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 http://philhulettandfriends.podbean.com.
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 www.udmercy.edu/atp; you can find a list of their present affiliates along with many recent programs archived.

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