Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Radio Waves Podcast #229

Radio: July 13, 2018

Alt 98.7 FM (KYSR) will have a new midday personality as Tamo Sein replaces Marty Whitney in the 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. slot at the popular alternative music station effective July 16.

Sein moves to Los Angeles from her former home of Charlotte, North Carolina where she had the same shift at co-owned alternative WEND. She is described as “relatable, down to earth” a fan of alternative music and “a food and wine enthusiast ... she will fit right in!” according to Alt programmer Lisa Worden.

While the move means Whitney will not be heard in Los Angeles, he will continue at KIOZ/San Diego (105.3 FM), where he hosts weeknight 7 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Hopefully, unlike Whitney, Sein will indeed be local.

iHeart Interest

While Liberty Media, a majority owner of SiriusXM Satellite Radio has long expressed an interest in buying at least a portion of bankrupt iHeart Media, word out this week is Silver Lake Partners, a private equity firm, is rumored to be interested as well. 

Any sale would not happen until iHeart emerges from its current bankruptcy in October or so, after which the company will “only” owe $10 billion compared with today’s debt just North of $20 billion. Yes, billion, with a b. The company is valued by some at about $12 billion.

My position, of course, is that neither company should take control. iHeart and the others are THE reason radio is undervalued. The company should go bankrupt and forced to sell stations off under rules that should be adopted by the FCC preventing a company from owning more than 50 stations nationwide ... a compromise, admittedly, as the limit should be closer to 10 or 15.

Bigger Neighborhood

Real 92.3 FM’s (KRRL) syndicated morning show Big Boy’s Neighborhood will be broadcast on cable television’s Fuse Network starting on Monday, July 30th. Broadcast on radio stations across the country through Premiere Radio Networks, the show is based in Los Angeles.

Big Boy -- also known as Kurt Alexander -- has been in Los Angeles since 1997: first at Power 106 and then beginning in 2015 at Real. 

“I can’t believe it’s been three years since I embarked on this incredible journey to bring Big Boy’s Neighborhood to my listeners on iHeart Radio’s Real 92.3 and stations nationwide, Alexander said in a press release. “Words can’t express how excited I am to bring the Neighborhood to millions of viewers through this television partnership with Fuse.”

Fireworks

American Top-40 celebrated its 48th birthday on July 4th.
The program was created by original host Casey Kasem, Don Bustany, Tom Rounds and legendary programmer Ron Jacobs, who at the time had recently left the programming position at KHJ (930 AM)

It launched on July 4, 1970 with just seven affiliates, but quickly grew to be one of the most popular syndicated programs on radio. You can hear classic 1970s recordings of the program hosted by Kasem on SiriusXM’s Channel 7 Saturdays at 9 a.m., Sundays at 6 a.m. and Sundays at 9 p.m.

KIIS-FM (102.7) morning man Ryan Seacrest hosts the current edition. But apparently no one really cares, not even Seacrest’s own station, as KIIS-FM doesn’t carry it ... the closest local affiliate is KFYV in Ventura. You can hear it on the iHeart Radio app though, which is pretty cool: Both Seacrest’s and Kasem’s ‘70s and ‘80s countdowns can be found there. All day, every day. You can even ask Amazon’s Alexa to “play American Top 40.”

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Radio Waves Podcast #228 - Chuck Martin Interview

Interview with Chuck Martin, the last programmer of KHJ (930 AM) before the popular top-40 station went country in November of 1980.  Also on hand is longtime KHJ engineer/production director Douglas Brown.

Richard's column for this week:

Radio: July 6, 2018

The timing was perfect.

I had been thinking about the fact that it is hard to find “good” new music on the radio. Or anywhere else, it seems. What brought it to a head, ironically, was an ad on SiriusXM’s PopRock channel in which someone said it was their favorite channel because “I know every song.”

I’m not sure why but that struck a nerve in me. As much as I spend my time living in the past -- my wife Jean will attest to that -- sometimes it is not by choice. Perhaps by ignorance, but not always choice. I just have a hard time finding new music I like, and it is easier to go with the tried and true.

Problem is, I don’t want to be “one of those guys” who no longer evolves musically. That guy -- like my Dad -- who only listens to music of my youth. I don’t want to know every song!

So it was akin to the aligning of the planets when I recently attended a reunion of local radio personalities at Fuddruckers. I happened to meet Lee Wade, writer and editor of BoomerMusicUpdate.Com, an internet site dedicated to finding new music that may be of interest to the Baby Boom generation. “We find current songs that are similar on style to songs Boomers grew up with,” Wade explained.

My interest was piqued. Especially when I found out that the curator behind the songs is none other than Dave “The Duke” Sholin, a former personality and programmer of the legendary KFRC/San Francisco. Sholin is considered by many to be a top programmer and music director, able to pick out hits ... and he picked many of the hits played on KFRC, the influential Bay Area version of KHJ (930 AM) here in Los Angeles.

Boomer Music Update is much like a blog -- Wade has been a writer and editor for online blogs as well as newspapers including the Riverside Press Enterprise and the Pasadena Star News -- that also features the songs being compared. Categories include Pop, Top-40, County, Alternative, and “Everything Goes,” which can include, well, anything.

Can a blog get you up to speed on new music? It’s certainly worth a try. Check it out for yourself and let me know your thoughts.

The Chucker Speaks

The interview Michael Stark and I did with Chuck Martin --one of KHJ’s best program directors ever -- was scheduled to hit the netwaves on July 4th. You can hear it at tinyurl.com/RadioChucker.

Martin was the last programmer of KHJ before they went Country in November, 1980. He is the man responsible for bringing Rick Dees to Los Angeles, putting together an amazing staff, and super-serving the KHJ audience by making the station energetic and rhythmic. The result was the fastest increase in ratings the station ever saw and the highest ratings the station had seen in years ... or since.

The passion Martin has for radio is infectious, and he still has the knowledge and enthusiasm of radio programming, marketing and promotions that is unfortunately missing from so many stations today. 

While Martin spends much of the time talking about KHJ, the interview spans his entire career from his earliest days to his time at K-WEST (now KPWR, 105.9 FM) and beyond. It’s long but if you are a fan or top-40, KHJ or radio in general, I think you will like it.

Curtain Call

The interview with Martin was the last we were able to do before the “final broadcast” of the LA Radio Studio, which is located in part of the Ports O Call Village in San Pedro slated for demolition.

The studio itself is a public service of Jayme Wilson, located a short walk from the Ports O Call Restaurant that he owns. Live and recorded podcasts have originated from the studio for the past eight years; popular shows include Phil Hulett and Friends as well as Radio Waves, hosted by me and Stark among others.

June 29th was the last scheduled podcast, and it was an all-day event. Stark described the day:

“Friday was a great celebration of our eight-year history on the waterfront. I was blown away by the friends, supporters and fellow broadcasters who stopped by for our ‘last broadcast’ from this current location. There are many video clips of the event available on the LA Radio Studio YouTube channel (YouTube.Com/LARadioStudio).

“I can't thank Phil Hulett enough for anchoring the seven-hour event, with Ted ‘Thrashpie’ Prichard and ‘Gonzo’ Greg Spillane co-hosting.

“There is a saying that you are only as good as your last gig ... and I'm proud of this studio's ‘last gig.’ We WILL be back soon.”

The last Hulett show and the remaining hours of the “final broadcast” are streaming continually until further notice. Access via LARadioStudio.Com.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Radio Waves Podcast #227

Radio: June 29, 2018

KLOS (95.5 FM) has survived numerous competitors over the years and continues to prove it is still an amazing station and fully worthy of consideration for one of your radio presets.

This week (or last week, depending on when you read this) is a perfect example. Evening DJ Melissa Maxx has been out, so this week they are bringing in guests to handle the 7 p.m. to 12 midnight shift. Included on the guest list is none other than Rita Wilde, formerly heard on The Sound (now KKLQ, 100.3 FM), KEZY (now KGBN, 1190 AM), and of course KLOS. Rita ‘s shift is/was Thursday June 28th.

Jed the Fish of KROQ (106.7 FM) fame was the Monday guest; comedian label owner and Podcast Star Joe Sib Tuesday, and Full Metal Jackie and Munky from the band Korn on Wednesday. As I write this no one was scheduled for Friday but that may change, as this was being put together fairly quickly.

“It feels like completing the circle,” Wilde told me. One her Facebook page, she told went into more detail.

“I can honestly admit that I never thought I would be able to say the phrase " 955 KLOS" on the radio again. I had a wonderful ride at 3321 S. La Cienega and I am grateful for that magical time and my memories.

“Think about it. 955 KLOS has been a consistent presence in Southern California. Musical trends and personalities have changed but KLOS has remained a rock station for most of our lives. It is an iconic brand, a rock in our lives. I am so honored that I was asked by Program Director Keith Cunningham to be a guest DJ.
“I am blessed and grateful.”

The guest slots happen to be set during the station’s annual blood drive, which runs June 27-30 at locations throughout the area. 

All donors will receive a commemorative 37th Annual KLOS Blood Drive T-shirt, a voucher for a free combo meal courtesy of Wahoo’s Fish Taco, a discount ticket offer from the LA Galaxy and a voucher for one ticket to one of numerous concerts including Scorpions and Queensryche; Deep Purple and Judas Priest; Bush, Stone Temple Pilots and The Cult; Kid Rick; and Foreigner with special guests Whitesnake. Tickets are limited, though, so if you’re interested, reserve a spot online at www.955klos.com right away.

Passings

You may not know the name Arnie McClatchey, but if you grew up in 1970s Orange County, you probably heard him ... even if indirectly. He was a personality at KWIZ/Santa Ana (1480 AM) in 1966; in 1967 became programmer at  1190 KEZY/Anaheim and was the man who changed it to a powerhouse top-40 station around 1968. In 1975 he left to program and later purchase KYMS/Santa Ana (now KALI, 106.3 FM), a station he switched to contemporary Christian music -- among the first in the nation -- and was the start of a longtime association with the format.

He purchased KELP/El Paso, Texas in 1984 and moved to the area permanently in 1994. He passed away June 20th at the age of 76.

East Coast transplants know of Dan Ingram. His 50-year career in top-40 and oldies radio was spent on the giants of the East Coast, including WABC and WCBS-FM in New York. His quick wit and biting satire made him among the most popular DJs in the history of New York radio.

He was also known for playing “special” versions of (sometimes annoying” popular songs. Remember Paul Simons’ “Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover?” Ingram’s version was “Fifty Ways to Love Your Leaver.” Paul McCartney’s “My Love Does it Good” became “My Glove Does it Good.” The stuttering on Elton John’s “B-B-B-Benny and the Jets” went on seemingly endlessly. He even re-arranged the letters for the spelling of Saturday in the Bay City Rollers’ “Saturday Night.”

Ingram passed away June 24th at the age of 83.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Radio Waves Podcast #226

Radio: June 22, 2018

Last week I had a chance to sit down and talk with Chuck Martin, the last programmer of KHJ (930 AM) before the popular top-40 station went country in November of 1980. Martin and longtime KHJ engineer/production director Douglas Brown joined me and LA Radio Studio’s Michael Stark for a career-spanning audio interview of Martin that will be available shortly at LARadioWaves.Com.

I’ll have details on the the interview and a story on Martin here when the audio interview is posted, but I will tell you: I am still giddy over the experience. In my humble opinion, Martin is among the best music radio programmers to ever make it in Los Angeles, and I am convinced that his experience, expertise, and tremendous passion could still take a station from “worst” to “first” ... just as he did at KHJ.

Or would have had the suits in charge not blown it by going country. I just wish more people in radio had even half the passion of Martin. Details soon!

NAB Wants More

Radio consolidation has been such a tremendous success that two of the three largest companies are in bankruptcy, the longterm viability of the third is questionable among some observers, and advertising revenue has not even come close to levels the industry saw in the pre-consolidation days.

So what does the National Association of Broadcasters want? More consolidation. And they are lobbying the FCC to allow any one company to own up to eight FM stations in any large market, an unlimited number of AM stations in those markets, and no cap at all in smaller markets.

You hate liver and onions? Here, have more.

Consolidation has brought the industry to its knees. Station groups are so large, that management is incapable of running them. Promised savings never materialized, so programming was cut. Hourly spot loads, or advertising time, increased to make up for declining revenues, causing ad rates to plummet. 

Essentially, radio created its own competition. Without consolidation and the decimation of good programming, services like Spotify, SiriusXM or even iPods would never have become the force they are now. Through bad decisions, radio executives pushed listeners away ... just as AM programmers pushed listeners to FM in the 1980s.

What radio needs to survive is vastly reduced ownership caps, and the FCC would be wise to consider such rather than the tremendously damaging actions being proposed by the NAB. Neing that the FCC has been impotent for decades, though, I am sure the NAB will get whatever it wants.

Bresee Passes

It is said that Frank Bresee’s love of radio came from a school field trip to then-KFAC (now KWKW, 1330 AM) when he was ten years old in 1939. The radio actor, announcer and historian passed away June 5 at the age of 88.

Through the years he played various roles on programs such as Red Ryder and Major Hopalong, hosted his own program presenting old time radio programs on KNX (1070 AM) and other local stations as well as Armed Forces Radio, and worked as an assistant on Bob Hope’s radio show.

Along the way he collected scripts, transcription discs, and more; his collection -- including 3,900 audio tapes -- is stored at the Thousand Oaks Library.

No information was available as to the cause of his death.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Radio Waves Podcast #225

Radio: June 15, 2018

Richard Irwin was a former radio personality and program director at stations including KAFY/Bakersfield and KROY/Sacramento. He is perhaps better known as the man behind the top-40 radio online museum called ReelRadio, aka Uncle Ricky’s Reel Radio Repository, a site that featured hundreds of recordings of radio stations from around the United States and a few from Canada.

Irwin passed away last week after a long battle with health issues that were causing him great pain. He will be missed.

After leaving radio he became a software engineer and webmaster. It was his expertise in both that allowed him to set up a site for one of his hobbies, collecting airchecks of radio stations, and sharing it with the world.

ReelRadio was the site that got me hooked on the internet more than a quarter century ago. I even had to buy a faster dial up modem - remember those? - in order to hear the recordings encoded in RealAudio - remember that?

For a radio junkie like me, ReelRadio was even better than being a kid on a candy store. I could relive my youth and more ... there were recordings of KHJ from the Boss Radio years through the amazing comeback days of programmer Chuck Martin. The Mighty 690. KIIS and KIIS-FM. Chicago’s WCFL and WLS. Everything.

Over the years the site expanded and improved. Unedited airchecks were added, and Irwin even restored some recordings to full length, taking the time and care to match the music to the original recording in speed and sound -- not easy work. He even added the same processor as used on many stations of the era to add to its authenticity.

The site itself had its ups and downs, relying at various times on donors and subscribers, eventually becoming a nonprofit organization. Irwin and the ReelRadio Board of Directors made sure music licensing fees were paid, even though realistically they probably wouldn’t be needed.

A few years ago Irwin thought he’s run afoul of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), and he thought the site would have to drastically change; I am happy that I was part of the resolution to the dispute through personal contact with Jonathan Lamy of the RIAA. It was the least I could do for Irwin, considering how much entertainment value he provided me over the years.

More recently Irwin’s health declined and he was in intense pain most of the time. He never had a chance to update the site the way he had hoped -- including re-encoding the audio files into something more modern. So he placed it in limp-mode, and was searching for someone “qualified” to take it over. I  -- and I am sure others -- offered to help do so, but I soon realized that he was not ready to give it up ... yet ... it was his baby, after all and I understood his reluctance.

When he entered the hospital for surgery that promised to alleviate his pain, he shut the site down temporarily until he recovered. unfortunately, he never had the chance: tests got delayed and he passed away before the surgery could be scheduled.

Irwin’s passion in preserving access to radio’s history cannot be denied. His site was extraordinary well-done and was unmatched anywhere else on the internet ... or anywhere else off the net for that matter. Nowhere else could you find the depth and breadth of the collection he put together. His presence will most definitely be missed.

I personally hope the remaining members of the ReelRadio Board or Irwin’s family will let his legacy live on, either through reopening the present site or finding someone who can take over operations and update it and run it in the way Irwin intended. I would be interested in being a part of it, if I can help in any way.

In the meantime, I am going to take some time to reflect on the wonderful person who was Richard “Uncle Ricky” Irwin. The man who gave me and uncounted others world-wide over a quarter century of camaraderie and friendship thorough what I consider the best website ever conceived. Rest in peace and without pain, Uncle Ricky, you will be missed.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Radio Waves Podcast #224

Radio: June 8, 2018

Big news for former KRTH (101.1 FM) afternoon drive personality Shotgun Tom Kelly: not only has he been selected to lead the Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters as the organization’s president effective September, 2018, he’s also landed at SiriusXM and will be hosting afternoon drive on channel 6 -- Sixties on Six.

Kelly will begin his new show in “about a week,” he says.

Kelly is the perfect person to lead the PPB. With an extensive radio and television background in both San Diego and Los Angeles -- I grew up listening to him on the legendary KCBQ/San Diego -- as well as an amazing head full of broadcast trivia and information, he fully represents the goals and ideals of the PPB. I look forward to his presidency.

Ratings troubles

As previously reported, ratings company Nielsen removed four households from the Los Angeles ratings pool and is retroactively recalculating the ratings for the region going all the way back to October, 2017.

The company still refuses to state exactly what was found to be wrong, but issued a statement stating that the homes “did not meet our data quality and integrity standards.”
My hunch would be that at least one person in each household either did something to help raise ratings of their favorite station -- on their own or influenced by someone or something -- such as to play a radio on a particular station as the Portable People Meter “listened” in order to help calculate ratings, or someone in each household was directly or indirectly connected with a station.

That is just a guess of course ... I honestly have no clue. But the change did affect the ratings of some stations in the first month of revisions released in late May. In the revised March ratings, ver half of the top-20 stations in town gained a tenth of a point, while KLAX (97.9 FM) lost a full point, causing it to drop from its original 9th place finish to 15th.

The revised 2.4 share is consistent with the 2.5 share the station earned in April, a month when the suspect households are assumed to have already been replaced.

KLAX owner Spanish Broadcasting System was quick to respond to the revised ratings. “SBS, and other Spanish-language broadcasters, vehemently object and protest such unilateral, and seemingly, discriminatory actions taken by Nielsen,” said SBS General Council Richard Lara, “which unfairly and disproportionally exclude Hispanic-listener households from the ratings methodology. The restated ratings and rankings reports are, in SBS’s view unreliable.”

It would be helpful if Nielsen explained exactly why the households did not meet its quality and integrity standards. But more important than that should be the frightening fact that four households in a city as large as Los Angeles can cause a 29 percent change in ratings for one station.

In other words, regardless of what happened, SBS is right, though not in the way it is trying to argue. Essentially, Nielsen’s system is flawed so badly that the ratings indeed are unreliable. Not just in the restated numbers, but in all numbers. Four households should not make a 29 percent difference in a city with over 11 million listeners aged 6 and over.

Something is just not right.

In History

57 Years ago last week, the first approved FM (multiplex) stereo broadcasts commenced. At midnight Eastern time on May 31/June 1, 1961, WGFM/Schenectady began broadcasting in stereo. At midnight Central time it was WEFM/Chicago. And in Los Angeles at Midnight Pacific time it was KMLA (now KKLQ, 100.3 FM). Those three are “officially” the first stations in the United States to broadcast in stereo after the FCC set June 1st as the day when multiplex broadcasts were authorized. 

But there may be one more. According to a story in industry newspaper Radio World, KCFM/St. Louis broadcast in stereo at the same moment as WEFM, using a stereo generator designed and built personally by station Chief Engineer Ed Bench.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Radio Waves Podcast #223

Radio: June 1, 2018

As I was driving today, unable to hear parts of songs or worse, large portions of stand-up comedy from John Mulaney as I tooled around town listening to SiriusXM Satellite Radio, I figured I better do a followup to the reception-problem column I wrote a few months ago.

Here’s what has transpired since that previous column: absolutely nothing. Unfortunately I put the issue on the back burner for a few reasons ... primarily that reception in my area seemed to improve for a time ... but now it seems it is as bad as ever. Perhaps worse. Time to follow up.

Here are the zones in which I personally experience consistent reception troubles with both the original XM satellites and repeaters, as well as the newer SiriusXM system:

• The 29000 block of South Western Avenue in San Pedro/RPV
• Westmont Drive in San Pedro
• The 405 Freeway South of the 605
• The 405 near LAX

Readers of this column have offered other areas of problem as well:

• Artesia Blvd and Aviation, Redondo Beach
• Artesia and Inglewood, Redondo Beach
• 110 Harbor Freeway near the LA Convention Center
• Gaffey Street between the 110 offramp and 1st Street, San Pedro
• The 405 between Manhattan Beach and Wilshire Blvd.
• Santa Monica Blvd. West of the 405 traveling to and from Beverly Hills
• The 55 Freeway between Dyer and Edinger
• The Ventura freeway between Reseda and Balboa Blvd
• Harbor Blvd. in Fullerton
• The 91 Freeway in Fullerton
• Magnolia and Garfield in Huntington Beach
• The 210 Freeway near Azusa Avenue
• The open plains of both Texas and Oklahoma

There are more, but you get the idea. One reader wrote that there are too many to list and that the problem makes the service unusable.

Interestingly, I never had the reception problems I have now when I was using a radio that picked up the old, original Sirius system. That may be a clue. Astute readers also noticed that in areas of bad reception, they notice cell towers. Certified Communications Engineer Bob Burchett of Enterprise Electronics brought up the cell-tower connection as well, pointing out that this has actually been an issue for a number of years.

“I recall the fight Sirius and XM had with the FCC over use of frequencies in the service for terrestrial coverage to augment the satellite service,” Burchett explained. “They wanted more; the FCC wanted them to use less of it and reduce power. That was some years ago.”

So while I will be forwarding this column to Sirius/XM engineers for comment, I believe the issue is this:

The original XM and newer SiriusXM systems use satellites, of course, but rely (more than perhaps they should) on terrestrial repeaters to help provide consistent reception both in cars and indoors. The problem is that some cell towers operate on the same frequency, and  a phenomenon called “intermodulation” creates a third signal out of the two already there that wreaks havoc on the radio service.

My hunch: The original Sirius system relied more on direct satellite reception, and was less prone to interference of this type.

Basically, the signal is there ... the radios just cant see it. SiriusXM, AT&T and T-Mobile are all supposedly working to fix the issue. But as cell towers proliferate, satellite radio reception deteriorates. And all of the companies want the others to pay for the fix.

As I said, I am contacting SiriusXM engineers for their take on the issue; if/when I hear something I will let you know.