For fans of classic rock in Los Angeles, the above logo has been their life’s blood for around 10 years—since the old KXEZ switched from pop-rock to the “classic rock” format. Now, news has come from CBS that in 30 days, The Sound will be gone, replaced by a “christian music” station, and people are outraged.
The Sound’s Facebook page has been filled with raunchy, derisive comments that make it quite clear—Los Angelinos do NOT want christian music to replace their favourite station. CBS is trying to make excuses to validate this change, but they are falling on deaf ears.
After many decades in this business, I understand the desire of station management to want to occasionally try something new in hopes of shaking things up, and the results can get wicked, and it’s not only the listeners who get hurt. Sometimes the on-air talent also suffers. I recall one station I worked at that made an unannounced switch from rock to country. I opted to stay with the station and “boned up” on country music and artists and returned on the air within days with a somewhat expert knowledge of the format, but every other member of the “air talent” opted to ditch the station and seek employment elsewhere. As luck would have it, the country format took a header within months, and the station used me as their “lifeline” to bring the old listeners back.
People bond with the persons they hear on the radio, and to this day, there are legendary radio voices almost everyone has heard of—like Wolfman Jack, Dan Ingram, Uncle Bruce Morrow, or Dr. Don Rose. If the show host has “inside info” on the artists he plays, it helps strengthen that bond. Some hosts use jokes or sound effects to embellish their “schtick”. I used a blend of news tidbits coupled with “inside info” and scientific facts, opinion pieces, and an occasional live song to liven things up. That never changed no matter what kind of music I played, and this gave fans of rock, country, pop, and even classical music a chance to hear what my show was like.
With this decision by 100.3 The Sound, fans are harping that this will kill radio in Los Angeles. Their heartfelt mail points out that there are two other “underperforming” christian stations (K-WAVE and The Fish) already operating here. One fan wrote “This is L.A. If you want to hear Gospel, move to Kentucky”. They say there are no other “real” classic rock stations in town because the others play “too structured and repetitive content”. They mourn the loss, years ago, of the previous station of choice, KMET (which The Sound often mentioned). 100.3 catered to the fans with things like “Triple Play Thursday” and the “Classic Rocker of the Day” (which I once won). The last time another L.A. station made the kind of move KXEZ did with The Sound was also a CBS station when 93.1 FM (Arrow 93) became Jack FM (“playing what we want”), and that format quickly soured and became more like “top 40” format.
The passing of The Sound is being equated with the death of radio in Los Angeles, and I agree with that allegory. This is just another typical California mistake that shows California itself is dying a slow death.