Lesourd out at ABC Radio

Maureen Lesourd, the embattled prexy and G.M. of the Disney-owned ABC Radio stations KABC, KTZN and KLOS-FM whose 19-month tenure was marked by high-profile format changes, demotions and firings, has ankled her post to pursue opportunities outside the Los Angeles area.

Replacing Lesourd is Bill Sommers, the former longtime president and G.M. of KLOS, who had retired in 1996 to relocate to Idaho. Lesourd will remain on the job through January to assist with the station transition.

Highly placed sources within KABC said the station plans no changes in its programming staff.

After replacing 38-year KABC vet George Green following Disney’s acquisition of ABC Radio as part of its $19 billion deal for Capital Cities/ABC in February 1996, Lesourd was obliged to make significant changes at the three stations. All had been beset by ratings erosion over the previous few years.

During Lesourd’s tenure, more than 60 staffers resigned or were fired at the three outlets. She replaced Roger Barkley on KABC’s morning team with Peter Tilden, cut popular afternoon drivetime host Larry Elder’s four-hour shift in half (importing Orlando shock jock Ed Tyll to fill the other two hours) and demoted Michael Jackson from the weekday morning slot he had held down for 31 years — relegating him to weekends.

While Jackson was getting soundly whipped in the ratings by KFI’s Rush Limbaugh, Lesourd is blamed for having mishandled the Jackson move, allowing word to leak out before the announcement and sparking listener outrage through Jackson’s on-air farewells.

Lesourd also failed in her attempts to transform KMPC into a female-oriented talk station, changing the call-letters to KTZN and christening it “The Zone.” It would last only six months, getting bounced in August in favor of a canned, kid-targeted sound called Radio Disney.

In trying to remake KABC into the second coming of KFI, Lesourd hired former KFI personalities Stephanie Miller and Marc Germain (a.k.a. Mr. KABC). She was also successful in unloading Dodgers baseball, which had become an albatross and a financial loser that broke up KABC’S programming continuity.

Yet none of the KABC moves under Lesourd have resulted in significant ratings movement. And her secretive style contributed to plummeting morale at all three outlets under her guidance. The announcement of Lesourd’s resignation was reportedly met with unrestrained glee by a majority of staffers.

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