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Airwaves: March 28, 2008

KFI Loses Tower Again

No sooner had the ink dried on last week's column regarding the rebuilding of KFI's (640 AM) main transmitter tower when the entire tower fell again. Luckily no one was seriously injured, though it could have been tragic ... the construction crew was busy assembling it at the time of the collapse. One worker was injured slightly, but most of the damage was to the tower itself -- totally destroyed -- and a warehouse roof.

It's being called a single point failure by at least one witness. What this means is that one single point of the construction appears to have been the weak link, so to speak. In this case it appears to have been a turnbuckle used in securely tightening the guy wires that help support the tower. When the threads pulled apart, the tension shifted toward the other guy wires and the tower simply snapped over and fell.

Structural engineers are looking into the failure.

The collapse leaves KFI without a main tower again, as a new one must be built and shipped out of the factory once again, and the crews must begin assembling it again. This won't happen until investigators determine exactly what caused the failure if indeed the turnbuckle is the culprit.

Meanwhile, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association is asking the Federal Aviation Administration once again to declare the tower location a hazard, and force its relocation away from the area of the Fullerton Airport.

Until the reconstruction begins, KFI is back on its backup transmitter at the same site, with a power of 25,000 watts -- half its normal operating power from the main tower.

Armstrong Silenced

Jackson Armstrong, who along with his alter ego The Gorilla lit up the airwaves of Los Angeles on Ten-Q (KTNQ, 1020 AM), KKHR (now KCBS-FM, 93.1 FM) and KFI throughout much of the 1970s and '80s, passed away March 22 at his home in North Carolina. He was 63.. No word on the cause of death was available at press time.

Armstrong was an amazingly fast-talking creative top-40 radio personality who ranks among my favorites. He used The Gorilla to help get across some of his more "outrageous" humor, though in fairness his humor was squeaky clean. He was an amazing personality who really can't be described -- you have to have heard him for yourself.

Born John Larsh, he came to Los Angeles to work at Ten-Q in 1978. When Ten-Q went Spanish in 1979, he moved over to KFI which at the time was playing a high-energy adult top-40 format. He was at KKHR during that station's attempt at top-40 during the years of 1984-86.

In San Francisco from 1982-84, he could be heard in his usual high energy at the legendary KFRC (610 AM). I have a recording somewhere with one of the best top-hour IDs I have ever heard.

Hear Armstrong for yourself at and

Polka Time

Believe it or not, I occasionally get letters asking where to tune in for great polka. Turns out you don't have to look very far, as long as you are in or near the Inland Empire. It's available on Saturday mornings, 6 to 7 AM, and Sunday mornings, 7 to 9 AM, via the airwaves of KCAA (1050 AM) in Loma Linda.

Craig Ebel's It's Polka Time is just one of the many varied programs carried on "the station that leaves no listener behind." Weekend shows include such varied subjects as wealth management, sports, and car repair, while weekday programming features the likes of George Putnam (noon to 1 PM) and others.

Quick Takes

Bonneville, which once owned KBIG (104.3 FM) and later KZLA (now KMVN, 93.9 FM) before selling all local radio properties a few years back, is returning to the City of Angeles by purchasing V-100 (KRBV, 100.3 FM) from Radio One. Rumors have the station moving to talk or country. I'm betting neither. Details as they arrive.

The Department of Justice has approved the merger of satellite radio services XM and Sirius. The FCC still must rule, but approval is expected soon.


Copyright © 2008 Richard Wagoner and Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

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