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Thursday, January 20, 2005

L.A. Updates

:: We wrote here back in August that Clear Channel -- yes, the Conservative-leaning radio behemoth -- was mulling bringing the Air America progressive talk format back to Los Angeles, on the 1150 AM frequency.

Well, it took a little longer than expected, but it's finally happening. has a shot of the promotional billboard, and the details:

Clear Channel/LA will make it official today when it announces that the liberal progressive talk radio network will debut at KXTA (1150 AM) on February 3. Al Franken, the anchor for the Air America format heard in 48 markets, will go up against Rush Limbaugh at KFI and Bill O'Reilly at KABC. Ed Shultz is set for noon to 3 p.m. Randi Rhodes in afternoons and Janeane Garofalo early evenings. The new programming will certainly provide an alternative for those who complain that L.A. talk radio airs nothing but conservative talk.

Move was finally ready now that Clear Channel has moved its XTRA sports programming off XTRA/690 and KXTA/1150 AM and on to KLAC/570 AM. As already reported, 690 AM is taking over the KLAC adult standards format.

As you may remember, Air America briefly aired here when it launched last April. But a financial dispute quickly yanked it off KBLA/1580 AM, which went back to Spanish-language news and talk. Air America was quickly dismissed as a failure -- but then a funny thing happened. Fueled partly by the contentious presidential campaign, progressive talk stations in New York, San Diego, Portland and elsewhere started pulling some pretty strong numbers. And in a strange twist of fate, Clear Channel -- frequently criticized for the actions of its right-wing talk stations -- has started rolling out left-leaning talk outlets around the company.

(It reminds you of the No. 1 rule in the media: As much as people like to believe they're biased one way or another politically, money ultimately trumps political leanings. And as the nation's largest radio company, Clear Channel has enough stations to make some $$ off angry liberals.)

:: Almost two weeks after the heavy rains finally died down, traffic's still a bitch around the region. As the L.A. Times reports, The rain may have stopped, but frustrated Southern California motorists are still dealing with the aftermath of rockslides, sinkholes and road repairs that have choked and stalled traffic from Ojai to Big Bear.

:: No bubble burst yet. The Daily News reports that home prices again hit record levels this December in both Los Angeles County and Southern California -- even though sales have indeed softened:

The median home price over the six-county region from Ventura to San Diego jumped by 20 percent or more annually every month last year, said La Jolla-based DataQuick Information Systems. That ran counter to predictions a year ago that the robust appreciation rates would have cooled significantly by now.

Last month the median-priced home in Southern California cost $424,000, up an annual 22.5 percent, the company said. The median price is the point at which half the units sold for more and half for less.

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