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Airwaves: February 11, 2011

Popejoy Passes

Jack Popejoy, who spent over two decades anchoring the news at KFWB (980 AM) and more recently was part of the morning anchor team of Popejoy, Dick Helton and Vicky Moore on sister station KNX (1070 AM), passed away February 5th from a recurrence of cancer. He was 63.

Probably best remembered for his long stint at KFWB (1986 to 2009) ... indeed, he was synonymous with the all-news station ... Popejoy has been in town since 1972 at KIIS (now KTLK, 1150 AM), where he was named programmer at the age of 24.

In 1976 he made the move to KPOL (1540 AM, 93.9 FM) first as a newscaster, then later the FM station program director. It was Popejoy who changed the FM call letters to KZLA in 1977, launching a soft-rock format that few people other than me seem to remember (I can still recall the jingles, singing “ninety-four-FM ... ooh, rockin’ you easy, ninety-four-FM!”) The station was sold and changed to country in 1980.

According to Don Barrett’s book Los Angeles Radio People, Volume 2, Popejoy moved to KLOS (95.5 FM) in 1979, spent some time in San Francisco, then came back to Los Angeles for some television reporting and fill-in anchoring in 1983 for KCOP-TV Channel 13 before settling in for the long haul at KFWB.

In addition to his regular reporting on KFWB, Popejoy in 1987 prepared a series of reports on earthquake preparedness. He created the Great California Shakeout drill to help people prepare for earthquakes and other disasters in 2008.

A very private person when it came to his personal life, few people knew he was sick, In fact, he anchored the morning mews along with the rest of the team until just two weeks before his death. Friends said that he found out in early January that tumors had returned to his body and that they were not operable. He has no immediate survivors.

Real Radio

KABC (790 AM) has dropped the investment informercial -- Moe Ansari’s Market Wrap -- that they have been carrying weekdays at 6 PM. In its place is John Phelps, who starts an hour earlier than before. Said KABC programmer Jack Silver, “Ansari will remain a part of the KABC family, hosting financial seminars and providing advice to listeners.” In other words, he’s gone.

Religious Fun

Nothing is quite so entertaining as people of different religions duking it out. OK, maybe that’s not quite the image KRLA (870 wants you to have) but it did grab your attention, right?

February 27th is the day to witness Religion on the Line in person (for a small fee): Jew and Christian, personalities Dennis Praeger and Hugh Hewitt answering crucial life questions and pondering the differences and similarities of their chosen religions. It’s being held at the Pasadena Hilton beginning at 5 PM, and tickets start at $25 ... Call 818-662-3782 for more information.

Stern on Leno

So Sirius Radio’s Howard Stern was on David Letterman’s CBS television show last week explaining how he thinks NBC-TV’s Jay Leno is not funny, that TBS-cable’s Conan O’Brien is funny, and that to put the world right Letterman should beat them both. And the whole time I kept thinking ... does anyone care what Stern thinks about Letternam, Leno and Conan?

Trivia Factoid

O’Brien was born 13 days after me, April 18, 1963.


Copyright © 2011 Richard Wagoner and Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

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