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

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Radio Column November 17, 2006

Listening In

November 17, 2006

By Sandy Wells

K-Jazz set to welcome new management

Some jazz fans are fearful that the new management soon to take over KKJZ-FM 88.1 (“K-Jazz”) in Long Beach at the beginning of next year will convert the station into a more mass appeal jazz format, possibly into a public radio version of the “smooth jazz” format heard on “the Wave” KTWV-FM 94.7.

Nothing could be farther from the truth according to Saul Levine, the President and owner of Mt. Wilson FM Broadcasting, who won the bid to take over the management of the financially-challenged FM station off the hands of California State University Long Beach this year.

Although one of the most listened-to jazz stations in America – it has an bi-coastal rivalry with WBGO-FM in Newark, New Jersey, which serves the New York metro area – that popularity hasn’t translated into financial stability.

For that reason the university decided that it could no longer afford to underwrite the station and began soliciting bids for new management.

Levine, whose bid was accepted last month, will bring his classical music radio sales force in to sell corporate underwriting for K-Jazz, a move that will help fill the gap between subscriber support and station expenses and hopefully bringing it in line with wealthier public stations, KCRW-FM 89.9, KUSC-FM 91.5 and KPCC-FM 89.3.

Levine says he’s dedicated to keeping classic, “straight-ahead” jazz alive and well.

“We did jazz for 29 years KKGO-FM until KFAC dropped the classical format in 1989,” said Levine, who currently operates commercial classical station KMZT-FM 105.1, standards KKGO-AM 1260 and Country station XSUR-AM 540 in Southern California. “I’d like to dispel rumors that we are going to radically change 88.1. We’re going to focus on straight ahead jazz and we’re not turning it into ‘The Wave.’ But, I don’t want to play the kind of jazz that just appeals to one hundred people.”

Levine says he will look at all the programming and staff at the 30,000-watt public station when he takes over in January.

The weekend blues will probably remain in place, but some shows and air personalities may be moved around or replaced.

Levine says he plans to put country music on the HD2 channel of KMZT-FM in 2007 to supplement the programming on AM 540. He also told me he will be adding more local announcers to his country station, which currently offers mostly syndicated shows emanating from Excelsior Radio Network studios in Valencia.

Stryker named co-host of “Loveline” on KROQ

KROQ-FM’s afternoon drive host, Stryker, has been named co-host of the nationally syndicated call in show “Loveline” broadcast weekday evenings from 10 p.m. to midnight on its flagship station, alternative rocker KROQ-FM 106.7.

(Photo: KROQ's Stryker)

“Loveline” the long-running radio call-in show focusing on the issues of young people and sex, relationships, and health was started by KROQ DJs Jim “Poorman” Trenton and “Swedish Egil” in 1983. Trenton invited Dr. Drew Pinsky on to the show for medical information a year later. Drew, who was a USC medical student when he first joined the show, is currently a board certified internist and addiction medicine specialist. The previous co-host, Adam Corolla, left in 2005 to take over the West Coast edition of the morning show vacated by Howard Stern. Stryker has been a fill-in co-host since then.

“I am beyond excited to be a part of ‘Loveline,’ ” said Stryker who will continue to host his 4-7 p.m. shift in addition to his role on “Loveline.” “I'm also honored to work with the man who is responsible for the fantastic run and success of the show, Dr. Drew. I grew up with the show and now to be a part of it is truly mind blowing.”

Stryker began his career in Tucson as morning host and music director at KFMA-FM. He moved to Los Angeles in 1996 to take over nights at KROQ. He eventually moved into afternoon drive.

“‘Loveline’ has become an entirely new show with an upbeat and positive host who makes the show accessible, young and fresh,” said Dr. Drew. “Stryker's enthusiasm, knowledge and attitude have brought the show back to its roots which is the caller.”

“With Dr. Drew as the heart and soul, ‘Loveline’ has consistently been the highest rated show on KROQ since its debut over 20 years ago,” said Kevin Weatherly, Senior Vice President of Programming CBS RADIO and KROQ Program Director. “Stryker has already proven himself to be a star on KROQ. His energy, passion, and presence on ‘Loveline’ is the perfect complement to Dr. Drew.”

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Radio Column November 3, 2006

Listening In

November 3, 2006

By Sandy Wells

Talk radio takes dive in latest ratings

It looks like a lot of people hit the collective mute button on LA’s talk stations this summer – and that’s not a good thing in radio.

Talk commentators – many of whom have been pressing the illegal immigration issue since the huge rallies and demonstrations in the spring – may discover that the “hot button” is more like an “eject button” when it comes to LA listeners, despite the inherent drama in the topic and its profound relevance to everyday life in Southern California.

National Public Radio claimed last month that its audience nationally has grown about 1 percent while commercial news/talk formats have seen their audiences decline by about 2 percent.

It’s possible that some radio listeners may be gravitating to the cable news channels, which have become increasingly similar to talk radio both in substance and style.

In overall ratings measured by Arbitron, four of the top six stations in LA are broadcasting in Spanish:

1. KLVE-FM 107.5 Spanish Popular “K-Love”
2. KSCA-FM 101.9 Mexican Regional “La Nueve”
3. KIIS-FM 102.7 Top 40 “Kiss FM”
4. KLAX-FM 97.9 Mexican Regional “La Raza”
5. KBUE-FM 105.5/KBUA-FM 94.3 “Que Buena” (tie)
5. KROQ-FM 106.7 Alternative Rock “K-Rock” (tie)

Talk station KFI-AM 640, which tied for No. 1 in the spring with KLVE-FM 107.5, dropped to No. 8, in a tie with bilingual KXOL-FM “Latino 96.3” a reggaeton-based format beginning its broadcast day with a program pointedly dubbed, “The Morning Invasion.” Talk Radio KABC-AM 790 maintained at No. 17, even as it lost two-tenths of a rating point. News/talk KRLA-AM 870, KLSX-FM 97.1 and Progressive Talk KTLK-AM 1150 also modest declines in overall listening.

Traditional oldies radio didn’t fare too well, K-Earth 101 (KRTH-FM 101.1) slipped with its 70s-focused format, dropping from a tie at 13 to a tie at No. 15. Spanish oldies “Recuerdo” KRCD-FM 103.9/KRCV-FM 98.3 plunged from No. 9 to No. 14.

In morning radio, “Piolín por la Mañana” on KSCA-FM was No. 1 again, ahead of Renan Armendarez Coello on KLAX-FM and Omar and Algeria on KLVE-FM who shared the No. 2 spot. KROQ’s Kevin and Bean were at No. 4, Bill Handel dropped from No. 2 in the spring to No. 5, followed by Ryan Seacrest on KIIS-FM at No. 6. Ricardo "El Mandril" (The Baboon) Sanchez moved up to No. 7 from No. 11 in the spring, and tied with Big Boy on KPWR-FM 105.9 “Power 106.” No. 9 was shared by Mark and Brian who play no music on classic rock KLOS-FM 95.5 and Jack FM KCBS-FM 93.1, which offers lots of classic rock hits without a DJ.

KNX-AM 1070, which has been evolving from a news station - it still calls itself “news radio” - to a combination of talk shows and news blocks presented in an informal manner. In morning drive, anchors Dave Williams and Vicky Moore moved from a tie at No. 18 to No. 14, ahead of KABC’s topical McIntyre in the Morning, which slipped from No. 15 to a tie at No. 16.

Country music revived on 540 AM

Missing the country music since KZLA-FM 93.9 became “Movin’ 93.9” with Rick Dees? The signal’s not too great for LA County listeners, but AM 540 flipped from adult standards to contemporary country a couple of weeks ago. The station’s strongest reception areas are in Orange County and San Diego.

Ex-KZLA evening host Brian Douglas is now morning man, followed by ex-KNX weather reporter and San Antonio country personality Adrienne Brooks in middays. Other highlights: Big Time Saturday Night with Whitney Allen tomorrow from 7 p.m. to Midnight and Paul Freeman, Sunday afternoon from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. followed by The Grand Ole Opry Weekend Special from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

The adult standards and old time radio dramas remain on KKGO-AM 1260.

Alfred Molina stars in Oscar Wilde play

When actor Alfred Molina lent his voice to Oscar Wilde’s famous play, “An Ideal Husband” in 1997, he was not quite the major film star he is today. LA Theatre Works’s “The Play’s the Thing” presents a broadcast of the witty English comedy from 1895 tomorrow night (Saturday) on KPCC-FM 89.3 at 10 p.m. Jacqueline Bisset, Martin Jarvis, Rosalind Ayres, Yeardley Smith, and Miriam Margolyes are also in the cast. Wilde explores the plight of a promising politician desperate to hide a secret in his past. The broadcast includes an interview with the director, UCLA Professor of Theatre Michael Hackett.