On the airwaves: Old station IDs provide memorable entertainment
BY RICHARD WAGONER
Some of the most memorable moments from radio stations come from what would first seem to be a very unlikely source: an FCC requirement to state the station’s call sign and city of license as close to the top of the hour as programming will allow.
Yet these legal IDs are memorable because they are among the very few constants on many stations; now that jingles are relatively rare, they often are the only constant a station has.
Keeping in mind that I am a radio dork, I can actually remember quite a few legal IDs from the past and present. From the famous “KHJ, Los Angeles” to the less famous “Maximum Hits, K-E-Z-Y, Anaheim”; from the quick one that was heard on the original great KMPC to the “voice” of KIIS-FM.
KFI has a long tradition of great IDs. Back when the station played music, mention was often made of being “Western America’s Most Powerful Radio Station” before the singers sang “KFI Los Angeles.” Now you always know which station you are tuned to when you hear a woman’s voice whisper, “Los Angeles, Orange County” right before a sample of the song “Round and Round” by Ratt introduces the news.
I even recall the cool Spanish ID for XETRA when I listened to the Mighty 690’s top-40 hits … hits played at fast speed, if you recall, and the explosion that preceded the calls of “KFM — BFM, San Diego.”
Turns out I’m not the only radio dork around. Brian Davis, assistant programmer and music director at WKSZ/Appleton-Green Bay, Wis., has set up a Web site dedicated to legal IDs — www.tophour.net.
The site started in 2001 and now has recordings of hundreds of legal IDs from all over the country, from large cities and small.
As I browsed the San Diego, San Francisco, Chicago and Los Angeles selections, I noted an overabundance of more recent IDs, but I’ll try to help fix that with some donations from my own collection of airchecks.