Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Radio Waves Podcast #20

KFI (640 AM) and KPCC (89.3 FM) were the big winners in the 64th Annual Golden Mike Awards presented January 25th by the Radio and Television News Association of Southern California. Each station ran away with seven Golden Mikes, the highest number of any stations winning awards for the year.
But that wasn’t the only big news. KNX (1070 AM) won six Golden Mikes, including Best Newscast Over 15 Minutes. Not to be outdone, little KCLU/Ventura (1340 AM, 88.3 FM) on the campus of California Lutheran University won four Mikes including Best News reporting, and little student-run K-BEACH out of Cal State Long Beach, broadcasting on the HD-3 digital sub-channel of KKJZ (88.1 FM) won a Mike for Best News Public Affairs Program via their program entitled “Daily 49er News.”
Other winning stations included KFWB (980 AM): two Golden Mikes; KVTA/Ventura (1590 AM): two Golden Mikes; Pomona College student-run KSPC (88.7 FM): two Golden Mikes; KHAY/Ventura (100.7 FM): one Golden Mike and KCSN (88.5 FM) from Cal State Northridge: two Golden Mikes.
The full list of awards, including the programs that won the awards, is available on the Radio and Television NEws Association’s website, rtna.org
Jarrin Honored by PPB 
Dodgers broadcaster Jaime Jarrin, who has done play-by-play for the Dodgers in Spanish since 1958, was honored with the Art Gilmore Career Achievement Award presented by the Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters at their monthly luncheon held January 24th at the Sportsmen’s Lodge.
Jarrin is the second-longest tenured broadcaster in Major League Baseball. The longest-running? None other than fellow Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully (with the Dodgers since 1950), who was on hand to help present the award.
Jarrin was born in Cayambe, Ecuador and began his broadcast career t the age of 16. He arrived in the United States in June of 1955 ... and he had never seen a baseball game in his life.
By 1958 he was the news and sports director at Spanish-language music station KWKW (then at 1300 AM, now at 1330 AM). When the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles from Brooklyn, New York, KWKW obtained the broadcast rights and Jarrin began his Dodgers play-by-play career.
The early years of Dodgers baseball for Jarrin did not include traveling to the actual ballparks. Instead, he would broadcast what might be called recreations or translations of games by listening to the English-language broadcasts of the games in a studio. Sometime in the early to mid 1960s, he began broadcasting directly from the games.
From 1962 to 1984, Jarrin called almost 4000 games without missing any of them during the 22 seasons. The string of games was broken only when he was put in charge of all Spanish-language radio coverage of the 1984 Olympic Games.
Today, the Dodgers are carried in Spanish on KTNQ (1020 AM).
Hull Signing
Longtime broadcaster Dave “Hullabalooer” Hull, associated primarily with the top-40 heyday of the original KRLA (now KDIS, 1110 AM) will be reading from and signing copies of his book, “Hullabaloo! The Life and (Mis) Adventures of LA Radio Legend Dave Hull” on Thursday, February 6th from 7 to 8 p.m. at Book Soup, 8818 Sunset Blvd. in West Hollywood.
Hull is one of the nicest guys I have ever met in radio, and he was in some ways a thorn in the side of the jocks at 1960s competitor KHJ (930 AM), which just couldn’t knock him down in the ratings in spite of KHJ’s overall dominance. I expect this to be quite a fun evening.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Radio Waves Podcast #19

KNX (1070 AM) takes an in-depth look at the Crescenta Valley next Friday, January 31st as “KNX on Your Corner” heads North.
“Corner” was a program originally launched by sister station KFWB (980 AM) to get out into the local communities and highlight the areas through discussions and live broadcasts. KNX took over the series when KFWB changed from news to a news/talk format.
This time the programming will focus on the group of communities lying between the San Gabriel and the Verdugo Mountains: Sunland, Tujunga, La CaƱada Flintridge and La Crescenta-Montrose. Civic and business leaders will be on hand to discuss the areas advantages and challenges.
KNX will broadcast live throughout much of the day from the Black Cow Cafe, 2223 Honolulu Avenue in Old Town Montrose. The morning newscast anchored by Tom Haule and Vicky Moore will start the day’s broadcasts from 5-9 a.m. It’s back to the studios at 9 while locals hear roundtable discussions with area leaders.
At 1 p.m., Frank Mottek will host the Business Hour live again from the Cafe, then at 2:00 Chris Sedens and the great Diane Thompson will anchor the afternoon news from the Cafe as well.
I think the Corner series is one of the best special events carried by KNX. Listeners can learn a lot about areas of the County that they may never have even visited, and it gets the station involved locally ... exactly what radio needs to do. It seems I am not alone in thinking that way; the series was honored in 2013 with a Golden Mike from the Radio and Television News Association of Southern California.
Upcoming Corner visits for 2014 will include San Gabriel Valley, Orange County and Marina del Rey.
Digital Bliss
You may remember a while back that I was looking to install a new car stereo “head unit” in my truck to take advantage of some newer technology. Namely digital HD Radio and a built-in bluetooth cell phone connection. In took a while, but I finally found one I like, that also includes a new SiriusXm tuner add-on.
Without getting too technical, I learned a lot about about some of the newer equipment. For example, with SiriusXM Satellite Radio, there are actually three systems: the original Sirius system that uses the Sirius satellites. the XM system that sues the XM satellites, and the SiriusXM system that uses XM satellites but isn’t compatible with the other two systems and was the solution to the FCC requirement to offer receiver compatible to both Sirius and XM.
So my findings? I love the new radio. Not enough to marry it (I am already happily married anyway) but a fun toy nonetheless. In spite of its technical problems with interference, I do like the sound of digital HD Radio on AM. KNX, in fact, has a superb-sounding signal on HD that puts many FM stations to shame. KFI (640 AM) is nice as well but doesn’t have the smooth high-end that KNX offers. KABC (790 AM) sounds like the highs are overemphasized and not good to my ears. Where I drive, KNX, KFI, KABC and KFWB stay locked onto HD fairly well, while KDIS (1110 AM) has trouble. KBRT (740 AM) is somewhere between. As expected, KOGO (600 AM) from San Diego goes in and out of HD as I drive.
The extra channels offered by the newest SiriusXM system include some fun ones, such as Carlin’s Corner ... all George Carlin all the time. And for reasons yet unknown to me, the SiriusXM system seems to sound better than either of the old Sirius or XM system receivers. I am not sure if they are using a different compression scheme of it’s just a better amplifier on the new radio, but it is better to me ears. And I can now rewind the audio if I miss something.
Overall, call me a happy camper.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Radio Waves Podcast #18

KDAY Format Safe
... at least for now. After searching for the past year or so for a buyer of it’s KDAY/Redondo Beach and KDEY/Ontario (simulcast on 93.5 FM), Magic Broadcasting has agreed to sell the duo to Meruelo Media, owner of KWHY Channel 22 in Los Angeles.
Meruelo took over control of the stations through what is called an LMA, or Limited Marketing Agreement, January 1st in order to effectively run the station as the sale progresses through the regulatory and financial process. According to the company the classic hip-hop format is safe. 
“Los Angeles has saved KDAY” according to Mereulo CEO Alex Meruelo in a prepared statement. “I’ve been a longtime fan of KDAY and I’m excited to have the opportunity to re-energize such a beloved Southern California cultural institution. KDAY is L.A.”
The original KDAY at 1580 AM was the station that actually did the ground work for the format that eventually landed on 95.5 FM, known at one time as KFOX. The original 1580/K-DAY had great success playing Hip-Hop and Rap music in the late 1970s and early 1980s that had previously never made it to commercial radio stations anywhere else. It truly was a trendsetter.
That KDAY featured a staff of some phenomenal DJs that included one of my all-time favorites, JJ Johnson, and King News from legendary newsman (and current voice of Tony the Tiger) Lee Marshall.
The problem with KDAY today is the limited signal. Of course that may be a good thing, since a general mass-appeal format would have a tough time competing there, while a specialized format will attract an audience that is fiercely loyal. KDAY’s audience? Fierce! As long as Meruelo makes money, the Hip-Hop on KDAY is safe.
Mail Bag
“Do you have any idea if there are any audio clips of the late Jim Healy who used to do a brief, comic type spoof of sports news back in, I believe, the 80's or early ‘90s prior to his death? I thought it was a blast listening to his short, I believe 30 minute broadcast. He would interject the Tommy Lasorda cussing tirade from way back when with all the "bleeps". It was hilarious! I can not find any clips/shows on the internet and thought I'd run the question past you.” -- Alan Kaliff, Lancaster
Healy was one of a kind; his drop-ins of the various swearing and other elements are legendary. I did find a few on YouTube of all places, one can be found at http://tinyurl.com/KMPCH, and with that link you can find quite a few more.
“With all the radio stations in the Los Angeles area, you spend an inordinate about of time talking about a mere few, and for the last few columns all you have talked about is Rush Limbaugh and the obvious bromance you have for John Phillips. Both of whom I consider the worse things to happen to radio and this country. All this shows me is where your bias leanings are. 
“How can you have a radio column in this city, with it's large hispanic population, and not give a mention to any of the many stations and their hosts that cater to that population other than the ratings? I would think again its conservative selectism (sic) at work, ignore it till you need it.” -- Paul M. 
There are a few things at work here. First is that in reality, over the past 26 years, I have covered Limbaugh, and political talk radio in general, very little. The past few weeks are due to the fact that his move to KTLK (1150 AM) -- and the station’s format change itself -- is big news. Secondly, due to my limited linguistic brain power, I don’t speak any foreign languages and thus it is difficult to cover foreign-language stations. On the other hand, I would not expect a foreign-language newspaper to cover English radio often either.
I cover radio from my perspective. What I like and don’t, from the viewpoint of someone who loves “good” radio ... as defined my me. I cover stations regardless of audience demographics. Ironically, I actually try to avoid much on political talk formats partly because get accused of being either a right-wing wacko or a left-wing fanatic ... from the same column!
And as always, if you want something covered, just send me a note. I do my best to answer all mail, electronic or not, though I admit to be awful in replying to standard US Mail.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Radio Waves Podcast #17

Stereo Limbaugh
It has been common knowledge for the past month or so that Rush Limbaugh would be moved from his longtime home of KFI (640 AM) to the new “Patriot,” KEIB (formerly KTLK, 1150 AM), so when I logged onto the KFI website Monday to find out who the new host was for the unfilled 1-3 p.m. shift, I was surprised to see Limbaugh still listed as the 9 a.m. to 12 noon host.
I was ready to call KFI/KEIB marketing manager Neil Saavadra and give him a hard time about the mistake. Until I tuned in and discovered that Limbaugh was indeed on KFI. As well as KEIB. What gives?
“We wanted to make the transition an easy one,” Saavadra told me. So through January 17th, you can hear Limbaugh on two local stations. January 20, then, will mark the beginning of KFI’s almost-all-local format. Oh, and the new 1-3 p.m. shift? Nothing to announce yet; it appears that a selection is being made as we speak.
Weather Beat
I received more emails on Johnny Magnus’ “Weather with a Beat” this week than on any topic in recent memory. More than even the political talk radio letters. It seems that Magnus has a lot of fans still.
More than a few people wrote to give me the name of the song, which turns out to be “Cute,” arranged by Neal Hefti and performed by Count Basie and his orchestra.
Reader Mike Dangott wrote also to tell of a website that showcases the Golden West era of KMPC, at www.710kmpc.com. KMPC is one of Magnus’ longtime stomping grounds. But others -- including former KMPC master programmer Chuck Southcott himself -- recall Magnus on other stations as well. “I recall first hearing Magnus doing ‘Weather with a Beat’ when I was in high school and he was at KGFJ,” he said. “Johnny used several themes for the bit, but most often the music was indeed Hefti's ‘Cute.’”
KMET Connection 
I asked former KMET (now KTWV, 94.7 FM) newsman and morning co-host “Paraquat” Pat Kelley if “Weather with a Beat” was the genesis behind Kelley’s famous “Fish Report with a Beat” as heard on The Mighty Met. Turns out, it was. “Sure, it was a parody of The Magnus thing. We used The Band’s rendition The Third Man Theme. (Pink Floyd’s) Roger Waters recorded the theme and put it on an album.” Somehow this all makes sense now.
Radio History
I knew someone would come to the rescue.
Jim Hilliker is Los Angeles radio’s official historian. I know of no other single person who possesses the vast knowledge of Hilliker, and I have been hounding him to write a book (a series of books more likely) on the subject of Los Angeles broadcasting. He sent along this note:
“The license for 1150 AM has had 8 combinations of call letters, but the station used the KIIS call letters two separate times, 1970 to 1980, and again from 12-1-84 to 8-17-97. The change from KTLK to KEIB is the 9th set of call letters used by 1120/1150.” 
Those calls are KMIC, KMCS, KRKD, KIIS, KPRZ, KIIS (again), KXTA and KTLK.
As it turns out, 1150 is not the only frequency used by the station, which complicates the story a bit. As Hilliker explains, “Between 1927 and 11-11-28, the licensee used 775 kilocycles, 1140 and 1340 kilocycles (or kilohertz today) on the AM band. The station moved from 1340 to 1120 on November 11, 1928, but had to divide air time with KFSG. The change from 1120 to 1150 took place on March 29, 1941. The KRKD calls were used the longest from January 21, 1932 until May 1, 1970, 38 years.
“Trivia about the station history:  Network radio and TV announcer Harry Von Zell started in radio at KMIC/Inglewood in 1927; Also, movie and later radio and TV cowboy star Roy Rogers first sang on the radio over station KMCS/Inglewood in 1931 on a midnight talent show using his given name of Leonard Slye.”
So there you have ... the rest of the story.