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Airwaves: June 14, 2013

Longtime KNX Anchor Harry Birrell Passes

Longtime listeners to KNX (1070 AM) will remember Harry Birrell, who was heard on the all-news station from 1968 to early 1999. In many ways he was the voice of KNX for many years.

Birrell passed away May 25th due to complications from intestinal lung disease. he was 85.

Born Henry Walker Birrell, he was known throughout his life as Harry. He was a daily anchor on KNX from 1968 to 1993, but stayed on to file daily news reports covering Ventura County until he retired from the station fully in January of 1999.

Adding Oldies

IÕve noticed slight programming adjustments over the past few months with my two favorite stations, Go Country 105 and The Sound 100.3. Both have added a few oldies to their mix.

One of the great things about Go Country is that it is locally owned and operated, so perhaps it is no surprise they added a few more ŅclassicÓ country songs due to local response to playing ŅcountryÕs greatest hitsÓ during the last two hours of Ginny HarmanÕs 7 PM to 12 midnight show. Regardless, some of the country hits of the 1970s and 1980s have showed up on other dayparts, and it helps spice up an al;ready good format.

Now you might be asking about adding oldies to an oldies station in reference to The Sound. And in a general sense youÕre right. But IÕve been hearing songs that I wouldnÕt expect to hear on the station. Like Sly FoxÕs LetÕs Go All the Way and Love Plus One from Haircut One Hundred ... a hit that is tied in my brain to KIQQ (which happens to now be The Sound).

Certainly the additions are not all necessarily good songs. But most are, and some are even relatively recent. My point is that they were unexpected. And playing unexpected songs on a station with a format known for being relatively predictable is in my opinion a good thing.

Speaking of the Unexpected

Posted on The SoundÕs Facebook page ( is a photo of a letter received by on-air personality Mimi Chen when she was a talk show host in San Francisco ... from Richard Ramirez, also known as The Night Stalker, sent while he was in prison.

In it, he talks about loving MimiÕs on-air work, and actually requests songs. Mimi didnÕt respond to the letter or play the songs, of course. But if that isnÕt considered creepy, I donÕt know what is.

Yes, I know

Or thought I knew. It was corrected on line but the print version of last weekÕs story on KCRWÕs Summer Nights programming had the wrong frequency. It should have been 89.9 FM. The frequency printed (89.3 FM) belongs to KPCC. I personally apologize for the error.

We Get Email

ŅI hope that you can answer this for me. I love country classics but what happened to ŌThe ToadÕ (1350 AM)?? It seems that they have changed the format to sports radio 24/7 ... yuck!!!???? I think that there are enough sports talk shows & if this is the case, I am truly upset. The Frog plays country but it is the new stuff & well ... I am from the era of the classics.Ó -- Nancy Hadley, Rialto

Quick answer: Ratings. According to my sources, The Toad was right around 50th in the market with an audience too small to sustain the format. Some blame the ratings on the loss of local personalities and a switch to satellite-delivered music, but it was ratings. Interestingly, sports probably wonÕt get ratings either, but for some reason sports stations get lots of sponsorships, so there will probably be an increase in revenue regardless.


Copyright © 2013 Richard Wagoner and Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

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