Lots of rumors flew over the weekend in Orange County:
KZLA’s spirit lives on at Country Bash
Review: Gretchen Wilson is the highlight of a strong radio festival, but what was REO Speedwagon doing there? Some country music fans turning out for the annual KZLA Country Bash still protesting with T-shirts that read “Bring Back My Country – KZLA 93.9”. The line-up was stellar – Gretchen Wilson, Phil Vassar, Jamie O’Neal, SHeDAISY, and newbie Taylor Swift. However, one predominately featured act just didn’t make sense – REO Speedwagon. The classic rock act played an hour-long set just before headliner Gretchen Wilson. Following a true blue country boy like Phil Vassar, the band’s set was a buzz kill for country fans. Their performance was loud, calculated and completely ridiculous. It seemed more like a marketing tie-in for the band’s new album – presented to a captive audience – rather than a real rock ‘n’ roll show.
540 AM is going country
Saul Levine, president of Mt. Wilson Broadcasters: "We received a lot of letters and e-mails saying, basically, you are the last independent radio owner in the market. Please help us," Levine said. Whitney Allen, Paul Freeman, Brian Douglas, and Tonya Compos, who were on KZLA, will be on 540 AM. There will also be a new website, Levine said, called www.540country.com that will stream the format 24/7. Adult standards remain on 1260 AM, Levine said. "We selected 540 AM in large part because it has a better reach into Orange County, which seems to be the center of country music listening." Levine said he is working closely with the syndicator Dial Global, which will consult on the music programming.
It's ironic that country lived in LA right next door at 570 from 1978 to 1993. If the Dial Global connection means that 540 AM won't be local live, that would be regrettable.
Meanwhile, let's keep an eye on how Clear Channel's AC FM's do in the wake of Movin. There could be more shoes to drop this fall for Southland country music fans, but has Levine learned that no FM is going country? It would be hard to believe that he'd risk 540 AM if he thought a Clear Channel FM was waiting in the wings, contemplating a country launch.