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Airwaves: June 10, 2011

Daniels takes control of KCSN

Sky Daniels worked at some fairly decent radio stations throughout his career -- WWWW/Detroit, WLUP/Chicago, KFOG/San Francisco, and from 1985-87, KMET (now KTWV, 94.7 FM) here in Southern California, where he handled afternoon drive and was the station’s assistant music director.

But his life at KMET, one of the most storied album rockers ever, was not the best of times.

“Frankly, my L.A. tenure was the worst time of my life, he said in a 1995 interview with Radio and Records and reprinted in Don Barrett’s book, Los Angeles Radio People (Volume 2). “I remember standing on the roof of KMET, looking at the Hollywood sign and thinking, ‘how in the hell can a kid from Ohio have reached these heights and hate it so much?’

“(KMET) was the worst-managed station I have ever been associated with - nothing was done right. The personalities - as storied as they were - were dinosaurs with outmoded concepts. I went through five program directors in two years.

“It was the nadir of my life and career, and I was miserable and a wreck.”

Before the hate mail comes in, remember the era that we are talking about. This is way after the wonderful years of programmer Sam Bellamy; this was a time when management of KMET was so inept the station was living on past glories and life-support. I disagree with his characterization of the DJs, because I believe that management brought them down, but I digress.

One would think that after his experience here he would never come back. And he seemed headed that way. Back to KFOG; over to KISW/Seattle; working in the record industry. But something did call him back: Daniels is the new programmer of KCSN (88.5 FM), an adult-album alternative station broadcasting from the campus of Cal State Northridge.

Keeping in mind my unwavering belief that college stations should be run by students for students, I have to say that KCSN is a nice little station. The format is eclectic, playing a light-rock-slanted freeform style with artists such as Bruce Springsteen, Norah Jones, and Johnny Cash. Daniels should be able to refine the sound due to his extensive experience in radio, records, the industry trades and even retail store entertainment.

Maybe. While I am not convinced that it will be a good fit only because of his past here, at least this time he is the head honcho and answers only to himself. Well, himself and the general manager. It will be interesting to see what he does, considering the great success he had up North and in Chicago.

Said general manager Karen Kearns: “I look forward to working with Sky as we continue to build the KCSN audience.” For his part, Daniels said, “I am grateful for the opportunity to help provide the Los Angeles market an exciting adult alternative format,” adding, “The industry knows my passion for radio and the Los Angeles market, and will feel that passion emanate from KCSN through several media platforms.”

My pessimist side says: passion? Two years that you hated at KMET shows passion? My optimist side says: the success at The Loop and at KFOG, both legendary stations that were trendsetters in their cities bodes well. Right now I’m going with the optimists. I truly want good radio and I think Daniels can provide it. Let’s see if he encourages and recruits students of CSUN to help out.

Party Time

Few seemed to notice, but June 1st marked the 50th anniversary of the FM multiplex stereo broadcasting in the United States.

According to industry newspaper Radio World, three stations -- one each in Schenectady, New York; Chicago, Illinois, and Los Angeles, California -- fired up their stereo equipment that had been given FCC approval just hours before they flipped the switches at midnight in each of their respective time zones.

The first broadcasts lasted only a few hours, and many felt that the chosen multiplex system designed by Zenith and General Electric was inferior to others at the time. But it certainly has proven to be a long-lasting standard. It is rare to hear an FM station that is not in stereo. Too bad AM droped the ball in comparison.

The Los Angeles station was known as KMLA (now KSWD, The Sound, 100.3 FM). Unless something earth-shattering comes up, I’ll have more information on the development of FM stereo next week.


Copyright © 2011 Richard Wagoner and Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

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