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Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

KFSR hosts Fresno Grand Opry fundraiser

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I almost let this one slip through the cracks:

KFSR presents another installment of the Fresno Grand Opry, its semi-regular fundraising-concert series that has local musicians and bands paying (and playing) musical tribute to traditional country music.

The show, which coincides with the end of the station’s fall pledge drive (they will still take your money), is 7 p.m. Saturday at the Fresno Scottish Rite Center and features Brad “The Dudeboy” Rogers, The Roger Perry Band and Mofo Party Band. Tickets are just $10, and are available at livemusiccity.com.

So, slide on them boots, snap up that pearly buttoned shirt and go on, get to it.

Be warned: You’re not gonna hear Florida Georgia Line or Rascall Flatts (or Garth Brooks or Brooks & Dunn, for that matter). This is for fans of Waylon, Willie and the boys.

And likely George Jones, Hank Williams and Bob Wills, too.

KFSR’s No Rules April Fools

KFSR-No-Rules-April-Fools-151x180April Fool’s is the one day in the year when you can get topsy turvy with the world and be OK (relatively speaking). KFSR, the radio station housed at Fresno State is using it as an excuse to upend its standard programming with something a bit off-the-wall (in a good way). The station has invited local media/politicians and celebrity types (myself included) to serve as fill-in DJs for day. They’ll choose the music and give commentary on the choices.

It should be an interesting day of programming and unlike anything you’ll hear on traditional radio for sure. As example, my playlist will include (hopefully all of these, but in no real order):

No Rules April Fool’s (as it’s been dubbed) kicked off at 9 a.m. and will continue until 10 p.m. tonight. You can read the full list of guest hosts and time slots on the jump.

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A Sunday chat on ‘The Art of ‘No’

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At 9:30 a.m. tomorrow (Sunday), a supremely civilized hour, I’ll be featured in a half-hour interview with KFSR radio host Kate McKnight on her program “The Art of ‘No” (90.7FM and online at kfsr.org).

I prerecorded the show a couple of weeks ago, so don’t be listening for me to have a breakdown on live radio or suddenly blurt out offensive/profane declarations to disturb the peace of your Sunday morning. (At least I don’t recall any faux pas.) Instead, I’ll be discussing my new e-book, “The Company We Keep,” about Fresno’s beloved Good Company Players. I also talk with McKnight about the Fresno arts scene in general. It’s a pleasant, collegial conversation — and I have to say I think McKnight has a great radio voice, just like those soothing NPR anchors.

In a bit of synergy, or perhaps you’d call it shameless cross-promotion, I decided to use the occasion of my own interview on “The Art of ‘No” to interview McKnight about the program for my Sunday Spotlight column.

A friendly reminder: If you’re looking for the easiest way to download “The Company We Keep,” you can buy it for $2.99 on Kindle, Apple’s iBookstore, and at Vook.com. (Vook offers a desktop version if you don’t have a mobile reading device, along with ePub versions that can be transferred to devices.) And don’t forget the Fresno Bee videos and photo galleries (including shots from all 436 Good Company productions) online.

KFSN will produce 10 p.m. newscast

Here are a few things going on in local radio and TV that happened too late to make my Thursday TV Beat column.

  • News news: KFSN (Channel 30.1) will begin producing a 30-minute newscast to air at 10 p.m. weeknights on KAIL (Channel 7.1). The program, scheduled to start Jan. 7, will be anchored by Warren Armstrong and Liz Harrison and will feature meteorologist Kevin Musso and sports director Tommy Tran.
  • Tuna for breakfast: Local radio station KYNO (AM 1430) has been playing on music and commercials since the switch to the classic rock format in mid-November. The station will finally get an on-air voice as Charlie Tuna will be hosting a new morning show starting Dec. 17. The veteran on-air personality won’t be in Fresno but will supply the morning talk from his base in Los Angeles.
  • Sound effort: The 5 p.m. Dec. 7 broadcast of the KFCF (FM, 88.1) show “Down on the Farm” explores some way forward for sustainable animal husbandry on a landscape changed by soaring grain prices.

KMJ, Rush Limbaugh, conspiracy theories and reaction to the reaction

In the past 10 days, I’ve talked far more than I ever expected to about KMJ losing shows from popular conservative talk radio show hosts Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity. Just how much fuss this would cause didn’t hit me initially.

You see, the day the news broke — that Premiere Radio Network (which owns all the shows) would sever its ties with top-rated KMJ and take its shows elsewhere — was the same day Justin Bieber came to Fresno. I was up to my bangs in Bieber Fever. KMJ, Limbaugh, etc. were just an afterthought. Well, until the next morning, when I woke up to way more e-mail responses to the KMJ story than my Bieber story.

Even then I still wasn’t prepared for what awaited me in the office Monday morning. Not just a full voicemail box, but quite a few doozies. I called people back, one by one, trying to help them understand the circumstances — that it wasn’t KMJ’s decision, that it wasn’t a conspiracy to silence conservative viewpoints, that Obama wasn’t behind it all.

Calls kept coming all day and by the time they stopped, I learned that the Bielebers and Limbaugh diehards had a few things in common: Undying fandom, a dose of delusion, regurgitated viewpoints and a knack for losing control of their emotions.

More than a week — and countless conversations — later, a few things stand out to me about the public response to this fiasco:

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KYNO has new sporting sound

Those of you who expected to hear the talk radio format on KYNO (AM 940) got a surprise this week. The talk lineup on KYNO is gone and the spot on the dial — with its 50,000 watts signal — has been taken over by the sports programming lineups of KFIG (AM 1430).

The sports talk station, owned by Fat Dawgs Broadcasting and home to ESPN programming, will move to the downtown facilities that is the home for KYNO and KJWL.

The talk format was a grand experiment by owner John Ostlund that never quite worked. He launched his talk radio channel in 2008 to be serious competition for KMJ. Despite hiring Alan Autry and the Fresno Bee’s Bill McEwen to host local programs, KYNO never delivered ratings close to KMJ’s numbers.

Arbitron, a leading monitor of radio listening trends, reports that in its Spring 2012 ratings book, KMJ was the top-rated radio station in Fresno, with listeners 12 and up, with a 7.6 share. KYNO did not attract enough listeners to be listed in the top 23 local radio stations.

The changes at KYNO came with some firings including general manager Mary Lou Gunn, McEwen and producer Gail Marshall. KYNO moves to 1430 AM and will change to a ‘60s music format that’s scheduled to start in mid-November. That’s not a bad move as it takes KYNO back to its AM music radio days.

Jennifer Lipp gets new radio show

photo (6).jpgAll of you who are fans of Jennifer Lipp will be able to hear her on the air again as she will host a morning talk show from 5:30 – 8 a.m. weekdays on KMJ (FM 105.9). It starts Sept. 10.

The popular radio personality has been off the air since her morning show on KKBZ (FM 105.1, The Blaze) was canceled in December.

It’s a bit of a homecoming as Lipp joins the radio station where her former longtime on-air partner, Chris Daniel works. Skip Essick, Operations Manager of both KMJ FM and AM calls Lipp and Daniel being on the radio station as “the next generation of local talk radio.”

KFCF having transmitter problems

If you have been having trouble hearing KFCF (FM 88.1) today that’s because the local radio station suffered a transmitter failure at about 8:30 a.m. It was off the air a short period of time before returning to a reduced broadcast strength.

“We are operating at a reduced power level of 30 watts with some gain in the antenna we’re doing about 75 watts. Normally the KFCF transmitter runs at 1000 watts,” says Rychard Withers, executive director of the Fresno Free College Foundation.

Withers, who is in Houston at the National Federation of Community Broadcasters convention, says an engineer is evaluating the equipment and system. So far, there are no estimate on repairs or how much it will cost to get back to regular broadcast strength.

FTW Moment of the Day

The Columbus Dispatch tracked down Ted Williams, an Ohio homeless guy known to have a “golden radio voice” for the video below. As the video started to make the Internet rounds, people popped up wanting to help Ted. Someone offered to donate $15,000 to a local radio station to hire him, other radio stations were courting him as a guest and Internet commenters began raising money to buy him a cell phone. Read more at Reddit.

To-Do Tonight: A very busy Wednesday

Good stuff at Crossroads tonight as Mark Stuart & The Bastard Sons and The Councilmen share the stage. Mark Stuart & The Bastard Sons, an Austin-based Americana group, used to be called The Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash, and played in Fresno a few times under that name. The Councilmen, meanwhile, are pretty darn popular in Bakersfield for their folk-meets-country-meets-rock sound.

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As you may have heard by now, Sugar Ray is in town (Yep, the “Every Morning” guys). It’s a Y101 event at Twist and you can only get in if you win tickets from them. Brooke White, of “American Idol” fame, is there too.

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As if you needed more of him: Ryan Seacrest comes to Fresno radio

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Ryan Seacrest has landed in Fresno. If “American Idol” and his spot on E! are not enough for you, Seacrest’s radio show will now be piped into the 3-7 p.m. timeslot at Alice 96.7. The previous DJ — Adriana — was part of the recent Clear Channel layoffs that also axed morning show host Laurie West.

What says you, Fresno, are you happy about the addition of Seacrest and his “celebrity exclusives?” Or does your life already have enough of Ryan Seacrest?

Oh, and in case you’re curious a syndicated show called “Valentine in the Morning” has taken West’s wake-up spot.

Christmas music? In April? No way!

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Anybody tune to 105.5 FM lately? Notice something odd? The station — formerly set to play smooth jazz — has gone to all Christmas music. In April, that’s more Bright Christmas than White Christmas.

A press release from the station has a headline that screams “Christmas Music Around the Clock, 24/7, 365 Days a Year on 105.5FM!!” But Rick Bentley writes in his column today that it’s all a gimmick and that we should expect a format change from the station on Friday.

On-air teasers are asking, “Are you ready for the truth?” Which fits with a rumor that it’s going to a talk radio station. Another talk radio station in Fresno? Well, well, well … I can barely contain my excitement.

PREVIOUSLY: Nooooooooooo! It’s too early for Christmas music …

Your mornings are now Laurie West-less

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Laurie West’s days at Alice 96.7 are over. The longtime morning show host was not on the air this morning and she has been removed from the station’s Web site. Numerous sources are telling me that she was laid off on Tuesday.

West was the most popular female voice in Fresno radio, if you believe Fresno Magazine’s Best of Fresno poll. It appears that Alice 96.7, owned by Clear Channel, also parted ways with evening host Adriana and West’s producer/co-host Nigel as well. You can read more in Rick Bentley’s column tomorrow.

With Y101 moving more toward Alice 96.7′s demo with some recent format changes, I wonder if we’re going to hear something new from 96.7 soon. Hmmmm.