by Alex Cosper
see also American Radio History
Los Angeles is the second biggest radio market in the country, behind New York City. Over 50 stations populate the radio dial. KROQ, one of the last standing alternative stations in the nation, helped pioneer the format that industry experts said could not be done. A consistent market leader in the 2000s has been contemporary hits trend-setter KIIS (102.7). The station's morning personality, Ryan Seacrest, rose to national celebrity status in 2002 when he became a co-host of the top television series American Idol.
Seacrest had done afternoons at Star 98.7 (KYSR) from 1995 to 2003 and then became host of the syndicated radio countdown American Top 40. He replaced Rick Dees as KIIS morning host in Febuary 2004. Rick Dees returned to L.A. radio in the fall of 2006 on Movin 93.9, after Emmis flipped long time country station KZLA to KMVN, playing a mix of urban, disco and dance classic hits.
Many times what has started in L.A. has been followed by the nation. It was true in the sixties when KHJ became the market leader with top 40 hit music. The consulting team of Bill Drake and Gene Chenault was the key behind KHJ's success beginning in the mid-sixties. They consulted other major market stations after KHJ quickly rose to number one in the market with its fast-paced energetic approach to delivering the hits. "Boss Radio" became the seed of what top 40 radio was through the eighties.
KHJ's heyday was the sixties and seventies, then KIIS took over as the powerhouse hit station throughout the eighties. The station battled rivals Power 106 and The Beat. By the end of the eighties, it was unclear who held the market throne, but KIIS would inevitably recapture the definite crown in the following decade.
One of the most celebrated stations in L.A. radio history has been KMET, which was a freeform station in the sixties and transformed into an influential album rock station in the seventies. It lasted until 1987, when it became a new age station called The Wave. KLOS and KLSX were rock competitors for many years, but it is usually KMET that is often cited as L.A.'s most legendary rocker.
The station that stole the rock crown in Los Angeles was the one elevated by Rick Carroll, and that was KROQ. It gradually evolved from the early seventies to the late seventies as a mix of album rock and alternative music. Carroll's arrival in the late seventies triggered a more mainstream approach to cutting edge rock music. KROQ has now been the leader for many years in the Los Angeles area rock scene.
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