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Airwaves: May 2, 2008

Remembering Big Ron

Former KIIS-FM (102.7) afternoon personality "Big Ron" O'Brien passed away last Sunday morning from complications of pneumonia. He was 56.

O'Brien was afternoon jock on WOGL/Philadelphia, where he had been since 2002. He had been ill for two months and was recently transferred from Paoli Memorial Hospital to a rehabilitation center in nearby West Chester; his prognosis as of the week before he died was good. He is survived by his mother.

O'Brien was afternoon jock on KIIS-FM during the station's heyday of the 1980s, when it was one of the most popular radio stations in the world. For a time, the station seemed unstoppable, and it single-handedly revived top-40 radio in Los Angeles, culminating with ratings breaking a 10 share. O'Brien's afternoon show was immensely popular among teens and adults alike, and he had the distinct honor of playing the station's top-30 countdown every Friday.

His resume includes such legendary stations as WCFL/Chicago, WNBC/New York, and KFI (640 AM) here in Los Angeles back in 1979 when the station was a high-energy hit music station. He even has ties to alternative rocker KROQ (106.7 FM) -- in the Summer of 1981, he worked weekends as Eugene Oregon.

But it was at KIIS-FM where he hit his stride. His show was rated number one in its time slot for 14 consecutive Arbitron books, over 4-1/2 years. And you could tell he was having fun playing the hits; his energy and attitude transcended the airwaves all the way into your heart. Like many of his peers who also passed away far too young, he was a genuinely nice guy.

"He was put on this earth to be on the air," said WOGL programmer Anne Gress to the Philadelphia Inquirer. "I never knew a guy who loved being on the air as much as he did." Hear some of his work on

Winter Ratings

KIIS-FM was the big winner in the Los Angeles Winter Arbitron ratings released this week, switching with current second-place finisher KLVE both in place and in rating earned in Fall. (5.0 vs. 4.7). KFI was flat at 4.4, but that was good for a strong third, followed by the KBUA/KBUE at 4.1 and Power 106 at 3.8.

Nothing huge to report otherwise, but there were some interesting results. KJLH, for example, came in with their highest rating in over a year: 1.4, up from 0.8. Sports station KLAC doubled their rating to 1.2 from 0.6. Orange County "tropical" station KWIZ tripled its rating to 0.9 from 0.3, while regional Mexican oldies station KHJ came in 1t 1.7 from 1.5 ... the last time KHJ was that high was when they played English top-40 more than 20 years ago.

Go Country 105 was up very slightly to 1.5 from 1.4, but they creamed the station that used to play country -- Movin' 93.9 -- which at 0.8 is the lowest-rated high-power commercial FM station in town ... and rated lower than a "tropical" AM station out of Santa Ana. Perhaps some tweaking and promotion is in order?

The full story: Each rating is an estimate of the percentage of listeners, aged 12 and over, tuned to a station between the hours of 6 AM and 12 Midnight as determined by Arbitron.

Station: Fall-Winter

KIIS-FM: 4.7-5.0; KLVE: 5.0-4.7; KFI: 4.4-4.4; KBUA/KBUE: 3.5-4.1; KPWR: 3.5-3.8; KSCA: 4.4-3.6; KTWV: 3.0-3.5; KOST: 3.9-3.3; KRTH: 3.3-3.2; KLAX: 3.6-3.1

KROQ: 3.3-3.1; KRCD/KRCV: 3.0-2.8; KCBS-FM: 2.8-2.7; KXOL: 2.6-2.6; KHHT: 2.4-2.5; KABC: 2.1-2.3; KNX: 2.0-2.0 KLOS: 2.2-1.9; KBIG: 2.0-1.8; KLSX: 1.7-1.8

KHJ: 1.4-1.7; KFWB: 1.4-1.5; KKGO: 1.4-1.5; KSSE: 1.2-1.5; KJLH: 0.8-1.4; KYSR: 1.4-1.4; KRBV: 1.3-1.3; KLAC: 0.6-1.2; KDAY/KWIE: 0.8-1.1; KRLA: 1.0-1.0

KTNQ: 0.9-1.0; KWIZ: 0.3-0.9; KFSH: 0.9-0.8; KMVN: 0.8-0.8; KTLK: 1.1-0.7; KLYY: 1.1-0.6; KDLD/KDLE: 0.4-0.5; KKLA: 0.5-0.5; KSPN: 0.9-0.5; KWKW: 0.4-0.5; KWVE: 0.5-0.5; KLTX: 0.6-0.4

©2008 Arbitron. May not be quoted or reproduced without prior written permission from Arbitron


Copyright © 2008 Richard Wagoner and Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

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