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Airwaves: June 3, 2011

So Good!

Rich Appel writes what he calls an e-blog-azine called “Hz So Good” that focusses on radio and music. I heard about it recently due to a story of his that was reprinted on various web sites such as Don Barrett’s LARadio.Com and radio-industry page Radio-Info.Com.

In it, Appel throws out something very frightening to radio freaks like me, asking: “would the world miss DJs if (and, shudder, when) they’re completely gone?”

No, Appel is not proposing that DJs be removed from the airwaves. Actually, he laments, as I have done many times over the past 14 years in this very column, what has happened to radio. The problem he brings up is multi-fascited. “One, younger listeners are less aware of what a DJ is capable of, (and) two, which is really disturbing, those who do remember and are aware, don’t seem to want it any more.”

There's the rub. Radio has gotten so bad, that most of the personality, creativity, and -- dare I say it -- fun, has been sucked out of most stations. I agree with Appel that young listeners are not aware if it. Heck, most people under my age have no clue how great radio can be with the right mix of music, personality and promotion. It just isn’t done any more. Or not regularly on most stations.

Which is why I disagree, at least somewhat, with his second point. I don’t think those of us old enough to remember don’t necessarily not want it, it’s just been so long since it was done right that we’ve pretty much given up.

Need some convincing? How about the KMET celebration hosted by The Sound (100.3 FM) two years ago that caused such a boost in the station’s ratings it might have single-handedly saved the format. That was far less about the music than it was the personalities. And people still talk about it today, as they do the original KMET itself.

How about the fact that Hot 92.3’s survey found that listeners not only love Rick Dees (mornings) but also Art Laboe (evenings), two personalities known for connecting with their audiences? Laboe in particular has been connecting with -- and respected by -- his audience so much that his fans spread generations. Not just with music, but with heart.

Radio is magic when it is done right. It is just so rare that it IS done right, people take it for granted. Instead of art, it has become a commodity. And the first programmers who rediscover that and grow their talent are going to make a killing in the ratings. I guarantee it. Of course it will take some guts to get it done, so I doubt the current crop of pencil-pushing research addicts that pretend to be programmers will make the change. We need someone from the Old School ... or a newby who hasn’t been tarnished by what passes for popular radio these days.

Hear it Yourself

Want to hear some radio magic of the past? Head over to www.RealRadio.Com. It requires a small donation, but if you’re like me you’ll think it is one of the best sites on the internet. Airchecks of classic radio stations dating back to the earliest days of KHJ ... years before Boss Radio was even a thought in a young Ron Jacobs mind.

Wilde Nights

Rita Wilde has been selected to take over the evening shift on The Sound, effective immediately.

Wilde just arrived at the station last month and it was a real treat hearing her again. As I said back then, I’ve long been a fan of hers as far back as her time on the old KEZY (now KXMX, 1190 AM). She is a perfect voice for The Sound, and since I work out where they usually play The Sound, I get to hear her all the time.


Copyright © 2011 Richard Wagoner and Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

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