June 24, 1999
Just call him Rocket Rick … ‘cuz he’ll be blasting out of KOGO AM 600 as soon as possible. The inside scoop from a reliable former Jacor employee (the best kind) is that evening talker Rick Roberts will be leaving the Clear Channel station, and almost certainly San Diego, when his contract is up. He’s already hired the same agent as Dan Rather and Matt Drudge to start the shopping process. Though he has triple the ratings of the Best of Dr. Laura, the suits at corporate are telling him “not to say his name on the air.” Why?
There has never been any love lost between Rick and afternoon host Roger Hedgecock. Word is, ever since Jesse Jackson appeared on Rick’s show during his first week in town, Roger’s been out to get him … calling him a liberal, making up a story about Jesse sexually harassing somebody at KOGO. If Rick’s people produce a promo from that day’s show, Roger’s people conveniently lose it. If anything, management appears to be siding with Roger since he’s got the longer and richer contract. To top it off, next season’s acquisition of Padres broadcast rights means mucho preemptions, most of them in the evening.
As God as my witness, I didn’t know all this would happen if I let Roger out of that locked announce booth 20 years ago.
Et tu, Ted? … Along with the Padres announcement one month ago that they would be moving back to KOGO, came word that their number one play-by-play guy and master of malaprops Jerry Coleman would continue with the team for another three years. That’ll take him into his fourth decade with the team. He’s been callin’ ‘em for the Pads since Randy Jones and Willie McCovey wore the brown and yellow … 27 of the last 28 years. He took one off for a disastrous experiment in managing the team. Oh doctor!
What isn’t so clear is what Ted Leitner’s involvement will be, come spring training. Actually, it’s not so much what, as how. Padres President Larry Luccino says Ted will continue to be “part of the Padres family.”
“I’m gratified as hell,” says Ted in a recent Union-Tribune interview. “Larry really protected me. What could happen is you do 20 years, the rights are lost and you lose. For him to say you can’t have the deal unless you take Jerry and Ted is as good as it gets.”
The fly-ball in the ointment is Ted’s affiliation with KFMB AM and TV where his contract expires in May, 2000. KFMB President Ed Trimble isn’t eager to have his 20 year veteran star sportscaster miss his TV gig so he can be on a competitor’s radio station. “It’s different when it’s the same company,” says Trimble. “There’s some residual value that overlaps.” He acknowledges Ted’s popularity and says they will have to work something out … meaning TV. There’s little chance that something will include any more of Ted on 760 AM.
KOGO is spending, as Ted would put it, “bozo bucks” for baseball broadcast rights. Truly “bozo” when you look at the facts. Twenty million gets them four years of Padres baseball. That’s four million more than KFMB offered. And even under the previous, less precious contract, KFMB claims a loss of a million and a half a year on the deal. If that includes any pre and post-game show revenue the station gets to keep, plus ads from Padres advertisers during the rest of the day and the (potentially) higher rates the station gets from the extra ratings share or two having baseball brings, then somebody really needs to explain the math to me.
As for previous reports in this column that at least KOGO has a better signal than KFMB, that’s a mixed bag too. According to a former employee, although KOGO has a less restrictive coverage pattern and stations at lower frequencies tend to travel farther, 600 kilohertz is plagued with more interference if you’re listening inside a building … probably less of a factor now that every game is available on some form of TV.
A technical comparison of the two shows KOGO with 5,000 watts directional day and night. KFMB is 5,000 watts non-directional daytime and 50,000 watts directional nighttime. Daytime advantage, KOGO … unless you’re near electrical interference or live in the east county directional null. Long distance nighttime advantage, KOGO. But for the area it does cover, KFMB’s 50,000 watt nighttime signal is superior. And you can hang a star on that baby.
Speaking of “Baby”… KGB FM 101.5’s mysterious “Sell Your Baby” and later “Free Baby” billboards turn out to have been a tease for a car giveaway. At last week’s sold-out Sky Show XXIV at Qualcomm Stadium, the Clear Channel classic rocker revealed “Baby” to be a replica 1961 Porsche Speedster they’ll be giving away with a try-your-key contest.
And then there were two … With the impending acquisition of Metro Networks by Shadow Broadcast/CBS/Infinity, all traffic and news (for stations without their own news departments) will now come from one of two, rather than three sources. The other one being Airwatch … the company founded over 20 years ago by former KFMB and Automobile Club of Southern California eye-in-the sky Steve Springer.
Who’s on First? … KFMB’s experiment in a split shift morning show with Jack and Joe (Woods and Bauer) covering 5:30 to noon in various incarnations is over. They and their entourage are back to 5:30 to 10 followed by Consumer Champion Clark Howard from 10 to 1 and Money Talks with Bill Holland from 1 to 2. I still think San Diego radio has way too much business talk, but maybe that’s how people can afford to live here.
Rosie O’Donnell? Fugettaboudit … Syndicated reviewer of movies from a family perspective, Holly McClure is the true queen of nice. The veteran of L-A Christian talk radio at KKLA and KBRT is now on Salem’s KPRZ AM 1210 weeknights from 7 to 8. Click www.kprz.com for details and links to her latest review.
Farewell … Former broadcaster, writer and producer for KSDO AM 1130, George Riley was found dead of natural causes June 11 in his Spring Valley apartment. His career spanned 30 years beginning in San Diego in 1980. In ’88 he received a Golden Mike award for anchoring “AIDS, the San DIego story.” Fellow broadcast journalist, Ken Yearwood said George was always two steps ahead of everyone else. “(He) was doing stuff on AIDS before anybody knew what it was.”
He is survived by his mother and a brother in his home state of Minnesota. George Riley was 56.
The Compass points South … KXST Sets 102.1’s parent Company, Compass Broadcasting has filed with the FCC to move the station’s city of license from Oceanside to Encinitas. Spreading the wealth I guess. Their transmitter is in San Marcos. Long time residents may remember pre-Rock102.1 as the last of the automated “Beautiful Music” stations … originally “KUDE, the sound of brilliance.”
Anyone wanting to monitor Sets’ playlist won’t have to spend hours listening … though if you want to hear the widest, most imaginative playlist in San Diego, you should. Their website www.sets102.com keeps a running tab of everything that aired during the previous 6 hours complete with links to artist websites.
May be too intense for small children … Over a recent dinner in West Hollywood, longtime San Diego radio and TV personality, now afternoon driver at K-Earth, Los Angeles, Shotgun Tom Kelley shared a story of how he’s ingratiating himself with his morning counterpart, Charlie Van Dyke and company.
Shotgun recently obtained a larger than life-size cutout of himself in tuxedo and trademark Smokey Bear hat … a duplicate of which can be seen at North County Ford. He brought it to the Venice Boulevard studios of K-Earth and spent much of the day Martha Stewarting for the perfect place for the object d’art. The seven foot tall cutout ended up in the station lobby at the far end of the reception desk from the front door.
The following morning, Charlie Van Dyke, Joni Caryl and various and sundry producers arrived en-masse and stopped dead in their tracks at the sight of a large silhouette lurking in the lobby at 4am. Joni was reportedly the most freaked, although it might have been fun if deep-baritone Charlie had been the one to scream. The raucous Shotgun Tom has been known to frighten small children.
Program Director Mike Phillips thought the whole thing was pretty funny following hot on the heels of a practical joke he had just played on Shotz for calling into Phil Hendrie’s show on KFI when Phil mentioned Shotz and K-Earth’s Huggy Boy.
And the offending artwork? It was turned around to face the corner says Shotz, “Like a bad boy.” For his antics, Shotgun says he is “the Kramer of the K-Earth family.”