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Airwaves: February 26, 2010

Carroll’s KFI Debut

Bill Carroll made his unanticipated debut last Monday, February 26th, replacing Bill Handel in the 12 noon to 2 PM shift. I say “unanticipated” because the decision to drop Handel and bring in Carroll seemed, at least, to happen so fast that no one outside of KFI (640 AM) knew much about it. Or him. Yet after hearing his first show, perhaps the chosen word has a deeper meaning.

Don’t get me wrong -- Carroll is certainly nice enough on the air. But nice can only go so far when you have no substance. And substance seemed to be sorely lacking in his debut.

Topics discussed on the first day included Los Angeles being broke and the Mayor’s job-cutting plan, taxes, new credit card rules, a 9-1-1 subscription plan, student computers programmed to take pictures of high school students for use by administrators, and the IRS suicide bomber. Quite a lot of items to discuss. Carroll seemed to know very little about any them, other than whatever he learned reading local papers in the few days since he arrived from Canada.

On a station that bills itself as more stimulating, this show was most certainly not. I’ve heard far better talk programs -- though admittedly not as well-produced -- on student run college stations (longtime residents may remember when students ran college stations such as KSUL on Cal State Long Beach).

For reasons unknown, Carroll went right into the topics as soon as he opened the microphone, leaving us to venture a guess where he came from, what and who he is, and what he stands for. Perhaps this is by design. But in listening to his first show, I was amazed that any opinion he has on any subject is hindered by the fact that he seems not to know anything, and doesn’t really seem to care. Everything is generalizations. Soundbites with no sting.

It was torture, in one sense. I kept expecting him to give some sort of insight into the discussions, but it never came. Everything was in generalities, about as deep as headlines quickly scanned right before the show. On the other hand, he is nice ... so I kept listening because I wanted to give him a chance.

It is unfortunate that KFI didn’t have Carroll spend a few weeks in Los Angeles before putting him on the air. You could tell immediately that he knows nothing about our local communities. And for whatever reason, he didn’t even tell us anything about himself. At one point -- ironically during the only interesting part of the first show, in which he had John Kobylt on the program -- he mentioned something about “back home ...” Unfortunately no one listening knows where “back home” is.

Yet ... and this is an important yet ... you most certainly cannot judge a show by its debut. Nor can you really judge it by the first week, or month. Carroll has one thing that is missing from many talk shows: a good attitude. He doesn’t yell. As one caller mentioned, he is a breath of fresh air in an industry dominated by in-your-face talk hosts. Once he gets assimilated I expect -- or is it hope -- that his show will improve and evolve to the point where he complements the programming on KFI. But honestly, he really needs to get cracking.

Leykis to KGIL

Former KLSX (now Amp Radio, 97.1 FM) talker Tom Leykis can now be heard on KGIL (1260 AM, 105.1 HD-3) Thursday evenings from 8 to 10 PM. But if you’re expecting the former weekday KLSX version of Leykis, you might be shocked.

It’s a kindler, gentler Tom hosting his syndicated lifestyle program “The Tasting Room” (also formerly carried on KLSX), designed to “appeal to men with a taste for finer things in life, from fine wine, high-end spirits and craft brews to first rate dining and premium cigars.” That’s according to his website,

I guess Flash Fridays are out ...

New GM

KCRW (89.9 FM) has a new leader. Jennifer Ferro was selected by Santa Monica College to run the station, succeeding Ruth Seymour who announced her decision to retire last year.

Ferro, who begins her new job March 1st, has worked in all areas of the station; she arrived as a volunteer arts reporter in 1991, has been employed by the station since 1994, and was named Assistant General Manager in 1997.


Copyright © 2010 Richard Wagoner and Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

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