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Airwaves: April 2, 2010

KFWB in Limbo

KFWB’s (980 AM) days may be numbered. Eight years after buying KCAL-TV Channel 9 and being told that it must sell one of its Los Angeles radio stations in order to comply with FCC regulations limiting the number of broadcast stations a company may own in a market, CBS is finally getting around to doing it.

But it is doing it kicking and screaming.

As was originally agreed in 2002, KFWB is being placed in a trust so that CBS can be within ownership limits. The trust will assume ownership, though CBS plans to continue programming the station until it is sold to a third party.

Why did this not happen until now? Hard to say exactly. I believe in some ways that the station and the company were just off the radar. CBS claims it never did the trust before now because there were rumblings of an ownership relaxation, though I call “foul” since the same company sold KFRC/San Francisco a few years ago because that station’s signal was too strong in Sacramento, placing it over the limit there. Obviously CBS knew the rules.

Regardless, what brought this on now was a complaint filed by Saul Levine, owner of KGIL (1260 AM) and KKGO (105.1 FM). Levine decided enough was enough when CBS started simulcasting the Inland Empire’s KFRG (95.1 FM) on one of its Los Angeles station’s HD signals (first on 97.1 HD-2 and now on 94.7 HD-3). Levine also wants to transfer programming duties to someone now rather than wait until the station is sold; my hunch is the FCC will deny that complaint.

What all this means is that KFWB, a Southern California mainstay, may soon be history depending on who or what company buys it. That would be a sad ending for the station that helped popularize Rock ‘n Roll in the 1950s and ‘60s, and also brought all-news to the masses. Certainly the last few years have not been kind to the little 5000-watt station, but its past is glorious.

More news on this as it develops.

KSPA Reaction

Tons of letters and emails have come in regarding the decision of the Inland Empire’s KSPA (1510 AM) to drop standards for talk.

“I can’t believe it,” said one. “I was shocked,” said another. The theme of every letter was the same, and in fact I received no letters of support for the new format from listeners ... the closest I got came from reader Tom Rash who requested that local IE stations carry the Angels or Dodgers baseball games, as current affiliates can’t be heard at night. “Anything but more right-wing talk radio hosts,” he said.

I did get two emails refuting a comment I made regarding KSPA’s signal strength, and I want to correct what I said right now. I was relying on what is usually a reliable source for my statement that the station is not very strong, since I live in Southern Los Angeles County, far away from the IE. One reader mentioned that the daytime signal of KSPA is the strongest of any AM station in town, and KSPA regional sales manager Joe Lyons even sent me a coverage map proving me wrong. In fact I was very wrong: KSPA reaches five counties and over seven million potential listeners. That’s good.

For the former KSPA listeners searching for music, one suggestion I always make is the internet. is always a good starting point. If you have any other suggestions, please let me know.


Copyright © 2010 Richard Wagoner and Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

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