EX-ANCHORMAN PLUGS INTO NEW AUDIENCE, LIFE
Is there life after television?
Paul Bloom asked himself that question in September, when he was fired as anchor of the KCST (Channel 39) evening newscast after nine years in the business.
Like football heroes, TV anchormen who are unexpectedly cut from the team don’t adjust well to the sudden loss of celebrity status. After years of being a star, it’s hard to go back to being just a regular Joe.
But Bloom, 40, didn’t waste much time nursing his bruised ego. Less than four months after his abrupt departure from the tube, Bloom was back on the air, this time on radio.
Promptly at 5:30 a.m. on Jan. 5, Bloom and veteran deejay Irv Harrigan teamed up for the first time to present their new morning show on oldies station XTRA-AM (69 XTRA Gold), which is broadcast each weekday until 10 a.m.
“When I came back to Channel 39 from Los Angeles in September, 1985, I planned on staying there forever,” Bloom said. “But politics and money and (general manager) Bill Fox got in the way, and a year later, my contract wasn’t renewed.”
Instead of trying to find work at some other television station, Bloom said, he decided to get out--even though some might consider his move from TV to radio a step down.
“Was this a blow to my ego?” Bloom asked. “Hell, no. For once in my life, I’m having fun. And there’s nothing better for your ego than coming home at night with a smile on your face, instead of the burned-out feeling you get from all the jerks you have to deal with on TV.”
To Bloom, “having fun” means taking more broadcasting liberties than he was ever able to take as a TV anchorman.
One morning, it was reported that a vitamin company that Steve Garvey had endorsed went bankrupt and the Padres’ hero had been subpoenaed to appear in a New York courtroom.
Bloom the investigative reporter immediately interviewed the principals in the case and got the whole story on the air ahead of every other radio station in town.
On another morning, TV preacher Oral Roberts announced that unless he raised $4.5 million by March, he would die.
Bloom the prankster told his listeners that he and Harrigan were putting together an “Oral Roberts Rescue Album” consisting of performances by Johnny Cash, Eddie Money and Al Green, along with Roberts himself singing his theme song, “I’m Busted.’
“Send your love offering now,” Bloom deadpanned in his best announcer’s voice, “before the man upstairs unplugs Oral for good.”
And when the news is light, Bloom the satirist relives some of his own experiences in television through imaginary TV station KSNT (Channel 43), which offers “special reports to spark your interest and artificially boost our ratings.”
He said the Bloom and Harrigan show’s objective is to bridge the gap between the humor-for-humor’s-sake approach of Hudson and Bauer, the morning team on adult-contemporary (A/C) station KFMB-AM (760), and the straight-laced newscasts of Ernie Meyers and Ron Fortner on news-talk station KSDO-AM (1130).
Both stations are 69 XTRA Gold’s chief rivals for morning radio listeners, he added.
“More than anything else, we want our listeners to have a good time,” Bloom said. “We want them to have a pretty good idea of what’s going on in the world, but not because it’s being shoved down their throats by an all-news station, and not because it’s squeezed into the news break of two washed-up radio comedians’ show.”
“Humor is important, but it has to mean something,” added co-host Harrigan, who from 1972 until 1984 was heard locally on KFMB and country station KCBQ-AM (1170) as half of the popular Charlie and Harrigan morning team.
“What we’re doing is topical humor,” added Harrigan, 49. “And that’s something that no other station in town can say.”
Jim LaMarca, 69 XTRA Gold’s program director, said his decision to bring a new morning team to his station was brought on by necessity.
“When we first went oldies in September, 1984, we were the only station in town with that format,” LaMarca said. “But now that there is a glut of oldies stations in the market, we needed to do something different in order to remain successful, especially since we’re on AM, where music listenership is at an all-time low.
“So that’s why we hired two of the most entertaining personalities around. Instead of just offering oldies, we now offer personalities as well.
“And hopefully, that combination will enable us to not only maintain our listenership, but to keep expanding it in spite of all the competition.”