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TELEVISION & RADIO | AROUND THE DIAL

Search is on for a new Met Opera sponsor

May 23, 2003|Steve Carney | Special to the Times

Opera buffs continue to express shock over ChevronTexaco's announcement a few days ago that after 63 seasons, it will stop sponsoring the weekly radio broadcasts of New York's Metropolitan Opera after the 2003-04 season. That sense of loss extends to local classical radio.

The programs, a Saturday staple since before World War II, let even the smallest and most remote communities enjoy the world-class performances -- a reach exemplified by a commercial for the program that showed a farmer listening to the broadcast atop his tractor in the middle of a field.

Locally, the show airs Saturday about 9 a.m. on KUSC-FM (91.5). "It really is an institution. If you're a classical station, people expect you to carry the Met broadcasts," said KUSC President and general manager Brenda Barnes, who added that the programs introduced her to the art when she was young. "Living in Raleigh, N.C., there wasn't a lot of opera I could attend."

With costs including royalties, salaries for musicians, performers, stagehands, technicians and others, and technical expenses in recording and broadcasting the shows, Barnes continued, "live performance is very expensive programming to produce and to offer."

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday May 24, 2003 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 30 words Type of Material: Correction
Metropolitan Opera -- KUSC-FM's broadcasts of the Metropolitan Opera begin at 10:30 a.m. Saturdays during opera season, not at 9 as was reported in Friday Calendar's Around the Dial column.

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Take a moment

A couple of years ago on Memorial Day, Carmella LaSpada noticed some children playing in Lafayette Park, across from the White House, in Washington, D.C., and, curious, asked what the holiday meant to them.

"They responded, 'That's the day the pool opens,' " LaSpada said, a reply that spurred her to remind more Americans of the sacrifices of fallen veterans. Her crusade led to the creation three years ago of the White House Commission on Remembrance (www.remember.gov), of which she's White House liaison and executive director. It includes a drive to have radio stations nationwide pause at 3 p.m. Monday to observe Memorial Day.

That pause could be for a moment of silence, or the playing of "Taps" or a song written specifically for the occasion this year, "On This Day," by Charles Strouse, composer of "Annie" and "Bye Bye Birdie." She said the idea is to get Americans to stop and consider the true meaning of the holiday, and all do it at the same time.

"It's great to have the country come together," LaSpada said. "We're becoming a fragmented society. Our diversity makes us great, but it's also our connectivity that makes us great."

LaSpada is working with the National Assn. of Broadcasters and the trade magazine Radio & Records to get the word out. Although executives at some Southland radio stations said they hadn't yet heard of the plan, they said they might work it into their weekend programming.

"It's a good idea. That's what Memorial Day is about," said John Ivey, head of programming in L.A. for Clear Channel Communications, which owns seven radio stations here. He said the company might include the observation in its broadcast Monday, along with the "greatest summer party songs" on KIIS-FM (102.7) or the weekend-long alphabetical rundown of hits on KYSR-FM (98.7).

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O'Reilly on site

Fans of Fox News Channel and ABC Radio personality Bill O'Reilly can take part in a live broadcast of his show next week in Redondo Beach.

The ringmaster of the "No-Spin Zone" will bring "The Radio Factor With Bill O'Reilly" to the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center on May 30. His program airs weekdays from 9 to 11 a.m. on KABC-AM (790).

Doors open at 8:30 a.m. for the free event, and a question-and-answer session will follow the broadcast.

The program follows the success of similar live broadcasts by KABC hosts Sean Hannity and Larry Elder.

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