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93/KHJ / Los Angeles

Mucho Morales; Bobby Ocean, 93 KHJ Los Angeles | December, 1978

Thanks again to BigAppleAirchecks for another classc…

KHJ at the end of 1978, was the poster child of liner card radio. Sure, the music is on target, but the jocks really had their hands tied and couldn’t really be themselves. The station’s slogan tells it all: 93/KHJ – The ALL MUSIC STATION. Not a terribly catchy phrase, to be sure. But this was KHJ, which had become a legend over the years. Perhaps RKO General’s management thought the station could rest on it’s laurels? At any rate, KHJ would attempt a revamp of it’s format in ’79 in an attempt to re-capture a vanishing audience. That format sounded great, but was short lived, as KHJ would go Country in November of 1980.

We have a resident expert of sorts, who comments from time to time, perhaps CalRadioPD can shed more light on the 1978-1980 time frame.

Mucho Morales starts off this 8-minute scope, and Bobby Ocean comes in about halfway through. Oh, that VOICE!!! I don’t care what mold they cast him in, Bobby Ocean always sounded wonderful! Still does, at every production he voices, and every station he images. Proof positive that great talent transcends all time periods.


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9 Comments


  1. John Sebastian screwed the pooch on this one. He took a legendary station and turned it into liner card radio. Luckily they fired him, not soon enough though. Mucho is a great jock, all the guys just loathed the situation,until the next PD came in and fixed it. Problem was they had run out of time. Sad.

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  2. Tell me the difference between this aircheck and voicetracking, and we will both know.

    KHJ was trying to compete with FM with this?

    Oh, boy.

    “Great talent transcends all time periods”, states Steve.

    No talent is displayed on this aircheck unfortunately. One of the most uninteresting and boring airchecks on this site.

    Tony

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    • The jocks features here are great and they’ve done great things since this recording. What I said holds true. I’d have to agree with you on the rest of your comments though.

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  3. It was liner card radio, not far off from today’s radio in many ways. The horrible thing about it is that they took a legendary talent and great personality like Bobby Ocean and put a muzzle on him. At the same time this was going on, KHJ’s RKO sister station was enjoying some of it’s best ratings and I don’t see why KHJ couldn’t have replicated that? Oh wait, they were until management at KHJ panicked. They were scared and stupid and when you make decisions based on being scared & stupid you kill a great station, happens all the time and even more so today. I can see why Bobby was feeling mean. Weird thing is, I believe KHJ actually had some decent numbers at that time. If only they had moved to FM…

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  4. Oops, forgot to mention I was speaking of KFRC when I noted KHJ’s sister station…

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  5. KHJ hadn’t been #1 in the ARB since 1973, and even then the share was about half what it was during the glory days (’66-’69). KLOS started beating them in teens and at night as early as ’72.

    Charlie Van Dyke took over as PD in January of 1975 and righted the ship in terms of sound and talent (bringing back Mark Elliott, bringing in Bobby Ocean, Dr. John Leader, Shana, J.B. Stone and Beau Weaver and keeping Machine Gun Kelly), but all he did was stop the decline temporarily. He left when the numbers started to slip again. KRLA, with Billy Pearl programming, beat KHJ in the winter ’76 book by a tenth of a point.

    RKO did what Jim suggested…tried to replicate KFRC’s success by bringing in Michael Spears as Van Dyke’s replacement. He lasted six months. The fall ’77 ARB showed KHJ falling from #3 with a 5.3 the year before to #8 with a 3.5.

    Every music station with a higher rating than KHJ (KBIG, KJOI, KLOS, KNX-FM) was on FM. John Sebastian was probably the most successful AM PD in the country at the moment at KDWB, Minneapolis. It made sense on paper. Just not in practice.

    John’s first book was better than Spears’ last. After that, it was accelerated decline. Sebastian lasted a year. And, despite talent like Bobby Ocean and Mucho Morales, it was too late.

    But it was probably too late three years before. Remember, the numbers had been falling since Ron Jacobs left. There was even erosion with Van Dyke’s sound, at the end. It was rapidly becoming an FM world.

    Jim’s right. When oldies ran out of gas at KRTH in ’76, they should have moved KHJ over to the FM. Instead, they went AC, played 80% of the same music and helped cannibalize KHJ.

    Gotta note, though: Even at its low point under Sebastian, KHJ was still #1 in the Top 40 format, beating KFI, KUTE (disco), KIIS-FM(disco), KTNQ and KIQQ. And it was the #2 music station on AM (behind KMPC).

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  6. All I can say is what a dull sounding radio station and this was in 78 as opposed to years later when this liner card reader approach would become the norm unfortunately.

    Even Bobby Ocean who is the best on this check, sounded bored and very limited in what he was allowed to do but he makes the best of a bad situation.

    I guess FM penetration didn’t take as long to affect the LA market as it did in San Francisco so KFRC was able to last longer than KHJ did.

    I feel sorry for the jocks that worked at KHJ in 1978. They are professionals and made the place sound as good as they were allowed to but they must have felt that in the end, this wouldn’t last.

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  7. Since this posted I’ve had the opportunity to listen more and talk with some talent more. I’m convinced that as great as KHJ was, The L.A. market was too diversified to stay with Top 40 KHJ. I’m not sure it was anyone else’s fault, although the bland programming shown here surely didn’t help.

    Go up to San Francisco, and KFRC was the hottest station in the city right up through 1983. There were both programming, demographic and terrain reasons for this which in retrospect, all gave KFRC a competitive advantage. But in L.A., it could be that no matter what was tried, KHJ was dead on 1 January, 1979. That it lasted until the Fall of 1980 is amazing.

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