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

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Radio Column December 1, 2006

Listening In

December 1, 2006

By Sandy Wells

Country music returns to LA on 1260 AM today

Country music returns to LA County airwaves today on KKGO-AM 1260, replacing the adult standards format. Although Southern California is the biggest market for the sale of country music CDs, there has been no broadcast signal airing country music since KZLA-FM ended its 26-year run with the format in favor of the rhythmic adult contemporary KMVN-FM 93.9 featuring Rick Dees in August.

In October, Mt. Wilson FM Broadcasting partially filled the void by replacing adult standards with country music on XESUR-AM 540, which covers San Diego, Orange County and can be heard in parts of LA County.

The format flip proved a boon to XM Satellite Radio which replaced KZLA as the sponsor of “Country Bash ’06” at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre in October. XM offers nine country channels.

This will not be a perfect solution to country music lovers. AM 1260 has a spotty signal at night, especially for listeners in the San Gabriel Valley, some of whom may have better luck tuning to the San Diego-based simulcast on XSUR-AM 540.

Mt Wilson FM President Saul Levine has always been a big supporter of standards despite the financial challenges.

“I only made $148,000 last year with this format,” he said. “That’s barely enough to pay for the electric bill and the phone lines. The (advertising) agencies don’t want to buy the older audience.”

Levine feels certain that by catering to country music’s younger demographics, he will be able to attract enough agency ad revenue to put his two AM stations in the black this year.

Levine will continue to use programming from Excelsior Radio Networks. Happily, many ex-KZLA DJs work at the Valencia studios formerly operated by Westwood One. Former KZLA evening personality Brian Douglas is the morning man, followed by Adrienne Brooks. Starting in January, Whitney Allen will be host afternoon drive.

Mt Wilson FM’s classical station, KMZT-FM 105.1 (“K-Mozart”) will soon be broadcasting country music on its HD2 channel.

As for people who love the standards, for now, my suggestion is to subscribe to XM or Sirius satellite radio.

Jesse Jackson nabs newsmaker

Jesse Jackson’s weekly syndicated talk show “Keep Hope Alive” nabbed a big newsmaker interview when actor-comedian Michael Richards went on the program to apologize for his recent angry tirade at the Laugh Factory. Richards, best known as the actor who played Kramer on “Seinfeld” used the “n” word repeatedly in a bizarre attempt to shut down some African-American hecklers. Unfortunately for Richards, much of it was captured on cell phone video and distributed to the media.

Richards told Jackson he was raised in an African American neighborhood until he was 11 and that most of his friends were African-American. “My journey now is to go in and get to the face of what’s underneath racist language…but underneath us…underneath me, underneath me, Reverend.” Jackson’s show airs Sunday evening from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. on KTLK-AM 1150. The show is syndicated by Premiere Radio Networks.

KXLU spins vinyl

I can’t remember when I last heard a record skip on the air. The other morning I tuned to Loyola Marymount University’s KXLU-FM 88.9 and heard the DJ start a song by the punk rock band The Cramps. The song almost immediately started to skip and slide, the needle doing a bit of a dance on the old record’s damaged grooves. The DJ quickly moved the needle ahead to another song and played “I Can’t Find My Mind” from the 1981 LP “Psychedelic Jungle” instead. Coming on the air after the set, Stephanie apologized for the technical problems, which included their old CD players having a hard time playing homemade CD-R recordings without skipping.

KXLU-FM is one of the last college stations that allow college students to host programs and pick their own music. KXLU offers an eclectic lineup of programs, from Latin, to classical and jazz, in addition to rock music shows. It is a great place to hear the unexpected and new. Any LMU alums want to step up and contribute some state of the art CD players? A donation form is available at

ABC Radio Citadel merger on hold

The impending merger of Citadel Broadcasting with Disney’s ABC Radio is apparently on hold until next May.

Disney knocked $300 million off the $2.7 billion price but will retain a 57 percent stake in the new company, up from the previously agreed upon 52 percent.

Under the terms of the merger agreement originally announced in February, Disney would continue to mange ESPN Radio and Radio Disney (Locally KSPN-AM 710 and KDIS-AM 1110), while spinning off the ABC Radio networks and other ABC stations including LA’s KABC-AM 790 and KLOS-FM 95.5.

KRLA boosts power

Talk station KRLA-AM 870 is reaching out to an estimated 1.3 million additional ears “from Santa Barbara to Laguna Hills” with the boost of its power from 20,000 watts to 50,000 watts.

“At 50,000 watts, we are excited that KRLA is now among the most powerful AM stations in Los Angeles,” said Salem Los Angeles Vice President and General Manager Terry Fahy. “This signal improvement enables us to reach a broader audience well-suited to our programming strengths. For people in the Greater Los Angeles area who want hard-hitting truth-telling news and commentary, we deliver.”

KRLA offers the area’s most consistently conservative weekday lineup of talk commentators, with Laura Ingraham, Dennis Prager, Michael Medved, Hugh Hewitt, Michael Savage, Mike Gallagher and Bill Bennett.