Radio Waves: 8/17/18

Shotgun Tom to Debut on SiriusXM

Update: After publication the debut date got delayed

This coming Monday, August 20, is Shotgun Day … the day that “Shotgun” Tom Kelly finally makes his debut on SiriusXM’s Channel 6 – Sixties on Six. He’ll be on what has become his usual shift as of late, afternoon drive or 4-8 p.m. locally, though he has worked almost every shift throughout his long career.

I grew up listening to Shotgun, as San Diego stations where he worked – primarily KCBQ (1170 AM), KGB (now KLSD, 1360 AM) and B-100 (KFMB-FM 100.7) – came in as strong as locals where I lived in San Pedro.

I even aimed my house antenna toward San Diego in the 1990s when he was part of “Modern Oldies” KCBQ-FM (now KIOZ, 105.3 FM), a format that played hits of the 1980s … a decade or two ahead of its time.

He is an amazing talent: always upbeat and high-energy. He was the perfect choice to take over the afternoon shift for “The Real” Don Steele on KRTH (101.1 FM) after Steele passed away far too young in 1997. 

Why it took so long for SiriusXM to get him on board is a mystery. We’ve all known he was going there since early June; rumor is that negotiations actually ran about two years.

But all that is history. The exciting part is that one of my favorite DJs is back on the air. 

“You know, when I got hired at K-Earth, I thought that would be the last radio station I would ever work at,” Kelly told me. “I mean – how do you get better than that? But that was 20 years ago … at the time, there was no satellite radio. Now I will be heard throughout the United States and Canada! I cannot even begin to explain how exciting this is to me!”

Kelly will be recording the show — almost every shift at SiriusXM is “voice-tracked,” where the DJ records the intros and bits ahead of time rather than in real time — from studios in San Diego.

Avoiding Fresno

Kelly’s first station in San Diego was at Boss Radio 136/KGB. Then-KCBQ programmer Buzz Bennett got wind that consultant Bill Drake might be planning to send him up to Fresno for some extra on-air development, and ended up hiring him … and ultimately almost the entire KGB air staff … for KCBQ. 

The KGB-KCBQ battle went on for a few years with KCBQ eventually winning; San Diego was one of the few, if not the only city where a Drake station was beaten. KGB adopted an album-rock format in 1972. But I am told that the battle made for some of the most exciting top-40 radio ever. And Kelly didn’t have to move to Fresno.

Short Takes

• The latest Nielsens released this month had KKLQ (100.3 FM) at a 0.0 share of the ratings … a far cry from the sub-3 shares the station had when it played classic rock as The Sound.

• The National Association of Broadcasters is busy trying to convince its own members that the plan they are pushing to more deregulation in the industry is a good thing. Having to convince your own membership that more of what destroyed them must make for an interesting campaign. Additional deregulation will no doubt cause even more stations and companies to go under; perhaps the NAB is secretly a spy organization for Apple Music, Spotify, and all the other music services that could not have thrived without radio’s decline directly attributable to decisions made under the deregulation model.

• The story last week on KPRO (1570 AM) going off the air brought in a few letters asking about the frequency or history being “wrong” … No, it isn’t wrong but your memory is OK … there was a station at 1440 AM in the IE that used the KPRO call letters until a format change in 1987.

• Is AM radio dead? Absolutely. The problem is with the owners and programmers, though, not listeners. Before I expand on this, however I am curious what you think … can an AM station attract you as a listener if it played the right format? What would that format be?

• The LA Radio Studio at Ports O’ Call is gone, a victim of  – is it ok to call them corrupt, evil bastards? – officials from the Port of Los Angeles as construction continues on a new development planned for the area. But out of the ashes it looks like a new location will arise. Details when they are confirmed.