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Airwaves: February 12, 2010

Red-Eye Radio Returns

Ever since Doug McIntyre was shown the door at KABC (790 AM) last year, I have received letters and emails almost daily asking where he is or when he will be back.

McIntyre had been with KABC for years, first as the overnight host on a program called “Red Eye Radio,” and most recently as the station’s morning man. When he was dropped from the roster, he mentioned the possibility of resurrecting Red Eye Radio as a syndicated program. I figured that the syndication would happen, but that no way would he be back on KABC.

I was wrong. As of February 8th, McIntyre is now heard coast to coast -- to a degree -- on both WABC/New York and KABC here in Southern California, with more markets to be added as we speak, weeknights from 12 midnight to 3 AM local time.

Now, something isn’t quite right with that, since he can be heard in New York from 1 AM to 5 AM Eastern. That’s four hours beginning at 10 AM locally. Where is the missing hour and why the tape delay? Only the programming gurus at KABC can explain that.

If you’ve never heard Red Eye Radio, you’re in for a treat. This is McIntyre at his best talking about whatever comes to mind ... politics, history, music, sports ... whatever. In a decidedly upbeat and intelligent manner that will help you stay awake on long drives, or keep you entertained when you can’t sleep.

Schizophrenic Radio

Considering that he was let go by current management, I cannot fathom why McIntyre is back on KABC, even at night. More peculiar is programmer David G. Hall’s statement made in press releases that “I used to hate to compete with his shows. They had huge ratings and audiences that were way above average in listener loyalty.”

Oh, really? If that is so, why did you let him go?

My instinct tells me that something is up here. Either McIntyre was forced on the station -- indeed, the distributor for Red Eye Radio is Citadel, the same company that owns KABC and WABC -- or Hall is admitting a mistake. Since Hall never admits mistakes, it makes me wonder how much power he really has.

Consider KABC’s overall programming: nice guy Peter Tilden in the morning with topical comedy; Heidi Frosty and Frank late morning with nothing serious going on; syndicated conservative fare the rest of the day with the exception of a paid infomercial investment program right in prime time, and now the intelligence of McIntyre overnights. Does that make any sense?

With KABC at their lowest rating in the history of the station, I wonder how much time current management has left. Schizo Radio might not be the hot concept after all.

Digital Power

One of the problems with digital HD Radio on FM is the reception. Without a good antenna, it generally isn’t reliable.

Now the FCC has approved a power increase for FM HD stations, allowing many to increase power from the current one percent of analog power to as high as ten percent, with approval. Without approval, stations will be allowed to go to six percent, as long as they don’t cause analog interference to neighboring stations. This should put digital reception on par with analog for a great number of listsners.

While this may cause a sudden increase in digital reliability for those of us with HD radios, it may cause problems with interference. I’ll be checking reception and interference on my end; if you notice anything different on either digital broadcasts or analog, drop me a line and I’ll check it out.


Copyright © 2010 Richard Wagoner and Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

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