With Kato Kaelin, former "Brady Bunch" star Susan Olsen and some other hosts relatively unknown here, KLSX-FM (97.1) begins a switch today from its classic rock identity to talk radio--molded by the success of the outrageous Howard Stern.
Insisting that KLSX's talk will be different from its competitors, General Manager Bob Moore fairly boasted Monday that under the new format "there're no issues, there's no education--it is humor, it is entertainment, and it deals with the day-to-day life that our audience experiences, from the absurd to the obvious."
KLSX-FM becomes the first major FM station in this market to institute a talk format. It will compete against KABC-AM (790), KFI-AM (640), KIEV-AM (870), KMPC-AM (710) and KMAX-FM (107.1), a religious talk station.
It will keep the same call letters, a play on the word classics , and will continue its music format on weekends with the same hosts, including Joe Benson and Deirdre O'Donahue. But now KLSX is also billing itself as "Real Radio 97.1."
Mother Love, who was on KFI five years ago (and before that was known as comedian Jo Anne Hart from Cleveland), will be the first host to air under the new format tonight in her regular 7-10 p.m. time slot.
Kaelin, otherwise known as America's most famous house guest, will debut Wednesday at 2 p.m. with a two-hour weekday show. In a brief interview, Kaelin, who catapulted to fame because he used to live with Nicole Brown Simpson and then with O.J. Simpson, said he has a one-year contract with options. As a sidekick, he will have comic Bob Hellman--"like the mayonnaise," he said.
KLSX's ratings have been on the decline, and general manager Moore said the music format wasn't successful in the important 25-44 age group. But Stern's syndicated morning program has been a big hit, so, with the input of focus groups and research experts, Moore said the station decided to build a schedule that would "feed off the audience Howard already has."
"The thirst [of 25-44-year-olds] has been satisfied by this entertaining form of non-musical radio," Moore said. "It's irreverent, it's funny. But when they went to a steady diet of whatever the musical group was, that didn't pique their curiosity because they had so many other alternative choices for music."
Kaelin allowed that "I'm not as shocking as Howard. I'm pretty much the guy next door who takes the dog for a walk. You can relate to me. . . . I got into the door of invisible Hollywood"--dropping names like Jack Nicholson and Barbara Walters--"and I'm going to share it with everybody."
Secrets too? Is that any way to keep friends, he was asked. "Just to say who was eating what. Whatever I am able to say."
Moore said that KLSX hosts will not be talking about "Bosnia, Newt Gingrich, [Proposition] 187 or references to the editorial page of the Los Angeles Times." Instead, KLSX will deal with "getting to work, the remote control on the VCR--why can't they make one that really works? . . . Everyday life, relationships."
Asked why KLSX didn't choose instead to update its music, Moore replied: "With 85 radio stations and 80 playing music, it's hard to be really different. . . . There [wasn't] a whole lot of holes."
Moore, who is also general manager at KRLA-AM (1110), an oldies station, said there was no attempt to interfere with that format because it was "extremely successful in its own right," with 75% of its audience "assimilated Hispanics. It's a real heritage radio station."
KLSX's new weekday lineup following Stern, which airs from 3 to 10:30 a.m. or so, depending on the whim of the host:
* Ken Ober, former host of MTV's "Remote Control," and Susan Olsen, best known for her role as Cindy Brady, the youngest of television's legendary 1970s family "The Brady Bunch," team up between whenever Stern ends and 2 p.m.
* Kaelin from 2-4 p.m. "No one," a station promotional release said, "has ever taken their '15 minutes of fame' and made a bigger impact on pop culture." Asked whether Kaelin hasn't used up perhaps 14 minutes of it already, Moore said, "his Q [recognition] scores are pretty high . . . so far he hasn't done anything weird."
* "The Regular Guys," Larry Wachs and Eric Haessler, from 4-7 p.m., billed as "just two regular guys talking about stuff." Both are in their early 30s and have been best friends for a number of years. Larry and Eric, as they will be known on air, worked on radio in Hartford; Larry used to own a restaurant in Baltimore.
* Mother Love, author of "Listen Up, Girlfriends! Lessons on Life From the Queen of Advice," 7-10 p.m.
* Comedian Carlos Oscar from 10 p.m. to midnight. Born in New York City but raised in East Los Angeles, Oscar has had several television appearances and this fall will be featured in Eddie Murphy's movie "Vampire in Brooklyn."
* Voxx, midnight to 3 a.m. A native of Ethiopia, she is described by the station as "the world's first and only rock 'n' roll psychic."
"I'm so pumped and excited," said Mother Love about her return to Los Angeles radio. "I feel like a prodigal daughter returning to her roots, her radio babies [the audience]. I'm trying to stay calm so I won't just be babbling. . . . We are going to have so much fun. It's going to be a blast."