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Airwaves: January 1, 2010

The Year in Review

Wow ... another year already. While I don’t always do a year in review for the radio world, it seems particularly fitting to do so this year being that the column will actually be read on New Years Day -- or at least some day close. Without further ado, here are some of the important events that helped shape radio in 2009, in no particular order.

AM Comeback, to a point: KFI (640 AM) hit the top of the ratings for all of Los Angeles in late Summer, the first time an AM station has led the Arbitrons since I have been writing this column -- and that’s over 20 years. Just goes to show what happens when you have a well-programmed, well-promoted station, whether it be on AM or FM. Too bad most of the other AM stations still haven’t taken note.

No News: KFWB (980 AM) dropped all-news in September after more than 40 years carrying the format. Well, dropped isn’t really accurate, as they still run a news block in morning drive. Unfortunately, outside of Dr. Laura Schlessenger, who moved over from her longtime spot on KFI, the rest of the day is filled with forgettable syndicated programming that will prevent the station from ever achieving success. But it sure is cheap!

More Music: KLSX (97.1 FM) dropped talk in February, replacing it with today’s version of top-40 and managed to earn some killer ratings (striking distance of format leader KIIS-FM (102.7). Interestingly, the station now called Amp Radio (KAMP) did it without taking any listeners from KIIS ... now both stations are near the top of the charts. Seems every time someone writes off top-40, the format comes back with a vengeance.

¿Dónde Está Ricardo Diaz?: Movin’ 93.9 FM (KMVN) took years to finally get its sound right. As soon as it did, owner Emmis leased it to a foreign company who immediately dropped the ‘80s pop in favor of Spanish contemporary music, leaving morning man Rick Dees without a radio home once again. Ratings are now in the 2.0 range, beating what Movin’ had in its entire run, though to take just one more dig at Emmis management, still not as high as the station was when it played country.

Love and Hate: KABC (790 AM) dropped its highest-rated personality -- morning man Doug McIntyre -- from its roster, replacing him with Peter Tilden. They also made some other changes including adding former KLSX hosts Heidi, Frosty and Frank to late mornings and stooping so low as to add an infomercial to late afternoon-drive time. In the meantime, they left some hokey low-rated syndicated programming that no one cares about (but as with KFWB, it sure is cheap!), leaving listeners with a somewhat bipolar feeling, and the station with ratings so low even the old talk format on KLSX would have beat them. That’s just sad.

Mighty Met Returns: For one day in July, The Sound (KSWD, 100.3 FM) brought back many of the originators of KMET circa the mid 1970s for an on-air reunion/recreating/tribute. Called Finally a KMET Friday, many -- including myself -- hoped that The Sound would keep the KMET attitude and perhaps even some of the jocks. Alas, it wouldn’t happen,. But it did give The Sound a nice, albeit temporary, ratings lift. And it showed why The Sound, even without the KMET attitude, is one of my favorite stations in town. They really do treat listeners with respect and intelligence.

Bankrupt: While in many ways a non-issue because I don’t see many changes coming with it’s stations, Citadel Broadcasting declared bankruptsy in December. How will this affect local Citadel stations KLOS (95.5 FM) and KABC? It probably won’t at all ... the company, and previous owner ABC already ruined them years ago. What more can they do?

Next week: predictions for the year and a look back at what I write last year regarding predictions for then new-year 2009.

Happy new year!


Copyright © 2010 Richard Wagoner and Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

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