Is KABC-AM programming outdated? Also, debunking some radio myths – Orange County Register

I got into a bit of a disagreement with my podcast partner and friend Michael Stark over a recent column I was trying to clarify and maybe made things even darker.

It had everything to do with the word “stale” and the radio station KABC (790 AM).

A few weeks ago I had mentioned that the recent changes from KFI (640 AM) had a lot to do with not becoming obsolete like KABC had become. What I was trying to refer to was the mid-1980s, when KFI transitioned to the talk format and was able to overtake KABC relatively quickly because it sounded young, hip, and modern…while KABC stuck to the old guard and had become a bit dowdy in comparison .

It wasn’t a direct judgment of KABC’s programs then or now, and sounding fresh is often not so much about the talk programs themselves as it is about how they present themselves. What music they use from the breaks and more. A station that doesn’t evolve is likely to die for lack of new listeners. Done right, a station thrives.

A perfect example of this is KRTH (101.1 FM). Die-hard oldies fans lament that they no longer play songs from the 1950s and 60s, but as KRTH has moved into the 80s and even into the 1990s – still a longer time since it was introduced in 1972 and music by Played 1955 and up – It has gained new listeners and has remained one of the top rated stations in the region.

My partner Stark thinks I’ve been too frugal with the current KABC schedule. It’s old-fashioned, he says. I’m not sure if that’s the right word, but I understand where he’s coming from. In fact, if KABC were playing something people wanted to hear, they wouldn’t be among the lowest-rated full-stream stations in town. My choice of words to describe KABC: irrelevant.

I think the real problem with KABC is that it doesn’t offer much to attract listeners and they don’t even really try. The channel consists mainly of repetitive conservative programs that basically preach to the choir, without any commercials whatsoever. Two of the shows are essentially podcast reruns, and outside of lunchtime host John Phillips and (another disagreement with my friend Stark) Ben Shapiro, the shows aren’t really fun, nor overly informative. Just some kind of rehash of negative political news.

So what to do? As I see it there are two possibilities. Either build around Philips and go live/local all day with people who can relate to the local crowd and get out of the political gutter, or drop the talk altogether and play music. Find a format for an audience not served by existing stations…like oldies (new or old) that don’t play KRTH or KOLA (99.9 FM), metal or progressive rock. I guarantee any of these steps would work better than it does now and might even bring some younger listeners back to the band.

You know that …

It’s funny how certain stories are told, and I suppose if told often enough, they become fact. But many “facts” about radio are more legend than reality. Here are just a few examples:

1. You always heard that KHJ (930 AM) used a cappella jingles when they started the Boss Radio format in 1965 because there was a musicians’ strike. Sounds reasonable, except that station consultant Bill Drake had used similar jingles on previous stations he consulted or programmed, including but not limited to KGB in San Diego (now KLSD, 1360 AM). Is KABC-AM programming outdated? Also, debunking some radio myths – Orange County Register

Adam Bradshaw

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