Thursday, May 8, 2014

Radio Waves Podcast #32

It was almost exactly a year ago that I wrote of the impending change of program director at sister stations KRTH (101.1 FM) and KTWV (94.7 FM), what with the retirement of Jhani Kaye. On May 21, 2013 I wrote that Kaye’s replacement would be Rick Thomas, and that Thomas -- who arrived in Los Angeles after successfully programming a cluster of stations in Honolulu -- would take over in June.
Just shy of a year later, CBS announced last week that they will be transferring Thomas to New York, where he will take the reigns of WNOW (92.3 FM), which has been without a programmer since Rick Gillette left in December.
At the time Thomas was appointed to KTWV and KRTH I thought it an interesting move, since Thomas’ expertise was “rhythmic oldies” and “rhythmic contemporary” stations. He launched or developed the formats on numerous stations including those in Honolulu, San Francisco and San Diego. I even predicted that the days of The Wave as “smooth jazz” were numbered, and that it soon would become “old school,” which it indeed did become late last year as “LA’s Smooth R&B station.”
The change at The Wave failed, to put it kindly. A weird mishmash of oldies and a name that still means either “smooth jazz” (or “that damn station that took away KMET,” depending on to whom you speak) caused ratings to tank to a level lower than KMET itself had when the decision was made to pull the plug back in 1987. Most recently the station found itself in a 4-way tie for 18th place in the Nielsens, with a 2.2 percent share of the audience.
Somewhat ironic when you consider that KRTH itself held steady, and I’ve heard rumblings that overall, staffers at KRTH liked him a lot. Of course KRTH stayed true to its history and it was always the easier station to run. Even Kaye himself, with his vast experience programming KOST for years, was successful with KRTH but could do little with The Wave.
Regardless, this opens up another rumor. My hunch this time? The Wave will be totally gone by the end of the year, and that CBS will put their CBS SportsRadio format -- currently an HD Radio sub-channel stream on KCBS-FM (93.1 HD-1, to be exact) onto the 94.7 frequency. Ratings will tank further if they do that, but I still bet it will happen.
No replacement for Thomas has been announced, but reader Joe Costanzo says he has sent tweets out on Twitter asking that Kaye be brought back. I doubt Kaye would come back, but it’s an interesting thought.
Quick Takes
Randi Rhodes, last heard in Los Angeles on former affiliate KTLK (now KEIB, 1150 AM) will end her syndicated program for her remaining affiliates on May 16. Rhodes was one of the best liberal-slanted talk programs, but ratings were just never there and political talk radio in general seems to be slowly going away ...
Ben Hoberman, the man who brought talk radio to Los Angeles when he launched the format on KABC in 1960, passed away on May 3rd. He was 92.

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