Radio Waves: September 24, 2021

Audacy helping mental health via We Can Survive concert

Audacy — owner of numerous stations in Los Angeles including KRTH (101.1 FM) and KROQ (106.7 FM) — is getting ready for the 8th Annual “We Can Survive” concert to be held at the Hollywood Bowl on October 23rd.

Black Eyed Peas, Coldplay, Doja Cat, Shawn Mendes, The Kid LAROI and more will use their musical powers to help strengthen — and raise money to help — mental health via a partnership with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. The Foundation funds research, supports survivors of suicide loss, advocates for public policies to help mental health, and educates the public about the issues.

Tickets are on sale at Ticketmaster.

Where’s Red?

“I was a listener to Rock ‘n Roll in the 50’s/60’s living in the San Fernando Valley … a cruiser of Van Nuys Blvd back when … I went to school with the local DJ Red Blanchard’s daughter… you have any updates on his whereabouts?: — Drexel Smith

This was an interesting one to me, as Blanchard is just a little before my time. But I love a mystery; here’s what I found:

Richard Bogardus “Red” Blanchard was a DJ on a variety of stations in town, including KABC (790 AM), KXLA (before it was KRLA; now KRDC 1110 AM), KPOP (now KTNQ, 1020 AM), KFWB (980 AM) and KNX (1070 AM). His longest tenure at any of the LA stations was about five years – from 1960-65 at KNX; the others were only for a year or two.

But he had a long history in radio prior to arriving in town back in 1956: he was interested in radio at a very early age and in 1938, at the age of 18, he got his first ham radio license (W1LDI). Commercial radio came after he got out of the Army, starting in 1945 at Riverside’s original KPRO. After that he was at a variety of stations in San Diego, Las Vegas, and San Francisco; his last station before arriving in town locally was at the Bay Area’s KCBS.

As a DJ, he specialized in novelty songs and comedy, making for a very entertaining program and explaining his presence on many of the top stations in town of the era. One description had him as a master of puns and parodies, along with the always on hand “gross out” gag. He made a few of his own novelty recordings as well, including Captain Hideous (King of Outer Space), Pagan Love Song, and Ape Call, among others.

In San Diego, the Daily Journal gave him the recognition as “Show of the Month.” 

His work at KNX included staff announcer, but he always had a love of the technical side of things, so in 1965 he left radio for television, and became the technical director for KHJ-TV Channel 9, where he stayed until he retired sometime around 1980.

Talking about his career with LARadio.Com‘s Don Barrett, Blanchard spoke of being let go from one of his stations: “I was fired due to illness,” he said. “The boss got sick of me.”

Blanchard passed away in June of 2011 at the age of 91; his death was from complications during his recovery from cancer surgery.

Hawking Wares

“When I started listening to talk radio in the 80’s, it was unheard of for the radio hosts to hawk their books on the air. One host who did that was Dr. Toni Grant, who was fired from at least three stations (KFI, KRLA, and one in Texas) for doing that in the 90’s. Now they all do it to some degree. Mark Levin is by far the worst and for five months he has spent 90% of his show reading from and hawking his latest book. 

“Why do the syndicators allow that … is that part of the hosts’ compensation? And why do the affiliates put up with it?” — Judd Silver

Easy one: money, and lack of caring.

An unfortunate side-effect of the modern radio model is a singular focus on easy money. It takes time to develop a program, let alone a full format, so many stations rely on free (where the show is provided at no cost to a station in exchange for the show being able to sell some of the commercial time) or even paid programming (where the host or distributor pays to have the programming carried by a station) to make ends meet.

It isn’t the best quality, but it’s cheap. Many talk programs heard in the evening or on weekends are paid programming, many syndicated programs get placed for the advertising agreement. Stations with small budgets or operating losses can thus carry programming, even if it isn’t the best.

Now I have no clue as to the financial agreement the hosts you mention had or have with any stations. But because the programming is no longer under the direction of a local program director or owner, the content of the show can be passed off as being the responsibility of the show provider. And that allows exactly what you are witnessing, and it is something I think is not helping radio maintain listeners.