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

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Radio Column April 14, 2006

Listening In

April 14, 2006

By Sandy Wells

New pop alternative music in focus as Star 98.7 changes format

The personalities are gone; Jamie White, Jack and Stench are on permanent hiatus from morning drive and Bradley is no more in the afternoon (his contract ran out). And, a station announcement said there will be no radio personalities until further notice. Goodbye also to most of those ’80s hits. “Star 98.7” KYSR-FM 98.7 has ceded that ground to the Jack FM juggernaut (KCBS-FM 93.1) and is now focusing on exposing the exciting new crop of pop “alternative” artists.

“The next evolution of this format is here and Star 98.7 will lead the way in Southern California,” said Star 98.7 Program Director Mike Marino, in a statement. “This new generation of artists has joined the format’s established artists in embracing the art of great storytelling in their music, and our listeners have told us they want to hear more of it. Star 98.7 will celebrate by featuring top artists from our playlist in signature live on-air Star Lounge performances on every Monday in May.”

Its new slogan launched this week is “Today’s Music Alternative.” Featured prominently now are artists such as James Blunt (“You’re Beautiful” Natasha Bedingfield (“Unwritten”), Jamie Cullum (“Catching Tales”) and Daniel Powter (“Bad Day”).

Hits from established artists such as Greenday, Nickelback, Alanis Morissette, U2, The Killers and Train are also in the mix.

Station spokesperson Robert Lyles explained that the new approach is taking the station back to its “roots” as a more contemporary-oriented pop music station.

This may bring the FM station some better ratings, plus give exposure to all these gifted young artists that otherwise depend on word of mouth, iTunes and MTV to get their names out into the public.

“We’re thrilled about the compelling new music coming out for our format, and the results of our on-air music search yesterday confirm that there’s an audience for it,” enthused Star 98.7 General Manager Craig Rossi. “We’re also seeing that the power has shifted to the listener when it comes to audio entertainment choices, so Star 98.7 is going to provide lots of opportunities for listeners to tell us what they want from their radio station. And, they can connect to very cool interactive features through web offerings like the Stripped Music performances, Videos on Demand, NEW!, The Music Store downloads and lots of other on-demand content.”

As I wrote in this column earlier this year, the exit of Howard Stern has really opened the door for music radio’s resurgence. The pressure on programmers to counter Stern with a morning comedy show is gone, and now other options are being explored. We’ll see if Star 98.7 is up for the challenge.

Wanted: one full-time all-news station for Los Angeles

Now that baseball season is here, and the Dodgers games are being carried on KFWB-AM 980, there is no fulltime radio news outlet in the Southland.

Former news station KNX-AM 1070 is developing a full slate of daytime (9 a.m. – 2 p.m., Mon. – Fri.) business-consumer talk programming including “Money 101” and the “KNX Business news Hour” with Bob McCormick, Westwood One’s “Real Money” with Jim Kramer and business news with Frank Mottek.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Radio Column March 31, 2006

Listening In

March 31, 2006

By Sandy Wells

KPCC names new ‘Talk of the City’ host

Former public TV co-host and local columnist Patt Morrison will join KPCC-FM 89.3 as the new permanent host of the weekday public affairs talk show “Talk of the City” starting April 10th. Morrison has been a frequent substitute host on KPCC’s “Air Talk” with Larry Mantle.

The announcement followed the Pasadena station’s decision to move longtime host Kitty Felde to a new post as a reporter with the public news/talk outlet.

“Patt brings encyclopedic knowledge of the city, a contact list that goes on forever, and a distinctive personal way of relating to listeners,” said KPCC program director Craig Curtis. “Adding Patt to our regular schedule is a real coup for KPCC.”

Morrison is a regular commentator on National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition” (carried by KPCC) and has published a best-selling book on the Los Angeles River. She was a founding host of KCET-TV “Life and Times” for which she won six Emmys and six Golden Mike awards. She is currently the president of the Los Angeles Press Club.

“I've enjoyed my substitute gigs on KPCC,” Morrison said. “I'll probably find the difference between subbing and having your own show is the difference between baby-sitting your friends’ kids and having your own. There is always something new to learn and write and say about California.”

Felde told me her focus was often on stories and issues in the less-well-known and less-glamorous cities and towns of the Greater Los Angeles area. Morrison, with her extensive background writing about Los Angeles city politics, will likely take the program in a more LA-centric direction.

Talk of the City airs weekdays from 2 – 3 p.m. on KPCC-FM 89.3

KSCA’s Píolin helps draw massive crowd to political rally

The power of radio to influence politics was again on display last Saturday as well over half a million people jammed the streets and area around Los Angeles City Hall to protest pending legislation to clamp down on illegal border crossings and potentially penalize undocumented immigrants residing in the U.S.

As a witness to the event, I can say that the crowd’s response to the local radio DJ’s, such as KSCA-FM 101.9’s Eduardo Sotelo El Píolin, was more enthusiastic than to LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

Píolin drew roars of approval as he addressed the crowd in Spanish about the HR 4437 penned by Rep. James Sensenbrenner and passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in December. At one point, he dramatically released a dove into the air and said in English, “God Bless America.”

According to event organizers, other local Latino air personalities tapped to publicize Saturday’s rally were Ricardo Sanchez El Mandril and Pepe Garza from KBUE-FM 105.5, Hugo Cadelago and Gerardo Lorenz KTNQ-AM 1020, Omar Velasco from KLVE- FM 107.5 Renan Almendarez Coello and Mayra Berenice from KLAX-FM 97.7, Humberto Luna from KHJ-AM 930 Francisco Galvez Pacorro from KRCD-FM 98.3 and 103.9 and Colo Barrera and Nestor Pato Rocha from KSSE-FM 107.1 and 97.5.

KLSX post-Howard Stern fallout

The ratings for the new morning show on KLSX-FM 97.1 show don’t look too encouraging up to this point. On the eve of the release of the Arbitron winter quarter audience estimates (in about four weeks), the numbers show that a large segment of former Howard Stern listeners are not adopting his successor, Adam Carolla for their morning radio listening.

KLSX went from 7th place in morning drive (6 a.m. to 10 a.m.) in the fall to 13th place in the first phase of the Arbitrends (November, December and January) to 25th place in the second phase of the winter quarter. Stern signed off from over the air “terrestrial” radio December 16th.

The sort-of good news is that a Jacobs Media poll taken in late February showed that 70 percent of Stern’s former audience of about 12 million is hanging in there with terrestrial radio. About nine percent of his “regular listeners” have taken the plunge and bought a Sirius receiver and subscription while another 19 percent say they plan to do so.

The poll suggests that a sizeable chunk of Stern fans are making their peace with other commercial radio morning shows.