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Airwaves: July 16, 2010

Another direction for KABC?

It has been years since anyone truly took KABC (790 AM) seriously. KFI (640 AM) overtook it in the ratings in the 1990s, and ever since the station has been adrift, management unaware of how to keep the station relevant. Right now it isn’t relevant, with hodgepodge of shows, some local, some syndicated; some decent, most tacky.

More than once I have written that KABC might consider just jettisoning the talk altogether in favor of, perhaps, adult standards.

It is quite astonishing how bad KABC is as a station right now, and I’m not talking ratings, but format. No continuity (not that there needs to be, mind you, but there should be a sort of flow). Syndicated fare that has only one thing going for it: it’s cheap, maybe free. And then there’s Frosty, Heidi and Frank -- not my style but liked by people I respect -- dangling in the wind with an audience that cannot possibly relate to any other host on the station.

To the rescue: Jack Silver. Silver, as you may recall, was the programmer in charge of KLSX (97.1 FM) before that station left talk for top-40. He worked under the direction of general manager Bob Moore, who just happens to be the general manager of KABC. Now the two are back together again, as the station announced Silver has replaced David G. Hall as programmer and operations director. Hall left to concentrate on his consultancy business (read: shown the door).

So what does this mean for KABC? Will, as some have predicted, KABC become an AM clone of KLSX?

According to the press release distributed by KABC, “Silver’s responsibilities are to build a very focussed, produced and executed adult radio station that complements the success of Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, and the Los Angeles Dodgers. KABC is fortunate to have Peter Tilden, Frosty, Heidi and Frank, and John Phillips on staff, along with Doug McIntyre, Don Imus and John Batchelor.”

In other words, if you believe the press release, nothing will change. The station will be as bad tomorrow as it is today. Owner Citadel may not have the guts to do what needs ot be done, since it wants programming cheap and the syndicated fare, while earning no ratings, is essentially free.

But I don’t believe the press release. I don’t think Silver would get back together with his old boss to just leave things alone. How much power he will truly have is unknown; it certainly seems as if departing programmer Hall had no real power. Yet for KABC to accomplish anything it must consider all options, including blowing up the station and starting over.

Silver is smart. Not as smart as he thinks, but smart. I would expect that he wouldn’t take the position if he couldn’t do anything, and I think he’s smart enough to know Los Angeles well enough to understand that a KLSX clone on AM won’t cut it. Heck, KLSX itself couldn’t cut it. But he knows Los Angeles, and it will be interesting to watch what he does do. And what he can’t. Working for Citadel, he may find that can’t is a word he hears a lot.

And if the pair of Moore/Silver are even considering messing with sister rocker KLOS (95.5 FM), I will be sorely disappointed.


“Regarding the inquiry about Michael Savage and Dennis Miller:

“Savage is also on KSPA (1510 AM) live from 3-6 pm daily. He is also on CRN Digital Talk on Time Warner and Cox Cable  locally live, from 3-6 pm on channel 974.

Dennis Miller is also carried LIVE by CRN Digital Talk Radio (Dennis does the show live from 7 am to 10 am daily) on Time Warner and Cox Cable, also on channel 974.”

That information comes from Michael Horn, who runs CRN Digital Talk. The cable mentions must be localized, though, as I don’t get CRN on my cable system.


Copyright © 2010 Richard Wagoner and Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

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