Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Radio Waves Podcast #30

Tom Leykis, heard for years on KFI (640 AM) and KLSX (now KAMP, 97.1 FM) as well as the original KMPC (now KSPN, 710 AM) returns to the terrestrial airwaves this Friday, April 18. Not locally, but on KKSF/San Francisco ... the first time Leykis has been heard on traditional radio in over five years.
The evolution of Leykis is an interesting one. On KFI, he was positioned as the balance to conservative syndicated talker Rush Limbaugh, though his show didn’t necessarily always cover politics. Leykis was always at his best when he spoke on issues personal to him, and those things were not necessarily political. One of his best shows was on buying McDonalds french fries.
On KMPC he stayed with the issues-oriented talk as KMPC tries to make a dent in KFI’s success ... they didn’t. So he moved on to KLSX where he soon became the advice-giving “father figure” or experienced friend to (primarily) young men in how to deal with relationships, how to treat women (or was it keeping them in line?) and get more of things I can’t mention in a family newspaper. 
Listeners responded to the show with rabid dedication, giving Leykis the power to set up a contract so solid that he was actually paid for two years to stay off the radio once KLSX dropped talk to become top-40 Amp Radio. And it showed how flexible Leykis was in radio ... he could do any format -- his style is akin to top-40 music radio, and he’s proven he can change with the times -- and stations -- as far as talk goes.
The last few years Leykis has been hosting a live internet show on The New Normal Network, which can be accessed via or on the smartphone app called TuneIn. It’s another evolution in the life of Leykis, a show like it was on KLSX but in many ways better. More polished. More interesting.
Friday on KKSF, he’s filling in for Gil Gross from 3-7 PM; Leykis tells me that “it will be a combination of the show I do and the straight-ahead show done by Gil.” It will be simulcast on KKSF, the KKSF stream and the usual Leykis streams. Leykis also plans a half-hour before and after tailgate/postgame program to be heard on his New Normal streams. Uncensored, of course.
“Ive known Gil for over 20 years,” Leykis told me. “This came as a total surprise.” If I may be so bold as to predict... Leykis on KKSF will be, to local listeners, a total surprise too. It should be interesting.
Anniversary Time
April 12 was the two-year anniversary of The Mo’Kelly Show on KFI; Kelly celebrated with a low-key in-studio party at the Clear Channel complex in beautiful downtown Burbank. Morris OKellys show is a bright spot on weekends and can be heard on KFI Saturdays from 6-8 PM.
Hawaiian Calls
Quite a few letters came in regarding last week’s question on music of the Hawaiian Islands. George Schwenk of San Pedro told of the old days: “I remember every Saturday KHJ and the Mutual/Don Lee Broadcasting System broadcast a live musical program from Hawaii as a sustaining program. I also remember when KPAS (1110-kc) first came on the air in the early 1940s, they played Hawaiian music solidly for two weeks. And early in FM broadcasting, KCBH (Crawfords of Beverly Hills) broadcast Hawaiian records regularly once a week.”
John Hammell of Glendale probably remembers the same show heard on KHJ: “I think he is probably thinking of the "Hawaii Calls" Radio Show. It was on the air until 1975; I definitely remember listening to the show.”
But what to do about it now? Bill lodge of Redondo Beach has a suggestion: “There are quite a few on the tunein radio app. My favorite is KINE 105 in Honolulu.”
Added Herb Boone of Bloomington: “I don't know of any Hawaiian music played locally, but I have "DISH" cable, and their music channels carry Hawaiian music 24/7 on channel 
981 CD 32.”
Likewise, says broadcast engineering consultant Joel Saxberg of Arcadia, “There is no need to wait for Sunday evenings. If you have a computer you can listen to an internet station called AlohaJoe.Com. The programs are produced in California, but you’d never guess it ... it screams of Hawaii.”

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Radio Waves Podcast #29

If everything goes according to plan, “Shotgun” Tom Kelly will be back on the airwaves by the time you read this. Kelly told me Sunday afternoon that his doctors cleared him to return to the KRTH (101.1 FM) afternoon airwaves on April 10.
Kelly has been off the air since early last month when he went in for a routine physical. He mentioned to his doctors that he felt pressure in his chest; after their diagnosis, what was first going to be a relatively simple angioplasty turned into a quadruple heart bypass surgery on March 8. 
By the following Monday, he sent a text to his friends including a photo taken in his hospital room, and he’s been itching to get back on the air ever since.
Kelly has been one of my favorite DJs since I first heard him on KCBQ/San Diego (1170 AM) in the 1970s. He and his wife, Linda, still live in “America’s Finest City,” as they called it back then, on weekends; he commutes to Los Angeles where he stays during the week for his show on KRTH.
I once asked him why he doesn’t just voice-track his show from San Diego instead of putting in the long drive and time away from his family. “(Then programmer) Jhani Kaye insists that any DJ that works for KRTH actually broadcast from the KRTH studios,” he told me. But I knew there was more. “It wouldn’t be right to short-change my listeners,” he later explained.
I know he reads this column, so let me just say, “Welcome back, Shotgun. We missed you.”
Down on the Corner
KNX (1070 AM) is once again hitting the streets, this time taking the microphones to the historic Fairfax district and the surrounding areas on Friday, April 25th with another edition of “KNX On Your Corner.”
The usual suspects are involved, this time broadcasting from the great Canter’s Deli at 419 North Fairfax Avenue, Los Angeles. Dick Helton and Vicki Moore start the day at 5 am, broadcasting live until 9:00. It’s back to the studios until 1 pm when Frank Mottek does the Business Hour from Canter’s counters. Then it’s Diane Thompson and Chris Sedens reporting the news from 2-7.
The day’s programming and roundtable discussions form area leaders will also feature Hancock Park, Beverly Grove and Mid-Wilshire, which includes the Miracle Mile, in which the KNX studios are located. The Fairfax District itself encompasses Farmer’s Market, The Grove, CBS Television City and Pan-Pacific Park.
In my opinion, it would be worth it just for the Canter’s Deli food. Just sayin’...
Hawaiian Music
Glen Cheslock of Tarzana has an interesting question: “Many years ago (1964?) I used to listen to a broadcast late on Sunday evenings. It was music from the Islands. Very soothing and enjoyable. Is that music broadcast locally anymore?”
My instinct says no, but I thought I’d ask you if you happen to know of any station running such programming. If you do, drop me a line and I’ll send the information to Glen.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Radio Waves Podcast #28

It’s been quite some time since KFWB (980 AM) was in the news. The talk format as originally envisioned has been a miserable failure by almost every measure (and that’s being kind, believe me), and it seemed that owner CBS was hoping that by having no one notice the station they might be able to hold onto it longer ... the company has been over the ownership limit for over a decade and has done nothing to divest itself of the “surplus” property.
That’s a sad state of affairs for a station that was once huge. Twice, in fact. First as LA’s first top-40 giant called ”Color Radio Channel 98” where it commanded huge ratings that covered ages from teens to adults, then as all news where in 22 minutes, they would “give you the world.”
Programmer Andy Ludlum understands that. And he knows how KFWB can compete. In fact, before he was made PD of sister all-news station KNX (1070 AM) in addition to KFWB, he had actually beaten KNX in the all-news race.
Slowly but surely, Ludlum has been tweaking KFWB’s format. Moving shows, dropping some, expanding news. At the same time, morning anchor Phil Hulett has been developing a general talk podcast with the hoe of launching it on a terrestrial radio station. 
Those two forces have come together with the debut last Monday, March 31, of As We See It with Phil Hulett and Friends. Hulett -- a local boy I remember from Cal State Long Beach’s old student-run station KSUL -- is joined by friends -- and they actually are friends -- Jennifer Bjorklund, Jayson Campadonia and Chris Martin.
The program airs weekdays at 2 PM on KFWB.
Broadcasting from San Pedro’s own LA Radio Studio overlooking the Los Angeles Harbor from Ports O Call, the program will take an entertaining look at the “stories behind the stories that matter to you most.”
Ludlum has been working closely with Hulett to adapt the program for the traditional airwaves, but it really didn’t take much tweaking. Hulett has always wanted the program to be able to be carried by radio stations even as he expanded its popularity in the podcast arena. The goal eventually is to be able to syndicate a two-hour program to stations nationwide. True to its roots, the KFWB show will still be available for listening online at
Personally, I think it is a great move on the part of KFWB. I still hold to my belief that political talkradio is dead and that programs like these will be the basis for the format’s renaissance. Hulett’s podcast really has been a fun program and can lead the way for KFWB.
Call Letters
The column two weeks agon regarding what I believe is missing from radio today continues to bring in letters and emails. I don’t want to take a lot of time this week but I thought this response just nails my thoughts on station call letters:
Trish McNorgan wrote in an email: “As a career broadcaster, your article on the days of Top 40 radio certainly peaked my interest. The call-letters especially are something that is missing today. I think one of the reasons is that every market has a “Hot” or a “Cool” etc. I worked many years at CKLW at 50,000 watts out of Detroit/Windsor. It was a station I grew up listening to and idolized. To say those calls on the air was akin to playing hockey for the Montreal Canadiens or baseball for the New York Yankees. There was only one CKLW, and like many of the AM blasters, such as WLS Chicago or WABC New York, you could listen a half continent away. Yes the signal faded in and out, but when it was clear, magic happened. You were there, feeling the night air in Chicagoland. Radio magic (not MAGIC 103). It’s gone forever.”
I couldn’t say it better myself. Can you imagine KHJ, KFWB or KRLA here, KFXM/Riverside, KEZY/Anaheim, WCFL/Chicago, KFRC/San Francisco ... being known as anything BUT their call letters? Generic names like Hot, Magic, Cool, et al. are a byproduct of modern corporate Wal-Mart Radio. Cheap. Consistent. Boring. Bland. Broken.
As the Professor
Reader Mike Dangott helped out with the public service program question. “I also listened to Ask the Professor years ago (early Sunday mornings). It’s is still on the air!  Check their website at; you can find a list of their present affiliates along with many recent programs archived.