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Airwaves: January 8, 2009

Reflections, Predictions

2009 was a big year for change in radio; interestingly I was surprisingly accurate when I wrote in these pages:

With new PD David G. Hall, even venerable KABC (790 AM) will shift at least slightly ... I expect that KLSX (97.1 FM) won’t last the year ... Either KNX (1070 AM) or KFWB (980 AM) will switch to talk, or more accurately news/talk a la KGO/San Francisco.

Movin' 93.9, on the other hand, is up in the air. Right now it can’t decide what it wants to be: dance, oldies, whatever. Yet that makes it a somewhat interesting format in an odd way. Perhaps if they added some current hits, added some real talent to their DJ lineup and did some real promotions, they could earn some respect. I’d call it a recreation of the 1980s version of KIIS-FM ... the dominant station of that decade ... led again by the talented Rick Dees. I’d listen to that.

As it turned out, KABC became a mishmash of Hall-influenced programming and old guard, leaving the station without a direction. KLSX didn’t last the year; it dropped talk in February to become top-40 Amp Radio. KFWB became news/talk with the emphasis on talk in September, and Movin’ did update its sound by essentially becoming an ‘80s version of KIIS-FM, and I did indeed listen ... right before they abandoned the whole thing and leasing control to another broadcaster which took it Spanish contemporary in April.

So what’s in store for this year? My hunch is that 2010 will be relatively calm, with most Los Angeles-area stations staying put. Even the bankruptcy of Citadel shouldn’t make much difference to owned and operated stations KABC and KLOS (95.5 FM). I don’t see much in the way of format vulnerability, with the possible exception of The Sound (KWSD, 100.3 FM) or KTWV (94.7 FM), and I truly expect both to stay put. The Sound in particular is one of the few stations that truly treats listeners with a high level of respect, and that has led to a dedicated, loyal audience, even if it is still unfortunately a bit small.

LARP Lives!

Don Barrett has decided to continue informing and entertaining us radio junkies through his website LARadio.Com. Now the current news is free, updated as news arrives and doesn’t require a subscription. “Where are they now” coverage has expanded to include San Diego and San Francisco. A subscription gives you access to additional content, and the page has been revised for a new, more polished look, though the old current news page is still available for this who prefer it ...

Pushin’ HD

One of the few broadcasters who gives more than lip service to the idea of promoting digital HD Radio is Saul Levine. His Mount Wilson Broadcasters gives a nice clean sound to Go Country on 105.1 HD-1, classical music on HD-2, and a simulcast of Retro 1260 on HD-3. But you need a new HD Radio to hear these extra broadcasts.

To give some promotion to the idea, Mount Wilson is rededicating K-Mozart on Sunday, January 10th from 1 PM to 5 PM on the 105.1 HD-2 channel. Levine hopes to attract attention to the fact that you can indeed still hear classical music on a commercial FM station, even if you need a new radio to do it. Along the way, he’ll give some street cred to the concept of HD Radio ... K-Mozart veteran John Santana will host the program that will showcase the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra; the program will be simulcast on 1260 as a way to attract attention to the HD broadcast.


Copyright © 2010 Richard Wagoner and Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

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