Radio Waves: December 24, 2021

Seasoned Sounds Return

Just like my annual watching of It’s a Wonderful Life, one of the “must-dos” this time of year is to tune in to Sounds of the Season, which will once again be heard on Ken Borgers’ internet tribute to the original KNOB (now KLAX, 97.9 FM). You can find it at www.JazzKnob.org.  

The program is a 36-hour program that starts at noon Christmas Eve and runs continuously through midnight on Christmas day. It features some excellent jazz instrumental and vocal interpretations of holiday music favorites; along with what many consider a highlight of the season: a reading of the classic “Twas the Night Before Christmas” by the late, great LA Jazz DJ Chuck Niles. This reading will be heard six times throughout the program: 12 noon and 6 p.m. December 24th; and at 12 midnight, 6 a.m., 12 noon, and 6 p.m. on December 25th.

The program will also feature holiday favorites by Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett, Marcus Roberts, Ramsey Lewis, Wynton Marsalis, Vince Guaraldi and many more.

If you happen to be in the San Diego area and want to hear it on the radio, you can also find it on KSDS/San Diego (88.3 FM or www.jazz88.org) during the same hours as a simulcast with the internet version. In past years, the netcast and broadcast were slightly different; show producer David Grudt tells me that this year only the hourly station ID will differ.

Niles was on heard on a variety of jazz-formatted stations including KLON (now KKJZ, 88.1 FM), KBCA (now KKGO, 105.1 FM), KFOX  (now KFRN, 1280 AM), and of course KNOB.

JazzKnob.org is an online tribute to Sleepy Stein’s KNOB/Long Beach, which played mainstream jazz. Stein was the owner of the station in 1957 when he launched the jazz format with just 320 watts at its original frequency of 103.1 FM. One year later, he was able to increase power to 79,000 watts by moving to a new frequency, 97.9 FM.

Stein sold the station in 1966 and the new owners changed the format to MOR (Middle of the Road) music … think standards and lighter fare … then Beautiful Music and eventually soft rock. Today the station is known as “La Raza,” playing Regional Mexican music, which it has been playing since 1988.

Now at JazzKnob.org, you can tune in any time 24/7 and hear mainstream jazz from artists both past and present.

KNX Response

One of the letters below highlights something I had thought of after writing the column last week: there anew so few AM stations worth tuning in, KNX (1070 AM) gets a prominent preset. On my FM tuner, I already filled all the presets with stations that play music … so while the sound may be better on most FM radios, it may or may not be good enough to be “preset worthy” on the 97.1 FM simulcast. 

Here’s a sample of the letters I received on the subject:

“My car has 3 radio ‘bands’ that I can access with the press of just one button – one AM and two sets of FM stations that I have preset. The only AM station that I have set is KNX 1070, so I can conveniently get there, and the reception is almost always perfect … but my primary means of access to KNX will continue to be through 1070 AM due to its clear signal and quick access.” — Richard Berenson

“I’ve been a KNX 1070 listener for probably 60 years. Growing up in Torrance we didn’t watch much TV but there was always a radio in the kitchen set to KNX (or KFWB if my sister and I were hand washing the dishes). 

“That’s where I first heard old radio shows late in the evening, listened to Bob Crane, horse races live from Hollywood Park and heard the news about countless world and national events like Alan Shepherd’s blast into space and the first heart transplant. 

“When I was commuting to work for 32 years, it was KNX 1070 that rode along with me. Oh, who can forget all the good traffic reports you got from Bill Keene?! It was only on the weekends that I turned to FM for music rather than news, traffic and weather. 

“I still listen to KNX in the car as I run errands around town and have always been amazed that I can still pick them up as I head over the Grapevine. 

I’m sticking with AM 1070 as long as they’re there live.” — Debbie Musser

“I switched to KNX FM. I’ve always enjoyed KNX, but even more now because of the sound clarity.” — Hector 

“I’m an older listener who remembers the old jingle ‘KNX 11070 Newsradio.’  I’ll listen to 1070 for as long as it’s available, and if I have to eventually switch, I will, but grudgingly.”`— Judy Browning

One unrelated question … with KNX now found on FM, and the possibility of the KNX-FM call sign returning to the band — on 97.1 instead of its old home of 93.1 — will owner Audacy be bothered by the KNX-FM tribute station found at knxfm93.com? Hopefully not.

KSPN Sold

Disney has agreed to sell KSPN (710 AM) to Good Karma Broadcasting, which will retain the ESPN sports format currently found on the station as well as on KRDC (1110 AM). KRDC itself is not part of the deal, and it is unknown what Disney will do with it in the interim as it continues to look for a buyer; Disney previously announced plans to exit radio broadcasting completely.

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