Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Zac Efron and Barbara Walters, Coming Real Soon Now

I don't listen to .......the KOST all that often, unless I am forced to do so. But even though I was often forced to listen to .......the KOST during the Christmas shopping season, when .......the KOST was playing all Christmas music all the time, I didn't realize that the programming family of .......the KOST had been reduced.

In fact, I didn't find out about this until I read this morning's Franklin Avenue post:

More than a month after KOST-FM canned morning co-host Kim Amidon, the station's looking for her replacement. Is "the Kelly Ripa of morning drive" code for "younger and perkier"? (And does that make her "Kathie Lee Amidon"?)

So the Mark and Kim show was now just Mark. I had to poke around to learn more of the dirty dealings. I found this item from November 30, 2007:

Kim Amidon Fired? The co-host of the Mark and Kim Show that airs on Kost 103.5 is leaving the show. Apparently owner of the radio show, Clear Channel, laid off Kim Amidon....

With Kim Amidon [fired] the show is now just going to be called the morning show with Mark Wallengren. The Mark and Kim show had been on the air since February 3 1986 and it came to a sad end yesterday. That is 22 years of radio. Mark Wallengren found out that Kim Amidon was let go around 10 o’clock yesterday.

By the time that Kim herself spoke to the Orange County Register on December 6, this was being portrayed as an economic decision. And it turns out that Amidon wasn't the only person that was let go:

Amidon was among several Clear Channel employees terminated in Los Angeles. The casualties included midday personality Mike Sakellarides, who had been with the station since the "soft hits" format started in 1982. And Mike Nolan, who had been providing airborne traffic reports in morning and afternoon drive. At Clear Channel's AirWatch news and traffic service, these on-air reporters lost their jobs: Mike Taylor, Barbara Brooks, Jim Curran, Walt Jackson, Alan LaGreen and Sharon Reardon.

And it turns out that the longevity of some of these people may have been the issue:

[Greg] Ashlock said Amidon's position will be replaced, but not until early next year....

[Amidon:] "I'm upset that they really did fire me so they could hire another woman at one-fifth of my salary. Mark, especially, was so proud of the fact that we were the first equally billed, equally paid male/female morning show in the country. We were not the 'man star' and 'girl sidekick' ever. We were the longest paired morning show in the country as well.

"And yet when push comes to shove, it's 'we can hire another woman cheaper' and that is sad to me. KOST 103 is 60 percent listened to by women, and these women need to know that when they hear another woman on the air with Mark, she is hired at a cheaper rate. By listening now you are supporting the downsizing of women forever more with this group of managers, (and it is) a step back in radio some 20 years."

Is Amidon just sounding off sour grapes and attaching a feminist label to them? Well, Franklin Avenue's comment that the new female host will be "Kelly Ripa" like seems to lend credence to Amidon's claims. The Djinn from the Bronx is convinced:

[On January 18] I was driving to work and flipping radio channels as usual. Coming up LA's Coast the suddenly single voice of Mark Wallengren reminded me that his 20 year plus on-air partner, Kim Amidon, was given the unceremonious heave-ho by the station's parent company. As my stomach dropped with a burst of rage, I remembered that the very same company dropped long time host Valerie Smaldone, at WLTW in New York, after her 20 plus years. Cost cutting, that proverbial rationale....

Bye Bye. Don't let the iron door hit you in the rump on your way to other endeavors, code for "you're washed up, and you'll never see the same success again, you old geezer--oh, by the way, we couldn't care less." Although it happens that these were two female successes, and perhaps there is a tale here too, the not very fare thee wells to these two after doing their jobs for essentially a generation, put me in mind of other friends, of a certain age (over 40 and into 50) who having been relieved of their roles in the world, where by the way, they excelled, are relegated to the "what have you done for me lately" pile" concomitant with "even if you did do something lately for us, we don't want you, you're old" pile.

Perhaps there IS a tale here. If Clear Channel were truly dedicated to cost-cutting, they would have fired both Amidon and Wallengren. But they only chose to fire one of the two, setting up the usual older man/younger woman dynamic we see in entertainment. For example, with Regis and Kelly. Or, for that matter, with Regis and Kathi Lee.

I wonder if Clear Channel ever thought about dumping Mark, keeping Kim, and filling Mark's position with an "Ashton Kutcher" type.

Somehow, I doubt it.

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