Bad news for a landmark of radio
The former KFWB facility in Hollywood must be demolished if not fixed by April 3.
Inspectors from the L.A. Department of Building and Safety say the KFWB studio building in Hollywood has been broken into and vandalized and has become a fire hazard. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
Now the former KFWB news-radio studios in Hollywood have about 22 days left before what could be the end of its world.
Authorities have declared the abandoned broadcast center at 6230 W. Yucca St. a "public nuisance" that must be demolished if it is not rehabilitated by April 3.
Inspectors from the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety say the 19,614-square-foot studio building has been broken into and vandalized and has become a fire hazard as well as an eyesore.
It's an inglorious end to the structure and to some, symbolizes the end of the radio and TV era in Hollywood.
Over the years, 68 radio stations and virtually every Los Angeles TV station were based there. Today, only KTLA-TV Channel 5 and KCET-TV Channel 28 still broadcast from there.
And like the KFWB building, other broadcast landmarks have disappeared. NBC's famed West Coast Radio City -- the Streamline Moderne building with the large "NBC" letters on the corner of Sunset and Vine -- was demolished in the 1960s. More recently, the old Metromedia Square, where a generation of sitcoms, including "One Day at a Time," "All in the Family" and "Good Times" were filmed, was razed to make way for a new Los Angeles Unified School District campus.
The KFWB building was nowhere as famous. But its impending demolition has generated some nostalgia.
The station's newsroom was a sprawling, open place where reporters sometimes went on the air from their desks. "With live mikes around you had to stay alert," said Andy Ludlum, KFWB's program director.
Some of the equipment was outdated. KFWB had to buy junked cart machines from other stations to cannibalize them for parts so that taped commercials and news reports could be recorded and played back.
"It was old, from a technological point of view. We weren't even certain where all the wiring was," Ludlum said. "It had a relatively creepy basement. But working in Hollywood -- near Hollywood and Vine -- had a lot of cachet."
But that cachet is lost today on neighbors near the corner of Yucca and Argyle Avenue, who fear the old studio could go up in flames just as an adjacent church did three months ago. Some have blamed vandals for torching the empty Little Country Church at 1750 N. Argyle Ave. on Christmas Eve.
The studios were the home of all-news KFWB (980-AM) for 28 years -- when the station covered such big events as the Pope's visit, the 1992 L.A. riots and 1994 Northridge earthquake. In mid-2005 the station moved to a Wilshire Boulevard high-rise. A short time later, a developer purchased the property for $6.3 million and filed plans with the city to build a 16-story combination commercial and residential tower there.
With its proposed 85 residential condominiums, 10 live-and-work units and 10 commercial spaces, it would be taller than the landmark 13-story Capitol Records building next door.
Developer David Jordan of Sixty Two 30 LLC, the Marina del Rey company listed as owner of the site, could not be reached for comment.
But the city's vacant-structure abatement notice spelled out steps that Jordan must take to avoid a demolition order that takes effect April 17.
All flammable materials, debris and trash must be removed from the old studios and newsroom. Exterior windows and doors must be barricaded, graffiti painted over and the entire studio site fenced in, officials said. Also, the illegal use of the former station employee parking area as a paid, $8-per-entry public lot must be discontinued, they said.
Residents of the neighborhood next to the former radio station said intruders have entered the studios through broken windows at the rear of the building.
Some residents said transients were also seen across Argyle Avenue at the steeple-topped Little Country Church before the fire. Los Angeles Fire Department investigators said the cause of that fire has not been determined, however.