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 KCSN.org 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 kcsn.org/playlist/
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 kcsn.org/listen.html.
 
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.
 

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