Now, San Diego radio has become some brainwash tool in the hands of sociopaths. All the richness of our American musical heritage has been diminished to short playlists on “oldies” stations (do people really want to hear Gary Lewis and the Playboys over and over, every day?). Various genre-based stations, adult contemporary and hip-hop/dance, indie-music (it’s not independent at all), clutter up the airwaves on FM. While AM is so overwhelmed with talk radio, 99 percent ultra-right-wing irrational, hysterical propaganda and “Christian” stations (primarily fundamentalist Bible Talibanesque stations that go hand in hand with neocon philosophy).
My heart is broken by this devolution of the art form of radio. I really feel sorry for the Gen XYZs who have been robbed of the golden eras I experienced on the radio, growing up in this town without pity. Political agendas have ruined the art of radio, and I see no light on the horizon. Hopefully, the Internet will find a way to undermine the established Clear Channel behemoth and force them to serve the public as a source of edification, enlightenment, and true entertainment.
If those of you really want radio to change (no one I know likes radio anymore), then boycott their sponsors and flood them (Clear Channel or any other clone network) with emails and calls of utter contempt.
One more statement: San Diego does not need six TV news channels all saying the same thing over and over all day, every day. What the hell is that about?
Thanks for the soapbox.
“Why Local Radio Is No Longer Local” (Cover Story, December 31) was emailed to me by a longtime friend and current media consultant/financier (call him “Woodie,” real name Dave). We also attended Ithaca College’s broadcasting degree program back “in the day,” mainly the late ’60s, in an Ivy League town (Cornell) where our professor for “Creative Writing for TV” was Rod Serling! We also had a great college radio station, WICB, where I took a turn as program director, which is still on the air and just won a “Woodie” award for college radio. Creativity wasn’t tolerated — it was mandatory! We played Quicksilver Messenger Service, Spirit, Santana, Fleetwood Mac, the original Pink Floyd (with Syd Barrett before he went mad), Captain Beefheart’s Trout Mask Replica, Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, Lenny Bruce, as well as the Beatles’ nonhit LP tracks, Rolling Stones’ nonhit tracks, and anything else that made the college administration hate us. It was the original home of Doug Tracht, later the infamous “Greaseman.” So don’t cry for me, Argentina — I was there, baby, and smokin’! There was a certain “aroma” associated with that period that lingers to this day.
For those of you who remember the great 30-minute “Recycling Promo” that preceded the demise of KGB “BOSS RADIO,” I was one of the founding fathers of the new progressive KGB-AM/FM back in 1972, along with the great Ron Jacobs (who has his own Internet radio show available at whodaguyhawaii.com). At that time it was inconceivable that the FCC would ever allow owners to have more than one AM, one FM, and one TV in the same market. It was every man for himself, and the competition (you call Hudson and Bauer a golden heyday? They were hacks!) was fierce.
KGB-AM (1360) was the first “progressive” AM station in San Diego (I was with KRLA when they tried it in Los Angeles under Shadoe Stevens in 1970) that played “FM” music. Very few people had FM radios in their cars at that time, so it was immediately a hit with the “hip” (read that “OB”) crowd. Larry Himmel was on the late, great (real) KPRI-FM 106 as part of the Doobie and Roach (he was Roach) morning show and later came over to KGB as Baba Cruz. I was Captain Billy along with Brad Messer and Brent Seltzer at KGB AM/FM, and in 1972 we were number one with the 18–35 demographic in the morning.
Every great program director, from Ron Jacobs to Jack McCoy to Buzz Bennett, took a shot at San Diego. It was the bright center of the radio-programming universe, and every great jock of the era, like Lee “Baby” Simms, Live Earl Jive, the “Silver Surfer” Gabriel Wisdom, Bob Coburn, and on and on had their day in San Diego. It was a test market for every new format and an acid test of a jock’s ability to get an audience. At KGB, Ron Jacobs and I invented the HomeGrown albums, the true source of today’s local music scene (there was zip at that time), and it unfortunately led ultimately to American Idol (instant fame beats paying your dues!).
Later, in the late ’70s and early ’80s, KGB-FM became the single biggest phenom on the West Coast, with monster ratings in every day part. By then, I had morphed, at Gabriel Wisdom’s urging, into The Hergon Breakfast Club with the great Jeff Prescott, and we went from a 3.3 share in morning drive to an 8.8 in less than a year. Why? Because we were San Diego. It would not have worked in any other market in America. Consultants from out of town thought we were so arcane that they could not figure out why the station was so huge — and thus the success was never duplicated anywhere else. You can’t transplant local, by its very nature!
So everything you say in the article is true — it just lacked the historical perspective of someone who was there and fought the good fight when radio had to be local. Oh, and one other thing, it used to be fun!
As for today’s radio, I don’t bother. KIFM is wall-to-wall station promos with “liner reader” jocks (has anyone ever told Jay Weidenheimer that he sounds exactly like T.J. Thyne of Bones?), so I tune out as soon as they start talking, and I put AM radio on if I need a traffic report.