Friday, January 4, 2008

Ronn Owens, Peter Laufer, LIVE 105 and Rob Black in this week's column

My Oakland Trib Column follows:

These weeks between December 12 and January 10 are my favorite in radio. Why? Because there are no ratings done, so anything and everything gets aired.

Commercial radio stretches its boundaries for better and worse. Some is terrible, some inspired, but it’s all surprising, something advertising-supported radio lacks too much of the time.

Regular hosts take vacations, so you get to hear the minor leagues and possible future, and stations sign talent for the coming year.

First, in the news department: KITS-FM (105.3) has signed morning hosts Woody, Tony and Ravey to a multi-year deal, throwing water on the rumors that have them replaced by everyone from Adam Carolla to Mancow Muller.

They start January 2, to get a warmup before ratings start. “We feel great about the progress the show has made the past couple of years,” says Live 105’s Steve Dinardo. “We’re looking forward to good things.”

Carolla has also been re-signed to do his morning show in some CBS markets, including Los Angeles and Phoenix, but the network has split him from Danny Bonaduce. The former Partridge Family bassist will do his own show, despite the fact that the two were bringing in their highest ratings.

Carolla won’t be heard in the Bay Area on his former home, KYCY-AM (1550). Money man Rob Black takes the 7 to 9 a.m. slot. I’ve been a fan of his since his early days broadcasting from Washington, D.C. He makes stock picking as much fun as fantasy football, with a more enriching outcome (one hopes) and a selection of great music behind him.

The station is moving toward becoming a financial outpost, but still has contractual obligations to shows by Opie and Anthony, Ray Lucia, and Tom Leykis. And it plays podcasts submitted by listeners overnights. It also is the AM home of the Oakland A’s and Cal basketball.

KYCY calls itself KYOU, even though by law it has to maintain its old call letters, says station manager Greg Nemitz. The FCC wouldn’t give it the letters it wants. Sports station KTCT-AM (1050) is in the same boat. It calls itself KNBR, like its sister station at 680-AM, but not officially.


Former KPFA-FM (94.1) host Peter Laufer has filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging racial discrimination in his firing last month from the most liberal station on the radio dial.

Laufer is white, and says in his complaint that he was replaced by another white host,
Mitch Kvserich, with “a long history of involvement with African American issues.”

His suit quotes a comment news anchor Dennis Bernstein gave to the East Bay Express in November, that the station “wanted someone of color.”

In firing him, the station declared that Laufer “just wasn’t working out.”

The station didn’t return a call for comment.

I appeared on KGO-AM’s (810) Ronn Owens on Friday Dec. 21, playing two hours of Bay Area music for a show entitled “The Best Music You’ve Never Heard.”

For five years I did the show with Pete Wilson, who died last July, and Ronn wanted to revive it in his honor. It worked. Something was shining down on us. Must have been the oversized image of Wilson’s head they put on his old studio chair.

For two hours we got no turkeys, just really great unsigned bands, including Sherry Austin, Mighty Mike Schermer, Colby Pollard, Lauren and Judge Murphy, the Attila and Dave Project and the Wicked Sons.

You can get the list and links to their sites at You’ll be surprised at how much great talent there is in the area, and how many great musicians can’t get signed to major labels anymore.

We’ll do the show again in 2008.

Another KGO tidbit: Station manager Mickey Luckoff did a two-hour appearance on Santa Cruz’s KSCO-AM (1080) that you can download at

Radio fans will love it. It’s part train wreck, part real inside look at the man who has been the most successful station manager in the Bay Area.

Two things I learned: 1) KGO, while the Bay’s top station for more than 30 years, isn’t the most successful station of all time. St. Louis’s KMOX-AM has been top in its market since 1972. KGO, has been top dog in the top 15 biggest markets since 1978.

And 2) KSCO-AM used to check its traffic updates by listening to KCBS-AM (740). When its traffic director told that to Luckoff, who was a guest at the station some years ago, Luckoff immediately beefed up his Santa Cruz traffic coverage.

(Photo: from left: woody, the boss, dave, and greg)

No comments: