Columns appear in print in the U Entertainment Section of the Pasadena Star-News, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Whittier Daily News

Monday, May 29, 2006

Radio Column May 26, 2006

Listening In

May 26, 2006

By Sandy Wells

“Fly Jock” Joyner joins new “Rhythm and Talk” KKBT-FM 100.3

Tom Joyner, the famed “Fly Jock” is returning to the LA radio airwaves on urban station KKBT-FM 100.3. Joyner is already listened to in 115 cities – including Chicago, Detroit, Houston, Miami, and Washington D.C. – by about eight million people. The Radio Hall of Famer is about to add one more big enchilada – Los Angeles.

The “Fly Jock” grew up in Tuskegee, Alabama. His father was one of the famed Tuskegee airmen of World War II. After getting his degree in sociology, he went into radio, first as a newsman, then as a successful music radio personality.

At one point in his career, he was simultaneously offered two jobs, one as a morning man in Dallas and the other as an afternoon DJ in Chicago. Rather than choose one, he accepted both. He maintained his commitment by flying between jobs, an accomplishment which earned him much publicity and the nickname, “The Fly Jock.”

Joyner currently resides in Dallas, but a KKBT spokesperson said Joyner is purchasing a house in Los Angeles and will be flying out here to do his programs on a regular basis. He also said the Joyner plans to do two extra hours exclusively for LA listeners every day. Angelenos last tuned into his program on R&B oldies KACE-FM 103.9 before the station was sold six years ago.

The Tom Joyner Show is syndicated by Joyner’s company Reach Media, which is owned by KKBT’s parent company, Radio One and is distributed by ABC Radio Networks. Joyner’s arrival headlines a major shift in KKBT’s programming designed to target an adult audience with a mix of talk and urban contemporary music.

Over the past several months KKBT management says it conducted market-wide research on the music preferences of urban radio listeners. They concluded that people who like hip hop music were already “getting enough of it from KPWR-FM 105.9 “Power 106,” KIIS-FM 102.7, KXOL-FM 96.3 and KDAY-FM 93.5.

In addition to Joyner, the new “Rhythm & Talk” format will feature strong “foreground” personalities such as Ananda Lewis, Michael Baisden and Free.

“This is the future of radio,” said 100.3 The Beat Program Director Tom Calococci. “[It’s] a proven musical formula combined with compelling, passionate, community minded hosts. It is the best of both worlds…great music and content.”

It’s also a move that puts it squarely in competition with Inglewood’s less-powerful urban adult contemporary station, KJLH-FM 102.3.

Steve Harvey joins KDAY-FM

Such is the bizarreness of radio that Steve Harvey, who would be anyone’s first choice to head up a black-oriented entertainment talk and music format such as the new “Rhythm and Talk” format on KKBT, will be taking on the new morning show starting next Tuesday at the struggling old school/hip hop station KDAY-FM 93.5. The TV/film star and comedian charged out of the gate with spectacular ratings on “The Beat” a few years ago. He departed in 2005 to develop his own national morning show.

Premiere Radio Networks launched “The Steve Harvey Morning Show” into national syndication last October. It is currently heard in 25 markets including New York, Chicago, Detroit, Dallas, Washington, DC, and Philadelphia.

KDAY, now part of Magic Broadcasting/Styles Partners, boasts former KIIS-FM general manager and Clear Channel Market Manager, Roy Laughlin as part of its new management team. He’s been working to boost the signal’s reach by combining two signals on 93.5 FM; one in Redondo Beach (KDAY) and the other in Ontario (KDAI).

“This 70 percent signal improvement for the newly syncrocast 93.5 KDAY and 93.5 KDAI has been in the works for over a year but was only completed a week ago,” said Laughlin last week. “The signal improvements are dramatic and exponentially improve this radio signal in the No. 1 radio market in the world.”

KDAY claims young Hispanics whose primary language is English prefer “Hip Hop Hits from multiple eras as their No. 1 music genre choice as do African Americans 18 to 49.”

The station predicts that by fall, its audience will be 40 percent Hispanic, 38 percent African American and 22 percent “Other/ Mixed Origin.”

John and Ken on TV

KFI-AM 640 afternoon talk hosts John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou were interviewed by KNBC-TV reporter Conan Nolan last Sunday morning on Channel 4 News Conference. The subject was immigration.

Kobylt told Nolan about a million people tune in to them every afternoon between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. and that most people listen for about 40 minutes. Chiampou said most of their listeners are suburbanites from Orange County and the Inland Empire.

“They are pretty much family people, he said. “They have taxes to pay. They have steady jobs. They have kids to raise. They have a lot of problems with the way things work in society and immigration is a big example.”

Kobylt added that the audience is mostly white collar, but the callers are predominantly blue collar. And the immigration issue is bigger than anything else.

“This is something that is affecting the school system in many towns. It’s affecting the emergency rooms in the hospitals It’s affecting the traffic enormously. The average person has to deal with the effects of illegal immigration morning to night. All the family members are affected.”

John and Ken said they jumped on the immigration issue back in January 2004 after President Bush announced he was going to push for an amnesty plan. Kobylt said that’s “when people went berserk.”

Kobylt said “You are not going to believe the backlash if the House passes an amnesty bill.”

“And it will all be good for ratings?” asked Nolan.

“That’s right, we always root for chaos,” replied Kobylt.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Radio Column May 12, 2006

Listening In

May 12, 2006

By Sandy Wells

Two FM morning shows return to LA radio

They’re BAAACK!!! Jamie, Jack and Stench ended their unexpected month-long hiatus from KYSR-FM Star 98.7’s

K-Earth 101's Gary Bryan (KRTH Photo)

morning show this week. Hot Adult Contemporary station’s trio of jokers made an exultant return Monday. Even traffic guy Chris Hughes seemed giddy with joy as he improvised rhyming songs about the latest freeway conditions.

After disappearing from the official Star 98.7 web site, Jamie, Jack and Stench fans kept abreast of their radio idols partly by reading about Jack on Star 98.7 General Manager Craig Rossi says the exit of all the DJs was done to draw attention the “re-launch” of the station as much more focused on new music. But thousands of complaints from listeners made him reconsider his decision to take out the morning team. He says their return was clinched after a 48-hour station poll taken just a week and a half ago attracted 900,000 votes “overwhelmingly” in favor of bringing Jamie, Jack and Stench back on the air.

Jamie will be temporarily off the air again in a few weeks for maternity leave. It will be her first child. Megan Mullalley of “Will and Grace” fame and Extra TV’s Dayna Devon are slated to be among the fill-in hosts.

Star 98.7 continues to place a lot of focus on its music, using its interactive web site to offer downloads of songs and videos, plus garner info on listeners' music preferences. Rossi says he’s hoping the refreshed Star 98.7 will keep folks tuned in for longer periods of time.

Star 98.7 personality Lisa Foxx is back as an evening host, from 7 p.m. to midnight. Other time slots will be filled by new and returning talent, including long-time fave Richard Blade.

In the world of oldies radio, Gary Bryan has been reinstated as the ambassador to the workday replacing Hollywood Hamilton and crew in the K-Earth 101 (KRTH-FM 101.1) morning show. Bryan returns to prestigious post Monday after more than a year in afternoon drive – a position he was shifted to before K-Earth 101 Program Director Jhani Kaye came on board at the beginning of this year.

“It’s an honor to be entrusted with morning drive on K-EARTH 101 by people like Maureen Lesourd, Jhani Kaye and the CBS RADIO team. I feel a real connection with the audience and I look forward to serving them again as the host of the morning show,” said Bryan.

Former K-Big (KBIG-FM 104.3) personality Joshua Escandon takes Bryan’s place in the 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. slot.

Star 98.7 DJ reborn on The Fish

Former-Star 98.7 personality Lara Scott’s life as a DJ was born again on Christian Contemporary “The Fish” (KFSH-FM 95.9) this week where she now hosts the midday slot.

“I love the music and The Fish lifestyle, and am excited to join the team,” said Scott. “The station reflects my faith and values and I look forward to being able to combine my passion for radio with the positive music and message of The Fish. It's been a great six years at Star, but I'm looking forward to this new season in my life.”

Scott is also heard on Delta Radio’s in-flight programming and she was recently honored to be selected to record the in-flight programming for Air Force One.

Spanish radio and KIIS-FM big winners in winter ratings

It was a mega winter Arbitron book for Hispanic radio in Los Angeles area radio. The ratings show that, in total, Spanish language radio stations added about half a million listeners.

That said, the biggest station in the market was English language top 40 mainstream KIIS-FM 102.7 which topped them all with a 4.9 share among all listeners 12 and older, up from third place in the fall. Spanish Adult Contemporary KLVE-FM 107.5 remained in No. 2, followed by Regional Mexican stations KLAX-FM 97.9 and KSCA-FM 101.9. Talk station KFI-AM 640 kept its 4.0 share but slid one notch down into fifth place. Soft rock KOST-FM 103.5 was No. 6, down from its Christmas music-driven No. 1 rank in the previous book. Regional Mexican KBUE-FM 105.5 was No. 7. Alternative rock KROQ-FM 106.7 dropped from No. 5 to No. 8. Jack FM (KCBS-FM 93.1) regained its momentum and jumped up to No. 9. The no-DJ retro-rocker tied with Spanish oldies KRCD-FM 103.9, which shot up from No. 20.

KIIS-FM with JoJo (7 p.m. – 10 p.m.) and Odm (10 p.m. – 1 a.m.) ruled the evening airwaves, posting a 6.9 share. Left trailing in their wake were the usually very strong Hot 92 KHHT-FM 92.3, urban KKBT-FM 100.3 and hip hop and R&B Power 106 (KPWR-FM 105.9) and KROQ-FM. KROQ and KKBT each lost more than one full share point.

In the morning show sweepstakes, Píolin was No. 1 at KSCA, Bill Handel in second place at KFI, American Idol mega star Ryan Seacrest in third at KIIS, followed by El Cucuy de la Mañana on KLAX in fourth and Kevin and Bean on KROQ in fifth place. “Jack FM” scored an impressive 2.9 share to place at No. 11 by just “playing what we want.” KABC-AM 790’s McIntyre in the Morning, KLTK-AM 1150 K-Talk’s Stephanie Miller and KRLA-AM 870’s Laura Ingraham all showed improvement, with Miller’s liberal take on current events upping the audience intake by half a share point.

Adam Corolla, saddled with unenviable task but nevertheless golden opportunity of succeeding Howard Stern on talk station KLSX-FM 97.1 crashed but didn’t quite burn, diving from No. 7 to a tie at No. 31. His counterpart on the East Coast, rock star David Lee Roth is already toast. He's been replaced by the highly obnoxious but ratings-proven Opie and Anthony. The KLSX morning show plunge didn’t take anything away from midday’s “Triplets” Heidi, Frosty and Frank,” who actually improved their ratings.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Radio Column April 28, 2006

Listening In

April 28, 2006

By Sandy Wells

KLOS PD finds room to grow playlist in post Arrow 93 world

A year after the sign-off of Arrow 93 (KCBS-FM 93.1) and its rebirth as Jack FM its KLOS-FM 95.5 is seeing the light.

(left) KLOS Midday DJ Cynthia Fox, (right) KLOS Program Director Rita Wilde

KLOS Program Director Rita Wilde says it’s not just her station that is letting the sun shine in. Other station programmers in LA are feeling safe to come out from hiding and bask in expanded music playlists.

Perhaps the “Dark Ages” of pop/rock music radio are over.

Wilde says KLOS has doubled its offering of classic rock songs over the last year, moving from about 400 “in rotation” to about 800.

“With Arrow, it was always neck and neck. We shared about 60 percent of our playlist with them,” says Wilde about the cut-throat competition in which neither station could afford to let down its guard and playother than very well-tested album cuts.

“It’s rare in a market to have two classic rockers go head to head for so long,” observed Wilde.

Although the factors that went into Infinity Radio’s (now CBS) conversion of Arrow to Jack are open to some speculation, Wilde believes that Arrow 93 made a fatal error when it went head to head against KLOS’s long-running Mark and Brian Show with Jonathan Brandmeier.

It was the second go around for the Chicago personality in Los Angeles. He had a stint as a midday host on talker KLSX-FM 97.1. Another effort to match Mark and Brian failed when the Seattle-based Bob Rivers lasted just 11 days.

But now with Jack, the expanded playlist genie seems to be out of the bottle and that is really improving the sound of commercial radio generally.

Wilde says she sees other stations in the market, such as top 40 KIIS-FM 102.7, oldies KRTH-FM 101.1 and KYSR-FM 98.7 all increasing the number and variety of songs.

“I think it’s healthy,” she says. “We’ve probably doubled our playlist. We have a huge heritage and catalogue.”

KLOS has added an 8 a.m. Sunday show called “The Deep End.” Nick Michaels, who does the vocal imaging for the station, does his best to exploit the station’s vast collection of album rock from the late 60s and 70s.

“When was the last time you heard ‘Heard it in a Love Song’ by the Marshall Tucker Band?” says Wilde about one of the cuts Michaels aired recently. I couldn’t think of any time recently, as I attempted to scan my memories of listening to the radio since the song’s release in 1977.

Wilde has been kicking around the idea of creating a new slogan for KLOS: “Who Needs Jack When You Have Jim?”

She means Jim Ladd, the nightly 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. host who is allowed by virtue of his proven ear for programming and his late night hours, greater leeway in picking his own music.

Cynthia Fox features “deeper cuts” (less-well known by popular artists) In Tune at noon. Uncle Joe Benson has a regular afternoon feature “The Vault” out of which recently emerged another classic rock gem, “Maggie’s Farm” by Bob Dylan.

It’s obviously no secret that with millions of dollars of ad revenue pegged to the capriciousness of audience surveys and Arbitron’s quarterly ratings reports, nothing is just slipped into the CD player. Everything is tested and everything seems untried is a potential risk. It is music radio’s cross to bear, the legacy of decades of success.

Right now, Wilde is busy getting ready to launch KLOS’ HD station, “Fusion Rock,” which will be the first bilingual rock format.

“I’m really excited about it,” says Wilde about the preparations for the new channel aimed at specially-equipped HD radios. “We all have memories of college radio working 20 hours a day – never getting tired – because we love it and we are excited. There are no rules.”

Spanish-language artists such as Mana, Jaguares and Ozomatli will take their place alongside well-known Anglo bands such as AC/DC and Metallica.

“Santana opened for Mana a few years ago at Arrowhead Pond. People were singing along with Mana,” said Wilde. “I’d never heard them played on any stations. Spanish rock bands are not that exposed. I think it will be unique to (air them on Fusion Rock).”

Wilde, who is in her 23rd year with the station, is optimistic about the purchase of KLOS and other Disney-owned radio outlets by Citadel this year.

“I’m looking forward to it. We have a chance now to really reinvent radio. Citadel people are really very passionate about radio, as I am. I’m not scared at all. I welcome the change.”

KLOS prehistory: LA’s first all-news station

KLOS has been banging out rock tunes since 1969. Before that, KLOS was licensed as KABC-FM and simulcast with sister station KABC-AM 790. In 1967, the FCC required FM stations co-owned with an AM sister station to broadcast at least 50 percent original programming. In 1968, LA’s first 24/7 news radio station was launched. All-news KABC-FM relied heavily on the resources of the ABC Radio Network to fill the day. Following the launch of news stations KFWB-AM 980 and KNX-AM 1070 later that year on the still-dominant AM band, KABC management decided to cash in on the growing popularity of FM “underground rock” and KABC-FM was reborn as KLOS-FM.