Radio Waves: 6/22/18

Chuck Martin still has it

Last week I had a chance to sit down and talk with Chuck Martin, the last programmer of KHJ (930 AM) before the popular top-40 station went country in November of 1980. Martin and longtime KHJ engineer/production director Douglas Brown joined me and LA Radio Studio’s Michael Stark for a career-spanning audio interview of Martin that will be available shortly at LARadioWaves.Com.

I’ll have details on the the interview and a story on Martin here when the audio interview is posted, but I will tell you: I am still giddy over the experience. In my humble opinion, Martin is among the best music radio programmers to ever make it in Los Angeles, and I am convinced that his experience, expertise, and tremendous passion could still take a station from “worst” to “first” … just as he did at KHJ.

Or would have had the suits in charge not blown it by going country. I just wish more people in radio had even half the passion of Martin. Details soon!

NAB Wants More

Radio consolidation has been such a tremendous success that two of the three largest companies are in bankruptcy, the longterm viability of the third is questionable among some observers, and advertising revenue has not even come close to levels the industry saw in the pre-consolidation days.

So what does the National Association of Broadcasters want? More consolidation. And they are lobbying the FCC to allow any one company to own up to eight FM stations in any large market, an unlimited number of AM stations in those markets, and no cap at all in smaller markets.

You hate liver and onions? Here, have more.

Consolidation has brought the industry to its knees. Station groups are so large, that management is incapable of running them. Promised savings never materialized, so programming was cut. Hourly spot loads, or advertising time, increased to make up for declining revenues, causing ad rates to plummet. 

Essentially, radio created its own competition. Without consolidation and the decimation of good programming, services like Spotify, SiriusXM or even iPods would never have become the force they are now. Through bad decisions, radio executives pushed listeners away … just as AM programmers pushed listeners to FM in the 1980s.

What radio needs to survive is vastly reduced ownership caps, and the FCC would be wise to consider such rather than the tremendously damaging actions being proposed by the NAB. Neing that the FCC has been impotent for decades, though, I am sure the NAB will get whatever it wants.

Bresee Passes

It is said that Frank Bresee’s love of radio came from a school field trip to then-KFAC (now KWKW, 1330 AM) when he was ten years old in 1939. The radio actor, announcer and historian passed away June 5 at the age of 88.

Through the years he played various roles on programs such as Red Ryder and Major Hopalong, hosted his own program presenting old time radio programs on KNX (1070 AM) and other local stations as well as Armed Forces Radio, and worked as an assistant on Bob Hope’s radio show.

Along the way he collected scripts, transcription discs, and more; his collection — including 3,900 audio tapes — is stored at the Thousand Oaks Library.

No information was available as to the cause of his death.