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Airwaves: March 2, 2012

Wagner Returns to SoCal

It was 16 years ago that former programmer Mike Wagner left the original KRLA (now KDIS, 1110 AM) and set sail for the bright lights of Paris.

It was an un fortunate move for fans of KRLA, as the AM oldies station that could -- could beat KRTH (101.1 FM), that is -- was the top-rated oldies station in town under Wagner’s direction with a personality-driven ethic-leaning oldies mix that was perfect for cruising the boulevard in your ‘55 Chevy.

When he left, KRLA held on for a time, but slowly died an untimely death under a revolving door of programmers who couldn’t fight upper management to keep the format strong. In the meantime, Wagner moved to take on the duties of programming a chain of stations in France.

Turns out neither lasted. By November 30, 2000, KRLA became a talk station, and eventually was sold and evolved into Radio Disney. And now Wagner’s back in town ready to take on new challenges as a radio and television voiceover talent, along with a radical career shift into real estate.

A welcome home party was held last Saturday at the Fuddruckers in Beautiful Downtown Burbank where dozens of Wagner’s friends -- mostly tied to his days in radio ranging from his college days through KIIS-FM (102.7 FM) and finally KRLA (wait! I almost forgot KBZT, now Amp Radio 97.1 FM) remembered old times. As an observer, I was awed by the amount of talent in the place -- Art Laboe, Larry McKay, Brother Bill, Jimmy O’Neill, Bruce Chandler and many more.

Any chance of Wagner picking up another programming gig? I’m sure he would consider it, but local radio has changed so much over the past 16 years that it might have just passed us all by. Might be better to pay the lottery and buy a station for ourselves ...

Crime Pays

KABC (790 AM), which incidentally has seen an uptick in the ratings (from a 0.6 to a 1.0 share of the audience) for the first time in recent memory, is giving listeners of the Doug McIntyre Show a chance to win $1000 every morning.

In this case they are also encouraging you to watch television. Tune in to Law and Order on KDOC-TV Channel 56 at 7 PM weeknights where you will find the secret time to call in to KABC the next day. The 10th caller each morning at the previously-announced secret time will win $1000.

You would think that convincing your listeners to leave you for a television program each night would be a bad move ratings-wise, but the 7 PM hour on KABC is one of the hours filled by the syndicated Mark Levin program. In other words, no one is listening anyway.

I’m already anticipating the hate mail ...

Speaking of KABC, John Philips proved his worth filling in for afternoon host Larry Elder recently. The station better get smart and give him a full shift before the competition discovers that Phillips is one of the best hosts in town. Currently he can be heard for just one hour (9 AM) sandwiched between McIntyre and Geraldo.

Fishing for Tesh

I may be wrong, but my memory tells me that never in the history of this column has anyone actually asked about John Tesh, live performer turned syndicated radio disc jockey.

But that was before the (also syndicated) Delilah program replaced him on KFSH (95.9 FM) daily from 7 PM to Midnight. My theory? As unforgettable as Tesh may or may not be, Delilah makes him sound amazing.

I’m not sure why The Fish replaced Tesh with Delilah. Actually, I am ... I am sure it has to do with money, since Delilah’s program is so awful that it flopped -- twice -- on the powerful signal of KBIG (104.3 FM).

But Fish-erman are up in arms over the change and want Tesh back. Now. According to Christina Garvin, people have been posting requests for his return on The Fish Facebook page, only to have the posts removed by the station.

“He did more than play music,” says Garvin. “He connected with his listeners, was their shoulder to lean on, made them laugh, made them cry and was overall an inspiration.”

If the Fish cannot be made to bring him back, you might consider taking things into your own hands through the internet or smart phone apps. JohnTesh.Com will give you a list of stations that still carry the program, and an app like StreamS Hi Fi Audio will get you the program as easily as using your regular radio.


Copyright © 2012 Richard Wagoner and Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

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