His deep, soothing voice had filled Los Angeles’ airwaves for more than 60 years.
So it came as a shock to fans across Los Angeles this week that their beloved disc jockey, Art Laboe, was off the radio.
His broadcast, The Art Laboe Connection, was canceled by New York-based IHeartMedia following a station-wide change in programming.
Laboe’s show of 23 years, along with all other programming, was taken off the air Friday morning as the station changed from old-school-loving HOT 92.3 to Real 92.3, a home for hip hop and R&B.
“We believe this new format will resonate well with the audience in Los Angeles,” said Eileen Woodbury, vice president of marketing for IHeartMedia.
On social media, fans didn’t seem at all pleased. They flooded Laboe’s and the station’s Facebook pages with messages of confusion, anger and indignation. Some asked listeners to boycott the new station.
Who let this happen??? THIS ISN'T FAIR!
You will be missed...many a night my late husband would serenade me with your love songs!"
We will not give up! We love you Art!
More than 8,000 people have signed a petition online, demanding the return of the former shows' hosts, particularly Laboe.
At 89 years old, Laboe is iconic in Los Angeles, particularly among Latino listeners. Each year his oldies concerts are packed with generations of fans, from grade school kids to great grandmothers. Even future L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa used to cruise through Boyle Heights listening to his tunes in the 1970s.
“I am lost without him,” said Cindy Garcia, a college student from West L.A. who drafted the petition. “I want us to be heard. He was a huge part of our culture and we feel robbed. Los Angeles has been robbed.”
Laboe said in a statement that he is looking for a new radio home in Los Angeles. He declined to comment as negotiations are underway.
“We wish the best of luck to the new format,” he said in a statement. “And to all those who were let go to make way for the Real 92.3.”
The Art Laboe Connection can still be heard in a number of other cities, including Fresno, San Diego, Bakersfield, Santa Maria and Las Vegas. The shows also streams online at KOKO94.com.
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