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Airwaves: November 21, 2008

Merger Mania

The first effects of the merger between satellite radio services XM and Sirius became apparent last week when the channels on both companies radios changed.

For the most part it seems to be the removal of duplicate programming. For example, there are no longer separate channels on each service featuring “decades” music, or music from the 1950s through the 1980s. Sirius listeners gain big bands and standards from the 1940s, though, as well as a channel dedicated solely to 1990s rock.

Gone are many of the XM personalities, most of whom were replaced by their counterparts from Sirius. Two positive changes for me as a Sirius subscriber: Barry Williams, who played Greg Brady on televisions Brady Bunch, is no longer heard on the 70s channel; and the original recordings from the 1970s and ‘80s of American Top-40 with Casey Kasem are now carried on both services.

Some of the moves involved changing the names of the channels, making for some weird-sounding jingles on the decades channels. Instead of “Totally ‘70s,” for example, the jingle singers now sing “Sirius/XM ‘70s on 7.” Just try to make that sound good.

Overall I am fairly satisfied so far. I really like having the music of the 1940s, and the addition of American Top-40 is wonderful for me. Essentially, both services carry about what they had before with the addition of a few channels from each other.

Putnam Memorial

A memorial service for legendary Los Angeles radio and television reporter and commentator George Putnam will be held at 1 PM on Saturday, December 6th at the Jeffers Estate, 1823 Foothill Blvd. in La Canada.

Putnam passed away in September at the age of 94; this service will be open to the public.

We Get Letters

“Yes, I remember Dick Whittinghill, with pleasure. Heck, I even remember Gene Norman ... how cool.

“But for me, Sundays were a day of joy and bliss because of Sweet Dick Whittington and his ‘Polygamy Palms.’ His listeners were the most clever, quickest wittiest of people. How great to live in a world where there is an audience like that.

“I also liked his weekday talk show. I even bought a certain radio because that radio got KGIL.

“Sunday night had Dr. Demento ... and eery weekday morning we had Lohman and Barkley. I’m sure that my children thought they were family and we still comment about Leonard-Leonard being on the freeway when there is a food spill.

Are there any shows now to compete with these? I am sure there are but don’t know where to look. I have a radio in every room in the house and in the garage. Heaven forbid that I do laundry without a radio. We listen mostly to XM for music and NPR stations for ‘Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me’ and ‘Says You.’

“Keep up the harangue for good programming.” -- Jeanette Weidner, Long Beach

Sad to say, there really aren’t shows like that any more. Don’t get me wrong, there are some great shows with great hosts out there, but the idea of “gentle humor” is a lost art in these days of catch-them-quick in-you-face radio ... at least in Los Angeles. You can find that sort of radio out of town, however -- The wonderful team of Perry and Price on Honolulu’s KSSK comes to mind. Unfortunately, KSSK’s signal doesn’t quite reach the mainland.

By the way, do you remember that Sweet Dick was on KHJ for a short time in the early 1980s?


Copyright © 2008 Richard Wagoner and Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

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