Sun. Aug 19th, 2018

Is KFWB Ready For Beast Mode?

Southern California proper probably needs another all-sports radio station like the ozone layer needs another hole.

That said, go fetch an umbrella. The unbearable barometric conditions could get weird again. Cloudy with a chance of more meatball opinions pelting down upon us.

Even if KFWB-AM (980) continues to position itself for a morph into what would be the fourth sports-centric station in these parts starting Sept. 1, that shouldn’t translate that into a situation where the sky is falling. The residual effect of this potential hybrid national lineup from the CBS and NBC sports radio networks is that Jim Rome stands to finally have an L.A. radio base again.

It’s been some 20 months since Rome left his weekday show on the Premier Radio Network, carried locally as part of Fox Sports Radio on KLAC-AM (570), and joined the new CBS Radio lineup. After giving his 9 a.m.-to-noon spot to comedian Jay Mohr, Rome has been virtually unheard since except for those who track him down through online streaming or standing in an updraft of San Diego’s 1090-AM.

Rome had already made CBS Sports Net his weekday afternoon TV home, as well as the monthly Showtime curse-words-and-all program that has been the highlight to date with his career diversion. But circling back to an L.A. listener base that has been with him from the start his career back at XTRA-AM 690 in the 1990s is what a station like KFWB needs to find some relevancy again as it has floundered in a format funk and ownership purgatory for the last several years.

Diane Sutter, the point person in the KFWB Asset Trust set up when CBS had to attempt to sell off the station because of FCC regulations about owning too many media assets in one city, told the KFWB staffers recently that the all-sports format change was coming. The KFWB Twitter account had a post last week about how the “new AM 980 shakes up the #LA #sports scene in September.”

It was also disclosed that KFWB had taken out website domains such as 980TheBeast.com and FeedTheBeast980.com in preparation for its new marketing approach. Think of “The Beast” as putting the “B” into a new KFWB.

It also has ownership of the names 980Fan.com and TheFanLA.com from two years ago.

KFWB, an historic station on the L.A. scene since the 1920s, but one that still seems to struggle with its 5,000-watt signal coming out of East L.A., has already been carrying the NBC Radio Sports shows “Going Deep” with Amani Toomer and Dan Schwartzman in the 7-to-10 p.m. slot as well as “Eric Kuselias Show” from 3-to-5 a.m.

Local sports updates from long-time KFWB voices Bill Seward, Ted Sobel and Bob Harvey, whose jobs are contracted through another company called the Total Traffic & Weather Network, are left wondering if their services will be carried on through the all-sports change.

The station has the groundwork laid by already having claimed the Clippers’ radio rights the last few years and keeping them as an anchor tenant through 2015. Too bad it didn’t also scoop up the Stanley Cup championship Kings, who recently cut a deal with KABC-AM (790) after years of buying time on KTLK-AM (1150).

A wise move by the station would be to partner with KLAA-AM (830) and add the Angels’ and Ducks’ simulcast games, giving it year-around live sports programming. It may not provide a huge boost to the ratings, but from an advertising sales strategy it would makes for a better product when trying to match up against a KLAC or KSPN with its own menu of live games.

Smart, too, would be to cultivate a live, local sports show from 6-to-9 a.m. leading into Rome, in an attempt to draw L.A.-centric listeners.

The bottom line is that KFWB has an opportunity to make some inroads on the local sports landscape with some creative networking. The sky may not be the limit, but there always seems to be ad revenue to be generated in this medium from hair loss, freezing fat, credit card consolidation, child custody lawyers or some sort of male-part dysfunction.

For the rest of this article visit the LA Daily News where it was originally published

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