Chicago legend Meier on KABC
AllAccess.com broke the news that Garry Meier — perhaps best known for his many years paired with Steve Dahl on WLS, WLUP and WLUP-FM in Chicago — has started hosting a new show on KABC (790 AM) Sunday nights at 10:00.
As half of the Steve and Garry Show on WLUP, Meier was part of the WLUP Disco Demolition Night held in July of 1979 which was originally conceived as a publicity stunt for the station to “end disco once and for all.” What ended up happening is that the event, held between games of a doubleheader between the Chicago White Sox and the visiting Detroit Tigers, got out of hand when fans stormed the field after the records were blown up, and refused to leave. The second game of the day was first postponed and later ruled a forfeit win for the Tigers.
It was perhaps one of the most notorious radio events of the decade, with news coverage all across the country.
A member of the Chicago Radio Hall of Fame, Meier’s one-hour program is a lighthearted look at the news and current events … no particular topic is to be discussed or not discussed. The program is also available as a podcast on the KABC.com website.
Speaking of KABC
The station is placing the daily 1 p.m. Doctor Hour — among the highest-rated hours of its broadcast day — on hiatus, “officially” in order to devote time to covering the issues behind the recall of Gavin Newsom. The hour — one third of John Philip’s noon – 3 p.m. weekday program (formerly) airing at 1:00 — is expected to return after the election.
But it won’t necessarily return with Dr. Kelly Victory, the primary and most popular guest on the segment and someone who has been with the station for almost seven years as the go-to expert when public health issues arise. For the past year and a half, Victory has been on the air almost daily weekdays taking calls and answering questions for all things Covid-19.
“After 18 months of donating my time, five days a week, to be the voice of calm and reason on KABC, they called me recently and said they are canceling the hour. They are ‘worried about any negative information about the vaccines.’”
Part of that worry is a corporate culture that lives at the major mega-corp radio companies like KABC owner Cumulus. Cumulus talk host Phil Valentine, heard on 30 affiliates nationwide, was an outspoken anti-vaccine proponent until he became ill with Covid-19 and was placed on a ventilator in late July. The worry, says observers, is listener or regulatory backlash due to the nature of the discussions and public policy.
That’s a bit hard to understand in this case, though. Victory is far from anti-vaccine, though she believes in presenting information and letting people make the risk-benefit decision themselves. She thinks that is exactly the problem.
“I always present a balanced view when I do these segments, whether on KABC or elsewhere,” says Victory, an emergency trauma expert and public health specialist. Part of her expertise is on disaster preparedness and response. “If I can’t speak the truth, then my job is over,” she told me, adding that she always strives to be calm, balanced and measured.
“You can’t make good decisions out of fear,” Kelly said.
Her decision right now is to seek out a different platform to help spread accurate information and help people make informed decisions. “My mission hasn’t changed.” But it does apparently signal a split from KABC, with Kelly stating that she won’t return unless she gets a guarantee that she can say what she believes as truth. My hunch is that she’ll return to the local airwaves, but on a different station. “I’m not going to sign up to be censored.”
“Virtue untested is no virtue at all,” Kelly told me, reflecting on what she feels is the station dropping the segment due to perceived pressure from outside. “I broadcast from the ICU when I was in the hospital – as a patient, rearranged flights and travel plans to accommodate the show, and was on the air almost every day for 18 months — as a volunteer — just to help people out.”
It’s unfortunate, as the doctor hour is definitely one of the best hours on the radio. Hopefully it will be back on the air sooner than later. Somewhere.
“I’m a dedicated listener to Swing Time and I can’t find any information about why Johnny Magnus will no longer be hosting. Can you enlighten me?” — Frank Coffey
“Good morning from West Hills!! Did Johnny Magnus leave… there’s a new guy on the air this morning!” — John Del Gatto
“Do you know what happened to Johnny Magnus on K-Jazz? I don’t understand why DJ changes are so secretive.” — Alex Nigian
It appears to just be a change, with longtime radio personality and programmer Chuck Southcott taking over the Swing Time program from former host Johnny Magnus. Like Magnus, Southcott is an expert on the genre, and can be heard from 7-10 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays on KKJZ (88.1 FM). Southcott tells me he loves playing the music once again.
I am told that the health of Magnus is not an issue.
“I have been searching the airwaves for a station to take the place of 1260AM when classical music replaced the oldies. I found it at 88.1 FM coming out of Cal State University at Long Beach. They play some jazz and a good mix other stuff and very little talk. Love it!” — Katherine Samuelsen
Interesting replacement, aside from the difference in music. Saul Levine of 1260 also runs 88.1 — they even use his studios in West LA for the programming.
By the way, the oldies formerly found on 1260 AM can still be heard at LAOldies.com, as well as via phone apps and smart speakers, and on HD radios (KKGO HD2).