Radio Waves: 4/3/20

The art of KHUG

Did you know that the town of Castaic has its own radio station? Indeed it does. KHUG is a low-power commercial-free FM community station broadcasting at 97.5 FM. You can hear it online ( … I never knew there was such a domain) or via your smart speaker.

According to the website, KHUG is curated as art … “every song played on the air is chosen by a music lover, not an algorithm.” There’s a special show highlighting bands form the area, a roots of rock show, and more. The format I suppose is primarily blues rock, something I found quite nice.

The station began broadcasting in January, 2017  from a ridge overlooking the Santa Clarita Valley, and according to the website, they “proudly play more music than any station in Southern California … We’re having fun, and hope that you enjoy listening!”

Frosty Out

Another cut at KLOS (95.5 FM) with the news that Frosty Stillwell has been let go from the morning show. Stillwell had been part of the show since August of 2016 when he reunited with the rest of the “Triplets,” as they were known when the show was heard on KLSX (now KAMP, 97.1 FM) and later KABC (790 AM). Heidi and Frank had joined KLOS in 2012, replacing the long-running Mark and Brian morning show.

Decreased advertising revenue is the given reason in this case specifically, but this is just a continuing trend at the station. A few months ago almost all of the weekend/fill-in staff was let go, replaced with computer-recorded voice tracking, where a DJ records his or her announcements and a computer inserts the recordings at the appropriate time. This makes you wonder if Lisa May, previously part of the morning show, decided to retire a short time ago because she saw what was coming down the pipe.

What’s Next?

It’s a tough time in radio due right now to the COVID-19 shut down. But the virus could go a long way to making radio relevant again. Instead of more music, less talk, computer-delivered re-recordings, how about talking to your listeners, actively engaging them on the air? Doing what some shows already do — I’m thinking Stryker and Klein on KROQ (106.7 FM), Heidi and Frank, some of the local talk shows — and doing it all day? Some stations are doing this, but when you only have live personalities from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m it’s a bit difficult. 

Keep your format in tact, but let your DJs get more personal on the air. Open up to letting music radio be a foreground listening experience again, rather than background. This is an opportunity to bond with listeners show are craving new entertainment sources while they are safe at home … give it to them. Now.

Harsh Cuts

Jerry Del Colliano reports on his Inside Music Media that the major radio ownership groups are in the process of speeding up “dislocations” (aka layoffs and firings) … using COVID-19 as an excuse to do what they were going to do anyway. But the CEOs? Their pay is intact.

According to Del Colliano, iHeart has suspended matching 401k match, and no one really expects it to return. Entercom has already fired an entire staff or part-timers. And more is to come, including the possibility of having no actual studios at all: talent using their own studios at home as they become independent contractors. 

And Then

COVID-19 slowed down the plan, but Saul Levine announced last week that once the crisis is over, live personalities will return to K-Mozart, found on line and via HD digital radio (special tuner needed) at 105.1 HD4.

If you have an HD Tuner, online access or a smart speaker — Alexa, Google and Siri can all play K-Mozart — you can hear the commercial-free classical music right now. It’s been available for many years but Levine wants to make it a viable, compelling alternative to KUSC (91.5 FM).