Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Radio Waves Podcast #170

Radio: April 28, 2017

My FM (KBIG, 104.3 FM) was up a half point to 5.7 from February and a full point since the holiday ratings period, making it the dominant radio force in Los Angeles once again, according to the March Nielsen Ratings released last week. My FM has been moving up every month since the holidays and won the ratings every month in the quarter.

Right behind, though, is The Wave (94.7 FM) at 5.5, which has also seen tremendous growth over the quarter. KIIS (102.7 FM) and KRTH (101.1 FM) came in tied for third at 4.9, with KOST (103.5 FM) rounding out the top-5 with a 4.4.

With the exception of Univision’s KLVE (107.5 FM), the top-ten stations sound like a true horserace between the two dominant essential radio monopolies, iHeart Radio and CBS. It’s kind of interesting to see:

iHeart (KBIG) followed by CBS (KTWV), iHeart (KIIS), CBS (KRTH), iHeart (KOST), Univision (KLVE), CBS (KNX, 1070 AM), iHeart (KFI, 640 AM), CBS (KCBS-FM, 93.1), iHeart (KYSR, 98.7 FM). Combined, all the iHeart stations account for 25.8 percent of the listening audience and CBS accounts for 21.9 percent. The next highest total for any company is Univision with a total of 10.1 percent, while every other company is at 3.9 or lower. Tell me again that iHeart and CBS don’t have too much power in this market and shouldn’t be broken up ...

KNX is the highest-rated AM station in town again with a 3.6 share. KFI is right behind with 3.4. There’s not another AM station on the list, though, until you get to KSPN (710 AM), which earns a 1.1 share of the audience. That means AM is dead, right? 

No, it actually means current programming on AM is generally bad, and AM has the potential for growth. Showing that music can make a difference on the oldest broadcast band, KSUR (1260 AM) came in with a 0.3 share. Not impressed? Consider that the station had no promotions, a very limited signal, no DJs, and was only on the air playing oldies ten days or so during the March ratings period that ran 3/2 - 3/29. I’d call that impressive, and it shows the direction AM stations should take.

The Sound (KSWD, 100.3 FM) doesn’t really compete directly against KLOS (95.5 FM) any more, but the comparisons still get made. This time The Sound (2.3) beat KLOS (2.1). The alternative race was won again by Alt 98.7, which came in a full point and almost ten places ahead of the format originator KROQ (106.7 FM).

When Emmis shut down country KZLA years ago, they did it because country doesn’t get ratings in Los Angeles. Saul Levine didn’t believe that then and certainly does not believe it now ... His Go Country 105 (KKGO) earned a 2.5 share and remains the most listened-to country station in America.

And just to show you that ratings can be looked at in many different ways, while KBIG was the big winner in the “six plus” numbers I’ve already mentioned (listeners aged six and over tuned to a station between the hours of 6 a.m. and 12 midnight), it was KIIS-FM that had more actual listeners: 3,762,300 vs. KBIG’s 3.744,400.
Those numbers reflect “cumulative listeners” who tune in for at least five minutes during a particular day-part, usually a three-hour period. Why the higher rating for KBIG? KBIG listeners stay tuned to the station for a longer period of time. 

The full story:

1. KBIG (5.7) 2. KTWV (5.5) 3. KIIS-FM, KRTH (4.9) 5. KOST (4.4) 6. KLVE (3.9) 7. KNX (3.6) 8. KFI (3.4) 9. KCBS-FM (3.2) 10. KYSR (3.1)
11. KRCD (3.0) 12. KSCA (2.8) 13. KRRL (2.7) 14. KAMP, KPWR (2.6) 16. KKGO (2.5) 17. KSWD (2.4) 18. KXOS (2.3) 19. KLOS, KROQ, KXOL (2.1)
22. KJLH, KLAX (1.8) 24. KBUE, KPCC (1.7) 26. KCRW, KLYY (1.6) 28. KUSC (1.2) 29 KDAY, KSSE (1.2)
31. KSPN (1.1) 32. KEIB, KRLA, KWIZ (1.0) 35. KABC (0.7) 36. KFSH, KKJZ, KLAC, KWKW (0.6) 40. KFWB (0.5)
41. KTNQ (0.4) 42. KSUR, KYLA (0.3) 44. KHJ, KKLA (0.2) 46. KLAA, KPCC online stream simulcast (0.1).

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Radio Waves Podcast #169

Radio: April 21, 2017

Wilde Sound

Rita Wilde has been signed up for another multi-year contract on The Sound (KSWD, 100.3 FM), which -- along with the recent similar news for Joe Benson -- hopefully means the station will survive the merger (see below for more on that).

Wilde stared her radio career at KEZY/Anaheim (now KGBN, 1190 AM) during their “1190 Rock days” in 1978 under programmer Dave Forman, working through her tenure alongside such legends as Shana, Steve Downs, Rick Shaw, Dr. Timothy Leary, Strawberry Jan, Mark Denis and others ... “so many great people,” she told me. “I had been interning in the building for a couple of years,” she explained, answering phones for the FM which at the time was automated. “Dave asked me to make him a tape and he put me on the air the following weekend.” It was promoted as “Kick A** Rock and Roll ... “a rockin’ AM station playing FM rock on the AM dial.”

I remember it fondly. The first time I heard The Plimsouls, I heard them on KEZY. But I digress.

In 1982 she moved in to KLOS (95.5 FM) and has been at The Sound since 2013. “The Sound is the kind of radio I love, so I’m thrilled to be here,” Wilde said. Reflecting on her career, she commented “I am blessed and grateful.” Hear her nightly Monday through Friday, 7 p.m. to midnight on The Sound.

Merger Update

Entercom president and Chief Executive Officer David Field send an email to employees (interestingly addressed as “Entercom Users”) giving an update on the planned merger between Entercom and CBS Radio. The letter was also filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission in order to keep investors updated as well.

“We have been hard at work, making significant progress towards our transformational merger,” Field wrote. “We are working with various government agencies on deal approval and we are engaging with the CBS corporate team along with a team of expert merger integration advisors to ensure that we achieve as close to a seamless transition as possible when we close.”

The merger is expected to be consummated sometime in the second half of next year.

“As an organization that fundamentally believes there is nothing more important than the people on our team, our first order of business upon making the announcement was to hit the road to meet and introduce ourselves to the CBS Radio staffs. Since early February, we have traveled across the country to virtually every one of the CBS markets. It is with great pride that we have shared the Entercom story and expressed our enthusiasm for the opportunities that lie ahead for the entire organization,” he said.

While I am most certainly not a fan of huge radio companies at all -- the likes of Clear Channel (now iHeart), Cumulus and even CBS itself have stolen the soul from radio and have put a viable formerly creative industry on life support. But Entercom does seem to be a different breed, and as it is a merger rather than a buyout, the company should be on sound financial footing. Hopefully this may help push some money into promotions and programming.

Locally the combined company will -- or may, depending on whether regulations change under President Trump -- need to divest one station. In response, Entercom announced that it will place two stations into a trust for potential sale: KCBS-FM (93.1) and The Sound. Until the merger in finalized, both companies will operate as completely separate entities.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Radio Waves Podcast #168

Radio: April 14, 2017

Eye in the Sky

What a treat is it to hear airborne traffic reports on KFI (640 AM) again. It’s been years since the station featured the airborne reports, focussing instead on ground monitors and information provided by Cal-Trans. I imagine the cost savings were a part of the decision to originally drop them as well.

But airborne gives a birds-eye view of problems including a truly accurate estimate of the backlog and how long it looks before the mess will be cleaned up. Plus it’s great to hear the words once spoken by the late, great Bruce Wayne: “K-F-Eye In the Sky,” now brought to you by Jeff Baugh weekday mornings and Mike O’Brien in the afternoon. 


Reelradio.Com is free again!

Celebrating 21 years of service to radio junkies like me, the board-members of ReelRadio.Com have decided to try the free route again and rely on listener donations to cover the costs of providing a virtual museum of top-40 (and more) radio broadcasting.

The repository features both cut and uncut recordings of radio stations dating as far back as the 1930s. Many of the recordings were taken directly off of a radio and thus are considerably lo-fi; others were direct from the air studio and are quite clean. All are interesting listening and give a nice comparison of radio throughout the decades ... how it’s changed, gotten better or gotten worse. 

I think it also gives information to today’s programmers and owners on how to do radio right ... whether they choose to learn from the past or not.

In years past, ReelRadio tried to have a subscription service, but they still had trouble making ends meet. So they are once again opening the recordings to anyone in the hopes that general donations will increase. Perhaps with a larger potential audience, donations will increase. I’ll do my part.

Slated for News

Julie Slater, best known for her musical knowledge on stations such as The Sound (100.3 FM) has joined KFI for weekend, part time and fill-in newscast duties. She will continue with her weekend new-music show on KCSN (88.5 FM) called Out on a Limb, which airs Saturdays from 5-7 p.m.

Highway Vibes

I haven’t driven to Las Vegas in a few years. But I have fond memories of listening to “The Highway Stations, FM 98 and 99” covering a large stretch of Highway 15 centered near Baker and “The World’s Tallest Thermometer.”

The Highway Stations were the brainchild of Howard Anderson, who believed that advertising to a huge audience of drivers from Southern California would increase the number of visitors to the casinos owned by his boss, Howard Hughes: The Sands, Desert Inn, Castaways, Silver Slipper, Frontier, and Landmark 

Hughes gave his approval but passed away before the venture could launch. But Anderson kept with the project and launched the original Highway Stations in 1980. Since that time, power has increased, as has the number of transmitters, giving better reception along a much longer stretch of highway. 

And now there are even more choices: in addition to the originals that play a top-40 style format now called The Highway Vibe at 99.7, 98.1 and 98.9 FM, there is highway rock on The Drive at 96.9 and 94.9, plus Highway Country at 101.5 and 107.3.

Collectively, Highway Radio still helps promote local businesses with advertisements and features related to tourism in the area approaching Las Vegas, plus traffic, weather and accommodation information. Over 3 million people per month are estimated to tune in to one or more of the Highway Radio stations. 

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Radio Waves Podcast #167

Radio: April 7, 2017

“Shotgun” Tom Kelly, transplanted San Diego DJ who made Los Angeles his radio home for almost two decades on KRTH (101.1 FM), will returns to the airwaves for The Shotgun Tom Kelly Friday Night Special on KABC (790 AM) April 7, from 8 - 10 p.m.

I grew up listening to Shotgun on legendary San Diego top-40 stations KCBQ (1070 AM), B-100 (KFMB, 100.7 FM) and others, as the stations came in almost as strong as locals at my house in San Pedro back in the 1970s.

His high energy on-air presentation and thorough professionalism helped him to follow “The Real Don Steele” -- no one “replaces” a legend, Kelly told me as he took over Steele’s former afternoon KRTH shift -- after Steele died too young in 1997.

Kelly was mum on what the KABC show would feature, but he is a great story-teller, so I expect it to be entertaining and perhaps give a glimpse into his long career in radio and television. For now it is a one-time special, but if it goes well ... you never know.

Not Alone

Steve Mittman, who also grew up in San Pedro during the 1970s (San Pedro High class of 1975, he says), was also a big fan of San Diego top-40. “B-100 from San Diego — which, as you know, bombed in loud and clear in San Pedro,had a milestone this week. He writes,

“40 years ago today, B-100 was #1 in San Diego, and they were the first major market FM station to become #1. Prior to becoming B-100, KFMB-FM was a beautiful music station, rated 23 in a market with 25 stations.”

Pala Rez Radio (KOPA, 91.3 FM), owned and operated by the Pala Band of Mission Indians for the benefit of the Pala Reservation and all of inland North County, spent last weekend playing airchecks of B-100 from its top-40 heydays. Included during the weekend was a reunion of many of the great B-100 jocks of the era.

While Pala Rez Radio serves the reservation primarily, it offers some appealing program you can hear via online listening. More reggae than any other station in Southern California, old time radio, and recordings of Wolfman Jack. Head over to to check it out.

Sunday Mornings

You voted Mimi Chen’s Peace Love and Sunday Mornings the best weekend show, as reported in last week’s Waggies awards column. Then I botched the name by calling it “Peace Love and Understanding,” a song which coincidentally is still stuck in my heard a week after making my mistake.

Anyway, the title of the show is indeed Peace, Love and Sunday Mornings.” A big thank you to Katy Simon for pointing out my mistake.

40 years ago today, B-100 was #1 in San Diego, and they were the first major market FM station to become #1. Prior to becoming B-100, KFMB-FM was a beautiful music station, rated 23 in a market with 25 stations.

Readers React

To the Waggies ...

“So glad you took it upon yourself to vote The Woody Show as best am program. Kevin and Bean have allowed the mean-spirited Ralph Garman to hijack their show with his stupid voices and bully attitude. Woody et al, by contrast, have fresh bits and a genuine, likable banter.” -- “Risabill,” via email

“Totally agree with The Waggies, thanks! Long live radio!” -- Sylvia Hathaway

“I agree with you on Peace Love & Sunday Mornings. I found it scrolling through a commercial break from Breakfast With The Beatles (heard on KLOS, 95.5 FM). I am moving away more and more to the Sound’s Sunday show. 

  “Also like listening to Frazier Smith on KLOS Sunday evening. He always has an interesting guest who I haven't heard from in a long time. I like his topics and humor. He seems to have a different variety of guests from sports to tv, etc. 

“And the Sound’s Sunday night show with Mark Thompson and his interesting music info series. Keep up the good work.” -- Thomas Rubio