A post-Orlando edition of short takes


Liberty from iHeart?: It’s reported Liberty Media, which purchased $600 million of iHeart Media’s debt for $490 million, is selling their entire stake in the company. The debt was converted to about 6 million shares of iHeart after the company reduced their debt load via bankruptcy. The Colorado-based company is now unloading all of their shares for a reported $150 million.

In practical terms, it means Liberty Media, headed by John Malone, has exited the broadcast radio business after only a year, abandoning plans to create a media conglomerate. The company already owns Sirius XM satellite radio (which fully owns the Pandora streaming service) as well as Live Nation Entertainment. Potentially the company had the opportunity to dominate how American audiences accessed live and recorded music. Arguably, the sale means another major media company has decided to drop traditional terrestrial radio.


Dead air: A couple of weeks ago, I received several messages telling me KNX was off the air during afternoon drive for about an hour or so. The station tweeted for listeners to tune into their FM simulcast on 101.1HD-2 or hear the station on the Audacy app. The AM returned to the air by about 5:45 p.m. I remember a radio engineer (a truly underappreciated job) for an all-news station once state "when news breaks, we fix it!"

Bill Kurtis, Peter Sagal (washingtonpost.com)

Wait Wait – it’s live!: Perhaps a sign that we’re slowly returning back to normal, NPR’s Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me recorded their first broadcast in front of a live Chicago audience this week. I’ve mentioned before my sons and I attended a live recording of the program at the Greek Theater a couple of years ago. The show is even more entertaining in person, some really funny material doesn’t make it to air.

The Boss is back – on a podcast: Woody Goulart, author of KHJ Los Angeles: Boss Radio Forever — 1960s Rock and Roll Radio History, joins Ira Sternberg on “Ira’s Everything Bagel,” also available on Alexa, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeartRadio, PlayerFM, Pocket Casts, SoundCloud, Spotify, Stitcher Radio, Tunein Radio, and Vurbl.

In this boss episode, Woody talks about the amazing impact of KHJ radio in Los Angeles in the 60’s; the concept of the format, which included more music, short jingles, and powerful air personalities; the dynamic duo of Robert W. Morgan and The Real Don Steele; why he wrote a thesis on Bill Drake, the leading force of the Boss Radio format; why Drake agreed to be interviewed for Woody’s thesis; the surprising reaction of Boss Radio program director Ron Jacobs to the book; and why this definitive format would not work in today’s world.

Kilgore was also host of the KFWB Business Hour (photo courtesy LARadio.com)

Remembering Ron Kilgore: He may not have been the most familiar name on the L.A. airwaves, but at least I knew when I heard Ron Kilgore’s voice on KFWB and KNX, I would be hearing from a solid radio journalist. Kilgore died last Wednesday, November 3.

Don Barrett offered a bio of Kilgore at LARadio.com:

Born in Prague, Oklahoma on October 2,1950, he grew up in Santa Cruz and went to high school in Upland in the Inland Empire. “I went to several colleges in Southern California. Since I was already working in tv and radio, I took lots of different courses, ranging from fire science to police science, with a real interest in sociology.” 

Ron’s boyhood idol was the late Douglas Edwards, one of the pioneers of tv news anchoring. “Russ Powell [formerly of KNX] was also a big influence. When I was a kid elementary school reporter in the farm town of Exeter, he was an anchor at a Fresno radio station that was beamed into our classroom every day. Vin Scully was also a big encouragement when I was a "boy" game producer at KFI. Finally, the late Reverend Raymond Schoch, who created a Christian radio and television network in Glendale who gave me my first paying on-air job.” 

Before coming to the Southland, Kilgore was for five years the news director at KFYI-AM in Phoenix. He also was an anchor and reporter for NBC Radio News and Mutual Radio in Washington, D.C. He got his start in radio at KKAR-AM, Pomona. 

His former colleagues remembered Kilgore on social media as “(a) consummate professional, kind, good hearted sweet man,” “always the professional and so kind,” “the ultimate professional and such a sweet, sweet man, God bless him on his journey and God bless his family he will be sorely missed.” 

Kilgore reportedly died of congestive heart failure. He was 71.

An early KIIS: Before the call letters were adopted by one of the best known CHR stations in the country, the call letters were associated with a softer rock sound on the AM dial. The late Chuck Blore created the station known for both the lighter contemporary music and the billboards throughout Southern California. In contrast to the short, punchy jingles employed by KHJ and others, KIIS featured a package of sounders which could be described as “long form,” a reminder of radio’s times gone by. Hear samples of the KIIS 1150 sounders here and here.

Back from Orlando: The conference I attended was exhausting, but quite productive. The meeting was held at the Dolphin and Swan Hotel on the Disney World property. I chose to stay at a quite decent place which was a relative bargain (send me a note if you need recommendations). We also were treated to a night at Epcot Center, I hadn't been there in over two decades.  I tended to eat as cheaply as I could (Cup O’ Noodles comes in handy), but on the last night I decided to visit a venue at a hotel, where I had the best turkey burger I’ve ever had. OK, whether it was or not is debatable, but at $18, it was the best turkey burger I’ve ever had.

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  1. Just on a sidenote, Liberty Media also owns Ticketmaster.

    1. Indeed, Liberty's strategy is to oversee every possible venue a listener could access music. It appears Liberty no longer believes iHeart Media will help their efforts to do so.


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