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Sinatra's in, talk is out at KLAC

November 15, 2002|Steve Carney | Special to The Times

You'll be seeing it in all the old familiar places: Adult standards are returning to KLAC-AM (570).

Station owners plan to announce today that they are giving up the 14-month-old talk format and will return next month to playing the songs of Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett and Ella Fitzgerald. But with a twist.

"We're calling it the martini format," said Robin Bertolucci, director of AM programming for Clear Channel-Los Angeles, which owns KLAC. "We're calling it 'the Fabulous 570.' It's going to be this swank, cool station. We want this station to be a destination on your dial, like entering a martini bar."

None of the roster of talk hosts on KLAC -- which includes L.A. radio fixture Michael Jackson -- will be retained or shifted to sister station KFI-AM (640), she said.

"It's just a very difficult task to wedge another talk format into this market. We've had some very talented people, and I feel very sorry that it wasn't more successful."

According to program director Brad Chambers, the new KLAC will feature lively promotions, contests and even celebrity disc jockeys and thus won't be like other stations that play the American songbook, which, he said, "bored me to tears."

"If we present this music in an interesting blend and do it in a contemporary, fun fashion, we're going to attract a broader audience," he said, adding that the playlist will include such recent artists as Diana Krall, Norah Jones and Steve Tyrell. The use of standards in movies and commercials and the success of cover albums by rock artists indicate the ground is fertile for a station like this, Chambers said.

KSUR-AM (1260), which goes by the moniker "K-Surf," launched in March and bills itself as "contemporary standards," a similar updating of the format.

"We have a lot of respect for what they're doing, but this is going to be on a much bigger scale," Bertolucci said, with KLAC having a larger signal and larger corporate backing than K-Surf's Saul Levine, the Southland's sole remaining independent broadcaster.

The new KLAC will debut Dec. 12, Sinatra's birthday.

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