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Airwaves: March 21, 2008

KFI Getting a New Tower!

Note: This column was written mere hours before the new KFI tower collapsed while under construction. Unfortunately, due to deadlines the story ran as written here. A correction/update followed on March 28th.

The KFI (640 AM) replacement tower is on its way up, with a completion date expected by the end of the month for the construction itself; operationally it won't be ready until some time in April due to all the extra work needed in connecting the new tower to the transmitter.

In the meantime, the top-rated talk station is operating on substantially reduced power, even lower than they were with the backup transmitter they were using until construction began. They had to turn off the backup transmitter at their regular site because the radio frequency radiation was too high to be safe for the tower construction workers; now the station is using a transmitter originally designed for 1150 AM (now KTLK).

Those towers are way too short for KFI's frequency wavelength, so the engineers did some work to make the guy-wires act as part of the tower's height. Only 14,000 watts are currently being used to transmit, but the signal in much of the coverage area is still good.

When KFI is able to go to its full 50,000 watts in April, it will once again be a "local" signal in half of California during the day and half the United States at night. Expect their digital HD Radio signal to return then as well.


KABC has returned to the FM band for the first time since 1969 when KABC-FM became KLOS (95.5 FM) via the magic of HD Radio.

Right ... I've been writing too much about HD Radio lately, but hear me out just one more time before I give it a rest. Designed partly to appease regular listeners when Dodger games are on the air at KABC (790 AM), the normal talk programming that is being pre-empted on the AM will move to the FM on KLOS's digital HD-3 stream, and also be available on the internet at But the simulcast is already happening now, so technically, I suppose, you could say that KABC-FM has already returned.

Blog Radio

So you always wanted to be a talk show host but didn't have the means to get a job on the radio? Then head over to

Launched in 2006, Blog Talk Radio has broadcast more than 60,000 shows to internet listeners around the world. Guests on some of the shows have included major notables such as Yoko Ono, Brad Pitt, John McCain, Mike Huckabee and Brian DePalma; notable hosts include the Department of Defense and former NBA plater Doug Christie. You, too can be a host: just register.

KNX Gold

KNX (1070 AM) is on the move, it appears, just in time to celebrate its 40th birthday as an all news station on April 15th. Consider this:

• KNX has gone back to basics ... actually covering news, with emphasis on longer coverage of big stories.

• The stations ratings appear to be on the rebound, with some demographics increasing as much as 50 percent over the past year.

• When a major story breaks, KNX drops all commercials in order to focus on the story at hand.

Hopefully the gains at KNX will continue. Los Angeles needs a radio station of record as it did in the past.

Write Back

Abe Hoffman wrote in to offer help for fans of Old Time Radio: "May I suggest, a marvelous web site that has literally thousands of old radio programs, easily accessible by category. The programs are available on CD or MP3 format. I ordered a Red Ryder MP3 that had several dozen shows on one CD -- for only $5 plus $2 shipping!"


Copyright © 2008 Richard Wagoner and Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

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