Radio Waves: 5/24/19

Competing against the big boys

Reader Richard Koenig of Torrance sent me a real treat this week: a promotional album from a new defunct radio station. Still sealed, including the Licorice Pizza pricing sticker on the front ($1.06, deflecting the station’s frequency, and a date of May, 1976).

“I purchased the LP at a record store back in the early 1980s and never opened it up as I just didn’t expect the music to be very good,” Koenig explained. Being that he bought it in the early 1980s means that Licorice Pizza was still around (they were bought by and became Music Land in 1986), though the radio station was long gone. Twice.

The station was K-WEST, which occupied the 105.9 FM frequency now held by Power 106. By the time Koenig bought the album, K-WEST itself had changed to top-40, later became Magic 106, and by the time he Koenig bought the record was already Power. Amazing, to me, that the album survived that long … sealed!

I haven’t decided if I want to open it either but I would sure like too hear the music.

At the time of the album’s release, K-WEST was an album rock station, trying its best to compete against KMET (now KTWV, 94.7 FM) and KLOS (95.5 FM). The station itself was a great alternative to both, and featured an impressive talent roster including the likes of JJ Jackson, Freddie Snakeskin, Dusty Rhodes, Dusty Street and China Smith and Raechel Donahue — all well-known and respected DJs — and even played more obscure artists like Be Bop Deluxe. It was, as local personality Mary Lyon once described it on Don Barrett’s LARadio.Com, “like the little outlaw engine that could, and did, lurk not far behind. At least for a while.” 

K-WEST was the station that launched The Seventh Day, in which full albums were played on Sundays and was later heard on KLOS. But the K-WEST version was all Sunday long, as opposed to just a few hours on KLOS.

The LP sent to me by Koenig was a collection of songs about Los Angeles done by bands from around Los Angeles, rising money for Los Angeles public radio stations.

That’s right: a commercial radio station raising money for public radio … harkening back to a time when it Wass the commercial stations that made money. Called The LA Soundtrack, songs include California Jam by Dale Jones, Van Nuys by The Drivers, Rat Race by Legs Diamond, Skateboard Bill by Corky Carroll(!) and the Funk Dog Surf Band, and The Swapmeet Song by Gary McCord, among others. In all there are 13 songs from 13 local bands, all chosen for the album by station judges Jim McKeon, David Perry and John Detz… McKeon went into the record business, Perry went on to more radio fame at KMET, KLOS and more, and Detz went on to own some radio stations of his own.

The promotional value of LA Sound Track cannot be underestimated… you cannot get more local than this. KGB/San Diego did something similar with its Homegrown album series of the 1970s. Local bands, local artists, lots of local promotions on the station. It is this sort of promotion I want to run when I take over KABC (790 AM) and use it to play music …

Classic Country Music

Koenig had one favor to ask: mention of his new favorite show. “A friend just put me onto a great new show (well new to me anyway) on Sunday nights at 8 to 11 PM on Go Country 105.1 FM named ‘Country and Western Sunday Nights’ where the live DJ plays an amazing selection of vintage classic country songs including a lot of great obscure songs that the DJ loves. 

“There is a whole lot of 60’s country, some 50’s country, and some newer stuff that fits the format. The DJ loves Elvis, the Bakersfield Sound artists, Waylon Jennings, and classic male/female duets from the 50’s through the 70’s. For classic country music fans in Los Angeles that don’t have access to Sirius/XM, and don’t care to stream, it is a godsend!”

Revolver Concert

Who else but Chris Carter — host of KLOS’ and SiriusXM’s Breakfast with the Beatles — could MC a concert paying tribute to The Beatles?

So he is … June 2, at 2:30 p.m. and again at 7 p.m. at the Grammy Museum, 800 W Olympic Blvd. in Los Angeles, Carter will host The Beatles’ Revolver “in concert.” No, the Beatles have not reunited … it’s a tribute performed by numerous musicians including Kenn Elner, lead singer of Count Five; Dennis Tufano, former lead singer of The Buckinghams; Don Baskin (lead Singer) and Bob Gonzalez (bassist) from Syndicate of Sound; John York from The Byrds; Elliot Easton of The Cars; and more to be announced as they confirm.

The primary focus will be Revolver and The White Album, but the show will also touch on other songs from the year: 1966. Tickets range from $50 to $125 through