Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Radio Waves Podcast #197

Radio: November 17, 2017

Troubled Cumulus Media is the owner of over 400 radio stations nationwide including KLOS (95.5 FM) and KABC (790 AM) locally. The company, which has been trying for years to figure out a way to stay afloat amidst a Titanic-level of debt, decided to forgo payment of about $23 million in interest due on loans totaling over $2 billion. The decision was made earlier this month by the company Board of Directors.

Some claim it is a hardball push to get lenders to agree to concessions. Whatever the reason, the move could land the company in bankruptcy court sooner than later if agreements cannot be made. The company is currently in a 30-day grace period in which it can still decide to make the required payment as negotiations with creditors continue.

The frightening aspect? Inside Music Media’s Jerry Del Colliano wrote recently that “Lew Dickey is waiting -- blank check in hand -- to pounce on regaining control of Cumulus the moment it enters bankruptcy.”

For the uninitiated, it was Lew Dickey who put Cumulus on its death spiral through purchases, mergers and truly bad management ... he was forced out of the company in a coup that placed Mary Berner in his former position of CEO. The problem is that Berner was way too little far too late ... Berner had no radio experience and the vultures were already circling the company long before she arrived.
 
So how can Dickey be poised to regain control ... something that Del Colliano says is fact, not rumor? Apparently, like Bill Gates’ educational initiatives, people love failure. And for whatever reason, investors continue to give money and support to those who consistently fail. So what if Dickey proved he couldn’t run Cumulus in the past? Let’s give him another shot.

What should happen to Cumulus is that the bankruptcy court and the FCC should force it to sell every one of its stations until the debt is paid off. To local owners who will run the stations like radio should be run: competitively and creatively. Using local talent, serving the local community. Cumulus could still exist as a lean company with no debt, keeping about 50 stations nationwide ... if it so desired.

Dickey? Been there, done that. Time to move on.

My Turn Redux

Several letters and emails arrived after last week’s column on my My Turn on The Sound (100.3 FM). Most mentioned other stations that could/should have been highlighted.

I agree. There are many stations that could have been recognized had there been more time. KRLA, KFWB, KROQ, K-WEST, KBLA even KFI. The problem was time ... I had just ten songs and less than an hour. Now if we can get Sound programmer Dave Beasing another local gig, perhaps that can happen. Of course by the time you read this, The Sound is probably already gone ... so it may be a while.

War not over?

It seems that some of you remember the “War of the Worlds” differently than what has become the modern version of the story ... you were indeed led to believe that martians had landed.

“Living in Long Beach, and finishing the dishes in the kitchen with my sister and mother, we were listening to the program and really thought it was happening!,” writes reader Peggy Folger Miller. “We ran into the living room and my father told us to stay seated together while he went throughout the house, getting my brother and other sister so we could all stay close!
 
“Sorry; it was no myth in our part of town.”

“Steve Allen told me in one of our many interviews and guest disc-jockey airings that he and his mother were two victims of the show,” wrote former LA radio personality and programmer Chuck Southcott. “He recalled, as a teenager, hearing "Worlds" with his mother in a hotel room in Chicago. Not hearing the intro explaining it was a drama, they were totally fooled. In fact, they ran out of the hotel screaming and looking for others who were as frightened as they. 

“When they soon discovered that ‘life was continuing normally,’ they sheepishly returned to their hotel. Steve said he didn't recall ever being that frightened in his life.”
 
But agreeing with the new view on the panic - that most of the panic was brought on by the newspapers of the day, is Lynn Burgess, who says, “I was an 11 year old listening to our evening radio in Manhattan, NYC when the program came on. My then 10 year old brother and I listened to the radio station's mystery broadcasts weekly. The week previously, the "War of the Worlds" was announced, therefore it was no surprise to us. We were surprised by the fuss that followed! 

“At age 90, remembering. Radio was a great form of entertainment ... letting us use our imagination and stretching our minds.”

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Radio Waves Podcast #196

Radio: November 10, 2017

I’ve been talking with Dave Beasing, programmer of The Sound, about doing either a My Turn segment on the station for almost as long as the station has been on the air. For various reasons we never did it, until last month just after the announcement that the station was being sold. Honestly, neither of us knew it would ever air when it was recorded in early October when I visited the station, due to the station’s impending sale and unknown format-change date.

It aired last Sunday.

The plan was right up my alley: a tribute to some of the stations we loved but are no longer with us: KHJ (930 AM) as a top-40 station, the Mellow Sound of KNX-FM (now KCBS-FM, 93.1), The Mighty Met KMET (now KTWV, 94.7 FM), KLOS (95.5 FM), KNAC (now KBUA, 105.5 FM) and The Sound itself.

Admittedly, the KLOS segment could be considered a roast, as kids say today, since KLOS is most certainly still on the air. As Johnny Fever announced on CBS-Television’s WKRP in Cincinnati, “how can I miss you if you won’t go away,” but this was actually meant as a tribute to the KLOS of the mid-1970s and what it played as it competed against KMET.

My plan was to play songs representative of each station’s heydays, which for the most part I think came out OK. For KHJ the songs were This Diamond Ring (Gary Lewis and the Playboys) and I’m Just a Singer (Moody Blues); for KNX-FM they were Fire and Rain (James Taylor) and Who Can it Be Now (Men at Work); and the KMET songs were D'yer Mak'er (which I still pronounced wrong in spite of practicing, by Led Zeppelin) and Rock and Roll Never Forgets (Bob Seger), one of the last songs played on KMET before it left the air in 1987.

For KLOS I chose Bungle in the Jungle (Jethro Tull) and Jamie’s Cryin’ (Van Halen), two songs I heard often on the station ... the former at Clear Creek Camp and the latter in electronics shop at San Pedro High. And finally, for KNAC I “cheated” and used a song from my son’s band that would have fit were it still on the air, Misdirect (Divine Intervention). The finale was Zeppelin’s Ten Years Gone, a song that just seems to fit The Sound’s ten-year existence.

As I said, I think the songs fit fairly well. But as Sound DJ Cynthia Fox -- a KMET alumnus -- pointed out, “one of the outstanding aspects of KMET was playing deeper tracks by the bands the fans loved; it established our credibility as true music fans. So with Led Zeppelin, you'd hear deeper album tracks like The Rover, In the Light, Bron Y Aur, Tangerine, That's the Way, How Many More Times, No Quarter, and on and on. D'yer Mak'er ... not so much emphasis there!!”

Interestingly, I chose the song because it was included in an old KMET air check I was listening to before the show was recorded. But in hindsight, she’s right ... not the best choice to showcase KMET. 

Regardless, it was a blast to do, fun (for me) to hear, and if you heard it, I hope you enjoyed it. It is programs and attitudes like this that help set The Sound apart from the crowd; I sincerely hope that someday, somehow, some time, The Sound can return. We really need stations like this: stations with soul. Stations that treat listeners with respect and try to be at least a little different. Or, as Cynthia Fox calls it, intelligent radio. Thank you, Dave Beasing, for letting this all happen.

War not over?

It seems that some of you remember the War of the Worlds differently than what has become the modern version of the story ... you were indeed led to believe that martians had landed.

“Living in Long Beach, and finishing the dishes in the kitchen with my sister and mother, we were listening to the program and really thought it was happening! We ran into the living room and my father told us to stay seated together in the living room while he went throughout the house, getting my brother and other sister so we could all stay close together in the living room! 

Peggy Folger Miller wrote to tell this: “My uncle who also lived in Long Beach, married but with no children, called us and told us to stay put and he would come over to protect us. He had served in both the Army and Navy and thought we needed his experience in a time like this. The next day, it was the talk of the neighborhood and school as everyone wanted to share their stories of fright.

“If we had lived in New Jersey, boy, we would have run someplace!!  (If memory serves me correctly, I think it was New Jersey or thereabouts where the Martians landed.) Sorry; it was no myth in our part of town.”

Former programmer and DJ Chuck Southcott tells this: “Steve Allen told me in one of our many interviews and guest disc-jockey airings that he and his mother were two victims of the show in that he recalled, as a teenager, hearing "Worlds" with his mother in a hotel room in Chicago. Not hearing the intro explaining it was a drama, they were totally fooled. In fact, they ran out of the hotel screaming and looking for others who were as frightened as they. 

“When they soon discovered that "life was continuing normally," they sheepishly returned to their hotel. Steve said he didn't recall ever being that frightened in his life.” 

But agreeing with the new view on the panic - that most of the panic was brought on by the newspapers of the day, is Lynn Burgess, who says, “I was an 11 year old listening to our evening radio in Manhattan, NYC when the program came on. My then 10 year old brother and I listened to the radio station's mystery broadcasts weekly. The week previously, the "War of the Worlds" was announced, therefore it was no surprise to us. We were surprised by the fuss that followed! Jersey farmers running around with pitchforks for defense. Really? 

“At age 90, remembering. Radio was a great form of entertainment ... letting us use our imagination and stretching our minds.”

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Radio Waves Podcast #195

Radio: November 3, 2017

By now I am sure you’ve heard about the night that panicked America. Seventy-nine years ago this week -- October 30 1938 -- was the night that Orson Welles scared the nation into believing that the earth was being taken over by martians through his presentation of a radio adaption of H. G. Wells’ book, War of the Worlds, on his CBS program Mercury Theater on the Air.

I’ve heard about it for years. In 1975, ABC Television aired a television drama depicting the event, and even National Public Radio, as I recall, got into the act by producing a contemporary version of the play back around 1988.

People listening to the program didn’t realize they were listening to a play, instead thinking that the live news broadcasts from Grovers Mills, New Jersey were real. Around the country people panicked, running into the street, filling highways trying to escape, and begging law enforcement for gas masks to save them from the effects of toxic gasses.

There’s only one problem: it never happened.

Oh, certainly the broadcast happened. I’ve heard recordings of the original broadcast; I am sure you have too. But one thing always seemed a bit out of place. I know we are cynical people these days, but even though I always heard the panic stories, I kept thinking to myself: “were people truly that naive to be misled into a panic by what I consider such an unbelievable storyline?”

I remember asking my parents. “It may have happened on the East Coast,” my Mom told me, “but no one on the West Coast panicked.” Still I kept the story in my mind as an example of the power of radio ... for better of worse.

Until last week when I was watching cable network TruTV’s Adam Ruins Everything. In an episode centering on Halloween, host Adam Conover spoke of Welles and War, telling how the entire story surrounding the radio play was indeed an urban myth.

For one, the audience for War was small. Most of the nation was tuned to the popular NBC program, Edgar Bergen’s Chase and Sanborn Hour, a comedy and variety show. In fact, the Hooper Ratings service had telephoned households the night of the broadcast for its national ratings survey and determined that only two percent of the potential audience was listening to Welle’s show. 98 percent of America was not.

Sources quoted by Conover including Slate.Com stated it this way: “The supposed panic was so tiny as to be practically immeasurable on the night of the broadcast. Despite repeated assertions to the contrary in the PBS and NPR programs, almost nobody was fooled by Welles’ broadcast.”

So how did this myth gain traction? Newspapers. By 1938, radio had cut into advertising dollars that formerly went to newspapers. Newspaper editors wanted to show the public -- and potential advertisers -- how radio was not responsible and could not be trusted to provide real news coverage. So they used anecdotal stories to sensationalize the panic caused by the broadcasts.

As Slate.Com wrote, “was the small audience that listened to War of the Worlds excited by what they heard? Certainly. But that doesn’t mean they ran into the streets fearing for the fate of humanity.” Kind of makes you feel better, doesn’t it?

More Sound

The transfer of ownership for The Sound (100.3 FM) is taking longer than originally expected; it may now be as late as the second half of November before we lose one of the best FM stations in the past decade. Enjoy it while you can.

No Studios

The impotent and essentially worthless FCC has decided that radio stations need not be part of the local community it is licensed to serve.

Reversing a rule that has been in place since 1934 in which “each AM radio, FM radio and television broadcast station to have a main studio located in or near its local community,” the FCC last week voted to remove that requirement using the argument that email and similar communications negate the need for a local presence.

I disagree. The airwaves are a public resource. Radio has been on a downward spiral as stations remove more and more local content. The new ruling essentially means an entire station need not even be part of the community at all. And you can be sure that cash-strapped companies will use this to their advantage; there truly is nothing to stop a station from moving the entire operation to another city. Or state. Or country.

This is not good for radio, whose executives are too stupid to see their own greed has devalued the entire industry. And since the FCC Commissioners refuse to do their jobs, it is time to disband the FCC. As decisions like this allow radio as an industry to decline into oblivion, there is no reason for the commission to exist anyway.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Radio Waves Podcast #194

Radio: October 27, 2017

An early morning fire threatened the Observatory as well as numerous broadcast towers on Mount Wilson on October 17th. Many of the most popular and powerful radio stations along with most if not all local television stations transmit from the area.

The fire broke out sometime around 4 a.m. and smoke could be seen from quite a distance. Saul Levine’s Go Country 105 was one of the radio stations that was potentially threatened by the fire; Levine told me that he was ready to go to an alternate transmitter from another site if needed, though that never happened as firefighters had control of the 30-acre blaze fairly quickly. 

In all, over $500 million worth of broadcasting equipment was threatened, and the cause of the blaze was said to be “suspicious.”

Who’s on First?

In just a few days it will be November. And you now what that means: time for KOST (103.5 FM) to make the yearly switch to holiday music.

The big question is when? Last year they made the move a little early to try to help unite the city after the election. This year they could use the same excuse. Frankly, I’m surprised they didn’t just run it all year ... the change always gives the station a huge boost in the ratings.

Besides KOST, Go Country sometimes joins the fray as does SiriusXM, which usually offers multiple channels of holiday music, each with a different focus.

Delaying the Inevitable

Investors are working on a plan to keep iHeart Media out of bankruptcy, at least for now. If it goes through it may signal a new controlling interest for the company that is saddled with about $20 billion -- yes billion in debt.

How did it get so far under water? Simple: it got what it wanted. An inept, impotent FCC and Department of Justice that allowed companies to expand far above their ability to operate profitably. Instead of promised efficiencies and expanded listener choices, creativity stagnated and listeners responded by moving elsewhere.

Cost-cutting by owners such as iHeart, CBS, Cumulus and EMF have caused radio to become a background activity rather than foreground. Radio thus lost the ability to charge advertising rates they had in the days when ownership was limited and stations competed for listeners. Without the necessary income, costs were cut again and again with disastrous effects.

The fix? Bring back ownership caps and give preference to local control. In other words, just let the huge McRadio companies die a deserved death and let local owners bring listeners back to radio with programming that makes people want to listen. Compelling content goes a long way.

Bring Back Bonneville

There are a few companies that do a great job of allowing local programmers to do their job without the requirement to always cut costs. Much of what made The Sound KSWD, 100.3 FM) so great as a local station was due to the seed planted by Bonneville Broadcasting when it launched the station ten years ago.

Hopefully if the chance comes up, perhaps Bonneville can re-enter the Los Angeles market it left when it traded The Sound away to Entercom a few years ago.

Preset Selection

Speaking of The Sound ... if it was one of the stations on your radio presets, what are you going to replace it with once it goes off the air, assuming it is still on as you read this? Have a good replacement? Or will you be moving to SiriusXM or something else? Let me know.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Radio Waves Podcast #193

Radio: October 20, 2017

One of my radio dreams is to take an AM station and program it. Not program it the way most current owners do -- syndicated talk, sports or some other lame format. No, I want to take an AM station and show that you can, indeed, program an AM station to attract actual listeners. Make actual money, serving the community with either programming you can’t find elsewhere or programming done better than any station in town. 

Of course I don’t have a few million dollars sitting around so until Cumulus and iHeart go under and I can pick up a station for pennies on the dollar, I’ll just have to wait. In the meantime, I live vicariously through others such as Saul Levine, who is attracting listeners to AM through LA Oldies K-SURF (1260 AM), and people who post to I Love AM Radio, a group on Facebook.

One such post caught my eye last Sunday.

“Wanted to share this with the group, said member Drew D.  “KASM is a small station in central Minnesota. They've been around since 1950 ... NOT corporate owned. Format is farm/ag, local news, sports, and a good amount of polkas! They sound the same today as they did when I first heard them about 45 years ago.

“But here's the coolest part: they're still live and local! Better yet, they hire young people from the area and give them their first chance behind-the-mic. Almost unheard of these days!”

A quick trip over to myKASM.Com shows a few young people on the staff, including recent high school graduate Travis Ramacher, who can be heard nightly at 5 p.m. At least two other personalities look like recent college graduates or younger.

Local radio is the future of radio. It may not happen soon, but it will happen. The problem is ... will listeners driven to other entertainment sources come back?

I think they will, but it will take super-serving the community. Let’s do it.

September Nielsens

My FM was the K-BIG (104.3 FM) winner once again in the September Nielsen ratings. While down slightly down from August’s 6.4 share, it was still up from June’s 5.8 and more importantly increased its win over second-place KTWV The Wave (94.7 FM) to almost a full point: KBIG’s 6.0 share compared to The Wave’s 5.2.

KRTH (101.1 FM) was third, followed by KIIS-FM (102.7) and KOST (103.5 FM) rounding out the top five.

All told, CBS and iHeart had nine of the top-10 stations, and overall combined control 48.1 percent of the listening audience, with iHeart at 26.1 and CBS at 22. The next highest company is Univision, at 8.8. You can make your own monopoly judgements ...

While Arbitron lists KPCC separately from their online stream, the two simulcast the same programming. Combined, KPCC earned a whopping 2.2 share of the audience and would put it in the top-20 of all LA-area stations. 

And while in the 1970s they were fierce competitors and of course now they are not, I did find it interesting that KHJ (930 AM) and KTNQ (1020 AM) tied. Perhaps that is the Nielsen god’s way of keeping the AM band at peace.

Ratings are an estimate of the percentage of listeners aged 6 and over tuned to a station between the hours of 6 a.m. and 12 midnight.

1. KBIG (6.0) 2. KTWV (5.2) 3. KRTH (4.8) 4. KIIS-FM (4.6) 5. KOST (4.3) 6. KFI, KLVE, KRRL (3.5) 9. KCBS-FM (3.2) 10. KNX, KPWR (3.1)
12. KAMP, KLAX, KRCD (2.9), 15. KKGO, KROQ (2.8) 17. KXOL (2.6) 18. KLOS, KYSR (2.5) 20. KSCA (2.1)
21. KSWD (2.0) 22. KSUE, KXOS (1.9) 24. KPCC (1.7) 25. KCRW, KJLH, KLYY (1.4) 28. KUSC (1.2) 29. KWIZ (1.1) 30. KDAY, KLAC, KRLA, KSPN, KSSE (1.0)
35. KEIB, KFSH (0.7) 37. KABC, KFWB, KKJZ (0.6) 40. KPCC Online Stream (0.5) 41. KSUR (0.4) 42. KHJ, KTNQ, KWKW, KYLA (0.3) 46. KKLA, KLAA (0.2) 

© 2017 Nielsen. May not be quoted or reproduced without prior written permission from Nielsen.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Radio Waves Podcast #192

Radio: October 13, 2017

Joe Reiling started his Los Angeles radio tenure in 1977 when he was hired by KLOS (95.5 FM) in 1977. In 1981 he launched the station’s long-running “KLOS Local Music Show” (later called “Local Licks”) that played unsigned acts. He left for KMET (now KTWV, 94.7 FM) in 1982; to moved KNX-FM (now KCBS-FM 93.1) in for a time in 1983; and returned to the Los Angeles airwaves on KLSX (now KAMP, 97.1 FM) from 1988-1990.

He worked for Armed Forces Radio, produced shows for airline in-flight entertainment systems, taught at a broadcast school, worked as a voice-over artist, and more. It is very likely that you either heard him directly or heard the product of his work over the past 40 years he has been living and working in Los Angeles.

Reiling passed away October 7th after a decade of health problems.

Michael Stark led off a series of personal memories as part of a tribute to Reiling on Don Barrett’s LARadio.Com, telling Barrett:

“The one thread you will see in all the memories you receive about Joe will be that he was one of the sweetest guys on the planet. Always making people smile. Always positive.
 
“Even in the face of health issues and an industry that had begun discarding voices that didn’t fit the corporate profile, Joe never let those elements get him down. The last time I saw him, he struggled up my studio’s stairs to record a demo tape. 

“He still wanted to be part of it, as all of us old school radio geeks want. His voice was strong but his spirit was stronger. Rest In Peace, Joe.”

Come to Jesus

The Sound (100.3 FM) may be on the way out to make room  for a cheap syndicated Christian pop music format (because everyone knows that The Fish at 95.9 FM is setting the world on fire and people are clamoring for another similar outlet. Or, um, not), but programmer Dave Beasing and the on-air staff are planning to go out with a bang.
 
The playlist is opening up a bit, special on-air features are planned, and soon the station will play a classic rock A to Z feature, with no idea how far it will get because no one knows the exact date the new owners will take over. Best guess: some time between late October and mid November.

But the best part are the new on-air promos. Such as “We’re rockin’ until Jesus comes.” Or playing classic rock “because Jesus would want it that way.”

It’s too bad the new owners don’t care about actually having listeners. Bonneville Broadcasting -- owned by Mormons -- launched The Sound. You’d think a Christian owner could keep it going.

Respect

Lost in all the news of The Sound going away is the fact that there are some great things going on at some other LA-area stations, even if they do not play the same music. Last week I spoke of KCSN (88.5 FM). I can’t let another week go by without mentioning KLOS.

Under the direction of programmer Keith Cunningham who finally got some real freedom when station owner Cumulus finally fired former CEO Lew Dickey, KLOS has evolved into a station that matters again.

No, it isn’t The Sound. While KLOS does play classic rock, some current music gets mixed in as well. It also features programs that harken back to FM radio’s earlier rock days. Such as:

Jonesy’s Jukebox, weekdays Noon to 2 p.m. Hosted by the Sex Pistol’s Steve Jones, the program plays whatever Jones wants to play. New, old, whatever he wants. 

Whiplash, hosted by Full Metal Jackie, Sundays 9-11 p.m. Heavy Metal on KLOS? You better believe it. Including interviews with past and present Metal stars.

Breakfast with the Beatles, Sundays 9 a.m. to 12 noon. Chris Carter knows everything there is to know about the Beatles and has an extensive collection of rare recordings. His passion comes through in every show.

The interesting thing to me is that KLOS has broken away from being thought of as “only” a classic rock station to the point where it could theoretically go in any direction. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a current-intensive rock station that plays music from all rock and roll genres ... like KLOS, KMET, and even KROQ (106.7 FM) once did? 

Regardless, I have to give KLOS props. It may not have (lately) won the ratings battle against The Sound, the reality is that it hasn’t been competing against The Sound directly for quite some time. KLOS may indeed be the station to watch over the next few years.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Radio Waves Podcast #191

Radio: October 6, 2017

The news last week that Entercom will sell The Sound (KSWD, 100.3 FM) to a company that will play satellite-delivered Christian pop music caught people by surprise. Even more surprising is that the buyer - EMF - got the station for a song. The Sound, two other full-power stations and two FM translators made for a total of $57 million; in comparison, The Sound alone sold for over $100 million in 2008. 

Not proof, but certainly a worthy allegation, that Entercom CEO David Field wanted to make sure no broadcaster would compete in any way with his remaining stations once the merger with CBS is completed. Shareholders most certainly lost out on full value in this transaction, which should trigger an SEC investigation, even if it is not against any FCC rules. But I digress.

Where will Sound listeners go? Field may think they will move on to his future holdings KRTH (101.1 FM), or Jack (KCBS-FM, 93.1). Others may think they will head over to KLOS (95.5 FM). Wishful thinking, in my opinion. Sound listeners listened just because The Sound was NOT Jack, KRTH or KLOS.
There was a special attitude from the relatively young upstart station with legendary personalities like Joe Benson, Rita Wilde, Cynthia Fox, Mimi Chen and Mary Price. Aside from being our on-air friends, there is a certain respect for both the music and listeners that is sorely missing from most other stations, particularly Jack and KRTH. My hunch? Most Sound listeners will simply abandon radio altogether.

On the Other Side

When I mentioned my theory above to Sky Daniels, he responded quickly with “I certainly hope not.” And that wasn’t just a lament. This man is passionate about music and what radio can be.

Daniels, who in a past life could be found on stations such as KMET (now KTWV, 94.7 FM) is the programmer of KCSN (88.5 FM) which recently merged signals with KSBR, also at 88.5, in order to create a mega station with a potential audience in excess of 11 million (though not, it turns out, including the South Bay where I live). 

Both signals - KCSN originating from the Northridge and KSBR from Orange County - now simulcast KCSN’s Adult Album Alternative format under the name “The New 88.5.” KSBR’s jazz format can be found on the HD digital stream that can be heard if you happen to own an HD radio.

Daniels and I were talking about the merger and my concern that students are not involved. Turns out my concern is without basis: Students are involved (more students work at KCSN than paid employees), KSBR is still primarily students, and Daniels hopes to relaunch a radio broadcasting program at CSUN that was shuttered before he arrived in 2011.

But the best part is that Daniels considers 88.5 as a supporter of the arts, specifically supporting local performing musicians and bands. “We are working with artists, agents, record companies, and venues to raise the profile of artists in the market,” Daniels told me. “We are supporting contemporary performing art with the hope that we can assist these artists in earning a living so that they can continue to create new music.”

With the combined signals, “we have a chance to really do it,” Daniels exclaims. His “it” is proving that the AAA format is a viable alternative to what I consider stale radio. Along the way, he wants to help bands move from small venues to the Troubadour, to the Forum ... and even higher.

Call me crazy, but I love that. And Daniels has the passion and energy to make it happen. which brings me full circle: perhaps Sound listeners may find something they like at 88.5. I certainly do. The Sound even started as a AAA station itself before evolving into classic rock; Daniels had a weekend shift when they first launched. Like The Sound, 88.5 respects music and the audience. If you can pick it up, listen for a while and tell me what you think.