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Airwaves: June 15, 2012

Geraldo Rivera Going National
In Spite of Himself ...

Radio has played host to great comedians throughout its long and rich history. From the early days of radio with Jack Benny and Bob Hope to today’s morning stars like Kevin and Bean (KROQ, 106.7 FM), radio has always been an entertainment medium. Who doesn’t laugh at the antics of Rick Dees (Hot 92.3 FM)?

Usually the comedians are in front of the microphones. But one of the funniest things I’ve heard in years came recently from behind the mike. It was Cumulus co-chief operating officer John Dickey who had the radio world rolling on the floor laughing when he cracked that Geraldo Rivera was so popular that it was time to launch a national show.

“When Geraldo agreed to host shows for Cumulus stations in New Your and Los Angeles, we had a hunch there’d be national substantial listener interest in his incisive and insightful style,” he told the trades with what appeared to be a straight face. “Now we’re thrilled that with Geraldo such a success in those two markets the show will now be available across the country.”

I’ve been laughing all day ... that is soooo funny, considering that Geraldo’s most recent Arbitron ratings pegged him at a 0.5 share of the audience on KABC (790 AM), or 38th in the city. For people aged 25-54 the rating was even more dismal, 0.4, though it rose way back to 0.5 for people aged 35-54. Said one source, “these are some of the lowest KABC ratings on record.” Dickey must have practiced that bit for weeks so that he could control his own laughter.

Wait, you mean he was serious? Really? Now that changes things.

First off, it shows what Dickey and Cumulus think of radio in general and KABC in particular ... clearinghouses for junk national shows. If a show can say they are on in Los Angeles -- regardless if anyone listens -- they can get on more stations nationwide. Another way to put it: Dickey and Cumulus think Los Angles radio listeners are suckers not worth programming to ... the real money is in syndication.

It is a crime what the FCC has allowed companies like Cumulus, CBS and Clear Channel to do to radio and this is a perfect example. Cumulus has no intention of trying to build an audience at KABC. If I were among the few local talents on the station I would be working on my resume ... there is no future there. John Phillips, who will lose his daily one-hour show when Geraldo expands to three hours for the national program August 13th (though “programmer” Jack Silver hints that there will be a spot for him) ... are you reading this? You need to get out of there before you become like KABC itself -- irrelevant and pointless.

Short Takes

KNX (1070 AM) will showcase successful business leaders Friday June 22 at 8 AM with a free event at Hollywood and Highland Boulevards in Hollywood. Business Hour host Frank Mottek will moderate a discussion called Leadership: how visionaries create a winning culture. It’s part of the KNX Business Breakfast series; register to attend at

KFWB wants to stay in business... with Business Rockstars, a new show hosted by Ken Rutkowski. It begins Monday, June 18th and will air weekdays from 2-4 PM.

Tom and Ray Magliozzi (aka Click and Clack) will retire from the NPR’s Car Talk, the show that they created 35 years ago. The brothers, aged 74 and 63, respectively, told listeners June 8th that they will leave the air in the Fall ... but that NPR will continue to distribute the program to NPR stations using material culled from the last 25 years ... The program began in Boston in 1977 and was picked up nationally by NPR in 1987. It is heard locally on numerous stations as well as Sirius-XM Satellite Radio.

Clear Channel’s I Heart Radio application for smart phones and iPods has been busy adding new stations not connected with the parent company. The latest locally is KCSN (88.5 FM), which means it is even easier to hear the eclectic music mix from programmer Sky Daniels wherever you are.

Readers Revenge

“I disagree with your conclusion as to why sports talk radio in Los Angeles never works,” writes Larry Levit of Los Angeles. “I stopped listening to sports talk because the majority of the shows are not local ... Despite what others claim there is an East Coast boas. When someone as talented as Joe McDonnell is used as a fill-in sports reader on KNX you know there is a problem. LA sports talk won’t succeed until it really becomes LA sports talk and something other than from Bristol CT.”


Copyright © 2012 Richard Wagoner and Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

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