KZLA format shift surprises its hosts

Talk about your quick career shifts. At 10 a.m. on Thursday, Peter Tilden and Ashley Paige were still morning-drive hosts at KZLA-FM (93.9), billed as “America’s most listened to country station.” At 10:15, they were notified that the station’s format was changing immediately from country to pop and that they were out of work.

“We’re all fully aware of this possibility in radio, especially in such a volatile market the size of L.A.,” Paige said later. “It always sits in the back of your mind that you have a job today, but you may not tomorrow. But I’ve never had something like this happen to me.”

Although KZLA-FM continues to play country music over the Internet and on the new station’s HD side channel, Jimmy Steal, vice president of programming for Emmis Communications, which owns the station, said Thursday that it hasn’t been decided whether KZLA announcers would be offered continuing roles.

“The fans are pretty flipped out,” Paige said. “This was the only place for them to go to hear country. The ones I’ve heard from are feeling pretty bewildered. The $64,000 question is, ‘What happened to my radio station?’ ”



Randy Lewis