After a month of hassling, Miss Rona’s daily entertainment reports from Hollywood are finally being heard in Hollywood.
Rona Barrett whined back into action over KFWB-AM (980) at 6:35 a.m. Monday with the news that Cox Communications Inc. was buying into the Alan Landsburg Co. and that Eddie Murphy would probably do a Neil Simon screenplay as his next film project. Her reports air thrice daily (again at 9:11 a.m. and 12:11 p.m.) over the all-news outlet.
But her daily 2 1/2-minute reports, heard over 160 U.S. stations courtesy of the Mutual Broadcasting System, had a tough time finally making it to the Los Angeles radio market.
Mutual executives wooed the general manager of their Los Angeles affiliate, KMPC-AM (710), during last month’s National Assn. of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas in a vain attempt to get the nostalgia outlet to broadcast Miss Rona’s re-entry into the world of broadcast. (Her last regularly broadcast entertainment news reports were during her stint on NBC-TV’s “Today” three years ago.)
Even though KMPC General Manager Bill Ward posed with Barrett for publicity stills in Las Vegas on April 15, the day her Mutual radio show debuted, he was hesitant about committing to the program. A KMPC spokesman said at the time that if Barrett weren’t picked up, it would be a programming decision based on how her entertainment reporting fitted in with KMPC’s big band music, Angels baseball and its other programming.
Miss Rona was on assignment Monday and unavailable for comment, according to a spokeswoman for her newly formed company, Rona Barrett Communications Inc. Besides developing her radio reports, her Beverly Hills-based company also is working on similar televised reports for satellite syndication, TV specials and a phone-in system that will allow entertainment news fans to dial a special number for the latest and hottest Hollywood news.
Mutual spokesman Mark Feldman said it took a full month to get Rona on the air because the exclusivity clause in the affiliate’s contract gives a Mutual station--such as KMPC--first right of refusal for 30 days. As a result, KFWB--which is not a Mutual affiliate-- was not allowed to begin airing the reports until Monday, he said.
“Every city is different,” Feldman said. “In this instance, KMPC decided against it.”
KMPC is airing Mutual’s other star, however. Feldman said that late-night talk-show host Larry King, who’s heard from midnight to dawn over KMPC, renewed his contract with Mutual for five years on Monday.
Under the new contract, his live call-in program will air only four hours instead of its current five, Feldman said. The final hour of the five-hour program will be a taped repeat of the first hour, from midnight to 1 a.m., when King normally interviews a studio guest, according to Feldman.
ROYAL WRATH: Even royalty must watch what they say and do these days around the new owners of KRLA-AM (1110).
(Emperor) Bob Hudson, who ends his 6 to 9 a.m. weekday show with the admonition to his listeners that they had best get off the freeway because “His Highness is coming,” was formally chastised last month by station operations director Jay Clark for calling rival morning deejay Robert W. Morgan and putting him on the KRLA airwaves.
According to Clark’s memo, Hudson’s on-air call to KMGG-FM’s (105.9) Morgan was funny but “a direct violation of Greater Media rules.”
Greater Media Inc. is the New Jersey-based radio chain that bought KHTZ-FM (97.1) six years ago and purchased KRLA in March. Clark is an East Coast executive who was imported to raise the two stations’ sagging Arbitron ratings.
One of the first actions Greater Media took following the takeover of KRLA was the firing of such station staples as morning drivetime deejay Dave Hull and the afternoon man Mucho Morales, who has since moved over to KMGG as a vacation fill-in personality. Both Hull and Morales told The Times that KRLA lost its union contract when Greater Media took over and gave both deejays their walking papers.
Hudson, who was hired March 1 to replace Hull, was actually removed from the air for a day when he persisted in calling Morgan in direct violation of Clark’s edict.
Clark told The Times on Monday that removing Hudson from the air for the day was partly a publicity stunt, but the memorandum threatening Hudson with firing if he did not stop his disobedience was not a stunt.
“I wanted to make my point,” Clark said. “We have a license to protect and a community to serve, and there are rules that must be observed.”
Almost in the same breath, however, Clark pointed out that the latest Arbitron ratings show that KRLA climbed from a 1.6 to a 2.2 rating since Hudson’s tussle with Clark.
PROGRAM NOTES: KFAC-AM (1330) and FM (92.3) celebrate Otto Klemperer’s 100th birthday at 7 p.m. today with an hourlong tribute to the legendary composer/conductor. . . .
Long-suffering Dr. Demento fans who’ve had to spend the last six months waiting until 11 Sunday evenings to hear the most bizarre two hours of music and comedy on commercial radio got a reprieve this week. KMET-FM (94.7) finally saw the light and reinstated the King of Weird to his old 9 p.m. slot.
And as an added bonus, the program over the last 12 years has achieved fame of sorts for airing such ballads as “The Homecoming Queen’s Got a Gun” and “Dead Puppies Aren’t Much Fun” is not prerecorded. As KMET puts it, “The ultimate dementia is live Demento, and KMET is proud to bring the Doctor back, live, every Sunday.” . . .
KHJ-AM (930), which has sunk to the Arbitron ratings basement with its car radio format of constant traffic reports between Top 40 hits, isn’t giving up on the wedding of traffic and Top 40 yet. To emphasize the fact, KHJ on Monday began a weeklong look at Southern California transportation problems entitled “Tell Us Where to Go.” After the 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. newscasts, listeners are asked to call in their solutions to L.A.'s transportation woes via a toll-free Televote system. A wrap-up on the week’s results will air as a 30-minute news special Sunday at 10 p.m. . . .
KRTH-FM (101.3), which did a special broadcast of the morning Dean Goss show live from a Sunset Boulevard billboard two months ago, has hired one of the billboard’s semipermanent residents to read casting news over Goss’ morning drivetime show. Jeff Olan is one of four marathon billboard sitters, each of whom has been promised a screen test by a San Francisco toy promoter if he or she outlasts the other three--12 actors began life on the billboard last December and, nearly six months later, three men and one woman remain. Last week, Olan began announcing TV, film and theater audition news over Goss’ program for those actors who can afford to leave their billboard to make a casting call. . . .
KNJO-FM (92.7) in Thousand Oaks offers up its own unique reports beginning this month: camping info. At 6:20 and 8:20 a.m. and again at 5:20 p.m. on weekdays, KNJO gives camping conditions and site availability at major California, Colorado and Nevada camping spots.