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Airwaves: December 16, 2011

KABC’s Mornings Belong to McIntyre

What a difference a week makes. The day after I wrote that KABC (790 AM) may be moving away from talk and toward all news (as did sister station KGO/San Francisco), word came out that Doug McIntyre was returning to KABC’s mornings beginning January 3rd. 

McIntyre spent five years waking Los Angeles, from 2004 to 2009, due in part to his success with Red Eye Radio, an overnight program launched in November of 2000. After KABC dropped him from the morning shift -- a corporate decision against the wishes of local management, I am told -- he returned to overnights with a syndicated version of Red Eye Radio, now heard on 100 stations nationwide.

Now that McIntyre is back in the saddle, so to speak, he’ll leave Red Eye Radio in the hands of Gary McNamara and Eric Harley, who will take over the program the same day as his return to mornings.

Joining McIntyre will be Terri-Rae Elmer, newscaster extraordinaire, who will also serve as co-host of the program. Elmer joins KABC after an amazing 28-year run on talk leader KFI (640 AM). Hopefully she’ll be allowed to truly report the news rather than being given short segments mixed with ABC network news; one of the reasons KFI has so dominated KABC the past two decades is their vastly superior news reporting unhampered by network news feeds.

Current morning man Peter Tilden’s last morning show will be December 23rd, though he is not necessarily leaving KABC. According to a station spokesman, an announcement regarding Tilden will be coming soon.

Next Steps

The McIntyre announcement may mean that new KABC owner Cumulus is giving a bit more freedom to programmer Jack Silver, who would never admit it to me but was obviously hand-tied when it came to truly programming the station. Will Cumulus give him enough leeway to fix what needs to be fixed? And what exactly needs to be fixed?

At the risk of receiving more hate mail (as I do whenever I mention political talk programs), I think syndicated programs Sean Hannity and Mark Levin need to go. Not that I am judging their content, mind you, but ratings for both shows have been a drain on KABC for years.
The problem is, what to put in their place? One rumor has Geraldo Rivera doing a show from  New York, carried on sister WABC as well as KABC, to follow McIntyre at 10 AM. I’d consider instead putting Tilden on in mid-days and moving Elder back to afternoons so he’s not trampled by KFI’s Rush Limbaugh.
Production, promotions and imaging, long a sore sport on KABC especially when compared with the flawless on-air presentation of KFI, will need a full makeover. KABC just sounds cheap on-air, and that hurts its image. And as mentioned earlier, dump the network news feed and let the local anchors do their job. They are the one bright spot KABC has had, yet they are always stifled in their duties. Speaking of news, I’d bring back Dave Williams, too. Just because.

Those are my ideas; now I want to know what you would do?. Should KABC stay all talk, or perhaps talk in the morning and news the rest of the day. All music? All news? All Wagoner? Let me know; I’ll print the best ideas beginning next week.


Copyright © 2011 Richard Wagoner and Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

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