Thursday, December 28, 2017

Radio Waves Podcast #203

Radio: December 29, 2017

Longtime Los Angeles radio personality Cliff Winston passed away December 19th due to a heart attack. He was 63.

His Los Angeles debut was in 1986 on KJLH (102.3 FM) where he stayed until he got an offer from the original 100.3 The Beat, KKBT in 1990. He returned to KJLH is ’93, went back to The Beat in 2006, and stayed through the transition to V-100 (KRBV). He remained at V-100 until the station was sold to Bonneville in 2008.

He was The Beat’s original morning man and acted as programmer for KJLH during his second tenure at the station owned by Stevie Wonder.

As with many in radio, his formative years were spent listening to legendary stations; growing up in Southern California, Winston told LARadio.Com’s Don Barrett that he spent many hours listening to KHJ (930 AM), the original KRLA (now KRDC, 1110 AM) and KFWB (980 AM). He attended the University of Washington and began his radio career in Seattle, followed by St. Louis, Chicago, Detroit and Houston before finally landing at KJLH.

Garman Out

Catching up on old news, Ralph Garman left the morning Kevin and Bean show of the formerly relevant KROQ (106.7 FM). It appears that Entercom is still slashing the budgets that CBS didn’t already slash before the merger of the two companies. I give KROQ about a year before Entercom totally destroys what is left of the one-time trendsetting station. Garman’s last show was November 30; he had been with the station 18 years.


Two objections were filed December 18th against the pre-packaged Chapter 11 bankruptcy for Cumulus Media.

One came from Randy Michaels, the on-time leader of Clear Channel Communications, now known as iHeart Media. Michaels claims that Cumulus had agreed to purchase two stations from his company Merlin Media for $50 million, but that Cumulus is now trying to use the bankruptcy to negotiate a lower price.

How interesting that one of the architects of huge corporate McRadio, one who I credit with helping begin the breakdown of the industry is now protesting when it brings him down. Karma’s a ...

The second objection comes from a group of unsecured creditors who complain that the proposed deal hurts them in order to benefit the larger bondholders. Which it does.


Scott Shannon’s Pirate Radio KQLZ launched on 100.3 FM in March of 1989; the station lasted just over four years until April, 1993 though it “jumped the shark” when Shannon left in mid-1991 and the station tried a hard-rock/heavy metal format that was badly beaten by the far better-programmed KNAC (now KBUA, 105.5 FM)

If you want to hear samples of the earlier years of the Pirate, head over to RadioDiscussions.Com and look in the Los Angeles section. Member SpiritOf67 has posted numerous airchecks of the era. The second-best part? How he obtained them.

“In 1990, I worked at a radio station as a producer, voiceover/production assistant, and board operator. When we ran programs off of the satellite, I would dial around some of the transponders to see what kind of programming was available. Several programs we carried were distributed through Westwood One. 

“Westwood One distributed the show ‘Pirate Radio USA’ which was based on Pirate Radio Los Angeles (KQLZ). In many instances the local feed of KQLZ/Pirate Radio would remain on after the show, giving board ops like me a chance to listen to the station (note--this was several years away from internet streaming, and hearing out of market stations like this was a rarity).”

He taped some of the feeds, giving a nice historical perspective of a station that made a huge splash for a while in Los Angeles. Recordings of Pirate Radio are exceedingly rare; I personally would love to get a copy of the show when Shannon spent the morning bashing me over what I wrote in my column ... funny stuff. I asked Shannon for a copy at the time and never got it; I think he was afraid I was going to use it against him not knowing that it was one of my favorite Pirate bits.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Radio Waves Podcast #202

Radio: December 22

For the 8th consecutive year, David Grudt -- a regular reader of this column -- is programming Sounds of the Season  that will once again be heard on Ken Borgers’ internet tribute to the original KNOB (now KLAX, 97.9 FM). You can find it at

It’s a 36-hour program that starts at noon on December 24th, Christmas Eve and ends at Midnight on December 25th, Christmas day.
The show features jazz instrumental and vocal interpretations of holiday music favorites; a highlight of the annual program is a reading of the classic “Twas the Night Before Christmas” by the late, great LA Jazz DJ Chuck Niles, to be heard this year six times: noon and 6 p.m. December 24th; and at midnight, 6 a.m., noon, and 6 p.m. December 25th. harkens back to Sleepy Stein’s KNOB/Long Beach, playing mainstream jazz 24 hours a day. Stein was the owner of the original KNOB, launched in 1957 with just 320 watts at its original frequency of 103.1 FM. One year later, he was able to increase power to 79,000 watts by moving to a new frequency, 97.9. 

Stein sold the station in 1966; the new owners changed the format to MOR (Middle of the Road), Beautiful Music and eventually soft rock. In 1988, current owners changed it to 
Spanish; the format is now Regional Mexican music.

Howard Holiday

Howard Stern is taking some holiday vacation time away from his SiriusXM channels known as Howard 100 and Howard 101.

Since Midnight Eastern time on December 18th and running through New Year’s Day, Channel 100 is featuring Howard 100: The Interviews, described as the best (maybe all?) interviews Stern has aired over the past year. Included will be Adam Sandler, David Letterman, Robert Plant Jerry Seinfeld and more.

Then over on Channel 101, Stern is airing best-of 2017 segments that are not interviews. He’s calling it Howard 101: Everything Else.

I am a later fan of Stern’s; I actually could not understand the hype of his show back in the days when he was on traditional radio and often guesting on NBC Television’s Late Night with David Letterman. I think it had much to do with his making fun of celebrities that I really didn’t even care about. His appearances on Letterman left me thinking he was just a mean New Yorker.
When he came to town via KLSX (now KAMP, 97.1 FM) I was unimpressed. So much that I wrote a review stating that he was so bad, he wouldn’t last. Then I heard his news hours with Robin Quivers. And I saw his movie Private Parts (my wife Jean was always a huge fan of his, so she dragged me to the movie which I found hilarious). 

I heard he and Quivers mock me and my column on the show. Eventually I heard his fans making it into coverage of actual news events on network and cable television stations; they would act as eyewitnesses to developing news stories leading the reporters along, and suddenly jump in with Howard-isms such as “bababooey” or some vulgar statement about Stern on the air. The idea was to prove how news reporters often don’t check sources.

Finally, I was hooked and I developed a huge respect for his program. Ironically, I can hear Stern in my truck because I have always had a Sirius subscription and now have SiriusXM All Access; my wife, the original fan who liked him years before I did, has an XM radio in her car that can’t get Channels 100 and 101. I think I better fix that.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Radio Waves Podcast #201

Radio: December 15, 2017

LA Oldies K-SURF (1260 AM, 105.1 digital HD2) has been moving up the ratings in spite of a signal that struggles to reach much of Los Angeles and little promotion. The latest Nielsen ratings had the station at 0.7 overall, and I am told that weekends are even more impressive.

Now you can show your support for the only station in town that focusses on early (earlier) rock and roll from the 1950s through the early 1970s. As announced on the K-SURF website:

“The long awaited L.A. Oldies K-Surf bumper stickers and window clings are here! If you'd like one, just send a self-addressed stamped envelope, along with whether you'd like the sticker or cling” to the station’s mailing address, L.A. Oldies 1260 K-Surf Promotions Department, PO Box 250028, Los Angeles, CA 90025.

Owner Saul Levine says the response has been strong. 

Talk Back

Lots of emails this week, most centering on KABC (790 AM). Could it be that the station’s signal is hurting ratings?

“First, thank you for your radio section, well done! Regarding KABC radio, it's my opinion that the reason that it has remained stagnant in the ratings is that the station doesn't come in Anywhere! Until recently this year, I'd travel to Tehachapi, Oxnard, Ventura and Palmdale often, listening to KABC, KRLA, and KFI, switching around. KABC just can't be heard well. 

“So I started wondering if that's an obvious reason they don't earn great ratings: people cannot hear the station!” -- Jillian Clark

That is certainly a possibility for at least part of the difference. But KABC dropped over the years with essentially the same signal notwithstanding the changes made in the past year when the station changed transmitter sites. So while it may be part of the problem, it isn’t all of it.

It seems there is not a lot of love for Jillian Barberie, co host with John Phillips on KABC’s afternoon The Drive Home, at least judging by the emails:

“I am hopeful that the announcer, Jillian, will soon not be a member of the Drive Home radio show on KABC. The reason is that her banter is shallow and does not add anything of value to the discussion.” -- Richard Greenblatt

“Couldn't agree more that Jillian is a real detriment to that time slot. I love, love, love John Phillips. But that bimbo is such an ignorant air head. When she starts commenting - usually totally with no apparent idea of what she's talking about - I just change stations. He’s GREAT; she's a total zero. Thanks for letting me vent.” -- Geri Morgan, La Habra, CA

“While I enjoy all your columns, none were as great as your recent take on removing Jillian Barberie from the Drive Home and let John Phillips do the show on his own. YES!!! I share that same sentiment, vehemently!!! SHE IS TIRESOME! I only listen, because I am such a fan of Phillips.

“She has a high opinion of her opinions, as ADHD surpasses any of her other despicable lack of manners and her over use of ‘I.’ When I can, I turn off every ad she reads; I have even gone to one of the advertisers to end my support. How are her bosses not aware of her continual rudeness of interrupting EVERY guest and John incessantly? In a word … she is boorish! I'm counting on your influence to reach the influential.” -- Mari

And finally, a letter of love for K-Love:

“Believe it or not, I’m not the only one out here loving K-LOVE:

“You have so many rock stations already – please don’t begrudge us our Christian music - It’s the only one we’ve got.” --Lynn Mead, Mission Hills

Missing Link

Last week’s mention of Wink Martindale on KFWB neglected to include the link to the recording. Sure you could have searched on Airchexx.Com, but this is easier: Sorry for the omission.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Radio Waves Podcast #200

Radio: December 8, 2017

The ink had barely dried on last week’s column regarding the financial problems with Cumulus Media -- owner locally of KLOS (95.5 FM) and KABC (790 AM) -- when the media giant officially, finally, declared bankruptcy.

The move comes a month after the company defaulted on a payment of nearly $24 million of principal and interest on more than $2 billion the company has in debt. If approved, the bankruptcy -- pre-arranged with the majority of debtholders --  will cut about $1 billion in debt, leaving the company in much better financial shape.

It will also take the heat off of CEO Mary Berner at least temporarily. Under Berner, Cumulus has continued to struggle financially and in the stock market. But employee turnover is said to be far lower (though I’m not sure if this is due to happier employees or fewer cost-cutting layoffs) and employee morale is said to be better.

In my opinion the best move Berner made was to give local control back to the local market management. Former CEO Lew Dickey was known as a hands-on manager who wanted to approve everything. Berner has given decision-making back to the General Managers and programmers at the station and market level; this is a huge change that could help make Cumulus viable again.

In Los Angeles, KLOS is in a good position to become the local rock leader; programmer Keith Cunningham has revitalized the station and moved it away from classic rock to a classic-current rock hybrid. I personally hope he adds more current music, but whatever Cunningham decides, KLOS is in a far better place than it was just two years ago.

KABC is a different story. The station has some good shows with good hosts, but for various reasons (cough! marketing!) it has remained stagnant in the ratings. Perhaps the time has come to move from talk to a more full-service news/talk/music approach. Regardless, the time is ripe for a KABC comeback. If it stays talk, my suggestion would be to separate Jillian Barberie from The Drive Home and let John Phillips do the show on his own. Dump the replays and weekend paid programming as well ... it kills the ratings.

And here’s an idea as well: buy 100.3 from Educational Media Foundation. EMF vastly underpaid for the station as former owner Entercom found an owner that wouldn’t compete with Jack or KRTH as would The Sound. EMF could sell the station to Cumulus at a big profit, benefiting both companies at once. 100.3 could relaunch The Sound and KLOS could go mostly current. Done right, Cumulus could own the rock market in all demographics in Los Angeles.


I had a chance to be in the same building as about 50 radio legends once more, as the semi-annual Los Angeles radio reunion took place last weekend at Fuddruckers in Burbank. The best story, though, came from Machine Gun Kelly, who spoke of his time at KHJ (930 AM). “Best station I was ever at,” Kelly told me of his tenure that began at the age of 21.

It was his departure from the station that was so great. “John Sebastian (the new programmer) came to me about five minutes before my shift,” Kelly explained. “He told me that the station was moving in a new direction and that I had to tone it down ... no more of those (trademark) long yells of his name when he went on the air. I said sure, I’ll can do that.

So as my shift starts, I turn on the mic and yell ‘3 o’clock at K-H-J Los Angeles’ followed by the longest ‘with Machiiiiiinnnnnne Guuuuuuuuuun Kelly’ I have ever done It was probably at least 15 seconds long.

“Sebastian angrily walks into the studio and says ‘you’re fired.’ I tell him ‘that’s fine, I’ve already been hired by Ten-Q ... I’ll see you on the air at six tonight.”

Kelly knew what was coming and had been hired by Ten-Q (KTNQ, 1020 AM) already ... he was just waiting for the day to leave. Things like that happened back in the days when stations competed for listeners.

Winker Fun

Airchexx.Com has a fun recording of Wink Martindale filing in on the morning shift of KFWB in June of 1965. Lots of horn blowing to add excitement ... typical for many stations of the era. Reached for comment, Martindale told me, “Geeez!!! Hard to believe I thought that was ‘entertaining’!!!!”

Regardless of his own opinion, Martindale sounds like he was having fun and the recording is an example of a long-gone era of early top-40 radio. One thing you might find interesting: marred only by tape hiss, the fidelity of the recording shows how good AM radio used to sound through a good AM radio. This is also a good example of Martindale prior to his evolution into one of the best MOR/Adult Standards radio hosts ever to grace the Los Angeles airwaves. You can hear the same friendliness he exudes on his television game shows too.

Odd hearing cigarette commercials on radio. This was prior to the ban of such advertising by the FCC.

Unfortunately, Martindale was hampered by KFWB’s programming that included quite a few stiffs record-wise. No wonder KRLA and KHJ “convinced” KFWB to change to news just two years later.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Radio Waves Podcast #199

Radio: December 1, 2017

I promise that I was going to let go of the CBS Radio-Entercom merger, in spite of my concern of what the merger may mean to the radio industry. But then I read something on Don Barrett’s LARadio.Com that I couldn’t let go without comment:

“We are done apologizing about radio,” said David Field, CEO of the new Entercom. “(It’s) America’s #1 reach medium, which is massively undervalued.” 

This one quote says volumes about Field and what is wrong with radio. Frankly, if I owned stock in Entercom, I would be very concerned. But it does explain a lot. To wit: 

• One of radio’s greatest problems is revenue. Ad sales dropped in 2008 and have not rebounded. A major reason? Radio under the current corporate model has changed radio itself -- with rare exceptions -- from being a foreground activity with listeners actively engaged and is now a background service with listeners changing stations as soon as the advertising begins.

• To attempt to make up for lost revenue, stations added more commercials each hour, making the stop-sets even less tolerable to listeners. Add to that the sponsorships for everything “traffic is brought to you by ...” and the issue is compounded. No advertiser in his right mind would pay a premium to advertise on a station run this way ... which includes Entercom stations as well as iHeart and Cumulus. This explains why revenue among major corporate stations is flat in spite of ad minute increases.

• In order to supposedly move the merger ahead, Field sold the one station in Los Angeles -- The Sound (100.3 FM) -- that bucked the trend and had a fiercely loyal audience that did listen actively. This could have been exploited by the CBS sales department, but he looked at the spreadsheet instead of the audience. That he didn’t realize what he had or didn’t care is very telling ... it would appear that Field just doesn’t get it, and that may be the saddest part of this merger. He really should know better.

In conclusion, David, you are right: you don’t have to make apologies. But you’re in for a rude awakening if you think things are OK. Listeners still have ever increasing choices, and your programming and management decisions can either reverse ... or instead hasten, the trend away from radio. 

Dumping The Sound instead of, say, Jack (93.1 FM) shows your reliance on spreadsheets over understanding the art form and the true potential of well-programmed radio. There is still time to change, and I hope you do as you have the potential to do great things; in the meantime don’t apologize ... just keep your resume current.

Cumulus Update

Cumulus Media stock was officially delisted from the NASDAQ stock exchange, and is now traded “over the counter” due to the company not maintaining a stock price over $1 as required by NASDAQ. As I write this, Cumulus is trading at 16 cents per share, with a total market cap value of less than $5 million dollars. Just last year, Cumulus -- which owns KLOS (95.5 FM) and KABC (790 AM) locally -- did a reverse split to try to maintain the price but it was ultimately not successful.

What does this mean for Cumulus? Operationally, nothing. A company’s stock price doesn’t necessarily mean anything directly. The problem is with debt of more than $2 billion on which the company is apparently unable or unwilling to make payments. This will be a story to watch.

Where’s Olney?

A reader who wanted their name kept secret asked, “Could you please let the readers know what happened to Warren Olney on KCRW 89.9 FM?”

Olney gave up his daily syndicated show heard locally on KCRW, and is now doing a podcast. Find it via Olney’s Facebook page at

Extended Holiday

Go Country (105.1 FM) began playing holiday music last week as they did last year. It’s a good alternative to KOST (103.5 FM); I actually like it a little better. But I miss the country tunes.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Radio Waves Podcast #198

Radio: November 24, 2017

The end finally came for The Sound 100.3 FM, Thursday, November 16. It came after weeks of goodbyes, allowed due to the unknown timing of the transfer of ownership of the station from Entercom to EMF, and Entercom management allowing the staff to stay on until the end, a rare gift that was truly appreciated by the Sound staff and listeners alike. 

Entercom management does deserve kudos for that, in my opinion, even though they made the decision to sell the wrong station. That just isn’t done very often.

Just before 1 p.m., Andy Chanley, the first DJ to be heard on The Sound almost ten years ago, wrapped it up with these words: “This has been KSWD Los Angeles. This is The Sound. And this dream will self-destruct in three, two, ...” followed by silence and one of the most awkward transitions to a new format I have ever heard ... including two segments of dead air. The new station is KKLQ, K-Love, yet another (I count six) Christian radio station serving Southern California. 

EMF bought the station for far less than market value because Entercom wanted to make sure that the new owners did not compete with existing CBS/Entercom stations as the two companies merged.

What makes this story so interesting is the reaction from listeners. The Sound, after all, was far from a trendsetter station. It played classic rock ... how hard is that? How original?

But while the music was part of it, it was far from being the most important element. Indeed, The Sound could have played almost anything. But unlike most stations, The Sound made a bond with listeners that just doesn’t happen often any more.

As mentioned, it wasn’t the music. It wasn’t the album sides played on actual vinyl. It wasn’t the way DJs or programmer Dave Beasing would personally contact listeners to ask what they thought of the station or to answer a question. It wasn’t the special weekends. Nor the concerts. It was all of that and more, including an air staff and people behind the scenes who truly love music, and love and understand good radio. It took time to build this bond, but it was most definitely built.

Perhaps that is why most listeners I have heard from will not be replacing their Sound preset on their radio. They are moving on. To Sirius/XM, to MP3 players, to online listening services. 

This is unfortunate, but a reality. Unlike many who think a Sound-like station will never return, I do believe it can ... I can give you a list of underperforming stations right now. Hopefully, former Sound programmer Dave Beasing will get another shot to build a great station, and our on-air friends can be heard once more.

Effect on Entercom

The CBS-Entercom merger should be complete by the time you read this, meaning that CBS Radio no longer exists and stations formerly part of one of the oldest broadcasting companies are now owned by Entercom. It was this merger that forced the sale of The Sound (or another local CBS property) as the combined company was over the ownership limit of radio stations in a single city.

That former Sound listeners may leave radio altogether is not good news for Entercom or CEO David Field, who made the decision to sell The Sound. The reason is shared listeners. Yes, Sound fans may have listened to 100.3 more often, but they also sampled Jack (KCBS-FM, 93.1) and KRTH (101.1 FM), both now owned by Entercom.

If those listeners do indeed abandon radio as expected, this may -- depending on how much they did listen -- negatively affect both Jack and KRTH. Field may have “sold” his way into lower ratings by dumping the one station he had with a rabidly dedicated audience. Not smart. He should have either moved the format to 93.1 or just sold Jack outright. No one cares about Jack.

More Christmas

KOST (103.5 FM) has -- as expected -- started the Christmas carols, launching its annual holiday music format about two weeks ago. 

Also as expected, SiriusXM fired up its holiday music as well. Contemporary (Holly) on Channel 70 and traditional (Holiday Traditions) on Channel 4 are already up and running; soul, country, pops, latin and even Hanukkah music will be available beginning late November and early December. 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Radio Waves Podcast #197

Radio: November 17, 2017

Troubled Cumulus Media is the owner of over 400 radio stations nationwide including KLOS (95.5 FM) and KABC (790 AM) locally. The company, which has been trying for years to figure out a way to stay afloat amidst a Titanic-level of debt, decided to forgo payment of about $23 million in interest due on loans totaling over $2 billion. The decision was made earlier this month by the company Board of Directors.

Some claim it is a hardball push to get lenders to agree to concessions. Whatever the reason, the move could land the company in bankruptcy court sooner than later if agreements cannot be made. The company is currently in a 30-day grace period in which it can still decide to make the required payment as negotiations with creditors continue.

The frightening aspect? Inside Music Media’s Jerry Del Colliano wrote recently that “Lew Dickey is waiting -- blank check in hand -- to pounce on regaining control of Cumulus the moment it enters bankruptcy.”

For the uninitiated, it was Lew Dickey who put Cumulus on its death spiral through purchases, mergers and truly bad management ... he was forced out of the company in a coup that placed Mary Berner in his former position of CEO. The problem is that Berner was way too little far too late ... Berner had no radio experience and the vultures were already circling the company long before she arrived.
So how can Dickey be poised to regain control ... something that Del Colliano says is fact, not rumor? Apparently, like Bill Gates’ educational initiatives, people love failure. And for whatever reason, investors continue to give money and support to those who consistently fail. So what if Dickey proved he couldn’t run Cumulus in the past? Let’s give him another shot.

What should happen to Cumulus is that the bankruptcy court and the FCC should force it to sell every one of its stations until the debt is paid off. To local owners who will run the stations like radio should be run: competitively and creatively. Using local talent, serving the local community. Cumulus could still exist as a lean company with no debt, keeping about 50 stations nationwide ... if it so desired.

Dickey? Been there, done that. Time to move on.

My Turn Redux

Several letters and emails arrived after last week’s column on my My Turn on The Sound (100.3 FM). Most mentioned other stations that could/should have been highlighted.

I agree. There are many stations that could have been recognized had there been more time. KRLA, KFWB, KROQ, K-WEST, KBLA even KFI. The problem was time ... I had just ten songs and less than an hour. Now if we can get Sound programmer Dave Beasing another local gig, perhaps that can happen. Of course by the time you read this, The Sound is probably already gone ... so it may be a while.

War not over?

It seems that some of you remember the “War of the Worlds” differently than what has become the modern version of the story ... you were indeed led to believe that martians had landed.

“Living in Long Beach, and finishing the dishes in the kitchen with my sister and mother, we were listening to the program and really thought it was happening!,” writes reader Peggy Folger Miller. “We ran into the living room and my father told us to stay seated together while he went throughout the house, getting my brother and other sister so we could all stay close!
“Sorry; it was no myth in our part of town.”

“Steve Allen told me in one of our many interviews and guest disc-jockey airings that he and his mother were two victims of the show,” wrote former LA radio personality and programmer Chuck Southcott. “He recalled, as a teenager, hearing "Worlds" with his mother in a hotel room in Chicago. Not hearing the intro explaining it was a drama, they were totally fooled. In fact, they ran out of the hotel screaming and looking for others who were as frightened as they. 

“When they soon discovered that ‘life was continuing normally,’ they sheepishly returned to their hotel. Steve said he didn't recall ever being that frightened in his life.”
But agreeing with the new view on the panic - that most of the panic was brought on by the newspapers of the day, is Lynn Burgess, who says, “I was an 11 year old listening to our evening radio in Manhattan, NYC when the program came on. My then 10 year old brother and I listened to the radio station's mystery broadcasts weekly. The week previously, the "War of the Worlds" was announced, therefore it was no surprise to us. We were surprised by the fuss that followed! 

“At age 90, remembering. Radio was a great form of entertainment ... letting us use our imagination and stretching our minds.”

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Radio Waves Podcast #196

Radio: November 10, 2017

I’ve been talking with Dave Beasing, programmer of The Sound, about doing either a My Turn segment on the station for almost as long as the station has been on the air. For various reasons we never did it, until last month just after the announcement that the station was being sold. Honestly, neither of us knew it would ever air when it was recorded in early October when I visited the station, due to the station’s impending sale and unknown format-change date.

It aired last Sunday.

The plan was right up my alley: a tribute to some of the stations we loved but are no longer with us: KHJ (930 AM) as a top-40 station, the Mellow Sound of KNX-FM (now KCBS-FM, 93.1), The Mighty Met KMET (now KTWV, 94.7 FM), KLOS (95.5 FM), KNAC (now KBUA, 105.5 FM) and The Sound itself.

Admittedly, the KLOS segment could be considered a roast, as kids say today, since KLOS is most certainly still on the air. As Johnny Fever announced on CBS-Television’s WKRP in Cincinnati, “how can I miss you if you won’t go away,” but this was actually meant as a tribute to the KLOS of the mid-1970s and what it played as it competed against KMET.

My plan was to play songs representative of each station’s heydays, which for the most part I think came out OK. For KHJ the songs were This Diamond Ring (Gary Lewis and the Playboys) and I’m Just a Singer (Moody Blues); for KNX-FM they were Fire and Rain (James Taylor) and Who Can it Be Now (Men at Work); and the KMET songs were D'yer Mak'er (which I still pronounced wrong in spite of practicing, by Led Zeppelin) and Rock and Roll Never Forgets (Bob Seger), one of the last songs played on KMET before it left the air in 1987.

For KLOS I chose Bungle in the Jungle (Jethro Tull) and Jamie’s Cryin’ (Van Halen), two songs I heard often on the station ... the former at Clear Creek Camp and the latter in electronics shop at San Pedro High. And finally, for KNAC I “cheated” and used a song from my son’s band that would have fit were it still on the air, Misdirect (Divine Intervention). The finale was Zeppelin’s Ten Years Gone, a song that just seems to fit The Sound’s ten-year existence.

As I said, I think the songs fit fairly well. But as Sound DJ Cynthia Fox -- a KMET alumnus -- pointed out, “one of the outstanding aspects of KMET was playing deeper tracks by the bands the fans loved; it established our credibility as true music fans. So with Led Zeppelin, you'd hear deeper album tracks like The Rover, In the Light, Bron Y Aur, Tangerine, That's the Way, How Many More Times, No Quarter, and on and on. D'yer Mak'er ... not so much emphasis there!!”

Interestingly, I chose the song because it was included in an old KMET air check I was listening to before the show was recorded. But in hindsight, she’s right ... not the best choice to showcase KMET. 

Regardless, it was a blast to do, fun (for me) to hear, and if you heard it, I hope you enjoyed it. It is programs and attitudes like this that help set The Sound apart from the crowd; I sincerely hope that someday, somehow, some time, The Sound can return. We really need stations like this: stations with soul. Stations that treat listeners with respect and try to be at least a little different. Or, as Cynthia Fox calls it, intelligent radio. Thank you, Dave Beasing, for letting this all happen.

War not over?

It seems that some of you remember the War of the Worlds differently than what has become the modern version of the story ... you were indeed led to believe that martians had landed.

“Living in Long Beach, and finishing the dishes in the kitchen with my sister and mother, we were listening to the program and really thought it was happening! We ran into the living room and my father told us to stay seated together in the living room while he went throughout the house, getting my brother and other sister so we could all stay close together in the living room! 

Peggy Folger Miller wrote to tell this: “My uncle who also lived in Long Beach, married but with no children, called us and told us to stay put and he would come over to protect us. He had served in both the Army and Navy and thought we needed his experience in a time like this. The next day, it was the talk of the neighborhood and school as everyone wanted to share their stories of fright.

“If we had lived in New Jersey, boy, we would have run someplace!!  (If memory serves me correctly, I think it was New Jersey or thereabouts where the Martians landed.) Sorry; it was no myth in our part of town.”

Former programmer and DJ Chuck Southcott tells this: “Steve Allen told me in one of our many interviews and guest disc-jockey airings that he and his mother were two victims of the show in that he recalled, as a teenager, hearing "Worlds" with his mother in a hotel room in Chicago. Not hearing the intro explaining it was a drama, they were totally fooled. In fact, they ran out of the hotel screaming and looking for others who were as frightened as they. 

“When they soon discovered that "life was continuing normally," they sheepishly returned to their hotel. Steve said he didn't recall ever being that frightened in his life.” 

But agreeing with the new view on the panic - that most of the panic was brought on by the newspapers of the day, is Lynn Burgess, who says, “I was an 11 year old listening to our evening radio in Manhattan, NYC when the program came on. My then 10 year old brother and I listened to the radio station's mystery broadcasts weekly. The week previously, the "War of the Worlds" was announced, therefore it was no surprise to us. We were surprised by the fuss that followed! Jersey farmers running around with pitchforks for defense. Really? 

“At age 90, remembering. Radio was a great form of entertainment ... letting us use our imagination and stretching our minds.”