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Airwaves: March 5, 2010

Gene Chanault Passes

Gene Chenault, half the the legendary Drake-Chenault programming and consulting team credited with remaking and revolutionizing top-40 radio in the 1960s, passed away on February 23rd of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He was 90.

The owner and general manager of KYNO/Fresno in the early 1960s, Chenault hired Bill Drake to program the station, taking the low-rated station to the top of the Fresno ratings within a few months. And the top was really the top ... Drake and Chenault’s KYNO had ratings that surpassed every other station in town, combined.

Working as a team Drake-Chenault first invaded San Diego to help revive KGB, then in 1965 brought the concept of tight rotations and low commercial-loads and limited disk jockey chatter to KHJ (930 AM) in Los Angeles. “Boss Radio,” as it was called here, proved to be an amazing success, setting up Drake-Chenault to be the consultant team for all of RKO’s AM radio stations.

The idea was simple: play more music, make every element of the station entertaining, train and support your on-air staff, and present the station and personalities as bigger than life.
On a psychological standpoint, the station call letters were never allowed to be said going into a commercial, making listeners associate the station only with music. News was moved to 20 minutes before the hour to pick up listeners who left other stations. And jingles were quick, emphasizing once again, the music.

Drake passed away in late November, 2008. so if you believe in heaven, the team credited with taking top-40 radio into the modern age is united once again. He is survived by his wife Susan, son Mark, daughter Carol Moore, two grandsons and three great-granddaughters.

KFWB Evolution

If the rumor mill rings true, more changes are coming to KFWB (980 AM). According to knowledgeable sources, the Laura Ingraham Show will be replaced by Dave Ramsey on March 17th. Ingraham’s program is currently heard weekdays from 9 AM to 12 noon, and Ramsey is on KFWB from 10 PM to 1 AM.

No word on what will happen to Ramsey’s current time slot after the change.

KCSN Flips

Cal State Northridge’s KCSN (88.5 FM) has changed formats as of March 1st to become what is known as AAA or Triple-A: Adult Album Alternative. The change was made at 10 AM with the playing of Come All Ye by Fairport Convention.

“KCSN has been the little station that’s been looking for its niche and I think this is it,” general manager Karen Kearns told Don Barrett’s LARadio.Com. “We looked at The Sound (100.3 FM) and KCRW (89.9 FM) as the two stations we think we might cross over in playlist but we think we are a niche in the middle, providing different music.”

Classical music will continue on the station’s HD-2 stream and online at


Copyright © 2010 Richard Wagoner and Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

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