July 16, 2008

S.F. Radio Hall of Fame Announces Class of 2008

Radio Hall of FameThe Bay Area Radio Hall of Fame's Class of 2008 was announced at noon today. The full list and details can be viewed on the BARHOF website.

Just the names:
  • Rosie Allen
  • Alex Bennett
  • Red Blanchard
  • Renel Brooks-Moon
  • Bob Fouts
  • Bill Gavin
  • Hap Harper
  • Mikel Hunter Herrington
  • Russ Hodges
  • Don Klein
  • Mickey Luckoff
  • Dude Martin
  • Terry McGovern
  • Doug Pledger
  • Dave Sholin
  • Roy Storey
  • Russ "The Moose" Syracuse.
The luncheon celebration for the new inductees will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 1, in Berkeley. Last year's event was not only sold out, but attracted an overflow crowd, so I urge you to make your reservation as soon as possible at www.BroadcastLegends.com.

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July 15, 2008

RIP: Les Crane

Norman Davis has sent along word that Les Crane (born Leslie G. Stein) passed away on Sunday (July 13) from pneumonia. Crane was 74 years old and had resided in Belvedere (Marin County).

Crane was PD at 1260/KYA in the early 1960s, where he worked as "Johnny Raven" and built one of the most talented radio teams in local history.

He then moved to KGO/81 (as Les Crane), where he became very successful as the host of a nightly talk show from the hungry i night club. ABC later moved him to KGO-TV, then the entire ABC television network, with a short-lived late-night program called "Night Line ... With Les Crane." The program was later renamed "The Les Crane Show." It became another in the long list of challengers to Johnny Carson's "Tonight Show" that fell by the wayside.

Among the more interesting accomplishments in his life: his fourth wife (out of five) was Tina Louise, who played "Ginger" on "Gilligan's Island"; he started Software Toolworks, whose most notable release was "Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing"; and in 1971 he won a Grammy for "Desiderata," the year's best spoken-word recording.

You can hear Les Crane (as Leslie G. Stein) on the "Sounds of San Francisco from the KGO Music Tower" recording on the radio museum website by clicking here.

The New York Times included a detailed obituary of Les Crane in today's online edition. (Registration required.)

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July 01, 2008

Limbaugh Re-Ups With Premiere

Brad Kava asked me this morning:

> what do YOU think of the limbaugh signing?

One of the ten greatest performers in the history of radio, and still one of the most important figures in the industry. He's apparently still profoundly hard of hearing -- at least according to the huge feature on him in the New York Times -- and he's typical of so many radio personalities these days: graying and older.

Premiere and Clear Channel did a smart thing in keeping him, but I'm not sure any other syndicator could afford him in today's market. The downside is that Clear Channel could sure use him on more of their own owned-and-operated stations (such as 910/KNEW here), keeping that money in-house rather than just getting a syndication fee.

But Limbaugh is part of a rapidly dying breed. Radio doesn't seem to be a business for young people these days, mostly because the geniuses who run it keep trying to guess what young people want. The answer is simple: invest some money in training young people to be broadcasters and entertainers, rather than button-pushing board ops. Start building farm teams in towns like Turlock and Merced where young people can cut their chops, then bring them up to the big leagues.

It's a formula that worked in radio for almost 75 years, and it's a system that helped develop Limbaugh and Stern and Imus -- and even Ryan Seacrest. There probably won't be another Limbaugh, Stern or Imus (or even Seacrest) because the industry forgot what it's most important product is: great personalities that connect with listeners.

If you haven't read the NY Times Limbaugh piece yet, it's brilliant:

New York Times Magazine: "Late-Period Limbaugh"