Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Radio Waves Podcast #140

Radio August 26, 2016

With KLOS (95.5 FM) on a roll under the direction of programmer Keith Cunningham -- complete with a revised playlist, Jonesy’s Jukebox offering an alternative slant, and a morning show that has held its own -- it was no surprise when the station announced that hosts of said morning show -- Heidi Hamilton, Frank Kramer, and presumably Lisa May -- were re-signed to a “multi-year” deal.

What was a big surprise was the announcement that Frosty Stillwell, who left what was once called the Heidi Frosty and Frank Show when it aired on KLSX (now KAMP, 97.1 FM) and KABC (790 AM) years ago, would return to the program effective September 6th.

Left unsaid is whether Stillwell will move back to Los Angeles to do the show in studio or, more likely, will stay in Colorado and do the show via the magic of modern technology as was done by Mark Thompson on The Sound (100.3 FM) until he left the station a few weeks ago.

The announcement is big news to fans of the show; while “Heidi and Frank” has been successful for KLOS, especially in recent months, many fans still missed Frosty. “I am so excited,” wrote reader Jeff Swanson of Long Beach. “Heidi and Frank were great, but Frosty coming back will reunite the triplets and make the show just that much better.”

Heidi, (soon to include Frosty) and Frank airs weekday mornings from 5:30 to 9:30 on KLOS.

Reunion II

It’s not local, but with the internet you can pretend: Low-power FM station KZAP/Sacramento has reunited Jeff Gonzer and Ace Young. Yes THE Jeff Gonzer and Ace Young as was heard for years on our own Mighty Met, KMET (now KTWV, 94.7 FM).

The duo was first paired up in 1977 on KMET, and stayed together until 1986, much of that time toward the top of the ratings. They have not broadcast together daily since that time.

You can hear them via the internet and various smartphone apps weekday mornings from 6-9 at

Nasty Passes

Joe Nasty, one of the original DJs to grace the airwaves of Ten-Q (KTNQ, 1020 AM) during the stations high-energy top-40 days in the mid 1970s, passed away August 15th in San Antonio, Texas, where he had retired.

Born Dennis Alvord, Nasty was hardly nasty on the air here. But his tight delivery and quick wit made for some amazing radio, and he was perfect for the evening shift on Ten-Q. You can hear a sample of him on ReelRadio.Com (small donation required).
From 1987 to 1988 he was heard on Power 106.

Ken Levine, aka Beaver Cleaver on Ten-Q weekends at the time tells a story of “poor Joe.” “I say ‘poor’ because for one promotion they made him ride a rollercoaster at Knott’s Berry Farm for 24 straight hours. He still walks into walls today,” Levine wrote in a blog from 2011.

Alvord is survived by his wife and daughter; no other information was available at press time.

Back Again?

Don Barrett’s LARadio.Com has had a new posting almost daily for at least the past two weeks. Apparently you can remove the boy from radio, but you can’t remove radio from the boy. Nice to have him back.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Radio Waves Podcast #139

Radio August 19, 2016

Fans of adult standards -- the smooth sounds of Sinatra and friends -- have been without a local radio home (at least if they don’t own a digital HD radio) since KGIL dropped the format and became classical K-Mozart (1260 AM) in April, 2011. Since that time, standards have been available only on the HD3 digital stream of GO Country 105, but of course you need a special radio to hear it.

More than five years have passed, and to the rescue is ... 1260 AM, which will -- or did, depending in when you read this -- return to playing standards at 3 p.m. Friday.

Owner Saul Levine loves classical music, so I know that the decision to change was not made lightly. In fact, the change had been planned to happen a few weeks ago, but he wanted to give classical one more chance. “The advertising just isn’t there,” Levine explained, adding that the station was losing money monthly.

The new format is called The American Songbook, and will feature music about which Levine says he is also passionate: “I consider it America’s classical music.” He explained that the format will feature a distinct modern flavor with recordings made more recently that is typical on other Standards stations. “Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett will be there, of course, along with more recent artists such as Michael Buble, Steve Tyrell, and Diana Krall. Sinatra is timeless, as is Bennett,” he explained.

The kickoff to the format is a continuous loop of popular Sinatra songs which will run repeatedly and commercial-free through 6 a.m. Monday. As of press-time, there is no word on DJs or a possible call-letter change; I’ll have that information as it becomes available.

Classical will continue on 105.1 HD2, and Unforgettable will simulcast on 105.1 HD3.

Free to Retire

Paul Freeman, who started his broadcast career as a junior in high school and has been heard locally since 1970, has h8ng up his headphones and will soon join his family in the state of Washington.

A low-powered station set up in the basement of his childhood home led to his first job reading news, but he hit the big time when he landed at KEZY (now KGBN, 1190 AM) in 1970 soon after obtaining his broadcasting license at the William B. Ogden Radio School. KEZY was Anaheim’s answer to KHJ (930 AM) and was a powerhouse of talent throughout its history.

1976 brought him to KHJ and soon after KIIS AM/FM, which at the time was programmed by Charlie Tuna. Freeman stayed at KIIS (later on FM only, 102.7) through numerous formats: pop, disco and dance. Then came the station’s move into top-40 in the early 1980s, which saw the talented staff work its way to the top of the Los Angeles ratings.

“That is my favorite radio memory -- working at KIIS-FM when the station earned a 10 share in the Arbitron ratings,” Freeman told me. “It was so much fun ... you could feel the vibe when you stepped off the elevator on the 11th floor of the Motown Records building (where the studios were located). KIIS rocked the ‘80s ... we owned the city.”

It was during that time when he worked for his favorite programmer in his career. “Gerry DeFrancisco was amazing to work for. The best. He and General manager Wally Clark knew how to build a winning station, promote it and push us to our best.”

Clark, along with his more recent employer, Saul Levine, wound up as his two favorite General Managers. “Both Wally and Saul are so passionate about radio, they inspire everyone they are near.”

His resume includes KODJ/KCBS-FM (93.1 FM), KZLA (now KXOS, 93.9 FM), KYSR (98.7 FM), KBIG (104.3 FM), and of course KKGO Go Country 105 FM where he has worked the past nine years.

Did it take long to get used to playing country songs on KZLA and Go Country after such a long time playing pop? “I didn’t know the songs at first,” he said. “But I quickly began to like them. It is much like top-40 of years past as far as the sound, and every song has a story to tell. There are so many songs to which people can relate!”

What made him decide to retire? “I want to spend time with my family. I have five brothers and sisters all living in Washington, and I want to spend quality time with them. I just bought a house with deer in my front yard; my house is just minutes away from my sister who’s house is on a lake. 

“It’s time ... but I will miss being on the radio. It’s the only job I’ve ever had and I am very fortunate to have been able to do it all these years. It’s time to turn it over to someone else.”

“Paul has been the Afternoon Drive Time air personality since Go Country 105 adopted the Country Format in 2007, said station owner Levine. “Not only has Paul been one of the nicest persons to have around the station, but his share of audience has been among the highest through out that time to this date. Paul is always cheerful and upbeat, and that quality will be missed by the entire staff.”

Christine Martindale has returned to the station to take over Freeman’s afternoon drive show.

Airwaves: August 12, 2016

The big story of 18 months ago is the polar opposite of the big news of last week: Mark Thompson is gone form The Sound morning show, aka Mark in the Morning.

When he made his debut on February 2, 2015, it was with great fanfare. Sound programmer Dave Beasing and general manager Peter Burton were elated to convince the former half of Mark and Brian to come out of retirement.
“I wanted to make sure that they wanted what I do. That they were sure they wanted me, not something else,” explained Thompson before the show’s debut. That was always important to Thompson - being able to do the show he wanted to do.

To appease music fans, they added music. Four songs per hour, five if needed. And it worked pretty well; when Entercom bought the station from Bonneville just over a year ago, there was talk of syndication and other such deals. Personality radio was considered strong enough to move co-host Andy Chanley out of mornings in order to pair him with Christian Hand for an afternoon-drive personality-driven show.

Then something happened. It is uncertain when it happened exactly, but the buzz seemed to be off. It may be total coincidence, but I personally noted that the morning show lost something when Chanley left for afternoons in January of this year ... it just wasn’t the same without Chanley keeping Thompson in line, though Gina Grad stepped up as best she could.

“We started to get rumblings, borne out by research, that our listeners wanted more music in the morning,” Beasing told me. “So we waited until Mark was in town (he normally did his part of the program from his home in North Carolina) and sat down with him.

Beasing confirmed what Thompson said in the air. Thompson was told of the research and that they needed to add more music. “Well, then you don’t need me,” said Thomspon. “That’s not the type of show I do.”

There was a lot of emotion leading up to the announcement, and when the announcement and goodbyes were said on the air, they made for a very touching show. “I love everyone here,” said Thompson. On Wednesday, August 3rd, after a tear-filled morning, he handed over control of the show to Chanley, Grad, and his daughter Katie Thompson.

So now mornings on The Sound are Andy and Gina; Joe Benson starts at 9 a.m. instead of 10 (presumably making the entire day live unlike the daily “best of Mark” that aired from 9-10 each morning ....a pet peeve of mine, by the way). Afternoons as of press time are still up in the air, though I am sure Beasing is dusting off my resume and aircheck I submitted to him last year. I better be ready. Just in case.

All in the Family

Michael Levine has been named program director of father Saul Levine’s Go Country 105, replacing longtime PD Tonya Campos who left the station in July. The younger Levine had been performing programming duties since Campos departed.

Michael began his radio career as Director of Marketing for the station back in 2004 and was there when the country format debuted in 2007. In making the move, Saul said “It is with a profound sense of confidence that I make the announcement.”

While I am sure there will be those who call it a case of nepotism -- and perhaps it is -- I personally don’t care. As long as he is competent, he will do fine (and his father won’t put up with bad decisions!). I sincerely want Michael to catch the same bug that Saul has, in order to guarantee that stations like Go Country and companies like Mount Wilson FM Broadcasters survive. 

Saul could have sold KKGO (or any of his other radio properties) years ago and retired a very very rich man, but he decided to stay in it because he loves the business, and he loves offering programming that can’t be found elsewhere. He also likes sticking it to the big guys as well, which is a wonderful trait to have. He is one of the few remaining independent small broadcasters in the country, and I respect him highly for that.

No News is Good News

The Radio Advertising Bureau ( has announced it will no longer report radio revenue data. In doing so a spokesman told AllAccess.Com that there are companies whose business it is to  forecast and report those numbers, and they are leaving it to them. 

The purpose of the RAB is to advocate for radio as a marketing tool, so perhaps the decision is sound. I can’t help but feel the same as a commenter to All Access, though, who wrote: “Better to not acknowledge the grease spot on the garage floor than to address it and clean it up.”

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Radio Waves Podcast #138

Airwaves: August 5, 2016
Out of sound, out of mind?
Last week I suggested how nice it would be to have a radio station with a more open playlist ... playing both old and new songs from new and established artists. Freeform radio, as is being done by low-powered KZAP/Sacramento.
Then the emails came.
“It would be nice to get underground broadcasts back on the airwaves. Do you remember the old KPPC 106.7 circa late sixties?  KSCN (88.5 FM) comes close today. The music never stops.” -- Randy Lloyd, Los Angeles
“I read with interest your column on the new KZAP in Sacramento. I do have to point out that except for 7-Horse whom I've never heard of, all of the other artists mentioned have all gotten great airplay on 88.5 KCSN-FM. I consider it the best L.A. radio station in the last 20 years. All they do is play good music. Imagine that. I sure do remember Ace Young. Glad to hear he is still around and doing good.” -- William Dunaway
“Try listening to 88.5 FM.” -- Joe Ruiz
“Smart rock KCSN is the station you say we don't have. It is brilliant and the Nuys is amazing. And sky Daniels is very irreverent” -- Pat Gorman
Even KCSN programmer Sky Daniels wrote in ... “KCSN’s mission is to support musicians. We are privileged to do so in Los Angeles. If you review KCSN’s Playlist at
I think you will find it is exactly the station you wished L.A. had.
Yes, I messed up. Not sure why, though my excuse is that it is a case of being “out of mind” due to the fact that I cannot pick up the station where I live over the air. Bit the excuse is somewhat hollow, due to the fact that I have covered KCSN at least a few times in the past and as mentioned above, it IS available via streaming.
In speaking with Daniels I found that the KCSN engineers are working on a signal expansion, so the station may indeed come in further outside of the valley. Until then, I’m tuning in through
Saving Martini
Brad Chambers is the man behind MartiniInTheMorning.Com, an internet station playing the music he once played as programmer and morning man on KLAC and XETRA (The Fabulous 570 and later Fabulous 690).
The problem with internet-based stations is that it’s tough to compete with the Big Boys for advertising and support dollars. So Chambers recently sent a message asking for listener support.
“We are facing past royalties of tens of thousands of dollars, plus associated legal fees, he wrote. “It's not that we wanted to skirt the law. It's that we couldn't afford the royalties and the expenses related to reporting. But we made a commitment more than 10 years ago that as long as artists put out great music we would give them a place, on the air and onstage, to expose their music and sell CDs, downloads and tickets to their live performances. We made a commitment too, to our listeners, to keep this music on the air even after it was largely abandoned by the major corporate broadcasters and record companies.
“If everyone who has ‘Liked’ MartiniInTheMorning on our Facebook page will do as little as $10, that would be a game changer. We have 14,323 likes on our Facebook page. $143,230 if everyone chipped in $10. So PLEASE don't feel like your $10 or $20 or $25 won't make a difference. If you are able or want to do more, do it. The faster we put this problem behind me, the faster we can get back to the business of playing the greatest songs ever written for you.”
Saving AM?
There’s been much talk about “revitalizing AM.” One of the solutions is to use FM translators -- low powered FM transmitters -- to simulcast the AM signal. That’s right: “save” AM by moving people to FM.
Here’s a better thought: program something that people want to hear. I’m not sure what that is never mentioned in these discussions.
Airwaves: July 29, 2016
Los Angeles has -- more accurately “had,” -- it’s KMET (now KTWV, 94.7 FM), the legendary progressive rock radio station that set the standard for counter-culture FM radio locally. In Sacramento, it was KZAP, which broadcast “free-form” radio in one form or another from 1968 to 1992, five years later than did KMET itself.
Proving that life often goes full-circle, KZAP is back. This time as a low-power no-commercial community FM station. The frequency has changed to 93.3 FM from it’s “original” home of 98.5; of course other than the name there is no direct relationship to the original.
Except ... the personalities. Many of the DJs heard on the station are original to the original: Tom Cale, Dennis Newhall, Diane Michaels and more, along with the young buck news director and morning show co-host, Ace Young.
Yes, what comes around goes around: the same Ace Young who served as news director and morning co-host at KMET for many years.
The play list, if you can call it that, includes everything from old to new, and sounds just like freeform radio you may not remember. Some of the new music comes from artists such as 7 Horse, The Jayhawks, Lucinda Williams, Mudcrutch (Tom Petty), The Tedeschi Trucks, Ben Harper, and Keith Richards new solo album to name a few.
This is a perfect example of what local low-powered radio can do. And it is a shame we don’t have anything like it here in Los Angeles. Granted, available frequencies are tough to fine, but I often wonder why stations like The Sound (100.3 FM), KLOS (95.5 FM) or even Jack (93.1 FM) don’t take the lead and present such formats on their HD digital streams. There you could even sell ads, and give people a reason to stay with radio.
Full Circle II
I just read a tech paper on how not only are analog LP (vinyl) records coming back, it seems that reel to reel tapes are on their way back again as well. Some feel that analog tape is superior to all other recording media, as you don’t have to do anything to limit file size (as in digital) or stylus movement (as in vinyl records).
Does this mean that analog AM radio is on the verge of a comeback? From a technical standpoint, AM radio can actually have a wider frequency bandwidth than FM; with modern technology, interference and other issues could be solved or reduced. Come on Boss Radio KHJ, Ten-Q, KEZY, HitRadio KFI, KRLA, ...
Speaking of Sacramento
AllAccess.Com reports that KCCL/Sacramento is flipped to Christmas music to celebrate Christmas in July. I figured it would happen sooner or later.
Tobin Passes
You may not know the name Karen Tobin, but anyone connected with LA radio does. She was the marketing and promotions woman behind such powerful stations as KIIS-FM (102.7) during its top-40 dominance days, KRTH (101.1 FM) more recently, and such groups as Westwood One, Metro Networks, and Fox Broadcasting.
She had been fighting cancer for the past few years. On her Facebook page, her husband John posted July 22, “My beautiful wife Karen passed at about 8:45 this morning. We had a good night together and she was surrounded by family to say goodby. Love to you all. John”
Karen was one of the first people I met through this column. Always positive, always competent, always right on top of things, she was a great asset to radio. She will be missed.