Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Radio Waves Podcast #45

August 15, 2014
George Nicholaw, best known for his work as General Manager of KNX (1070 AM), passed away on Saturday August 9th at his home. He was 86.
He started his tenure with CBS -- The Columbia Broadcasting System as it was known at the time -- in 1955. In 1967 he was named General Manager of CBS Radio’s KNX; in 1968 he oversaw the station’s move to all news from it’s previous format of news and entertainment-oriented programs.
He remained as manager at the station until 2003, the longest tenure of any manager of any news station in the United States.
It was not an amicable separation, however. Infinity Broadcasting, which had bought CBS Radio and its radio stations previously (later the company would take on the CBS Radio name again), brought Patrick Duffy into a new position at the station: vice president and marketing manager for KNX and sister station KRTH. Nicholaw’s position was then eliminated, though he was offered another position at a lower salary.
Instead of accepting the lower position, Nichlaw sued Infinity Broadcasting, claiming age discrimination. He lost the suit when an LA Superior Court judge concluded that there was no case.
During his long run as GM, KNX was one of the most honored news stations in the industry with more awards per year than any other. Over 170 Golden Mike Awards, the Peabody Award, the National Association of Broadcaster’s Crystal Award, any many more.
He also kept up the tradition of daily editorials, once a mainstay of radio but seldom heard after the beginning of deregulation. Nicholaw believed they were important and kept them on the air -- voiced by himself -- until he left the station in 2003. I don’t believe the station has aired an editorial since.
Don Barrett of LARadio.Com says that Nicholaw was “one of the smartest and nicest Los Angeles Radio People ever.” Barrett dedicated the August 11th edition of LARadio.Com to Nicholaw’s memory; it includes a tribute and a fascinating look at Nicholaw and KNX as an all-news powerhouse. My favorite Nicholaw quote:
“I formatted the station in my own mind to follow a newspaper. A food section was part of a newspaper and there was a drama section. You name it and I tried to do it. I even had a horoscope. We were journalists and I figured that whatever a newspaper was doing we ought to be doing the same damn thing. That’s how that started. The food news hour started with Mike Roy and Denny Bracken.”
You can still read the tribute in the site’s archives.
Rich Retirement
Rich “Brother” Robbin, who made his name in Los Angeles on K-100 (KIQQ, now KSWD 100.3 FM), Ten Q (KTNQ, 1020 AM) and KKDJ (now KIIS-FM, 102.7) as well as in San Diego via KCBQ (1070 AM) and others, has decided to hang up his headphones permanently. His retirement from San Diego’s XHPRS (The Walrus, 105.7 FM) was effective August 8th.
Robbin is a tremendously talented DJ and programmer, and his retirement is well-deserved. Still, it is a sad reminder of what radio once was and is rarely now: exciting, professional, and competitive.
True to form, Robbin is positive about his retirement. “When you get to this point in life you change ... emotions shift ... I began to see what mattered and what didn't, and what matters now is more time with friends, the beach (both walking and sitting), sometimes doing nothing but for sure, no more radio,” he told me.
His flashback internet station RichBroRadio.Com continues for now, but it’s month to month, he says. Speaking of which, you might got there now ... while you still can. It’s a fun oldies stream with classic jingles to match.
August 8, 2014
Blood Drive Success
KLOS (95.5 FM) had another hugely successful blood drive at the end of July. The five-day event collected almost 8000 (I am told it was just shy of 7900) units of blood at 20 locations throughout Southern California.
This is the 33rd year KLOS has hosted the drive, and is consistently one of the country’s most successful drives of its type anywhere.
Openings at KFWB
Perhaps the new all sports format won’t necessarily be the awful CBS Sports Radio syndicated format everyone, including me, is predicting for KFWB (980 AM) when they change this coming September. Employment opportunities included, among other things, on-air talent (at least as of press time) at http://kfwbam.com/job-openings-at-kfwb. Would be nice to see a local focus at least part of the day.
It was 33 years ago when MTV -- Music Television -- made its debut on cable companies across America. The exact date was August 1st, 1981.
For those under 40, MTV once played what was called “music videos.” Hosted by “VJs” Alan Hunter, Mark Goodman, Nina Blackwood, Martha Quinn (all of whom can be found on SiriusXM’s “80s on 8” Channel 8) and the late, great JJ Jackson, the channel quickly became a trendsetter for music, breaking both songs and new bands.
I’m not sure anyone seriously thought MTV would “kill” radio, though the first song played on the network was the Buggles’ “Video Killed the Radio Star.” What happened instead is that MTV either helped or was part of a resurgence of top-40 radio. Across the country, stations like KIIS-FM (102.7) started dominating the ratings just as MTV was taking flight. Coincidence? Probably not.
For the same reason that a format paradox often exists in radio, in which two competing stations actually build an audience together that is higher for both than each station would do in a format exclusively, MTV brought attention back to popular music after years of decline in the popularity of top-40.
And since interest in popular music was on the rise due to the popularity of music videos on MTV as well as local shows ... but you could not take your TV in your car or to school ... radio was able to capitalize and build on that popularity. KIIS set FM ratings records for the era, all the while competitors such as KIQQ (now KSWD, 100.3 FM) and alternative stations such as KROQ (106.7 FM) did quite well too. It was a fun time for both music and radio. Not necessarily cause and effect, mind you, but they MTV and radio did seem to help each other.
Unfortunately, MTV is nothing more than a stomping ground for half-baked reality programs these days. And traditional top-40 radio -- the type that plays the best of all popularity musical genres? Dead as a doornail. Weird ...
Neil Saavedra -- host of KFI’s (640 AM) Fork Report and The Jesus Show -- has been named assistant programmer of the top-rated talk station, reporting to Program Director Robin Bertolucci.

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