Why in the World Would Hollywood Listen to KFWB?

KFWB’s long-time slogan has been “Give us 22 minutes, and we’ll give you the world.” Now, with a new direction charted to accentuate entertainment coverage — and differentiate itself from sister AM news station KNX (1070) — it also uses the tag, “Hollywood listens to KFWB.”

Honestly, I’ve tried, but I keep asking myself — other than wanting to know whether traffic is moving on the 101 freeway between Barham and Western — why on earth “Hollywood,” which presumably knows something about its own machinations, would listen to something as ill-informed as KFWB?

If CBS Radio (which operates both news outlets) is genuinely committed to carving out an entertainment presence on the Los Angeles station, the company needs to hire a few people that have some feel for the field, which actually does require a modicum of specialized expertise. By contrast, having your newswriters and anchors simply read truncated versions of stories out of Variety and the Los Angeles Times‘ Calendar section — instead of reading stories out of the Times‘ front section, as they used to — won’t cut it. Listeners are too sophisticated for that — even those that aren’t directly part of “Hollywood.”

This opinion is informed in part by the fact that I’ve done two recent interviews with the station (980 on the dial) about articles published in Variety, and each time, the anchors seemed to have only the slightest clue as to what we were talking about. Listening to the station strictly as a consumer/commuter, I find that to be true on a regular basis.

As it stands, a station that once proudly jousted with KNX for news listeners sounds as if it’s dying the death of a thousand cuts. The stations experienced significant layoffs last October (who hasn’t?), which clearly excised a good deal of institutional knowledge. KFWB also inked a deal to carry Angels baseball on weekdays beginning this season.

As the Times‘ Jim Rainey reported, KFWB now airs infomercials pretty much around the clock on weekends, so unless you’re looking for quickie mortgage advice while sitting in traffic, it’s essentially useless as a news source those days.

In April, director of news programming Andy Ludlum told the Times that KFWB’s focus on the business of entertainment represented “the ultimate local story.” And that it might be — if the station covered the industry in a more intelligent manner, instead of like some half-assed, wire-service version of People magazine.

With CBS radio revenue down more than 20% based on second-quarter results, throwing money at the problem seems unlikely. But until someone addresses these shortcomings and embraces this new niche, there’s little reason to afford KFWB a second thought, much less give it 22 minutes to prove that there’s not much left of local newsradio except weather and sports.

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  1. Rob says:

    KFWB at least SOUNDS like news radio. The copy is short, concise, authoritative. Compare that to KNX with their chatty, pukey, gasbag anchors who have to gab after just about every story, making themselves the center of attention. And Larry Van Nuys? Is this guy for real? He needs to be hawking Garden Weasels during late night infomercials.

  2. anonymous says:

    well now we have the answer – apparently no one will listen to KFWB as it is, so it’s changing come Sept. 8 to a hybrid talk format and not only is it apparently right leaning (like we don’t have enough of those already) but the first two shows announced are syndicated. Way to keep that local focus there, CBS. Is that a white flag I see at the top of the Miracle Mile outhouse, er, studio? Just adds more fuel to the rumor that the Clippers are headed to the 980 frequency this fall. Talk about misery loving company…

  3. Brian Lowry says:

    With all due respect to KFWB and KNX writers and editors, I’ve had ample personal experience hearing stories I’ve read and even those I’ve reported read on air (not directly verbatim, perhaps, but certainly close) without any attribution to the publications from which they were taken — particularly during my days at the Times. So to say the stations don’t cull material from out of newspapers is nonsense. And I suspect that has gotten worse thanks to staff cutbacks in the last few years.

  4. Mike Lundy says:

    While I am a bit prejudiced, having retired from KFWB in 2007 ahead of the bloodbaths, and sad at what has become of the station apparently out of necessity and/or demands from New York, I correct an erroneous statement.
    The charge about KFWB formerly reading from the front section of the Times is ludicrous.
    The writing staff (all professional and AFTRA represented as writers, btw) used various sources, including several wires of the Associated Press and City News Service, then rewriting and researching additional angles, as well the input of numerous street reporters and the staff of CNN.
    Hardly reading from the front section of the Times.
    In my career at KFWB, I can honestly say I never recall anyone on the staff ever using the front section of the Times. If they did, an editor would have been all over them.
    If one of the wires picked up a story from the Times, it would always have been rewritten, and almost always researched either in the newsroom via phone, or by reporters in the field searching new sources and angles.
    The swipe at KFWB’s writers and editors is incorrect.

  5. Tony says:

    Here’s a crazy idea: Return KFWB to its original glory as the premier Top 40 station in the LA market. After all, it was the very first one, beating KRLA and all the others since. A mixture of the “KFWB Channel 98” (as it was known in the R ‘n’ R days) style crossed with KHJ’s fast-and-tight rock format of the 70’s — plus limited commercials while concentrating on current Top 40 sellers — would quickly earn KFWB a monstrous ratings boost.

  6. Joe Bua says:

    I wish this was just a radio story, but the fact is that “the news has been canceled” and not just entertainment business news.
    Have you watched what used to be CNN lately? I didn’t know that people could get paid to go on TV and read other people’s Facebook and Twitter messages. That’s news?
    Somewhere Murrow is spinning so hard in his grave that the Earth’s orbit is being compromised.

  7. Rich says:

    1. As the writer states, KFWB hasn’t been a serious source for news in some time. The decision to carry the Dodgers a while ago was one clue, the Angels now just reinforces the mindset and the infomercials are simply pathetic. God forbid we have a major disaster on a weekend. And what about those of us (we really do exist) who don’t give a crap about “Hollywood” and its, I’m sure, “fascinating” news. New York has two fine CBS news outlets, both of which KFWB couldn’t hold a candle to (unless, of course, someone optioned the rights to the candle’s story to a studio or the candle was being sold during an infomercial.) The fact that a market the size of L.A. doesn’t have a serious place to hear serious news (and I’m talking to you too, KNX – you still are a shadow of what you once were) is sad beyond words. “The ultimate local story” is how a once proud, credible news station has been reduced to focusing on 5 square miles.

  8. Tim says:

    Remember the days 15 years ago when a local PBS station used to have nightly Hollywood news? I think it was KOCE. The Hollywood newcasts are about as relevant to those in the business as Showbiz Tonight and Access Hollywood are. If you need to get your news from those sources, you just are not in the business.

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