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Airwaves: February 19, 2010

Retro Cruisin’

As more and more oldies stations move away from music of the 1950s and ‘60s -- can you imagine the equivalent of listening to popular music of 1890 back in 1950? -- it is getting harder and harder to find Doo-Wop on the radio airwaves.

Retro 1260 (KGIL, 1260 AM and 105.1 HD-3) hopes to satisfy your craving by offering Cruisin’ on Retro, four hours of hits from the doo-wop era of rock and roll every Wednesday beginning at 5 PM.

The program launched January 26th in time for the revival of cruising on Van Nuys Boulevard in the San Fernando Valley, which just happens to be the city of license for KGIL.

“Oldies of the doo-wop era represent another popular musical genre whose fans are under served in our area,” Saul Levine told AllAccess.Com. Levine is president of Mount Wilson Broadcasters, owner of KGIL and someone who has tried to program his station to under served audiences for years.

“This programming integrates seamlessly with our Great American Songbook on Retro 1260, and we’re pleased to respond to even more Southern California listeners,” he concluded.

Have trouble hearing Retro 1260 where you live? If you have a clear shot of Mount Wilson, give HD Radio a try. The station simulcasts its AM signal on sister station Go Country 105’s digital stream. Can’t do that? Stream it on the internet at

As for the classic cars cruising on The Boulevard ... they finally have a station they can listen to on their factory-installed AM radios. Before Retro 1260, the original KRLA (1110 AM) was the last oldies station on AM, and they went away a long time ago indeed.

Handel Cut

Today (February 19th) is the last day of Bill Handel’s noon to 2 PM show; KFI (640 AM) programmer Robin Bertolucci said the move will allow Handel to focus on his top-rated morning show; Handel said that he didn’t realize how much the extra two hours would take out of his day.

On that part, he’s right. His morning show begins at 5 AM weekdays; figuring that he needs to do some show prep and probably begins about 4 AM, working until 2 PM -- even with the break for Rush Limbaugh 9 AM to noon -- is a darn long day.

Left unsaid in all the press releases and public statements is just how far KFI has dropped in the ratings since letting Dr. Laura Schlessenger leave for KFWB (980 AM) last September. In the months since Schlessenger left and Handel took over two of the three hours (the 2 PM to 3 PM hour went to afternoon super heroes John and Ken), KFI overall has lost over a full point in the ratings. September 2009 had KFI at a first-place 5.0 share, followed by October’s 4.3, November’s 4.0, December’s 3.9, and January’s 3.8. That’s a loss of 1.2 shares, a 24 percent drop, with the station now in 4th place overall.

At the same time, the station’s Cume, or cumulative total number of listeners, declined by 124,500 -- a nine percent drop.

Certainly the entire drop isn’t due to this one change, and since I am not allowed access to Arbitron’s hourly breakout I cannot cannot confirm my hunch, but I’d say that Dr. Laura’s departure had much to do with it. It marks the first time in a long time that KFI declined at all.

Keep in mind, this is not an indictment of Handel at all. His morning show is among my favorites, and I actually emjoyed his afternoon show as well. But even he confessed that it may have been a bit much, telling the trades, “no one wants to hear that much from me, not even my wife.”

The change marks the end of Handel’s afternoon syndication deal to a handful of stations. On KFI the program will be replaced beginning monday with Bill Carroll, who will take the show local again. More on Carroll next week.


Copyright © 2010 Richard Wagoner and Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

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