Thursday, October 15, 2015

Because Some People Care

Some people are finding this blog looking for an update on KFI AM 640, specifically "Thompson and Espinosa." I haven't read any print news about the matter, but from listening to KFI, I know that as of this past Monday 10/12, Gary Hoffmann, who'd most recently been the news anchor for mornings (and host of the 5 a.m. Wake Up Call hour), was teamed with Shannon Farren, who'd been news anchor (and occasional fill-in for John or Ken when one of them was out) during afternoons - to have their own two-hour show from 1-3pm.

Aron Bender, who'd anchored evening news and did the News Bender during Conway's show, is now the morning news anchor and host of Wake-Up Call. During the 5 a.m. hour, he's doing both the show hosting and the news anchoring, which has to be more difficult than it sounds.

So what this means is that "Thompson and Espinosa" got the ax. From what I heard, they might have gotten word about it last Friday 10/9 and briefly said "goodbye" at the end of their show. If an unofficial Facebook group is any indication, KFI fans mostly hated Espinosa. Mark Thompson  (not to be confused with the Mark Thompson who is now the great morning host of 100.3 FM The Sound, after having been half of the long-running not-as-great "Mark and Brian" show on KLOS FM 95.5) is still around, and does appear part-time on Conway's show. Speaking of Conway's show, Doug Steckler, who used to co-host on Fridays, is no longer there and according to what was said on The Tom Leykis Show, he considers himself retired from radio and politely declined to appear on Leykis' show (which is NOT radio, but rather Internet audio).

It must be nice for Hoffmann to no longer have to get up in the very wee hours of the morning. I like both Hoffmann and Farren individually and do see bring them together as a big improvement for that afternoon slot, but it is a loss to the Handel show. Bender is great, but Hoffmann's various impersonations and characters were a riot and I liked the Handel show more when Hoffmann was the fill-in host than when Handel is there. I don't dislike Handel (except for some of his political and religious comments... and his baby-"selling" business) and he's good for a laugh when he makes fun of himself, but his show is the only one with which I prefer to the fill-in hosts.

The weekday schedule at KFI hasn't been stable over the long term since Dr. Laura, who used to be on 12 Noon to 3 p.m. got the boot or left for KFWB, and subsequently for SiriusXM (where her show is even better and runs live from 11 a.m to 2 p.m.). Clear Channel (now IHeartMedia or whatever) also later moved Rush Limbaugh, who was/is 9 a.m. to 12 Noon, to its AM 1150 frequency, flipping the entire format of 1150 from "progressive" to conservative, no doubt sending many (OK, the very few) listeners of 1150 into shock. After getting rid of those two national shows, KFI has been more more local 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. but not nearly as compelling, at least to me. Actually, they shifted Handel an hour so that he does a news hour at 9 a.m., to which I do listen. I guess what I'm saying is... don't be surprised if there is more tinkering. The Bill Carroll show and the Thompson and Espinosa show smacked to me of "Let's have radio for apolitical or at least non-conservative women, especially housewives!" I listen to KFI primarily for news and politics, not to check to see if they're diverse enough to appease activist groups who get upset when Handel or John & Ken say something they don't like.

IHeartMedia is many billions of dollars in debt. Tom Leykis (especially on his show's Facebook page) has been doing a great job pointing out the prolonged demise of "terrestrial"/broadcast radio. I'm sure a lot of people thought television was going to kill it but as it turns out, it is the Internet that is doing it in. Even KFI is now running what amounts to infomercials during part of the day on at least one of the weekend days. CBS's  KRTH FM 101.1, despite having high ratings, recently dumped (or might as well have) some great long-term on-air talent. I could go on.

With the giant terrestrial radio companies dealing with crashing share prices and massive debts, with more and more competition for ears emerging, I have to wonder what other uses for that part of the radio spectrum will be found?  Surely many radio stations as we currently know them will be disappearing, at least off the broadcast spectrum. Other than industry media, there's no better place to get the real behind-the-scenes info than Tom Leykis' show and Facebook page.

UPDATE: Geez, today Leykis did his show live three hours early so he could go to the Dodgers-Mets playoff game and I'm listening to the replay. Since he's doing it early, he apparently isn't bothering to ask for callers, at least for the first two hours, and so he's filling the time with that thing he does where he takes two hours to say something he could easily say in ten minutes. Phil Hendrie had him pegged on this. Redundancy, long... pointless... pauses... recounting one of his multiple tales of how he had his kid slaughtered in the fetal stage so he could  live the life he wanted, he doesn't compromise, he's  always done exactly what he's wanted to do. Finally after an hour and a half he took a call.

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