Thursday, September 25, 2014

Radio Waves Podcast #51

If you can stand one more column on KFWB (980 AM) ... the station finally launched its new Beast identity last Monday, September 22, along with a handful of local shows exclusive to the station.
Former LA Clipper and UCLA Bruin basketball player Marquis Johnson teams up with Fox Sports anchor Jeanne Zelasco to start the day with a love and local program weekday mornings from 5:30 to 9:00. They are followed by CBS Sports syndicated host Jim Rome 9:00 to noon. Noon to 3:00 p.m. features longtime popular Channel 4 sportscaster Fred Roggin for another local program.
Afternoons from 3:00 to 7:00 are hosted by former NFL tight end George Wrighster and veteran San Diego radio/TV host Brett Winterble in a program called “The Drive.” LA Sports Today comes on at 7:00.
At 9 p.m., it’s back to the CBS Sports Radio syndicated fare, including Doug Gottlieb at 9:00, Damon Amendolara at 11:00, and Tiki Barber, Brandon Tierney and Dana Jacobson at 3:00 a.m.
As the flagship station for the Los Angeles Clippers, The Beast 980 will carry every Clippers game throughout the year in addition to what station spokesman Howard Freshman calls “comprehensive, behind-the-scenes coverage” of the team.
The station will also carry NFL primetime games on Sunday, Monday and Thursday nights, NCAA football and basketball games, a weekly look (I am a Bruin so should I say “weakly look?”) at USC athletes on “Trojans Live; time and date to be announced.
I have to say, as much as I think sports radio won’t work -- and I have a couple decades of ratings from other all-sports stations from Los Angeles to prove my point -- I have to say I am impressed with what The Beast has put together. At least on paper. I like that most of the broadcast day is local. Will it be enough? 
That’s a tough one ... I still say no. I just don’t think radio listeners in Southern California care enough about sports to tune in to sports radio to begin with. Fully 16 stations come up ahead of the combined ratings for KLAC (570 AM), KLAA (830 AM), and KSPN (710 AM). The current top of the heap, KLAC, is 29th, and that is with the Dodgers who could not be seen on most televisions this season. That KFWB is now the 4th such station in town does not bode well for its future success.
If I am wrong, though, I will certainly admit it.
The Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters saluted Carl Reiner at the luncheon earlier this month. Sitting next to me was my host, Chuck Southcott, former programmer of the late, great original KMPC (now KSPN, 710 AM) and the Music of Your Life format; to his left was former KLAC and XETRA (690 AM) programmer Brad Chambers. Both have been competitors; both are currently working on projects involving adult standards music: Southcott with a syndicated format available -- unfortunately -- only in other cities, and Chambers with Martini in the Morning (www.MartiniInThe Morning.Com), an internet service playing the same music.
I always wondered if the two of them got along, considering that they for years have been competitors, often at stations that seemed to be fiercely competitive.
Turns out, they are friends. I should have guessed ... both are true gentlemen. And the stories they told were almost as interesting as was Reiner! Accidental behind-the-scenes radio stories ... gotta love it.
Marotta Retiring
Rich Marotta announced last week that he will be retiring from radio, including from the show he has been a part of for the last 22 years, the Bill Handel morning program on KFI (640 AM). His last day will be Friday, September 26.
According to All Access Music Group, a website dedicated to radio (, Marotta has been doing his KFI work from his home in Reno, Nevada. 
Clear Channel is Dead
It is true. We don’t have Clear Channel to kick around any more. Unfortunately, the company that did more to damage radio than any other single company is still here, just under a different name.
Does this mean even Clear Channel executives know how much people hate them?
Regardless, the company is now called IHeartMedia. Big whoop. I would have been happier had the company just gone under so their hundreds of radio stations could revert back to being, well, good.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Radio Waves Podcast #50

KNBC Channel 4 sportscaster Fred Roggin has been added to the roster at “The Beast” KFWB (980 AM). He will handle the 12 noon to 3 PM shift which follows Jim Rome’s 9 AM to 12 noon time slot.
“I’m ready to go Beast mode,” Roggin said through a KFWB press release.

Roggin actually started in radio before moving to television over 30 years ago. Longtime viewers of Channel 4 News may remember him as the young buck who played second fiddle to top dog Stu Nahan for a few years before taking over when Nahan’s contract with the station was not renewed in 1986.

Hard to believe it was that long ago.

Roggin does bring some credibility to The Beast 980, with 30 local Emmys, 22 Golden Mikes, three Associated Press Awards, and a lifetime achievement award from the Los Angeles Press Club. He’s known for good reporting and good humor, often intertwined ... Roggins Heroes, anyone? Though I always wondered who ripped off whom, since I recall similar silly sports segments from a New York-based show. Regardless, no one can deny that Roggin is a popular and highly respected sports reporter.

Won’t matter, though. Sports stations don’t work in Los Angeles.

Living in the Past

Greg Wood of West Hills wrote to tell me of a website that runs airchecks -- recordings of radio stations -- of KFRC/San Francisco, one of the all-time best top-40 radio stations in America. Tune into on your computer or smart phone and its like living in the 1970s or 1980s.
I love airchecks like these. It gives you a chance to experience radio like it was in the past ... when top-40 was competitive, creative, and demanding of everyone involved. To the listener, it was magic.

I like to drive my wife and kids crazy by playing airchecks in the car as I drive. This is a a fun way to do that, as well as hear songs I haven’t heard for a while. I’ve bought quite a few songs via iTunes after hearing them on old airchecks ... you’d be surprised how many once popular songs never make it to the oldies or Classic Rock stations of today. Allowing websites to play airchecks can help sell music (are you listening, RIAA?)
Anyway, just when I was about to mention this to you, I noticed that the audio was not working. Well, not working fully ... it worked on my iPhone, just not on my computer. To the rescue? Greg Wood again ...

“I e-mailed you a short time ago regarding a web site streaming air checks from KFRC at,” he wrote. “The audio from that site may not be working, I found it can be accessed at Streema.Com via

“There's also a Facebook page set up:, and from there is a link that plays a audio CD recording that was issued in '91 for the 25 year anniversary. It's really amazing and put together well, narrated by Bobby Ocean:
“I'm still playing the Lotto in hopes of winning something big and find that station to buy to bring back good radio.”
That’s my reason for playing the lotto too ...

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Radio Waves Podcast #49

The bidding ends September 12 at 5 PM, but if you happen to read this beforehand, you have some extra bucks sitting around, and you always wanted to have an internet show broadcast from your house, you’re in luck.

It’s the Tom Leykis Show “Done From Your House” promotion.
Here’s how it works: Bid on eBay (item #231327278940). The winning bid, according to the item description, will “have the pleasure of hosting the internet's most listened to call-in show for one full episode at his home. In his backyard. At his kitchen table. At poolside. In his apartment.”

Leykis says that it is for a private residence only, hosted by the winner and his friends. No storefronts, no parks, no beaches ... nothing that the general public can attend. The winner agrees to have a fast internet connection (for live streaming,” and the winner cannot transfer the show to another person.

Importantly, according to the item description page, “If you're not within 500 miles of our Burbank, CA studio and the cost of getting to your place and back plus two rooms for one night in a local hotel exceeds the amount of your bid, you are responsible for the difference.”

Leykis is quite candid about the auction and the live broadcast. History in the making and “getting us closer to making a profit!” he says.

Starting bid was $9.99 at 5 PM Sunday; just four hours later, it was already up to $4050. That would cover a really nice hotel, I think ... I’ll have the winning bid and Leykis’ reaction next week.

Saving AM

While numerous people and broadcast groups give lip-service to improving the ability of AM broadcasters to compete, a “microbroadcaster” named Jeffrey Gill, who broadcasts to his local community of Shirley, Massachusetts via unlicensed but legal “Part 15” transmitters, thinks he has a real solution.

Basically, force radio manufacturers to make decent AM radio sections in their radio designs, and work to cut AM interference from products as wide ranging as traffic signals to cable boxes. Read his petition at Change.Org via this link:

HD Problem

I enjoy your column in the Press-Telegram and learn from it. I recently bought a new car and have HD radio for the first time. I am disappointed that the HD fades in and out, causing an echo effect. This is especially noticeable on KPCC (89.3 FM), my favorite NPR station. Is it my radio or the station? Is there any solution? Thanks. -- Charlotte Egan, Long Beach

I am surprised that you are having an echo problem because I generally find that KPCC does a really nice job blending the analog and the digital HD signals. If the signals are not perfectly in time with each other, you can get an echo as the radio switches form analog to HD and back. On my truck radio, I didn’t notice any echo with KPCC, but I have on other stations.

But I do think I know what is causing the fade ... you are probably experiencing the same problem that I am in San Pedro … weather. Namely, it’s too clear.

What is happening is that the atmospheric conditions are allowing the San Diego station at 89.5 (KNPR I believe) just destroy the signal from KPCC. It happens occasionally, (more often during Summer) and often affects other stations such as KROQ as well (106.5 from San Diego trounces 106.7 on clear days). Living near the ocean, the signals just travel straight to us over the ocean with little interference and little to stop the signal. If you were inland more, you might not notice at all (plus you’d be closer to KPCC’s transmitter).

So to answer your question, it probably isn’t the radio or the antenna (though with the short antennas on many cars from the factory it can certainly be an issue). What you will probably find is that as Winter sets in and/or weather patterns change between us and San Diego, your reception will improve.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Radio Waves Podcast #48

I had a chance to speak with Maggie McKay after she helped sign off the format on KFWB (980 AM) that she had been part of for almost a decade.

First off ... a correction. I am not sure how I botched this, but to set the record straight, it was not Michael Shappee with McKay the final night, it was Michael Knight. As McKay explained, “Shappee was on only for a couple minutes talking about his memories but it was actually Michael Knight the last 2 days.”

I then asked McKay if she had any personal memories or reflections that she wanted to share. She obliged:

“The last day at KFWB was of course sad because we were saying goodbye to friends and colleagues (more like family) after spending years together on the air and off, but we tried to make it a celebration more than anything and I think that was achieved,” she said.

“I worked at KFWB for the past nine years, whereas
many others called it home for more than 20 and 30 years."

I am so grateful for the experience and people I got to interview and the many people I worked with. I learned EVERY day how much I didn't know and how much there is to learn. And now, I look forward to seeing what the next chapter brings."

“KFWB was an incredible journey for me. I started there as part time/fill in on air with some news background, but this was a huge learning experience and continued to be until the very end. My favorite part was the interviews with people like Hillary Clinton, John Legend, Billy Crystal, Dick Van Dyke, and so many others, and working alongside people I'd heard on the air for years, such as Pete Demetriou, John Brooks and many more. Breaking news was a wild ride as well, such as when we covered the Malibu Fire, the UCLA flood, earthquakes, etc."

“And finally the past four years were a blast delivering LA's Afternoon News along with Michael Shappee. Reporting the news that affects listeners with a partner and incorporating interviews was fun as well as educational. I'm definitely going to miss it but am so grateful to (current and former KFWB/KNX programmers) Andy Ludlum and David G. Hall for giving me a chance.”

E-Mail of the Week

“All my radios are having trouble picking up KFWB the past week or so. Nothing interesting on the air at all, just gibberish ... must be interference.” -- Kim Ba, Torrance

Where’s Lisa?

“What happened to Lisa Ann Walter on KFI?” -- Scott Friedman
Acting and family, according to KFI assistant programmer Neil Saavedra.

Walter -- who celebrated her birthday just last month on August 3rd -- is an actress, comedian, writer, film producer, and mother of four children. Rumor is that the KFI program, while only on weekends, just became too much.