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Airwaves: December 12, 2014

Elder gone from KABC

The Sage from South Central is no longer gracing the airwaves of KABC (790 AM): Larry Elder was let go from the talk station he called home for most of the last 20+ years. He was informed of the move after what turned out to be his last show on December 2nd.

Rumors of Elder being replaced have actually been around for a while. He’s been working on a month-to-month contract for the last year or two, according to sources familiar with Elder and the station. Why he was let go so suddenly and without an obvious replacement is unknown, but those same sources hinted that salary may have played an issue.

Former local talk host and current internet host Tom Leykis ( was the man who broke the story; I asked him -- halfway joking -- if he would be Elder’s replacement. “No,” came the immediate reply, “but you’re not the first to ask me,” he said.

Regardless, for now at least, no replacement has been named.

I personally think Leykis would be a good choice, if anyone could talk him into it. There are a few issues, though, for anyone who gets the shift. Primary problem: The Kings. KABC is the Los Angeles flagship for the LA Kings hockey games, and many of the games begin during the late-afternoon/early-evening shift vacated by Elder.
While I would be hesitant to say that “no one” listens to the Kings on the radio, that statement would not be far off. Any host hoping to build ratings would be at a huge disadvantage compared with competing stations. At least during hockey season.

So who are the potential candidates? Names thrown around include Leykis and Joe Crummey, who took Elder’s place and did a stellar job last week. Rumor had the station courting John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou from competitor KFI (640 AM).

On the other hand, the station could do some switching around of the current programs.

Here’s what is definitely true: For the first time in years, KABC has a chance to make a play against perennial talk leader KFI. KFI is vulnerable. Ratings have been off for various reasons (including questionable methodology on the past of ratings company Nielsen), and some of the shows have gotten a little too predictable.
Personally, I would have kept Elder on, but tightened up his format. Elder is an intelligent host who covers issues from a totally different angle than most. Regardless, if KABC makes the right changes, they could start making headway. They already have strong shows in the morning with Doug McIntyre, the vastly improved (compared to his early days on the station) Bryan Suits, and Mid-Day LA with John Phillips and Jillian Barberie. Get a decent show in the evening and dump the weekend infomercials and KABC could make a comeback.

Not that I am necessarily counting on them actually doing all that ...

As to Elder, if management of KEIB (1150 AM) was smart, they’d hire him. Yesterday. Not only would Elder better complement late-morning host Rush Limbaugh better than anyone currently on the station, he’d actually be a breath of fresh air on the station.

Elder is more intelligent than the vast majority of talk hosts. He has a BA in political science from Brown University, received a law degree from the University of Michigan in 1977, was recruited by the 9th largest law firm just out of law school, and worked as a commercial trial lawyer in Cleveland before starting his own company and eventually switching to radio.

The combination of Limbaugh-Elder on KEIB could really pull some ratings ... IF -- and that is a big if -- KEIB management and owner Clear Channel actually want KEIB to succeed. You see, KEIB is sister to KFI. And if KEIB succeeds at the expense of KFI ... let’s just say that will never be allowed to happen.

For now, Elder can be heard on the internet at LarryElder.Com

Career Spanning Radio

Michael Stark and I have been doing interviews with some of radio’s recent greats. Fun, career-spanning interviews, in fact, recorded at the LA Radio Studio in San Pedro.
Beginning at 7 PM on Wednesday, December 17th, Stark will be running a marathon of these interviews played randomly. Podcasts on Shuffle, you might call it, repeated continually for about three weeks.

You’ll want to hear them too. The list includes Dave Hull, Lee Marshall (recorded fairly shortly before his death), Jeff Gonzer, Darrell Wayne, Mo’ Kelly, Gino Michelini, Dr. Demento, Cynthia Fox, JJ Johnson, Dave Beasing, Elliot Mintz, Ace Young, Jim “Poorman” Trenton, a tribute to Liz Fulton, and the just-completed super-high-energy interview that will start off the marathon: Shotgun Tom Kelly!

For information, head over to


Copyright © 2014 Richard Wagoner and Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

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