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Kfwb Tries Dreamin' Up A Day Of Good News

February 28, 1987|DENNIS McDOUGAL | Times Staff Writer

In a way, KFWB-AM (980)'s "California Dreamin' " was like listening to county fair beauty contestants jabber for 12 straight hours about the genuine need for world peace.

"I just hope our relations with Russia and all these other guys improve and we start enjoying some peace," said Bob Hope during the all-news radio station's "California Dreamin' " promotion on Thursday.

"Thank you very much, Bob Hope," answered former Miss America Mary Anne Mobley. "You certainly have been a part of the California Dream."

It was a line of patter that repeated itself throughout the day--and it might have worked better if it hadn't been for all the bad news spewing out of the nation's capital.

Unfortunately, "All-News 98" 's daylong paean to all the fluffy best that Southern California has to offer took place the same day the explosive Tower Commission report monopolized and mesmerized television and radio audiences on every other all- or nearly-all-news broadcast outlet in Los Angeles.

"Everyone was carrying the Tower Commission report and I tuned in briefly (to KFWB) at about 7:20 a.m. and heard the Skipper from 'Gilligan's Island' (Alan Hale) being interviewed by Steve Edwards," said one veteran Los Angeles newsman. "It was pretty unbelievable."

KFWB did deliver capsule reports on the Tower Commission as well as its usual dose of traffic, weather and sports, but for the most part, it was committed to a day of dreaming.

Mobley and her husband, actor Gary Collins, were two of the dozen guest hosts who dropped by the all-news station's Hollywood studios from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. to hear famous Californians' dreams. Professional people pleasers like Melody Rogers, Chuck Henry, Rona Barrett, Steve Edwards, Rob Weller and Leeza Gibbons also got to ask the tough question: What's your dream for Southern California?

And, almost inevitably, they got warm, amorphous, utopian answers:

--Tony Danza wanted producers to be more responsible about what they put on television.

--Julia Duffy of "Newhart" wanted adults to put their children in car seats.

--KCBS-TV Channel 2 news anchor Ross Becker wanted parents to talk more to their children.

But KFWB Executive Editor Dave Forman, who came up with the idea to flood the station with hopes and dreams four weeks ago, made no apologies for "California Dreamin' ."

"There are people who don't believe in dreaming and that's a shame," Forman said. "We as a society depend on dreams and at the risk of sounding overly optimistic, I'd have to say we live in a pretty good place, but we didn't arrive here by accident. People had dreams."

Forman, who called the day a "World's Fair of Thoughtful Optimism," defended his plan to suspend $75,000 worth of commercials in favor of celebrity euphemisms on grounds that KFWB normally spends too much time reporting bad news.

"I got to thinking about what we report here and usually the underbelly of society is in high rotation," he said. "I was wondering if some of that doesn't act as a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy. Maybe we could affect things for the better rather than rehashing the negative."

If "California Dreamin' " accomplished little beyond getting the all-news station a lot of publicity, it did generate several noteworthy radio rapprochements . Gene Autry, owner of KMPC-AM (710) and KUTE-FM (101.9), went on KFWB to express his dream that his California Angels might someday win a pennant. Three talk-show hosts on KFWB rival KABC-AM (790) simulcast their own dreams over both radio stations during morning drive time. Michael Jackson dreamed of seeing Los Angeles "continue to be the city of the future. . . , " Bob Arthur dreamed of "cleaning up the air and environment that we have to deal with both indoors and outdoors" and Ken Minyard dreamed that Linda Evans would find "a boyfriend so she'll stop being the loneliest woman in Hollywood."

But the most surprising KFWB personality of the day was all-news KNX-AM (1070) general manager George Nicholaw.

"They sent me an invitation. It's not every day you're asked to appear on your competition to explain your ideas," said Nicholaw, whose station has been in a ratings war with KFWB for almost 20 years. "I mean, if people are going to be listening to KFWB, I can say, 'Hey look, gang: At 1070 on the dial guess what we're about?' "

Nicholaw, who was squeezed in between "Today Show" weatherman Willard Scott and "Sound of Music" director Robert Wise, was introduced by "Entertainment Tonight" co-hosts Rob Weller and Leeza Gibbons.

"Boy, what did it take to get you over here, George?" asked Weller.

"Well, Rob, Leeza, just a letter and an invitation!," replied Nicholaw. "The minute it came I called and said, 'Hey! That's terrific!' Because you know at KNX, I and the members of the editorial board, we sort of dream all the time."

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