Radio Disney Makes L.A. Debut

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Radio Disney, a children's programming network that had been tested in four markets since November by Walt Disney-owned ABC Radio, made an unexpected debut in Los Angeles on Tuesday night on KTZN-AM (710), replacing the women-oriented talk format that was installed just seven months ago.

The new lineup features an array of children's stories, classic and current pop music, entertainment reports, talk shows and even youth-geared news and sports.

The KTZN move, though rumored for months, caught many by surprise. Having introduced the women's format in February and changing the call letters from longtime L.A. radio staple KMPC, management at the ABC station had seemed fully committed to the new programming, hiring such notable personalities as humor writer Merril Markoe, psychologist Toni Grant and comedienne Stephanie Miller.

Miller will be shifted to sister station KABC-AM (790) for a 7-to-9 weeknight shift starting at the conclusion of the Dodgers baseball season in October, but apparently all other KTZN on-air personnel have been dismissed. (KTZN broadcasts Angels games.)

"The more research we got--both qualitative and quantitative--this looked like a home run," ABC Radio President Bob Callahan said Tuesday.

While Arbitron radio ratings do not account for listeners under 12 years old, Radio Disney's research showed solid numbers for the test runs in Minneapolis, Atlanta, Salt Lake City and Birmingham, Ala. With the current format, KTZN had failed to crack the top 30 stations here.

The biggest impact of this expansion may be on the Radio Aahs network, which airs children's programming through 30 national affiliates, including KPLS-AM (830) locally. Aahs owner Children's Broadcasting Corp. has sued Disney, alleging that the latter used a 1995-96 alignment with CBC "to obtain confidential business information." Disney denies the claim.

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