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

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Radio Column June 23, 2006

Listening In

June 23, 2006

By Sandy Wells

Phil Hendrie leaves radio show for TV acting career

The Phil Hendrie Show airs its final live broadcast tonight on sports station KLAC-AM 570. The multi-voiced, riotously funny talent that entertained on KFI before being transferred last year to Clear Channel’s sports talk station is signing off tonight to focus on his acting career.

Hendrie was recently seen on the NBC sitcom “Teachers” but the show was cancelled after six episodes. He is said to be developing a new show for NBC.

I believe the real reason Hendrie is quitting is because radio giant Clear Channel moved him from top-rated station KFI to KLAC where Lakers games often preempt his program. Yes, he’s syndicated on 80 stations, but KFI was his major venue, the one that reached all the Hollywood creative types. He needed to have that exposure on a consistent basis. As it is, he’s better off just focusing on developing a TV show that matches his talents.

Born in Pasadena and raised in Arcadia, Hendrie attended Pasadena City College for two years. After doing some odd jobs in Florida, he found his way into radio, working as a DJ for 15 years. In LA, he was heard on K-West, KNX-FM, KLSX-FM and KFI. He began developing his stable of characters while working for a talk station in Ventura County. He polished the act where clueless callers interact with his outrageous “guests” and fictionalized station personnel in the Midwest and in Florida before returning to the LA area to join KFI in 1996. He has done voice acting for the animated TV series “Futurama” and “king of the Hill.”

KLAC will run recordings of previously aired Hendrie shows at his regular time from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. through September.

Government funding of public radio under attack … again

There are clearly people in the U.S. congress who are unhappy with everything public broadcasting stands for from its content to the fact that its costs continue to be underwritten by the American taxpayer. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting draws criticism from Republicans despite its own efforts to correct a “tilt to the political left” in its publicly-funded programming.

This is why a Republican-dominated House Appropriations subcommittee voted to cut $115 million from the CPB budget the earlier this month.

While America originally followed a different path from her cousins across “The Pond” in the U.K. by adopting the advertiser supported model to pay for radio and TV instead of a user tax, times are changing. The market for subscriber-based or non-commercial content is growing. The fact that satellite radio – both XM and Sirius – continues to attract subscribers suggests that there is a hunger for more programming that isn’t dependent on advertiser support.

One plan to save publicly funded radio being bandied is the brainchild of FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting) founder Jeff Cohen and Vassar Professor William Hoynes. They suggest that a trust be established to pay for public broadcasting funded by a tax on advertising or commercial broadcast license sales. They say that such a tax could generate $1 billion in annual funding for “a robust, truly independent” public broadcasting system.

One major advantage to creating a trust is that CPB would cease to be a political football that continues to be kicked about by politicians looking to score big points with voters over a relatively miniscule slice of the Federal budget.

Beloved radio mom dies

A favorite feature of KABC-AM 790 talk show host Larry Elder’s show was his weekly on air discussion with his mother. Sadly Viola Elder died June 12 at the age of 81.

Elder dubbed her “The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.” Every Friday afternoon, Elder would spend some time towards the end of his program sounding her out on the major events of the week and soliciting her reviews of the latest films, which she rated by the number of “gavels” (the more the better) she gave them.

Viola’s common sense commentary, homespun humor and unfailing wisdom made her a favorite of listeners coast to coast, many of whom called in to say that they had adopted her as their own radio “mom.”
At her memorial service, Elder referred to his mother as his “best frien