Radio Waves: January 19, 2024

Audacy on the ropes

Audacy – the huge radio conglomerate that owns six stations locally (KNX 1070 AM, 97.1 FM; KRTH 101.1 FM; KTWV 94.7 FM; KCBS-FM 93.1; and KROQ 106.7 FM) among approximately 230 stations nationwide – went to court as expected and predicted, and was approved for what is called a “prepackaged” bankruptcy. This will slash the debt from $1.9 billion to a mere $350 million.

That may seem like it gives a nice lifeline, but many in the industry don’t agree, and much of it has to do with what some consider overly optimistic revenue projections. Regardless, the deal itself comes at a great price – the lenders are now in control, and they don’t know radio. If they did, they never would have loaned money in the first place …  money that allowed Audacy (and iHeart and Cumulus) to get as big as it did, too big to not fail.

The expectation from most observers now includes more cuts, more generic programming, and a continuation of having a DJ in one market spin the records in multiple markets on multiple stations at once, a primary reason that so many of their stations — including KROQ locally — falter.

Yet there are some successes that should be rewarded. For example, over the years KRTH has continued to succeed, as has KTWV The Wave. That has to do with local management and personalities just making it work in spite of Field. If the lenders would force the sale of stations, under new ownership these two could grow and thrive. I could see KROQ making a comeback, if it were not held back by Audacy management. Same for KNX newsradio, though I would drop the FM simulcast.

Right now, I fear that the new owners will merge news divisions together across the country, sell off the KNX AM signal, and would not be surprised if an agreement is made to move the tower site from 190th Street in Torrance, at once destroying one of the oldest and proudest broadcast stations in America.

Resnick retires

Wayne Resnick announced on KFI’s (640 AM) morning Bill Handel show January 1st that he is “mostly retiring.” Which means he will no longer be a regular part of the morning show but will still be available for fill-in work when Handel is vacationing.

Neil Saavedra replaces Resnick … which puts Saavedra back on the show where he once worked as a producer. Saavedra, by the way, sounds a LOT like Jesus Christ, who hosts the Sunday morning Jesus Christ Show from 6 to 9 a.m. Coincidence? (Yes, he hosts that as well)

Tributes and memories

More tributes for Jim Ladd, Jim Carson, and Shaune Steele … We got a lot of them … I apologize if yours didn’t make it here, but it was definitely read and appreciated.

“I knew Vic Gruppi (Jim Carson’s real name) back in the sixties… I went to high school with his sister Angel, so there was a large crowd of us who hung out together. The family owned a liquor store and they moved to an apartment over the store, around 1962. They all worked at the store , so I saw I saw Vic a lot during those times.

“After 1965 he was working at KBLA 1500, using the name Vic Dominic. By this time we had all graduated and moved on. A few of us rented a house in laurel canyon and Angel would come up occasionally and we’d all party and call Vic and ask him to play certain songs.

“By 1970 we had all moved on. Marriage, Viet nam , etc.; that was the last time any of us had any contact with the Gruppi family. Funny – I never knew he was Jim Carson on KRTH … and I listened many times!” — Chuck Hale’iwa

“My interaction with Jim Ladd came in the late 80’s or early 90’s when you could call in and he’d take requests. My ex-wife told me that our two teen children were giving her the fits and asked me if I could have a talk with them. So I called  Jim, and told them that I wanted to dedicate “When I Was Young” by Eric Burdon & The Animals, since I had a fairly wild childhood.

“Jim agreed to play it and then asked me what I did for a living. I told him I was a beer salesman and occasionally had to work with the models as we went out on promotional nights. He got so fired up when he found out that I sold beer and got to drive around the girls … he said “Bob…I want your job!” He made me feel so welcome and I got that whole conversation and the song on tape and shared it with my children the next time I saw them.  — Bob Terry, Rancho Cucamonga

“I, like most of the country, found out about the John Lennon murder while watching Monday Night Football on Dec 8 1980 and hearing it from Howard Cosell. I immediately turned on the radio and listened to the chilling comments by Jim Ladd.

“He was beyond upset, and one distinct comment he made on the air was about ‘the (a-hole) that did it’ and the censors let it fly by. It was the only time I remember hearing swear words on the radio but it certainly warranted it. But Jim was the first voice of reason as we all tried to cope with the tragedy of the night and he helped get us all through it as best he could. I will always remember that night listening to his show.  —Tim ONeill, Torrance

“I worked with Shaune — and husband, ‘The Real’ Don Steele — for a couple of years at CBS-FM, before it became Arrow 93. She indeed made the station “sparkle” and was such an intelligent, positive person to work with and be around. That was quite a lineup we had, what with Don, M.G. Kelly, Charlie Tuna, Paul Freeman, among others. Working with her and such legends, who were always great to me, was definitely one of the top two or three highlights of this boy’s LA radio career.” — Gary Moore

You may remember Moore from at least one of his stations including KFI, the original KNX-FM/KODJ, KCBS-FM or KLOS (95.5 FM).