Radio Waves: 12/13/19

KABC gives up

To say that KABC (790 AM) is a failure would be an understatement. The once-proud station that actually brought full-time talk radio to Los Angeles has been irrelevant for years due primarily to horrendously bad management and inept ownership. It has been years since the station earned what might be considered decent ratings — the November ratings came in at 38th place with a rating of 0.6 of the overall share of the audience aged 6 and over; as recently as July the rating was a measly 0.3. 

In comparison, KFI (640 AM) was 8th overall in November with a 3.3 share … and it’s been so long I cannot even remember when KABC was above a 1.0. There are no English-language talk stations rated lower.

So it didn’t come as a surprise that changes would be made to the lineup. What was a surprise is what was ultimately done. Essentially management threw in the towel by dumping all local shows sans John Phillips, and adding more syndication.

Starting January 1st, the syndicated Armstrong and Getty will air 6 to 10 a.m. Washington-based Larry O’Connor will come on from 10 a.m. to 12 noon. Phillips takes over noon to 3 p.m., followed by the syndicated Ben Shapiro at 3:00 and the horrendously bad syndicated Michael Savage at 6:00. Weekends will continue to be paid informercials and worse.

Gone are Dr. Drew Pinsky, Leann Tweedier, Peter Tilden, and Jillian Barberie. Weekends lose “Motorman” Leon Kaplan. Looking at the lineup, it appears the only show worth tuning in is John Phillips.

General Manager Drew Hayes said through a press release, “KABC has a proud history as one of the first ‘all-talk’ radio stations in the United States. With these great additions to our lineup, KABC will offer our audiences even more of the content that they love, featuring outstanding local and nationally recognized talent.”

Sure. We believe you, Drew. Absolutely.

Now don’t get me wrong … it’s not like the old lineup was setting the world on fire. It’s been decades since KABC had a format that anyone really cared about, and about that long since the station even tried to promote itself in any meaningful way. But to go with (almost) all syndication shows just how bad things have gotten at the station and with owner Cumulus Media. It is obvious that management is just cutting costs and buying time until they can find someone to take the station off their hands.

Perhaps this has to happen. With rare exception, talk radio — and especially political talk radio — is dead. Cumulus is in the unfortunate position of having no one who can successfully program any format, let alone a dead format on a dying band. Of course it is the dead formats that make AM a dying band in the first place, which means that new ownership, when it comes along, might just make the right decision and start playing music again. Doubtful, but maybe.

Wouldn’t that be nice – having something you actually want to hear on AM? In the meantime, if you happen to have a little extra money sitting around and want to buy a radio station …

Now There are Three

As expected, Go-Country (105.1 FM) is now playing all holiday music, making the switch soon after Thanksgiving Day. If you still need your country music fix the station is still playing that as well, but you need a digital HD Radio tuner to hear it – country can be found at 105.1 HD3.

And Sunday night I noticed that Orange County’s KFSH (The Fish, 95.9 FM) was playing a nice selection of Christmas music as well. A bit different than both Go Country and KOST (103.5 FM), which was the first station in town to start playing the seasonal sounds in early November. 

Other stations have added songs to the regular playlist but don’t play holiday music exclusively. Such stations include KTWV (The Wave, 94.7 FM) and KRTH (101.1 FM). I may be wrong, but I thought I even heard one on KQIE (Old School 104.7 FM) out of the Inland Empire.