At the local stations that carry President Reagan's weekly radio talks, the discussions over whether Reagan is a legal candidate for president--and whether they should continue broadcasting his addresses--were very brief.
WRC-AM (980) and WTOP-AM (1500) have decided he isn't, even though papers were filed on the president's behalf at the Federal Election Commission last week. The Associated Press and United Press International dropped their live coverage, deciding he is.
"It has always been an editor's choice," said WTOP's director of news and programming, John Watkins. "We had been using Mutual Broadcasting and will continue to do so." The word from NBC in New York, which owns WRC, was the same. "We will continue our NBC radio feed until the time he makes an official announcement for his candidacy," said Stanley Kaufman, attorney for NBC.
So tomorrow at 12:06 p.m., you can hear the weekly words from the White House, as well as the Democrats' response. The Tidal Wave of resignations over at WASH-FM (97.1) continues. John Bodnar, an eight-year veteran and the drive-time personality, resigned on Tuesday, effective that very day. The station called his departure "amiable." His place at the mike will be taken by Dude Walker, former heavyweight at WRQX-FM (107.3), better know as Q107, and WPGC-FM (95.5). To catch up with the whirling mikes at WASH, let's just say for now that since Bill Tanner became program director in January, almost 100 percent of the on-the-air employes have left.
Which, since we are discussing that time of the day, brings us to the local sunrise war between the country stations, WMZQ-FM (98.7) and WPKX-FM (105.9), better known as KIX Country, and a visit to Jim London at MZQ, who recently bolted overnight from KIX when they hired the controversial Gary D.
On a recent rainy morning, London, 37, has deftly handled the call from the Montgomery County Detention Center "take a listener census" is his order. John Ogle, 40, the news director, co-host and resident smearmiester, is plastering cream cheese on a bagel. They face one another at a desk shaped like a breakfast nook. They urge their cooking listeners to bring over their breakfast best and "Eat to the Beat." Their supporting cast includes an imaginery dog, Leopold; a RadioRobics segment; Radio RoadRanger traffic spots; Louie from Bowie; and Fifi's Facts.
This is country? This is the London who just won the Country Music Association's "DJ of the Year"? Yes, it's country upper-Connecticut Avenue-style, the headquarters for the fight against KIX. "We consider this a horrid war," said London. Hailing from Pittsburgh, he has worked in West Palm Beach, Miami and Kansas City. Ogle spent the last 12 years in New York. They don't sound like Nashville. Anyway, the Washington market hasn't ever seen competition like this for country audiences. The two country stations are dividing up 8 percent of the listening audience in the mornings, and both rank in the top 10 of the Arbitron latest charts. MZQ can cover seven counties.
Their personal approach, London and Ogle say, is the key to the country audience. "You have to make an effort to get as close to the people as possible," says Ogle. That's because, says London, with 20 years of radio under his ample belt, "the country music audience and performers are the easiest to get along with."
Their sound is "city country," an easy blend of adult contemporary and the Opry standards--Linda Ronstadt, Charley Pride. They added Boxcar Willie after his visit to the station last week. Bob Cole, the program director who also left KIX recently, says they had to do the format this way.
"The bottom line is that country music is the only broad mass appeal format. It reaches adults of 25 to 54. Here music is the tool," says Cole. "In Washington, Conway Twitty is one of the more popular traditional artists, because this is an adult station."
Cole very candidly points out that his play list is very similar to WMAL-AM (630), and that might be the real clue to the hybrid format--jokes, voices, personal ear-rubbing with the listeners. Sound familiar, Hardin and Weaver?
D, as he prefers to be called, generated about 50 calls or letters a day in the first two weeks after his Oct. 3 arrival at KIX; the reaction is now tapering off. Other notes from the burnt toast battles: A new team started on WPGC-FM (95.5) Tuesday with David Burd and Jeff Baker. On Nov. 7, Bob Duckman, formerly of WASH, debuts in the morning slot at WXTR-FM and FM (104.1) and doubles as program director. According to Arbitron, Hardin and Weaver of WMAL longevity are still the top zanies, but Donnie Simpson of WKYS-FM (93.9) and Elliott and Woodside of Q107 are not far behind. On WHUR-FM (96.3), it's been "The Morning Show with Jesse Fax" in the sunrise slot for the last month. THE ANTENNA HEARS: WAVA-FM (105.1) might change its format soon. Doubleday Broadcasting, the Arlington station's owner, just went from album rock to TOP 40 at its station in Denver, KPKE-FM.
The reports of a sale of WRC-AM persist, and one broadcasting insider says the Chicago Tribune broadcasting arm was asked if it were interested by NBC. For those who have been tuned out: Cerphe moved to WWDC-FM (101.1) on Sept. 26 and he's holding down the 6 to 10 p.m. slot. Bruce Kelly, the afternoon drive time voice of WPGC, walked out Oct. 10 and went to Pittsburgh. WTKS, the FM partner of WTOP, debuted Sept. 23 with an easy listening format. WAMU-FM (88.5) is now carrying "As It Happens," the one-hour public affairs show of the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., hosted by Elizabeth Gray and Alan Maitland, at 11 p.m. Monday through Friday. MONEY TALKS: WAMU raised $220,231 from 5,400 listeners over 7 days, besting their spring drive which received $201,642 in eight and a half days. In its 16-day drive earlier this month, WPFW-FM (89.3) raised $100,121, exceeding their goals for the second time this year. In record time, eight days, WGTS-FM (91.9) raised $60,000. Don't close the checkbooks; WETA started today for 5 days.