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Airwaves: September 21, 2007

Same As The Old Boss

The story of KBIG (104.3 FM) is a sad tale: The Big Station That Couldn't.

Ever since it dropped Beautiful Music to join the ranks of soft rock in 1987, the station has been an also-ran. Late to the soft rock party, it could never quite catch competitor KOST (103.5 FM) in the local ratings in spite of having one of the strongest FM signals in the Western United States.

Various formattic adjustments tried over the past few years, from adding more top-40 sounding songs to playing more disco, have fallen on deaf ears, so to speak. Essentially, KBIG wasn't anyone's favorite radio station ... or their second or third favorite. Most recently, it got to the point where any song played on KBIG became what the station was: burnt.

So you'd think management of owner Clear Channel would make a clean break, and move KBIG in an entirely new direction. No such luck. The station is doing little more than adjusting its music again, and bringing in a new name: My FM. Said programmer Dave Denes to industry newspaper Radio and Records,

"104.3 My FM will be adult hits like Kelly Clarkson, Beyonce, Christina Aguilera, Fergie, Justin Timberlake, Shakira, Madonna, Santana, and much more. Every song we play is or was at the top of the charts."

Just like the old KBIG.

Oh, sure, it is a little bit different from its most recent incarnation, when overplayed disco records were intermixed with overplayed songs from Kelly Clarkson, Beyonce, Christina Aguilera, et. al. But it's really not much different than it was before, other than the name. And the name is, let's face it, stupid. Makes you wonder if Clear Channel has any programmers left in the company.

To make things even weirder, it has the potential to split an already split audience from Star 98.7 and KOST ... which are sister stations to My FM and play much of the same music. In other words, if My FM succeeds, it will do so at the expense of co-owned stations, and no others. In the meantime, the few listeners who actually liked burnt hits and stale disco will likely move down the dial and give a boost to competitor KMVN (Movin' 93.9 FM).

It's not that it's bad, it just isn't something really different than what's already on the air. KBIG already suffered from an identity crisis; copying Star, KOST, and even the old KBIG probably won't help. Unless Clear Channel has plans for the others as well.

Legendary morning man Charlie Tuna was canned (though he says he may do something else within the company and is apparently still a Clear Channel employee), as was the rest of the airstaff. The station will be running jockless for the immediate future.

Royce Hall Treats

KUSC (91.5 FM) has begun broadcasting a special series of concerts performed by the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and recorded live from UCLA's Royce Hall from 2005 through 2007.

Hosted by Alan Chapman, the series airs Sundays at 4 PM.

Speaking of KUSC

Did you know you can still hear opera on the local airwaves? KUSC has two special shows featuring opera music: Sunday Night Opera which features recordings from the San Francisco Opera Sunday evenings from 9:00 to Midnight, and The Opera Show hosted by Duff Murphy airing Saturdays from 9 AM to 12 Noon.


Copyright © 2007 Richard Wagoner and Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

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