And so is the radio dial, if you’re a fan of country music. The only country station in the Los Angeles area, KZLA-FM, abruptly left the air Thursday morning, August 17, and was instantly replaced by yet another pop format station.
“Even the station’s veteran morning crew, including Peter Tilden, didn’t know of the format change until just minutes before it happened,” reported the Associated Press after the fact. Just like that. KZLA-Country 93.9 is history. Make room for “Movin’ 93.9” and more of what has been described as “rhythmic pop,” “beat-heavy R&B” – whatever-it’s-called-this-month.
Tilden hosted the station’s Morning Show for more than five years. The new format is bringing in legendary Los Angeles disc jockey Rick Dees to do the morning show after Labor Day. Peter Tilden will bounce back, what with his drive-time radio credentials from KLSX, KABC and KMPC since he came to the West Coast in 1990.
And country music in L.A. will likely survive. The Sunday Los Angeles Times noted that more country music is sold in Los Angeles than anywhere else, and quoted Bill Bennett, head of Warner Bros. Records Nashville, as an example: “Los Angeles is our No. 1 sales market in America.”
What will not survive – what is dying before our eyes – is free, public access to the wonderful cultures of this country, including traditional cultures as well as emerging ones. The stuff that provides a base of commonality for a national culture. The stuff that enables all of us to talk to each other and “get” each other’s jokes.
Country music fans can pay for satellite radio and find their music; and, of course, they can – and will – buy CDs and concert tickets. But it’s not the same as having country music “out there” for anyone to pick up.