Sunday, January 25, 2009

End of an era: Rita Wilde out as program director for "classic rock" KLOS-FM.

Bob Buchmann, former Program Director at NY classic-rock station WAXQ-FM is replacing 25-year KLOS-FM icon Rita Wilde. (To show you how out-of-touch I am, I didn't even know KLOS is now being run by Citadel instead of Disney.)

A poster on the Los Angeles message board for said this:

Wow, that's too bad, sort of. Rita Wilde was at KLOS forever, and did a number of cool things like the U2 B-sides compilation (named after herself - the Wilde album) and the semi-annual A to Z. She also did the rock report, which was well done, I felt. Though I don't like Jim Ladd that much, he's at least allowed some freedom on the air, and Wilde supported him.But overall, she presided over a period of time when KLOS became terribly, terribly boring. You can't play the same 300, 400, or 600 songs for a decade and expect people to stick around [my emphasis, not the poster's]. I am smack in their demo (actually a little bit younger) and listened very heavily to KLOS in the 80s and early 90s. I really WANT to like the station, and I've always kept it on my presets.......but I haven't really listened for many, many years.It's a shame they're probably blaming her for their low ratings, when in fact they probably ordered her to have a small playlist. Another good example of how having a small playlist does NOT work for stations without new music to play.Bring on the new PD, and may you play a lot of interesting rock music so I actually want to listen.

Another poster responded as follows: "KLOS was too deep [in terms of their library of songs]....deep cuts [songs that aren't "hits"/signature songs] cause tune out.....plain and simple. Look at Indie [referring to Indie103.1 FM--an LA classic-and-current alternastation which was terminated recently, retreating to online-only status].

The above dialogue speaks volumes about the too cautious, over-focusgrouped mess that is current terrestrial radio. And the same kind of flesh-eating bacteria takes place now on recently-merged satellite titan Sirius XM--try listening to the 80s alternastation First Wave, which has a much shallower--and, arguably, more tortuously overfamiliar--playlist than KLOS.

Probably what KLOS should do is let a little more of the Jim Ladd ethos creep in--give some classic artists [from Bob Dylan to Bruce Springsteen to The Grateful Dead to The Allman Brothers to The Pretenders and Heart] greater rotation (even if Buchmann doesn't want to stray from the hits, my advice is to play more than just the two or three biggest ones)--plus more emphasis on new songs by "classic" acts. And by all means hang on to the few programs that distinguish the station from some of its classic-rock siblings--namely Chris Carter's BREAKFAST WITH THE BEATLES show, which deserves to stay put after years of maltreatment by KLSX-FM (which used to be a pretty good example of a classic format done reasonably well before changing to all-talk).

I'd like to think that KLOS, with the change in program director, could be an example of how to do a classic format right instead of a possible lipstick-on-a-pig approach which thinks that DJ changes and a smaller playlist will make for higher ratings.

Let's see whether or not I'll be wrong again.

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