Sunday, October 16, 2011

Memory Lane: KMET 94.7 FM of Los Angeles, California


Hello!

When I visit my high school memories I almost always think of the greatest rock radio station in the history of Los Angeles, KMET 94.7. At the time, it was the hardest rocking station in town, and was the place to get your Van Halen or Iron Maiden fix before heading off to school.

KMET originally came on the air in 1968 as a Metromedia station with a conventional format of top-40 pop, but soon changed formats. When the staff at the successful KPPC in Pasadena went on strike, Metromedia adopted their progressive/underground format and hired some of their on-air personalities for KMET.

The station carried on with this format (and middling success) until 1974, when Shadoe Stevens was hired away from KNAC to be the new program director. He was only there for a year, but he introduced a high energy format of rock, concert broadcasts, radio theatre (skits) and themed shows for the on-air personalities. After he left in 1975, his assistant Sam Belami took over for another 10 years and did a tremendous job of innovating the station’s programming, as well as providing a professional feel to the broadcasts; she is a legend of Los Angeles radio history.

Under their stewardship, KMET reached number 1 in the Los Angeles market in 1975, and became one of the most successful radio stations in the country in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Some of their enduring (endearing?) radio personalities include Dr. Demento, Jim Ladd, and my personal favorite: Paraquat Kelly. But, unfortunately, there were personnel charges as time went on, and by the mid-1980s, KMET was a shell of its former self.

The station lost its way, and went from a prog-rock format to more of an AOR (album-oriented rock) format. The suits got involved, so the playlists got small, the listeners were distanced from the programming, and it became just another rock radio station. Unfortunately, Los Angeles already had KLOS for rock and KNAC for metal, so there was no place for the declawed KMET.

Eventually, enough was enough, and the owners took the station off the air to replace it with KTWV (The Wave), which plays an endless medley of Kenny G and Celine Dion hits.

RIP, KMET.

Mahalo!

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