You can't tell the morning radio voices without a scorecard after a recent rash of hirings, firings and moves that brought in new personalities and sent some familiar ones to new spots.
Spinning the dial, it's perfectly understandable if it takes awhile to figure out just whom you're listening to. Take this recent experience, for example:
For the Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday October 9, 1999 Home Edition Calendar Part F Page 2 Entertainment Desk 1 inches; 28 words Type of Material: Correction
Wrong owner--Country-music radio station KZLA-FM (93.9) is owned by Salt Lake City-based Bonneville International Corp. Its owner was incorrectly identified in Thursday's Calendar Weekend.
Around the middle of the dial, we came upon a team that showed some nice sparkle (nothing Rick Dees and others haven't been doing for years, but it worked): female drivers being challenged to show that women can "burn rubber" by calling in from their cars to demonstrate live on-air . . . a CHP officer calling in to caution against encouraging the very same. It was nothing innovative but had a nice rhythm to it and strong interplay between the personalities.
But after 20 minutes we still weren't sure whom we were hearing, until finally they gave the info and . . . wait, it's . . . a San Diego station?
Let's face it: It's a real problem for L.A. radio if you can't even tell who's here and whom you've happened to pick up from elsewhere. It may well take awhile before all that shifting settles and we really have a sense of what we've now got. Meanwhile, here are a few lineup notes and first-listen assessments of the new radio order:
* Danny Bonaduce and Jamie White, KYSR-FM (98.7). Former "Partridge Family" smart-mouth Bonaduce had his share of trouble (drug busts, that unfortunate incident with a transvestite hooker) on his way through the radio talk alleys to L.A. And get this--he's being positioned as the good guy, the moral conscience in this new pairing with self-professed bad girl White. Yikes!
But even during a rocky first couple of weeks in which the pair are still getting to know each other after White's former partners Frank Kramer and Frosty Stilwell were let go, Bonaduce has shown surprising depth, smarts and a quick wit. Of course, we're talking in relative terms, since all of those traits were pretty much absent from this slot before.
Prognosis: worth checking in on just to see how and if the chemistry develops--if you can stand the rapid-fire chirpiness of both hosts' deliveries, not to mention the still-persistent banalities about sexual orientation that's in so much of the chatter.
* Ed Lover and Dr. Dre, KKBT-FM (92.3). The anchors for the Beat's assault on the hip-hop preeminence of rival KPWR-FM (105.9), along with former Power mainstays the Baka Boyz now in the afternoon slot, Lover and Dre are off to a running start with their move here after a decade in New York.
Where the unfamiliarity of Bonaduce and White with each other is a big handicap, the longtime relationship of Dre and Lover gives them a big advantage. They launched in L.A. without missing a, pardon the pun, beat, delivering as promised on their stature within the hip-hop community and knowledge of the music with star guests galore and a steady, dynamic soundtrack. They also are very sharp with their ad-lib banter with bright cohort Shirley Strawberry.
The stumbles have come, though, in the recorded sketches (game show parodies and such), that tend to reach for laughs rather than let them come naturally, as happens in the course of the unscripted patter. Let Big Boy at Power have the shtick and pranks and be yourselves, gentlemen.
* John London & House Party, KCMG-FM (100.3). The House Party finally sounds at home. After years of square-pegging at the Beat, London is in an environment that makes sense. Like Rick Dees at KIIS-FM (102.7), London is closer to the old-school a.m. stylings of Robert W. Morgan et al than to the Howard Stern generation. That said, it's too early to say if the new locale will lead to any changes in the London style. It seems unlikely, though.
* Jim & Wendi, KZLA-FM (93.9). The longtime perception is that country radio works everywhere but Los Angeles. But that's no reason to start a morning show that sounds like it could be from anywhere else. Jim Duncan (former editor of the trade paper Radio & Records) and Wendi (no last name given, but she's a former beer billboard model) sound like nice people and all, and they may possess scintillating radio personalities. But there's no way to tell in the framework they've been given. Generic only starts to describe the feel-good patter and pandering artist interviews.
Of course, it may be premature to knock them or even evaluate them since they've thus far had to spend more time schilling for the Country Music Awards that was broadcast by its station owner, the CBS television network (right through audio clips of the show on the morning after) and for the upcoming KZLA country cookout concert. Check in again when it's business as usual, and maybe we'll get a better idea of what the usual business will be.