After an unprecedented year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the last thing the crew of KLOS (95.5 FM) saw was winning a major national radio award.
But the same thing happened.
The Culver City-based station won a Marconi Award for Rock Station of the Year on 10 November. Named after Italian inventor and Nobel laureate Guglielmo Marconi, the awards were established in 1989 by The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB).
“A Marconi Award is like the radio equivalent of an Oscar for Best Picture, so it was a true honor to be nominated and of course to win,” KLOS program director Keith Cunningham said during a recent phone interview.
Back in 1991, the station scored Classic Rock Station of the Year, and its “The Mark and Brian Show” hosted by Mark Thompson and Brian Phelps won Major Market Personality of the Year. But since then? Nada.
“Cliche as it is, I was really hoping to just ride out the nominations and squeeze as much joy out of it as I could, but I just found out that we got the award,” Doug “Slgo” Roberts , said the KLOS assistant program director and music director during a separate phone interview.
Roberts said the recognition is even more endearing because the KLOS crew has worked hard to connect with audiences and play an eclectic rock playlist for Southern California listeners.
“I believe one of the reasons we have won Marconi is because of the work we have done during the pandemic,” Cunningham said. “We were committed to being live and local and in studio while taking all necessary precautions. We made calls, song requests and we supported first responders with food drops and through our ‘Heidi & Frank’ morning show, we created a website called Stay Open LA that supports small businesses open during the pandemic. was dedicated to supporting.
“We recognized that we had some responsibility – with us being a radio station and media outlet, we were given the designation of being essential workers – so we took it seriously and we wanted to support everyone, in any way we could. We could do it.”
With the blessings of station owners, Meruello Media, Cunningham and Roberts said they wanted to keep things fresh by bringing in people like former MTV DJ Matt Pinfield to host “New and Improved” and former KROQ (106.7 FM) on Sunday nights. were able to. Kevin Ryder (who was fired at the start of the pandemic) to co-host lunch with Roberts, co-host and NAB Radio Hall of Fame inductee Kevin Ryder (who was fired at the start of the pandemic).
The station has “The Heidi & Frank Show” from 6-10 a.m. on weekdays, although it let go of co-hosts Frosty Stillwell in 2020, followed by Marcie Weiser and Greg Beharrell. Also, Chris Carter hosts the popular “Breakfast with the Beatles” on Sundays from 9 a.m. to noon.
“It has been my vision to hire the best people we possibly can,” Cunningham said. “Right now, I think we have the best staff in all of rock radio.”
In recent years, the now 52-year-old station has taken a shift from playing rock and roll music to your parents (or grandparents). While it continued to play a healthy amount of classic rock, Roberts and Cunningham drew attention to emerging rock artists such as Dirty Honey and Rival Sons, and local bands such as Malibu’s Violet Saturn and Santa Ana’s Slaves to Humanity.
“We like to be grassroots with projects when they are just getting started,” Cunningham said. “We want to support them and see them grow and move on to bigger things.”
Cunningham isn’t sure how the station will celebrate its victory, but he sees some corks popping and champagne sprinkling in the near future. He said that his favorite part of his job is the people he gets to work with, which includes all the on-air talent and the behind-the-scenes staff who keep things running smoothly.
Roberts, who has worked on radio stations including KROQ and JACK (93.1 FM) for nearly 40 years, said he is only grateful that he is still paid to play loud music after all this time.
“I think the main reason I have to play loud music at work is because I should and I’m encouraged to play music so loud that it damages the speakers,” he said with a laugh. “I mean you don’t have to go to any office and do that. I love that music and the fact that I get to play stuff that I love, that I listen to at home and with I grew up, that’s why I love this job.”