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Airwaves: October 2, 2009

No More Mac

Doug McIntyre was relieved of his duties last Thursday on the morning show for KABC (790 AM). In his place in Friday was a Peter Tilden, brought in to work under the same man who brought him to Southern California in the first place, then at KLSX (now KAMP, 97.1 FM) almost 20 years ago, General Manager Bob Moore.

The loss of McIntyre caused a ton of emails over the weekend asking what happened. Frankly, I don’t think anyone outside of KABC management knows definitely, and they -- Moore and programmer David G. Hall -- don’t have a history of showing their cards.

My first hunch was cost-cutting, as KABC is owned by Citadel, and Citadel is darn close to collapsing according to industry insiders and trade reports. Yet that doesn’t quite match up, as I doubt Tilden would work for free, and the station could have gone for cheap syndicated talent if cost was the overriding factor.

So it got me thinking. Moore. Hall. A station so desperate for listeners it would fire its only decently-rated host. Rumors that Heidi, Frosty and Frank -- former hosts on KLSX -- might get the late morning slot on KABC. The fact that Tilden is known more for his quick wit than deep discussion of major issues.

Could it be that KABC is finally planning to remake itself into something relevant? Could it be that issues are out, left to be covered by talk leader KFI (640 AM) and newcomer KFWB (980 AM), along with the also-rans KRLA (870 AM) and KTLK (1150 AM)? WIll KABC become essentially KLSX -- a lifestyle station rather than political?

It wouldn’t be a bad move, and Moore certainly knows how to do it. While I was never a fan of KLSX’s talk format and thought it a waste of valuable broadcast spectrum, it did have a loyal audience that really didn’t find a new home. I guess we’ll find out in the coming weeks.

For his part, McIntyre told me that WABC/New York is trying him out in the hour before Don Imus to see how he fits in with that station, and he is also considering a return to the Red Eye overnight shift that he did so well, this time as a syndicated program.

And he admitted the change took him by surprise. “The ratings had improved every week since January 1st when David G. Hall arrived,” he said, “I did not expect to be out of morning drive.” Yet his fans have been supportive: “The response has been amazing -- I’ve received nearly 5000 emails since we did the last show.”

Back at KABC, news anchor Dave Williams stays on, but other than Williams, Tilden is flying solo. Give him a listen and tell me what you think.

Growing Pains

Polished is not a word I would use for the new talk format on KFWB. I’m not referring to the programming itself, but the fact that the station can’t seem to synchronize start and stop times for the syndicated fare, and relies on repeating liners such as “The new home of Dr. Laura, NewsTalk KFWB” ... a few times in a row.

It’s growing pains and I expect that the situation will improve. But it’s a far cry from the days when the Boss Jocks spent a week practicing their craft off the air so that the station could sound perfect when top-40 Boss Radio officially launched on KHJ (930 AM) back in 1965.


Copyright © 2009 Richard Wagoner and Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

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