Radio: January 6, 2017
Joey Reynolds thinks he has the answer. For one hour a week, on both coasts -- the program is simulcast on WABC/New York and on KABC (790 AM) Sunday nights at 6:00 Pacific -- the former top-40 DJ-turned-talk-host has a program that is the opposite of political. Just a guy talking with friends about whatever they want to discuss. Jokes ... cigars ... cities ... anything. Except politics, unless the political topic is humorous.
Reynolds normally broadcasts his program from the WABC studios, but he was in town for a special “Dream Lunch” of current and former people connected with the radio and records industries. Thus he did the show from KABC’s new studios in Culver City on January 1st, and brought along a few of his friends: Shotgun Tom Kelly (ex-KRTH, 101.1 FM), Ken Levine (television writer and ex-KTNQ, 1020 AM), Freddie Snakeskin (ex-KROQ 106.7 FM), Kerri Kasem (KABC; daughter of Casey); “Magic” Matt Alan (SiriusXM ‘70s channel, podcast, and ex-KIIS-FM) Randy West (voiceover talent and game show host) and more.
That’s a lot of guests for an hour show (you might liken it to a phone booth stuffing as done in the 1950s), so most -- including me on my own KABC “debut” -- were only allowed to say a line or two. Kasem was allowed more time to tell and hear stories about her father; overall, though, it was a fun-filled fast-moving hour.
Beginning this week (December 8th), the program will also stream video, so you can see the action as it happens, and determine for yourself if the guests truly have a face for radio ...
Being that the program, officially called The Late Joey Reynolds Show, is new to the local airwaves, I cannot pass judgement yet. But I do think the idea is sound. Check it out and let me know what you think.
As it turned out, the KABC studio was filled with people connected with podcasting of some sort, in addition to the online availability of Reynolds show. Alan hosts the tremendously politically incorrect Outlaw Radio, available online (outlawradiousa.com) or via iTunes, RealAudio and the VLC media player) which airs live every Saturday afternoon at 3:00. Unfortunately at press time none of the show links were working; I’ve sent a note to Alan to see what’s wrong.
I host a (usually) weekly podcast with Michael Stark from the LA Radio Studios in San Pedro. Focus? Radio, of course. Generally talking about this very column. Find it at https://www.facebook.com/LARadioWaves.
Levine told me he is ready to launch his own podcast as well, coming soon to a computer or smart phone near you. He says it will be an extension of his online blog (kenlevine.blogspot.com).
Considering that Levine has been connected with -- as writer or producer -- some amazing television shows (M*A*S*H, Cheers, Frasier, The Simpsons, and Wings, to name a few) as well as his experience with some amazing radio stations (Ten-Q and San Diego’s B-100), he has a lot to say. And he says it intelligently and humorously. I can’t wait; I’ll have details when the launch is official.
New Station Coming to Town?
Word on the street is that a construction permit has been issued for long dormant AM frequency 1500 ... address of the old “Super 15” KBLA and the original location of what would become KROQ ... yes, KROQ was originally an AM station.
No word on format plans, but hopefully it will be a music-intensive format in order to attract people back to the AM band. The frequency went “dark” in 1984.
Radio: December 30, 2016
Most people wouldn’t necessarily know the name Art Astor, one of the last independent radio broadcasters in Southern California. But those who knew him knew a man who not only successfully ran a small number of radio stations in the area but at one time had one of the largest private collections of automobiles and auto-related memorabilia in the country. Astor passed away December 7th at the age of 91.
Born Nubar Arthur Astor on April 26, 1925 in Fresno, Astor was General Sales Manager of KHJ (930 AM) from 1965-1970, some of the most profitable years ever for one of the most profitable stations ever.
In 1970 he left KHJ to become General manager of KDAY (now KBLA, 1580 AM); in 1972 to moved to Drake-Chenault Enterprises as executive Vice President and General Manager. By 1979 he was able -- with two other investors -- to purchase KORJ/Garden (which he changed to KIKF/Garden Grove and is now KBUE, 94.3 FM), the station that would become the Flagship for what would become Astor Broadcasting.
Other station were added to the group including stations that are still part of Astor Broadcast Group today: KSPA (1510 AM) and KCEO (1000 AM) in the Inland Empire, and KFSD (1540 AM) in North San Diego County. KIKF was sold in 2004.
Astor was a car fanatic, and started what would eventually become a collection of over 250 collectable automobiles when he purchased a 1967 Jaguar sedan. Additionally, he collected and restored a huge number of vintage radios and telephones. Much of the collection was sold at auction in 2008, though he still held on to a substantial number of his favorites.
Astor passed away after a long battle with cancer, and services were held December 23rd. He was the inspiration for many young broadcasters and behind-the-scenes people who knew him; the phrase “class act” seems to fit him. He is survived by three children and nine grandchildren; his wife of over 50 years passes away in 2014.
Saving AM by Killing It
There are periodic attempts to “save” AM radio, America’s oldest broadcast band. Some ideas are dubious at best, such as the use of FM translators -- low-powered FM transmitters designed to simulcast the AM signal on the FM band. I personally feel that moving kore people to FM is hardly the best way to save AM.
Now comes word that some people and organizations, including a group called the Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council (MMTC), are lobbying President-Elect Trump and the FCC to consider just shutting the band down. Few listen to AM anyway, they say, so why not move the existing stations to FM or a new band and use the AM frequencies for something else such as telecommunications.
Sure. Just as cutting off your arm will help make your and feel better.
The problem with AM has little to do with the band itself. Yes, AM has some problems such as man-made and atmospheric interference. Not to mention cheaply-made receivers that cannot do justice to the band. But the primary problem is programming ... there are few reasons to listen.
Shutting down AM? That’s just a way to convince Trump and the FCC to give free FM frequencies to companies that already cannot program well. Not the best idea.