This is the big weekend for SPERDVAC - the Society to Preserve and Encourage Radio Drama, Variety And Comedy. It’s their convention weekend held November 6th - 8th at the Holiday Inn Media Center at 150 E. Angeleno Avenue in Burbank.
I’ve already written about much of what you can do at the convention. There will be recreations of Fibber McGee and Molly; Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar; Sherlock Holmes; and two versions of the Lux Theater. There will be panel discussions including one with Noel Blanc who will speak about his father, Mel; and there will be numerous stars and others who were part of early radio and television programs on hand for entertainment and meet and greets.
What has more recently come together is a panel discussion moderated by KABC (790 AM) expert and former show host Bill Moran. This will feature Eric Tracy, Carole Hemmingway, Tommy Hawkins, Royale Oaks, George Green Ira Fistell, and Michael Harrison talking about the history of KABC radio from the days in which the station mattered.
According to Moran, there will be a focus on what made KABC a heritage station (“lots of stories,” says Moran), a reflection on the careers of the hosts since they left the station, and how talk radio has changed since KABC first debuted the talk format in Los Angeles in the 1960s ... and how it is changing again.
The KABC panel runs Saturday from 4 to 7:30 p.m.
For more information about the convention, head over to the SPERDVAC website at www.sperdvac.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 877-251-5771. It’s too late to order tickets via the website, but you can pay for admission at the door (cash or checks only); costs range from $40 for the Sunday brunch and program to $200 for the entire weekend.
Speaking of KABC ...
Art Bell was once the host of Coast to Coast AM, heard locally on KFI (640 AM) from midnight to 5 a.m. weekdays and until 6 a.m. weekends.
He basically retired from the show more than once for reasons that never made much sense to me; I always thought he was a bit, well, unstable ... which may explain his popularity on an overnight program dedicated to the paranormal and UFOs.
Well, he’s back. And KABC has picked up his new syndicated program, Midnight in the Desert. This new program, which airs locally from 10 p.m to 1 a.m. weeknights, is about ... paranormal activity and UFOs. Unfortunately for fans, its tape-delayed by an hour: the program is live from 9 p.m. to midnight pacific time. To find ways around that if you want to call in, for example, head to ArtBell.Com.
Otherwise, tune in and be entertained. Let me know what you think ... it will be interesting to see how this works for KABC.
Saving AM ... Again
The FCC is finally actually doing something about AM radio’s problems, though I fear it will turn out to be too little too late. It’s called the AM Radio Revitalization Order which among other things makes it theoretically easier for a station to upgrade its transmission facilities without having to perform some difficult engineering.
But reading the order seems to be more of an AM Broadcaster Revitalization Order, as the focus of the order seems to be more directed at moving stations off the band or allowing them to decrease coverage than actually helping them survive on the oldest broadcast band.
Allowing (encouraging) stations to obtain FM translators in which to simulcast the signals on FM, allowing a station to cover with a strong signal on only 50 percent of its licensed area rather than the current 80 percent when making location changes, and allowing nighttime coverage of a similar 50 percent of coverage area rather than 80 percent seems to go against the idea of “saving” AM.
There are many more new rules as well as proposed rule changes so I am going to wait until my engineering friends have a chance to comment, but I have to say, so far I am unimpressed with the FCC. Not that I expected more.