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Airwaves: June 29, 2007

Frank Terry Passes

One of the original KHJ (930 AM) Boss Jocks, Frank Terry, passed away on Wednesday, June 20th after battling colon cancer for the past ten years. He was 68.

OK, for the purists, he wasn’t technically an original on KHJ. He came to the station in June of 1965 -- one month after the launch of the Boss top-40 format -- replacing the station’s first “swing man,” or fill-in/weekender, Donn Tyler.

Terry was born in Rapid City, South Dakota in 1938; his given name is Terrance Crilly. His radio work began in the Navy, with his commercial radio debut happening in the early 1960s at KMEN/San Bernardino. He later moved to Fresno’s KMAK before making the trip down South once more for his four-year stint at KHJ.

KFI (640 AM) was next, followed by San Francisco’s KFRC, KNEW and KSAN. He eventually settled at KFGY/Santa Rosa in 1998. His last years were spent fighting his cancer in Sonora, near Yosemite. According to Don Barrett’s, he was a passionate family man, and wanted a place in the mountains where he could be in the trees, have his dogs roam and have deer in his yard.

Last of the Free

Los Angeles is the last of the Free FMs, as owner CBS has ditched the format and moniker on KSCF (103.7 FM) in San Diego, leaving KLSX (97.1 FM) as the only remaining station out of a large handful using the name in a national launch in 2005.

In San Diego, the station was a laughingstock of the local airwaves, coming in with a paltry 0.7 share after much marketing and running much of the same programming as can be found on KLSX.

The new format is called “Sophie,” and plays adult contemporary and pop-alternative artists such as John Mayer, Snow Patrol Maroon 5, Dave Mathews and Green Day. Target audience: 18-49 years olds with a focus on women 25-35. With the Summer weather and usually good reception, you might want to check it out.

The obvious question: will KLSX hang on?

Now, Live From Italy

I am writing this column while vacationing in Ischia, Italy ... sister city to our own San Pedro. As always while vacationing, I took some time to sample the local airwaves.

Interestingly enough, radio in Ischia is much like it is in Southern California. AM is dominated by talk or news stations (I even heard one station use “bumper music” as they transitioned from a commercial to the program, just like all our talk stations do), while FM is where most of the music can be found.

The music stations were fascinating, for a few reasons. First off, much of the music was in English. The variety of musical genres on any particular station was better than most LA stations; it appears that music in Italy is not as splintered or focussed than in LA, and that was refreshing. It reminded me of some of the great LA stations of the past: KHJ, KFI, KIIS-FM (102.7) and even KMET (now KTWV, 94.7 FM).

Personalities were every bit as good as I’ve heard anywhere, and better than some of the more recent jocks whose voices are best made for newspapers. Finally, and annoyingly, the commercial breaks were long ... just like home. My only problem: my Italian is a bit lacking, so I had no clue what anyone was saying. But the music was good, English or Italian.

And to truly make radio marketing an international phenomenon, Italy even has their own version of KIIS-FM, called “Kiss Kiss.” Top-40 music, of course.



Copyright © 2007 Richard Wagoner and Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

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