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What the Blazes? No KFWB Out There Eating Smoke

August 30, 2009 |  7:06 pm

Anytime I'm in the car and there's a fire in these parts, I've gotten used to (metaphorically) twirling the radio dial, AM and FM, searching for news flashes.

So, flash this: KFWB, once the other all-news AM station in LA, is reinventing itself after four decades. It’s been carrying weekend infomercials and advice for some time now, and in about a week’s time, it will pretty much give its weekdays over to talk radio.

In its earlier news days, KFWB came off as the scrappy little news station. Unlike KNX, which was rooted in its network broadcasts of national and international news from CBS, the "Tiffany network’’ of Murrow and Cronkite, KFWB seemed to my ears to be entirely local in reporters and outlook. Sure, it was owned by Westinghouse, but “Westinghouse’’ made me think of appliances, not network journalism. Some of its reporters had the distinctive voices I associated more with character actors than news reporters, like Cecilia Pedroza, and Gary Franklin (sign-off: "Gary Franklin … Car 98 … out.").  

Westinghouse took over CBS radio nearly 15 years ago, yet the two local news stations still battled away at each other. Until now.

Even though I knew the change was coming, not hearing KFWB on the air reporting from the fire-lines was a bit of a shock to my Angeleno ears. Even the veteran KFWB newsman Pete Demetriou, without whom no brushfire or police chase feels complete, now signs off with "KNX."

As of September 8, it'll be a different KFWB, with some local news but a lot of conservative talk radio and KFBW’s new star, national radio fixture Laura Schlessinger, the popular advice and counseling host better known as "Dr. Laura." Angels baseball still rules at game time, at least through the season.

By which I mean the baseball season, not the fire season.

-- Patt Morrison

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