Back to Wag-Net Main Page

Airwaves: December 19, 2008

Elder Leaves KABC

Longtime KABC (790 AM) afternoon talk host Larry Elder has left the building.

On the surface it is a case of simply moving on to better opportunities. Besides radio, Elder is a newspaper columnist, author of several books, and just released a full-length documentary movie on DVD entitled Michael and Me, in which he takes on movie producer Michael Moore in Moore’s own style.

Indeed, in a released statement read on the air the day before his last show, Elder said,

“It’s with sadness I must tell you that KABC management and I have decided that tomorrow (December 12th) will be my last broadcast day on KABC. I am looking forward to other opportunities ahead of me, and I will post them on my web site,, when I’m ready to announce them. In the meantime, rest assured I’ll be fighting the good fight and I won’t back down.”

General Manager John Davison said in a prepared statement, “This will be a tough change for both of us because Larry has meant so much to KABC radio over the years. We part with KABC’s respect, gratitude and best wishes for what we believe will be a very bright future given Larry’s many talents.”

On the surface.

Marketing Director Shelley Wagner insists the parting was mutual, directing me to the quote given on the air and in the press release.

But it is the statement that makes me think that all is not well in the land of KABC. I’ve been writing this column for a long time, and whenever I hear about someone looking forward to new opportunities in radio, the translation is far less rosy. It’s no secret that KABC owner Citadel is in trouble financially, as are many large radio station owners ... and other media as well.

It was only a short time ago that Elder was syndicated, and found nationally on Sirius Satellite Radio as part of ABC Radio’s talkradio network. First he was pulled from that, now he’s gone from the flagship station entirely. And my mind keeps telling me that the happy face on the departure is nothing more than a crude drawing.

My instinct? Larry wanted to stay, but KABC couldn’t afford him. Or didn’t want to afford him. So while the breakup may be “mutual,” it isn’t what either side really wanted.


Elder isn’t the only one gone from the airwaves. Dave Williams has left KNX (1070 AM) mornings. Go Country KKGO is automated with no personality after 7 PM. Earlier this year “My FM” KBIG (104.3 FM) launched marathon-length shifts so that they could cut one shift out of their day. And as the economy worsens, you can expect more of the same. What will become of radio? How can it be saved, if indeed it needs to be saved?


Adding to the list of stations playing nothing but holiday music is KRTH (101.1 FM), following in the steps of KOLA (99.9 FM) and KOST (103.5 FM). Each one just a little different than the other, and quite interesting to compare. Hopefully KABC will run their special holiday musical programming on Christmas Day again this year as they have in years past. Sounds great in digital HD Radio.


Copyright © 2008 Richard Wagoner and Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

To subscribe to The Daily Breeze, call (310) 540-5511