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Airwaves: June 26, 2009

Rantel Waves Good-Bye

Al Rantel will not be returning to KABC (790 AM) after all.

While it was hoped that he would be returning to his radio home of the last decade at the end of May, it turned out his health issues prevented that. The good news: his lymphoma has not returned. The bad news: pain medications are making him loopy.

Back in August, 2008, Rantel injured himself when he slipped and fell in the parking structure of his apartment. Since that time he has had a hip replacement and a shoulder replacement. The hip replacement had to be redone, and his shoulder is giving him problems still, due to problems with his rotator cuff.

“They had to replace the whole rotator cuff,” he told Don Barrett’s, adding that his range of motion is severely limited and that physical therapy is very painful. Chronic pain has put him on strong medicines, and therein lies the problem: “With the medications I find it difficult to focus for long periods of time, which is tough when confronted with four hours of being a talk show host.”

Between the pain, the medicines, and a possible fourth surgery in the near future, “I can’t focus on doing a talk show in the right way, especially when you realize you spend another four hours a day focussing on the news, reading, and keeping up.”

Rantel did his final broadcast for KABC last night.

For now it is off to Vancouver for rehabilitation and recovery. He would love to return to radio when he is ready, but for now that appears to be a ways off.


What does this mean for KABC? Rantel’s been off for eight months, but he still is one of their most popular hosts in part due to a generally positive outlook on things. I’ll have information on Rantel’s replacement next week.

Double H

One of the people I had the pleasure of working with at Magic 106 (now Power 106) was Haagan Higgins, who took on the afternoon shift when Sonny Melendrez left the station. He also spent some time at KLAC (570 AM) and KZLA (now KXOS, 93.9 FM).

Higgins was found dead in his apartment on June 12; his health had been on the decline for a number of years. Higgins was in his late 50s, according to friends and associates.

HD Debate

A few weeks ago I asked the question, what sort of programming would make you buy an HD radio? HD is the trademark for a digital broadcasting system that is sent along with the analog carrier on the AM and FM bands.

As I thought, and as I believe, it is specialty formats or formats not heard any more on traditional radio that would do it ... exactly what made FM grow back when AM radio was king.

Classical (available, again, on 105.1 HD-2). Standards. Big Band. Punk. Acid Rock. And just today a suggestion for Western ... not Country and Western, just Western, traditional cowboy music.

The obvious fact: people who want to hear these things will buy the radio to hear them. So all the formats that are nothing but slightly different variations of existing stations are doing nothing to help sell HD radios. Programmers: are you listening?


Copyright © 2009 Richard Wagoner and Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

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