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Airwaves: March 20, 2009

Do Calls Matter?

A recent topic on the New York discussion boards of had a very interesting question: do call letters matter any more?

To diehard radio freaks like me, it’s an easy question. Of course they matter! Call letters have a lot of meaning behind them and many have a history dating back to the beginnings of radio. KHJ (930 AM), for example, is said to stand for Kindness, Happiness and Joy. KJLH (102.3 FM) is Kindness, Joy, Love and Happiness. KFI (640 AM) was once the home of Farming Information.

Besides, call letters, when chosen right and used correctly, can help identify a station and make it meaningful to its listeners. It’s one reason people still have fond memories of stations like Boss Radio KHJ, and progressive rock KMET (94.7 FM) years after they played their last song.

But the typical radio listener is not a radio freak. And non-radio-freaks may have a totally different answer to the question. Which would explain the current trend of stations using names that may not have anything to do with their call letters. Some stations rarely even mention calls.

Jack-FM? That’s KCBS-FM (93.1). New top-40 Amp Radio (97.1 FM)? KLSX, which just dropped talk. Of course the KLSX calls were chosen to spell “classics,” but they haven’t played that music in over a decade. And while Movin’ 93.9 uses KMVN, I sincerely doubt many listeners know.

So what do you think? Are call letters important, or are they dated?

Williams to KABC

Dave Williams, former morning drive reporter on KNX (1070 AM) has been named news anchor for KABC’s (790 AM) Doug McIntyre show, heard mornings from 5:00 to 10:00. It’s full-circle for Williams, who moved to Los Angeles from Sacramento in 2000 to co-host the KABC morning show with Amy Lewis.

Prior to moving South, Williams spent 19 years hosting the top-rated KFBK Morning News. But what’s even more fun is hearing Williams playing top-40 on Sacramento’s KNDE in 1975. Hear that on by searching for Dave Williams.

Imus Battle

Syndicated talk host Don Imus, heard locally on KABC from 3 to 5 AM each weekday, announced on his show this week that he has been diagnosed with stage II prostate cancer. According to Imus, the cancer is confined to his prostate and a bone scan was “fine.” The I-Man said his doctors expect a full recovery; Imus is 68.

What’s on Your Presets

“With recent format changes, I need to change my presets,” write reader Dean Edwards of Torrance. “I’m finding it hard to find six stations worthy of being preset. Could you ask your readers for help?”

Certainly. For background, Dean says he used to listen to Indie 103.1, and years ago was a huge fan of the quirky KNAC during their “rock and rhythm” days. Amy recommendations?


Copyright © 2009 Richard Wagoner and Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

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