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Radio AM to FM: September 12, 2003

KPLS, Where AM Means "Adios Muchachos"

(My apolgies to Charlie Tuna for stealing his joke)

Low-rated talk station KPLS (830 AM), local home of the syndicated Don Imus Show and the locally-grown Talk Back with George Putnam, has been sold.

Pending FCC approval -- and when doesn't the FCC give approval to anything these days? -- the station will become part of a company called Radio Visa, which plans to launch a nationwide network of Spanish-language stations. Radio Visa is headed by Stephan Lehman, founder of Premiere Networks, the company that became hugely successful syndicating such programs as Rush Limbaugh and Dr. Laura Schlessinger.

The 830 AM frequency has never been overly successful. It first went on the air in 1992 as a Spanish news station, switched less than two years later to to children's programming, and eventually morphed into a semi-brokered, semi-conservative talker. Ratings have never been good in spite of a 50,000-watt signal that covers Los Angeles and Orange Counties quite well.

To be frank, I think 830 AM had more listeners as the home of UCLA's campus-only, carrier-current student-run station, KLA, before they were forced to move to 530 AM in anticipation of the launch of KPLS. Perhaps if AM programmers would give music a chance.

In any event, the transfer is expected to be approved within six months; current hosts are expected to remain on the air until the change.

Zevon Tribute will feature a tribute to Warren Zevon tomorrow at 11 am as part of Rock 50. Host Michael Stark will play music as performed by Zevon, as well as songs written by the artist and performed by others, including Linda Ronstadt, Jackson Browne and the Turtles.

Zevon passed away from lung cancer on September 8th. After learning of his diagnosis, he returned to the studio and completed his last album, "The Wind," which was released in August.

Cohen Passes

Longtime radio programmer Sherman Cohen passed away on September 8th due to multiple-myeloma cancer. He was 53.

In his book, Los Angeles Radio People, Volume 2, Don Barrett wrote, "Sherman's career has been about taking over broken radio stations and fixing them." Locally, he worked at KGBS (now KTNQ, 1020 AM) and KIIS (1150 AM, 102.7 FM) as well as the legendary Mexican flame-thrower, XPRS (1090 AM) back in the Wolfman Jack days. He programmed KRLA (now KDIS, 1110 AM) twice: 1976-77 and 1980-82, in addition to stations in Arizona, Nevada and San Diego such as 92.5 The Flash, a pop-alternative station that unfortunately never reached its potential.

Most recently, he programmed some of the channels for cable and satellite's Music Choice digital music service, and he had his own mobile music service, Best Event Mobile Deejays.

He was a music guy through and through, according to those who knew him, with a love of music he inherited from his father. He is survived by his wife, Stacey, four sons -- all of whom are musically inclined -- and two sisters.


Copyright © 2003 Richard Wagoner and The Copley Press.

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