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Airwaves: April 17, 2009

Call Letter Matters

Last month I made mention of a question on a New York radio internet bulletin board: “do call letters matter any more?”

Aa I said at the time, to diehard radio fanatics like me, the answer is simple: yes, of course they matter. In fact, I find most of the current trendy radio station names kind of silly. Every city seems to have at least one Jill, Jack, Alice, Bob, or Jose. I’m of the old school: either call letters alone (KHJ, KEZY, KFI) or call-letter related (Ten-Q [KTNQ], “Kiss-FM” [KIIS] K-Earth [KRTH].

Reader Paul Williams agrees. “I certainly believe that call letters do matter,” he wrote in an e-mail. “And thank God that there are still some radio stations that still use them, here and in surrounding areas. KFI, KOGO, KFMB, KGB, and KLOS, just to name a few.

“For those stations that do use nicknames, many of which are on FM, well guess what: they still use calls too! But they only do so for their top-of-the-hour IDs. As you said, though, this would only matter to diehard radio fans like you and me.”

Personally, I think it is good marketing. Combine good calls with great jingles and you have a lifetime memory. Everyone who was in Los Angeles during the 1960s and ‘70s remembers the tune of “93 KHJ,” and “KRLA.” KFWB’s “Channel 98” jingle was so memorable that they still use it today. Today, everyone in town can sing the jingle for KRTH or KIIS-FM. Everyone.

Preset Challenge

More followup on the inquiry from Dean Edwards regarding radio station presets:

Russ Cinque of Glendale sent in three complete sets: Jack 93.1, KLOS 95.5, KYSR 98.7, KOLA 99.9, The Sound 100.3 and KROQ 106.7 filled the first FM bank (note all the call-letters ...) FM 2 was filled with KCSN 88.5, KXLU 88.9, KMVN 93.9 (the e-mail was sent before the format switch), KLSX 97.1, KIIS 102.7 and KBIG 104.3. Need AM? Then Russ suggests KFI 640, KABC 790, KFWB 980, KNX 1070, KDIS 1110, and KGIL 1260.

Mike Williams of Redondo Beach suggests KKJZ 88.1, KCSN, KCRW 89.9, Jack, KLOS, The Sound and KRTH 101.1.

Betty Saunders “my former neighbor” laments the lack of selection, but says to try KKJZ 88.1 and KPCC 89.3, KABC for Doug McIntyre and KNX to round it out.

James Toomey suggests stations and explains why. “KKJZ -- all jazz (and wonderful jazz at that) but with unusual, cutting-edge music on Saturday nights. KXLU 89.9 -- all kids of different programming blocks with cutting-edge music you won’t hear anywhere else. And KCRW -- blocks of innovative, unusual music.”

The Sound’s Sound

Speaking of The Sound, the station has changed just a bit and claims to be playing a wider variety and “deeper cuts” of music, which they do indeed seem to be doing. I still wish they would play some more current music, but what has been striking me lately is how good they sound. Not formatically, but sonically. They really sound great and appear to have very little processing, like FM did in the early days. I salute The Sound’s engineering staff.


Copyright © 2009 Richard Wagoner and Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

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