November 27, 2003

KNX 1070 Jingle: RIP

Even though I'm in the San Diego area, when I'm driving and want to tune in to the hourly news I often tune in to KNX-1070, a major AM newsradio station based in L.A.

The experience of tuning into the KNX news hasn't changed in over 15 years. A few minutes before the hour, I'll be driving along, notice what time it is, and tune to 1070 on the AM dial.

Often I'll catch the last traffic report before the commercials play after which finally the hourly CBS network news comes on. The KNX traffic reports are actually always interesting: seems every time I hear the L.A. traffic report, there's something crazy going on, like M&M's all over inteterstate 5, a big rig overturned spilling nails all over the freeway on I-10, or an alert that there's not just a couch in the fast lane of the Long Beach Freeway, but a couch that is on fire in the fast lane of the Long Beach Freeway.

So then there are the commercials leading up to the end of the hour, a quick blurb from a KNX announcer about what local news headlines will be reported right after the CBS news, and then comes the signature KNX-1070 news jingle that leads in the bing sound as the top of the hour is reached, followed by the start of the CBS news feed.

This blog posting is about the KNX-1070 news jingle, of which I wish there were an mp3 file, somewhere Out There on the net. I say I wish, because starting very recently, KNX is not playing their jingle anymore. Seems like it's been dumped. It's been changed to something menacing, downright sinister, right out of Terminator or something.

The old jingle, which I've heard for years and years, consists of a corny right-out-of-the-50s chorus of cheery men's and women's voices singing:

Kay En Exx
Ten Seh-ven-tee,
News Rayyyyy - Deeeeee -- Ohhhhhhhhhhh!

Theirs were the voices of innocence. Of high school and college pep rallies. Theirs were the voices saying, no matter how bad the news is that you're about to hear, hey, it's another beautiful day, and we love L.A.! We love it!

Even at the most bleak times, for example in the days and weeks after 9/11, the hourly pep rally of KNX's cheerleaders were there to remind listeners that it's not all bad.

I knew something was wrong, the other day, when I tuned into 1070 to hear the news, and I didn't hear the cheerleaders. No, what I heard is something I couldn't believe.

First, there's a moment of silence. Then a strange voice mumbling something, quickly followed by another voice mumbling something, followed by another, and another, and yet others. All in the span of three or four seconds, the cacophony builds until it reaches a crescendo, at which point a mechanical sound, something right out of Terminator 2, a mix of white noise and something hard to place, like a robot or machine, shushes the voices, after which there's silence for a moment. And then, a new voice. A single, man's voice.

Answers.

Followed by another pause, and then:

KNX.

Followed by yet another pause, and then:

Los Angeles.

At which point the bing chimes, the hour is reached, and the national CBS radio news begins.

What the hell is up with this new jingle? Well, wait. First of all, let's agree on something. This new "thing" is not a jingle. What exactly it is, I don't know.

Actually, I do. Obviously it is a message. A message to listeners that the company that runs KNX-1070 has changed. My immediate thought was, uh-oh, new product manager, trying to make a name for himself, gotta hire some new creative agency to come up with a new identity, and here ya go, let's try this. It's new, it's bold, we don't know what the hell it is. Well, we do. It is everything the old cheerleading squad wasn't.

Turns out, there was indeed a corporate shake-up, with the firing of KNX-1070 general manager George Nicholaw (who's been there 36 years), his job position eliminated. Here's a story on the KNX shake-up from some website called "WAG-net". And here is mention of it at a site called LAObserved. By the way, KNX is owned by Infinity Broadcasting, which in turn is owned by Viacom.

Answers. KNX. Los Angeles.

Nope. Questions. Lots of questions.

Posted by brian at November 27, 2003 03:21 PM

Comments

November 25, 2003

Mr. John Sykes
Chairman & Chief Executive Officer
Infinity Broadcasting
1515 Broadway, 46th Fl.
New York, New York 10036

Dear Mr. Sykes,

Man and boy, for neigh on to 45 years I have been a loyal listener to KNX. I was a junior high school "Nite Owl" surreptitiously listening to Mel Baldwin's "Music 'til Dawn". I was stunned when Ralph Story, the morning DJ disgustedly announced his resignation on air, bemoaning the heavy burden of commercials. I well-remember when Mike Roy was one of the station reporters before turning to on-air chef.

In recent years, my children and even my grandchildren have become loyal listeners, first to The Drama Hour, then to its all-news format.

The new management at KNX has made some dunderheaded decisions. They have eliminated editorials. They have reduced the amount time of hourly CBS news. They have begun endorsing, through their employees' scripts, their advertisers' products. And they have given us the new "breathless" and "dramatic" spot promos. But dumping The Drama Hour was just plain dumb!

Of course, what could be expected of a boneheaded ownership that would rid itself of a Los Angeles news legend such as George Nicholaw?

Mr. Sykes, I am not so na´ve as to believe that this letter or my views will in any way affect the decisions of either Infinity or KNX. Neither should Infinity be so na´ve as to believe KNX will keep the respect of Southern Californians.
Sincerely,
Robert B. Evans

Posted by: Robert B. Evans at November 28, 2003 01:41 PM

Interestingly, KNX-1070 has changed their radio slogan. Now it incorporates echoes of the original "kay-en-ex ten-se-ven-tee, news ray-dee-oh" mixed with the "answers" stuff.

Maybe someone at KNX reads this blog, who knows!

Posted by: Brian at January 30, 2004 07:26 AM

I, too, miss KNX. I miss "All you need to know." Now it seems that there is mostly stuff that I don't need to know. I miss CBS news. 2-3 minutes on the hour is not worthy of the LA listeners. Instead I have to hear more about Kobe, or why someone hopes to get a little statue named Oscar, or what some financial manager thinks about why people don't like Martha Stewart. Where's the news? This isn't perspective, or analysis or answers. It's just gossip and speculation. Who needs it? KNX advertisers, are you listening? Oh, you changed stations, too?

Posted by: Rod at March 8, 2004 09:39 AM

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