If anyone gets a message from me about canned meat, don’t open it. It’s Spam.

8 Years Ago Today

10 Questions For the New KLOS Program Director, Derek Madden

(October 21, 2013) Derek Madden took over the programming duties this past summer at KLOS, the iconic Classic Rock station.  He responded to ten questions offered by LARadio that will give us some insight into the challenges before the station.

1. What is your background? When did you become interested in radio? Where did you grow up? Early influences? Stations?

I joined KLOS from our sister station KSAN in San Francisco, where I was pd/afternoons. I'd been in that market for awhile - I programmed KSJO-San Jose, worked for many years on-air at Live105 and was the music director at KLLC as well. I grew up a lot of places, but mostly in the South, and 99X/Atlanta was absolutely my biggest influence.  I loved their mix of irreverence and relatability, the talent up and down the lineup (Sean Demery was my fave) and the overarching musical vision. It was smart, it was funny, and I'd never seen anyone do radio like that before.  

2. What attracted you to the KLOS job?

It's KLOS, man. It's a name you know from the second you start paying attention to the business. I loved San Francisco, and it was always going to take something special for me to leave, and KLOS certainly qualifies as special in my book. If the idea of competing against the best programmers and personalities in the business doesn't thrill you, what will?

3. KLOS is really a heritage station. What is your vision for the station? Music changes?

Many of my favorite tv shows - Breaking Bad, The Sopranos, Lost, and Game of Thrones - are the kind of shows that make themselves enjoyable on a casual level, but offer rich layers of investment and discovery for people who want to sink their teeth into them. That's the kind of feel I want KLOS to have: always fun and accessible, but with plenty of stuff for rock partisans to sink their teeth into. It's a delicate balance.

4. You lost a morning team with a quarter of a century with KLOS. How are Heidi & Frank doing? How are the ratings compared to when Mark & Brian were in their last year? Have you made any changes to the morning show?

I was at CBS when Howard Stern left, and I saw firsthand how tough a task it can be to replace a legendary show. I think Heidi and Frank have done an outstanding job in the most challenging of circumstances. They work hard, they're idea machines, they make me laugh, and the numbers are much better than I would have anticipated coming into the station.

5. In the last year, in addition to Mark & Brian, you’ve lost Uncle Joe Benson, Cynthia Fox and Jim Ladd. What are your feelings about personalities on a Classic Rock station? Any assessment with the current staff?

Wow, all those questions only get one number? I think personality is absolutely critical to Classic Rock. At the end of the day, I think we win by getting people to punch back in a few more times a week. And I think you do that by being compelling and it's tough to do compelling radio without strong personalities. I LOVE the team we have in place today now. We talked about Heidi & Frank, Gary Moore does a fun, culturally literate, high energy show in the afternoons, and Melissa Maxx is doing a really fun, interactive show at night. And I think the midday show is pretty good, too, but I'll let you judge for yourself. (Madden hosts the midday show.)

6. What are your plans to promote and market KLOS beyond the on-air events?

I was thinking of going on Million Second Quiz and wearing a KLOS T-shirt. What could possibly go wrong?

7. 100.3/The Sound is your major competition. Any thoughts about them?

The Sound is the station we share the most music with, and if their personnel moves are any indication, they've certainly got an interest in our heritage. But, and I say this with all due respect to them, that's not the same thing as ‘our major competition.’ I've got my eye on the stations who are bigger players 25-54. Those are the stations in our way, and those are the stations we share the most audience with.

8. Is it tough to program the station and be on the air? Much to juggle?

I guess I'm of the radio generation that doesn't really know anything else. I've been on the air at just about every gig I've ever had, and I really think it has its advantages. You get to know your product and your audience on a much deeper level.

9. Sales seems to put enormous pressure on programming for sales-related promotions. What is your philosophy about the relationship between sales and programming?

The challenges facing all large-scale media in this world are great enough. Our company's developed fruitful partnerships with other radio companies, and with Internet music purveyors. In that context, an "us vs. them" dynamic with your sales department is worse than anachronistic, it's fatal. That said, it's my job to look out for the listener experience, and I'm not shy about stepping in to figure out how we can turn a sales idea into something that positively impacts that experience.

10. How has your adjustment to living in Southern California been? Where did you end up living? Close to the KLOS studios on La Cienega?

Man, this place is massive! I'm really looking forward to getting to know all the nooks and crannies. I live about 10 minutes from the station. And that's only because our market manager wouldn't let me install a shower and a daybed in the programming offices.

We GET Email ...

 "In 1961, Jack Angel hosted celebrities on Harrah's Late Show, broadcasting nightly 10 p.m. - 2 a.m. from Harrah's in Reno and airing on both KOLO Reno and KOWL Lake Tahoe, simultaneously. In between records, Jack would interview the stars currently appearing in the Harrah's showrooms at Tahoe and Reno. Since KOWL was located inside Harrah's at Stateline, Jack sometimes would come there to arrange and/or record interviews of stars appearing at the Tahoe showroom for evening playback from his Reno perch.  I was usually the board op at KOWL during Jack's nightly show, and we'd chat occasionally by telephone. 

When Jack left Harrah's Late Show, he sent me the current records he had been playing as well as the 'buffer' instrumental he always used during station breaks, a Capitol 45-rpm titled Blue Malibu by George Shearing, and he encouraged me to continue his show on KOWL. Thus, thanks to Jack, I hosted 1960s stars at Harrah's like Rowan & Martin, Sue Thompson, The Four Preps, and others, including a then-just-starting Wayne Newton. I'd personally lost touch with Jack after 1961, but he obviously did well later with stations like KMPC and KFI and KIIS on his resume. Meanwhile, I still have that Shearing 45 he sent me!" - Bill Kingman, Nevada

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For 25 years LARadio chronicled the news of Southern California radio and the personalities who populated it. Alan Oda was editor for much of that time. With the closing of LARadio he opened a weekly blog, mostly about radio at ayodaradio.blogspot.com After 25 years, LARadio came to an end in  2020.

Read the final column by clicking the curtain.

Ladies of LARP Calendar in 2007

Early LARadio was dominated by men. In the 70s women began to find an important place - on and off-air - in creating the rich history of LARadio. In 2007, we saluted the women in LARadio with a calendar that included the names of the LARP who were having birthdays that month. Calendar was sponsored by Mt. Wilson Broadcasting. You can access it at this link.


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Last modified: October 21, 2021