CATCH A WAVE: When is news not...

CATCH A WAVE: When is news not really news--or not necessarily the news (as the HBO satire show calls itself). Probably when the news is on the Wave (KTWV-FM), L.A. radio’s wacky gift to New Age culture. Let’s give the station credit--it’s always willing to try something new, no matter how silly it might sound on paper (or on the air).

Remember when the station used to give you the time of day in the middle of its comedy sketches? Now it has a feature called “Lady Sings the News,” which airs three times each Friday morning (beginning at 6:15 a.m.) and features Manhattan Transfer vocalist Cheryl Bentyne crooning (yes!) various political, show-biz and sports items. The talent involved is first-rate: Bruce Vilanch (Bette Midler’s longtime sketch writer) pens the lyrics and suggests a musical direction for Cory Allen (Bentyne’s musical director), who composes the music--sometimes original ditties, often parodies. So far, musical newsmakers have included Joe Biden and Joan Collins, Gary Hart, Sean Penn and Cory Aquino.

“We’d originally come up with the idea in one of our think tanks,” explained Wave director of program operations Paul Goldstein. “But the key was finding the right person to pull it off. And when I saw Cheryl do a solo show recently, I knew she’d be perfect. She has great improvisational talent and a really good sense of humor.”

Goldstein (no relation to your reporter) said the feature, which now runs anywhere from 90 seconds to 2 1/2 minutes, will eventually evolve into a daily routine. “Radio has gotten very stale--I think people are sick of all these free-money contests and car giveaways,” he said. “This is another way we’re trying to reach people who’ve given up on radio--who are just listening to tapes in their cars.”