and scholarships. I'm skeptical, but it at least sounds better than the situation now.

Paying Tribute

Family, friends, colleagues and fans of Ralph Story were all on hand to pay tribute to the legendary broadcaster at his memorial service last Sunday in Los Olivos. Story passed away from emphysema September 26th.

Longtime friend and associate Stephanie Edwards summed it up nicely when she stated in the service, "We will never see the likes of Ralph Story again. But aren't we all blessed to have been part of his life."

Story began his Los Angeles radio career in 1949 as host of the brand-new KNX (1070 AM) morning show, Heart of the Morning. He wasn't supposed to stay long, just long enough to launch the show and get it going until the programmers found a permanent host. Then he would return to New York.

It never happened. He became the permanent host of the show, later moving on to other assignments on KNX and KNXT (now KCBS-TV) Channel 2. You probably remember him from Channel 2's Big News, Ralph Story's AM and Ralph Story's Los Angeles, as well as a some specials aired on KCET Channel 28.

His approach was always one of kindness. He was articulate, intelligent, witty and honest, and his ability to listen as well as he spoke made him a commentator and reporter above the rest. And it all started on radio.

I met Ralph after he retired, but true to his reputation, he treated me as a longtime friend. I am proud to have been part of his life ... if for only a short time.

Replacing Hendrie

Joe McDonnell, arguably the best local sports reporter on all-sports radio, has joined KLAC (570 AM) for the 7 - 11 PM shift, replacing Phil Hendrie who is leaving radio.

Unlike Hendrie, McDonnell's show, The Joe McDonnell Experience will be totally local. "Joe's a sports veteran with a great reputation. He's the perfect host to fill the void left by Phil Hendrie's retirement," KLAC manager Don Martin told industry newspaper Radio and Records.


Copyright © 2006 Richard Wagoner and The Copley Press.

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