My niece got married last weekend in Big Bear. AT the reception there was a DJ who was quite good, mixing songs together that one would think could not be mixed, and playing a variety of songs some of which I have not heard in a long time.
And then it hit me. Oldies are not dead, they are just in hibernation.
Yes I know the arguments. I’ve made some of them. Songs from 1965 would be 50 years old today. Imagine listening to KRTH (101.1 FM) in 1972 -- the year the station launched as an automated oldies station -- and hearing “My Buddy” by Henry Burr, Edie Cantor’s “Oh, Is She Dumb,” or “April Showers,” by Al Jolson ... all top hits in 1922.
But here I am at the reception of my niece Erin and her new husband Collin watching people of all ages dancing and singing to songs spanning the years from the 1940s to today, with a seeming focus on the 1960s and 1970s. Suddenly it all made sense: the time is ripe for a station owner -- perhaps one of the new owners of whatever stations CBS decides to sell (if they do, and I think they will) in Los Angeles -- to play songs older than 1980 again. “Dusties,” as KGFJ (now KYPA, 1230 AM) used to call them.
Imagine this: take a low rated random station that no one has tuned in at all for the past five years. KFWB (980 AM), for example. Dump the CBS sports format that no one will miss, bring back a revised contemporary version of the old KFWB jingle ... in short form for modern attention spans ... get some good DJs (I know a few) and play music focussing on 1955 to 1975. You can play more, but those two decades would be the focus. Pure gold.
Don’t be afraid to play oldies. There is a reason people still love Art Laboe, the creator of Oldies But Goodies, and remember fondly stations like KFWB, the original KRLA (now KDIS, 1110 AM), KHJ (930 AM) and yes, the early years of KRTH. A good variety of oldies would not only span the decades, it would span generations. Before KRLA was ruined by inept management, listeners would include grandparents, parents, and children ... all at the same time.
Like at my niece’s wedding. Teenagers to seasoned citizens were all dancing to songs from the 1940s to today.
The music would be a chance to build an audience on AM radio as well, which frankly has not had much going for it in about a decade itself. (One of my dreams is to program an AM music station just to prove it can still be done successfully; I’m still holding out for KHJ, but KFWB or a revised KRLA would be a start ...)
Would the audience skew old? Probably, at least at first. But that’s great: older listeners still buy things and respond to advertising, if the ad agents actually feel like selling. Skewing older is better than having no listeners, as is the current situation with almost all AM stations right now.
And I think the format would indeed bring in younger listeners as they discover AM radio for the first time, many of whom have tired of today’s negative radio vibes. Oldies sound great on AM anyway, the way they sounded when they were first played.
I think I could beat KRTH with it. And I’ll work cheap (for a while). Any takers?
In spite if even my own pronunciations, AM radio is not dead. How can it be when it can be received so easily?
Such as when my son plays guitar in the garage ... and KNX (1070 AM) and KRFM (1280 AM) get picked up by either his guitar, his amp, the foot pedals, or whatever. Between strums I can hear the news and the gospel at the same time. It’s quite fascinating.
I am sure it has much to do with the transmitter locations being so close. KRFM is licensed to Long Beach and must be close; KNX has their transmitter site off of 190th Street in Torrance, mere miles from my house.
It reminds me of the stories of the original KDAY (now KBLA, 1580 AM), which sent most of its daytime power of 50,000 watts down one of the streets of Santa Monica. It seems home water pipes picked up the signal so well you could hear KDAY fairly well without a radio.
The joys of AM radio, now celebrating 93 years of service to Los Angeles.