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Airwaves: October 19, 2007

Returning Legends

Two legends will return to the airwaves soon: Michael Jackson and KGIL. Interestingly, the two are related.

Beginning Monday, October 29th, KMZT (1260 AM) will drop classical music and become a talker as the KGIL calls return to the 1260 frequency. Classical will continue to be heard on KKGO's digital HD-2 signal (105.1 FM HD-2).

Michael Jackson is the real star on the new station. Actually he's the only local star, which makes one wonder about the longevity of this format. Larry King begins the broadcast day with a replay of CNN's Larry King Live cable television show every morning at 6:00, followed by two hours of Wall Street Journal Radio at 7:00. Jackson is on from 9 to 11 AM, with syndicated talk host Neal Boortz taking the 11 AM to 2 PM shift.

Syndicated psychologist Dr. Joy Browne then completes the day's new talk programming, as Jackson's morning show is replayed at 5:00 every day.

Call me underwhelmed, though many fans of Jackson will be glad he's back on the air. There is some good news, though, for standards fans: owner Saul Levine has decided that the new KGIL will be running adult standards all night long, 7 PM to 6 AM.

1260 signed on as KGIL back in 1947 as a big band station -- top-40 for the era. The original call letters lasted through a few formats until 1993, when the station became KJQI, followed by KNNS in 1995, KGIL again in 1997, KJAZ in 2000, KSUR in 2002, KKGO in 2005 and KMZT in 2007. As noted, the station has not been known as KGIL for ten years.

Baseball Fever

KFWB (980 AM) had some big news this week: The Los Angeles Dodgers won't be on the all-news station next year. Yes, the Dodgers are returning to their longtime home of KABC (790 AM) beginning next season. Officially, the contract begins November 1, 2007.

KABC thus has exclusive English-language rights to all 162 regular season games and 15 Spring training games. A new weekly show to air Sunday nights will keep fans in the loop of Dodger news and allow them to share their views, and of course the station will feature pre- and post-game shows whenever the Dodgers play.

The Dodgers were previously on KABC for 25 seasons: 1973 to 1997. Other stations that aired the English broadcasts are the original KMPC (now KSPN, 710 AM) 1958-1960, KFI (640 AM) 1961-1972, KXTA (now KTLK, 1150 AM) 1998-2002 and KFWB 2002-2007.

At one time the Dodgers were a huge radio draw, as television carried only a handful of games, so fans needed radio to follow the action when they weren't at the games themselves. These days, all Dodgers games are on either television, cable or satellite, so the need for radio coverage is reduced. Indeed, KFWB saw no ratings jump, or even a blip, when they started carrying the games.

That being said, as an all-news station focussed on, well, news, KFWB and the Dodgers were never a perfect fit. KABC, while talk, is entertainment -- as are the Dodgers. The Dodgers and KABC just seem to go better together.


Copyright © 2007 Richard Wagoner and Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

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