KROQ's "Loveline" is one of the three top-rated FM evening shows in the Los Angeles area. The local call-in program went into syndication three months ago and can currently be heard in 19 markets across the United States. Now "Loveline"--which serves as a medium through which teens and young adults can receive advice about sex, relationship and substance abuse problems--is preparing to splinter off into television as a late-night show this fall.
Yet the popular radio program's upward flight wasn't enough to keep one of its three hosts from departing after a 2 1/2-year tenure with the show. Last week, Riki Rachtman left "Loveline" to sign a one-year contract to host his own afternoon gabfest on KLSX-FM (97.1).
Titled "Riki Rachtman Radio," the program will begin Monday and will air weekdays between 2 and 4 p.m. This slot was previously occupied by O.J. Simpson house-guest-turned-radio personality Kato Kaelin, who gave up his program last week so he could better pursue his acting career.
"From what I understand, [KLSX] had been looking for somebody like me," Rachtman says. "At the same time, I decided I wanted to do my own type of show. As much as I loved doing 'Loveline' and working with [the other hosts] and [producer] Ann [Wilkins], the administrative people [at the station] made me feel like anybody could do the show."
The ex-host of MTV's heavy-metal show "Headbanger's Ball" and former rock 'n' roll club owner says management at KROQ (106.7) told him he was a great interviewer, but that he lacked a strong sense of humor. About four months ago, funnyman Adam Corrolla was added to the show as a third host, joining Rachtman and Dr. Drew Pinsky (a.k.a. Dr. Drew), who has an internal medicine practice and specializes in chemical dependency treatment.
"We wanted a comedian in the group," producer Wilkins says. "We had Drew, who obviously had the knowledge and who was kind of the straightforward guy, and then we had Riki, who was the real edge, street guy. Then we wanted to bring some comedy into it, and Adam is just the funniest guy out there. We brought him on and he brought the show to a whole different level."
There are no plans to replace Rachtman with another "Loveline" personality, Wilkins says.
Rachtman says he's not looking to replicate "Loveline" at KLSX, though he admits that issues of sex, love and substance abuse will inevitably find their way into the mix. He's clearly excited about enlarging the scope of the conversation with his new program.
But don't expect deep discourses on the congressional budget debate or about American military involvement in Bosnia. Rachtman wants to stay clear of heavy political topics. Instead, he'll concentrate on issues that interest him and the similarly free-spirited young listeners who seem to be an important part of KLSX's target audience.
"We're going to do snow and surf reports, and I'll be giving my opinions as to what band or club to go see," Rachtman says. "I'm going to do movie reviews every Friday and have people respond. We're also going to be doing 'Melrose Place' updates. Every Monday we're going to try to talk to one of the members of the show. It will be like reading a magazine except one that you can talk back at."
The heavily tattooed Rachtman is also hoping to move into television. Last year he signed a development deal with Disney to host his own late-night TV talk show. He is confident the project will fly and that it will be superior to "Loveline's" TV venture, in which he says he declined involvement for "creative and financial" reasons.
Wilkins says the "Loveline" TV program will be patterned after the radio show and will be hosted by Pinsky and Corrolla, with celebrity guests and phone calls from viewers.