Radio Waves: September 10

When LPFMs are as bad as corporate radio …

When the FCC realized that local communities were being left behind in the post-deregulation era of radio, it began licensing low-powered stations designed to super-serve those same communities. And while not perfect, the idea is not only sound, but needed. Indeed, the major broadcasters often don’t even have a local studio any more, and programming is often done from cities thousands of miles away.

But what happens when the low-powered community stations are themselves run from a city thousands of miles away? We’re finding out right now right here, as KLBP-LP (99.1 FM if you are near Long Beach; online at General Manager Rose Lozon announced on her Instagram that she’s been in Philadelphia for a while now.

“So the cat’s out of the bag … We moved to Philadelphia, intuitively following some opportunities,” she announced. “I love the culture, the activism, the food, the nature, the people … and I’m just really so truly happy.” But she hasn’t resigned her post as GM of the LPFM community station she runs, at least yet. October is when she plans to do so, though she plans to stay on as an advisor. Considering the spirit of what a local community station is and should be, she truly should have resigned long ago, the minute she decided to move.

Community radio need not exist when the LPFMs are as bad as the corporate suits running it into the ground.

Only Women

Bilingual Latin pop station KLLI (Cali 93.9 FM) has gone all-female … on the air during the day at least. All daytime shifts are now held by women, and the station claims it is the first time this has ever been done in the history of Lis Angeles radio.

Accurate? Not quite… KOST has had an all-female air staff for a while now. But Cali does get to claim “first all-female air staff broadcasting locally,” as KOST afternoon personality Sandy Stec broadcasts her show from a studio in San Francisco.

That’s not a huge issue, as many stations have been using distance broadcasting for a while now – with half of the former Kevin and Bean and half of the former Mark and Brian Show coming from thousands of miles away.

Regardless, it wasn’t that long ago that having just one female DJ was unusual, so I understand Cali’s excitement. Angelica Vale starts the day at 6 a.m., followed at 10:00 by Caro Marquez, and Melissa Rios from 3 – 7.

In the end, though, it’s not just for the sake of being female. Being connected with the audience through humor and music is the name of the game, and in this era of negativity, Cali stands out by trying to be as uplifting on the air as possible. “We’re just getting started,” said General Manager Irma Barrios, who is proud of the success the station has seen thus far. “And it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Country Guest

Superstar Jason Aldean has taken over the mid-day shift on Go Country (105.1 FM) for the month of September. Weekdays fro 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Aldean can be heard spinning the tunes along with friends Hardy and Lainey Wilson, both of whom are part of Aldean’s Back in the Saddle tour of concerts. The guest shift runs through September 24th.

Letter of the Month

In response to my column last week regarding how to get young listeners back to radio, I received this from reader Mark Bradley:

“I have 5 kids in their 20’s  and 30’s. They have Spotify, so they don’t need radio. The new music rap and techno (word changed to “is bad”) and that won’t get them to listen. The problem is a lack of good new musicians. You don’t get it.”

Actually I do get it, and you do too … they are listening to Spotify because radio doesn’t play what they way; that was exactly my point. The sad thing is that programmers don’t get it. I just don’t understand why they don’t remember history – the story is that in the 1960s, Tom Donahue actually called around to stations and those that had disconnected numbers were the ones he would pitch his format to … the very format that helped put FM radio on the map, and helped make FM eventually be the dominate radio band.

Why stations that are essentially losing money — and make no mistake, they are, otherwise even the big three owner groups would not all be close to bankruptcy — don’t just try something different is beyond me. And beyond stupid. Radio needs young people to survive.

Of course maybe if they keep going the way they are, I will indeed get to buy my own station, once the value is about $10 total …