All-sports, 24-hour talk radio has officially flopped in Los Angeles. While it prospers in New York, Chicago, Toronto and elsewhere, station KMPC has halted the bold experiment that made management rue the day it quit spinning Engelbert Humperdinck records. The ratings were only slightly higher than they were for a 60-second emergency broadcast test.
As of this week, KMPC has converted to an all-gab, Sports Lite format, with intermittent comic relief provided by American League West Division baseball.
After having broadcast Angel baseball, Ram football and Clipper basketball over the last dozen months, it's a wonder more KMPC sportscasters haven't gone leaping to their deaths from Sunset Boulevard rooftops. It isn't easy to say, "Stay tuned," when what you really want to scream is, "Run for your lives!"
Why did AM 710 all-jock radio flunk?
Maybe because our Southern California pro teams all--how shall I put this politely?--stunk like skunks. Of the Dodgers, Angels, Padres, Raiders, Rams, Chargers, Lakers, Clippers, Kings and Mighty Ducks, only one in their most recent season of play qualified for the postseason playoffs, that being the Raiders.
(We did, however, excel in Little League baseball.)
Or maybe all-sports radio won't work in greater metropolitan La-La Land because we are simply a bunch of easy-listenin' dudes and dudettes, coolest people on the planet, too chillin' to get too hot, as opposed to those obscene phone-callers elsewhere who contact talk shows and scream, "Yo! Lemme ax you, whatsa matta with them Mets?" Or: "I tink dat Ditka is da problem with da team, m'friend!"
Wish I knew the answer. Myself, I have done enough radio to know two things: 1--that I have a very good face for radio, and 2--that I am to brilliance in broadcasting what Ivana Trump is to brilliance in literature. Compared to me, Ted Baxter was Ted Koppel. I babble and blather and blabber. People who invite me onto their programs end up dubbing Milli Vanilli over my voice.
But I do listen to talk radio a lot. I like to listen to talk radio more than I like to talk to talk radio. I like to imagine what the traffic-copter people look like. I like to picture the host sprinting like Carl Lewis down a hallway toward a restroom during a 30-second commercial. I like to envision the station's psychologist giving advice to the lovelorn for four hours, then going home to an empty apartment to play solitaire.
All-sports radio was a new concept for me, however. I thought it might be too much of a good thing, like all-food radio or all-Rolling Stones radio. I mean, I like Linda Ronstadt, but I'm not sure I want to be trapped for 24 hours inside an elevator with her. Even a glutton can digest only so much sports.
This was a typical KMPC broadcast day:
"Good morning and welcome to KMPC. KMPC time, 10:01 a.m. Today on KMPC we're talking about last night's 150-79 Clipper defeat, which you heard right here on KMPC. Let's open up those KMPC phone lines so you can call us here at KMPC and tell us what you think. In the Valley 818 555-KMPC Orange County 714 555-KMPC Inland Empire 909 555-KMPC Los Angeles 213 555-KMPC or 310 555-KMPC or 1 800 555-KMPC or 1 800 555 and the first four letters of your mother's maiden name, or on your cellular phone press star, pound sign, UCLA, PIN, 24 left, 39 right, 17 left, hang up once, dial again, press I-LUV-KMPC and ask for Vinnie.
"This morning on KMPC our guests will be 97 sportswriters and maybe an athlete if we can get one to call us back. Our phones are lighting up now. Any of you athletes who would like to be on 710 KMPC, those numbers again are 818, 714, 909, 213, 310 and 900 976 555 KMPC here on KMPC. On hold we have Johnny from Carson, Burt from Lancaster, Robin from Ventura, and on a car phone Roberto from San Clemente. Hang on, we'll take your calls in a moment.
"Right now let's go out to our old friend Tommy (Cauliflower Head) Tropicana calling from Nevada for our regular Boxers You've Never Heard Of segment of the program. Hi, Cauliflower Head, how's that face of yours healing? Hello? Oops, we must have been cut off. 710 KMPC 555 800 818 The Valley 714 Orange County 909 Inland Empire 310 213 800 cellular star, pound sign, date of birth, KMPC. One phone line still open. On hold we still have Johnny from Carson, Burt from Lancaster and on a car phone Roberto from San Clemente. Hang on, we'll take your calls in a moment.
"Say, did anybody see that game last night? I can't believe he did that. He's an idiot. KMPC time, 10:02 a.m., and this morning here on KMPC we're talking anything you want to talk about here on 710 KMPC, football, baseball, kayak, 800 555 KMPC, where the time is 10:02 a.m. One line still open. On hold we have Johnny from Carson and Roberto from San Clemente and you guys hang on, we'll take your calls in a moment. KMPC time, 10:02 a.m.