Radio Waves: 1/3/20

Jonsey’s Back!

Steve Jones, host of KLOS’ (95.5 FM)  Jonsey’s Jukebox formerly heard on the station daily, has returned to the local airwaves in the Friday noon to 2 p.m. shift he was supposed to take four months ago, on August 16th.

There was much speculation while he was gone, much of it centered on ratings and potential changes … more on that later. Turns out that KLOS programmer Keith Cunningham was being totally honest when he told me it was related to Jones’ health, though no details were ever given.

Jones first show back was December 13th, and he spent much of the time explaining exactly what happened. With local cardiologist Dr. Eli Gang in the studio as a guest, told his story:

“Three months ago I was going to start the one-day a week,” he said in reference to the change to the programming day that kept Jones on the air but only one day per week instead of five. And no, it appears he can’t count, but considering what he went through, I’ll let it slide …

“The day before I was going to come in … and my face started feeling wonky,” he said.

He thought he was having a stroke, but found after he was checked out at St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica that it was Bell’s Palsy, a temporary weakness in the facial muscles that makes your face appear droopy. According to the Mayo Clinic, Bell’s Palsy makes half of your face droop, your smile is one-sided, and your eye on that same side resists closing.

The exact cause, they say, is unknown, but is often related to a viral infection. Most people start to recover within a few weeks with complete recovery in about six months, though some people have symptoms throughout their lives.

But if that wasn’t enough, when Jones was about to get back on the air three weeks later and suffered pain in his chest the night before — a heart attack. One heart vessel was 90 percent blocked, explained Gang. A larger attack was averted because he got to the hospital in time, and doctors rushed him into surgery.

He was very open and forthcoming about his health issues, explaining that he didn’t want to go back on the air with an elephant in the room by not explaining his absence. But he was off the air again on December 20th, so obviously he’s still recovering. That’s a lot to go through, so I am betting he will be needing to take time off periodically regardless. I wish him the best.
You can hear his story and more by visiting the KLOS website (955KLOS.com) and clicking on the Jonsey Tells All graphic.

About That One-Day Thing

So why was Jonsey cut from five to just one show a week? Cunningham is mum, but it is common knowledge in the industry that in spite of the perceived appeal of freeform radio, such shows apparently don’t translate into ratings. Said one observer, KLOS ratings looked like a volcano … they rose through the morning, dipped when Jukebox came on, then rebounded right after. 

The fact that Jones is still on the air at all is surprising in that sense, especially with KLOS modifying the format and solidifying a move back to classic rock. Unfortunate, in my opinion, as I think “active rock” is a lot more flexible, playing the best of classic rock along with new music. Classic rock is fine, but it’s still oldies and still attracts an audience older than even me. But then what do I know? Obviously a consultant was hired to “fix” things, and going the easy way is his advice.

Honor

The Society of Professional Journalists – Greater Los Angeles chapter will be honoring five locals at its 44th annual Distinguished Journalists Awards banquet next Spring. They are Southern California News Group senior editor Tom Bray, Los Angeles Times metro reporter Maria L. La Ganga, KTLA-TV assignment management Vance Scott, LA-based journalist and essayist Lynell George, and one of radio’s most respected news reporters, the recently retired Diane Thompson.

Thompson worked at KNX (1070 AM) for 34 years, but I’ll always remember her for her work at (of course) KHJ (930 AM), where she started her Los Angeles radio career in 1980. While at KHJ — a station that was always known for top-notch news reporting — she won an award for “Best Radio Newscast in California” from the United Press International in 1984, something that may have helped land her the job at KNX, from which she retired in early 2019. 

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