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Jackson Headed Back to Weekdays on KRLA in New Format

Radio Oldies station will partially turn to a talk outlet as it seeks to boost its ratings.

November 10, 1998|JUDITH MICHAELSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Longtime talk-radio veteran Michael Jackson, who abruptly resigned Thursday from KABC-AM (790) after nearly 32 years, will soon move to KRLA-AM (1110) with a weekday program--a slot he had sought ever since being bumped to weekends 16 months ago.

Bob Moore, vice president and general manager of CBS-owned KRLA, which has averaged about 30th in overall rankings, told The Times on Monday that "we have finalized the deal" for Jackson and that "I am going to be moving the radio station in a talk direction."

But Moore, who is also general manager of talk station KLSX-FM (97.1), said that the oldies music station will not go exclusively to talk. A news conference to detail the changes will be held Wednesday, he said.

He declined to say who else would be joining Jackson in talk, but speculation was rampant that syndicated host Don Imus was a likely candidate. A knowledgeable radio executive here, who asked not to be identified, said that Imus, currently heard on KLAC-AM (570), will be part of the KRLA lineup.

Ed Krampf, vice president of KLAC and KBIG-FM (104.3), confirmed that Imus' contract on the pop standards/big-band station expires at the end of the year and said that the host "won't be here on Jan. 1. I've been trying to get Imus off the air since I got here" last year.

"I think he's very talented--but not a good match" with KLAC or Los Angeles, Krampf said.

Jackson, who left for Las Vegas before Moore disclosed his hiring, could not be reached for immediate comment. But his agent, Ray Smolley of the William Morris Agency, indicated that a syndication deal is also part of the package, though Smolley declined to say who the syndicator would be.

Of Jackson, 62, the erudite, silver-toned host whose demotion to weekends brought a storm of protests from longtime KABC listeners, Moore in a brief phone interview said: "He is by far the most legendary and genuine host in the Los Angeles marketplace, and I consider him, as many do, to be the voice of reason on talk radio."

In demoting Jackson to weekends last year, KABC officials explained that it was because of low ratings against Rush Limbaugh on KFI-AM (640). Jackson, however, points out that he never had an open commercial spot on his 9 a.m.-noon show and contends that his high salary hurt him.

Moore declined to say when Jackson's show will start or what time slot he will appear in.

At KLAC, Krampf said that he hopes to replace Imus with music deejays.

"Our direction is to super-serve the music lovers," Krampf noted. "It's enough that we will interrupt our music for the Los Angeles Lakers, but, after all, they're the Los Angeles Lakers and mean something to the community. Imus only means something to New York, Washington and Boston."

Imus, the fourth-largest syndicated host in the nation behind Limbaugh, Laura Schlessinger and Howard Stern, has not clicked in Los Angeles, at least in the ratings, since his arrival in July 1996. His show currently airs from 5 to 9 a.m.

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