Coast hosts stick to the program

Despite toiling away in a business big on turnover, L.A. radio stars are built to last.

The nation’s second-largest radio market boasts several personalities — particularly in morning drive — who have stuck around for at least a decade, and sometimes much more.

Rick Dees, of course, spent 22 years at KIIS-FM and has woken up L.A. listeners since 1979 (with the exception of two gaps), now at KMVN-FM.

Top-rated yakkers Kevin & Bean have handled mornings at alt rocker KROQ-FM for 17 years. Across town at classic rock outfit KLOS-FM, Mark & Brian will celebrate their 20th anniversary this September.

Adult contemporary KOST-FM has let Mark and Kim handle the a.m. shift for more than 20 years. Other L.A. music stations with long-running morning DJs include KPWR-FM (Power 106)’s Big Boy. And, although he hasn’t been at KBIG long, Charlie Tuna is a market vet.

“There’s some great radio being done today in L.A.,” says LARadio.com’s Don Barrett. “When you go outside this marketplace and talk to radio fans, they always say, ‘You don’t know how lucky you have it in Los Angeles. When you go up to even large markets like San Francisco, there’s a smattering of veterans (but that’s it).

“The real talent are those who grew up in radio, love radio and know how radio works,” he says.

Other talent dominating L.A. morning drive these days include top Spanish-language radio stars Eddie “Piolin” Sotelo (the market’s No. 1 personality, on KSCA-FM) and Renan “El Cucuy” Almendarez Coello (KLAX-FM).

Then there’s Dees’ KIIS-FM replacement, Ryan Seacrest, who has kept the station at the top of the heap. And Steve Harvey, now doing mornings at KDAY-FM, has a strong following.

But Emmis’ radio division topper, Rick Cummings, says the business hasn’t done enough to identify the next generation of radio stars.

“That’s going to become even tougher in a fragmented radio world,” he says. “It’s too lucrative to move out a Kevin & Bean or a Big Boy, who are still at the height of their success. But at some point these things come to an end — and one of the challenges we have in front of us in L.A. is: Where’s the next Rick Dees or Big Boy or Kevin & Bean? They’re hard to find.”

CBS Radio knows that firsthand, following the departure of Howard Stern to satellite radio. Locally, Adam Carolla has shown some growth as of late on KLSX — but recapturing Stern’s boffo ratings remains a distant possibility.

“Talent like that is difficult to replace,” Cummings says.

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