Yesterday there was power outage on the Westside of Los Angeles. It happened around ten thirty Saturday morning and lasted for two hours. Without television or the Internet, the most useful tool to get information is a battery-powered radio. (Every Californian knows that when the ground shakes, you turn on the radio to find the epicenter, magnitude and get some reassuring words.)
Saturday morning in Los Angeles there was a news blackout going on. No information whatsoever. KFWB, which used to be all news-all-the-time, recently switched its format to an original, out-of-the-box concept; conservative talk. Their weekday schedule includes Dr. Laura and Laura Ingram. At the time of the blackout they were airing "House Calls Radio With Barry Tikotin and Jay McBee" a two-hour show dedicated to helping listeners upgrade to a bigger home and invest in real estate. No word on the blackout.
KNX Newsradio, our only "all news" outlet was not airing any news either. If it's Saturday, it's time for "Food News with Melinda Lee." The show airs on Saturdays and Sundays from 10AM to 1PM. Los Angeles is without a radio news show for most of the weekend.
While this was just a small inconvenience for the people who lost their power, what if this had been something bigger? What would it take to give full and up-to-date information in case of an emergency? KFWB is a lost cause. They're basically out of the news business (except for a 6 to 9AM slot on weekdays.) KNX is just irresponsible. Now that it is the only news outlet in the market, it is their duty to keep Southlanders informed 24-7, not spending the weekend airing infomercials and dedicating six hours for tips about picking a ripe tomato.
KNX and KFWB are both owned by CBS Radio, which in turn, is owned by Viacom. Naturally it was a cost cutting decision, with no regard for the public, severely limiting our access to important information in the case of an emergency. There are hundreds of small markets in the US that have no original local programming. If something terrible should happen in their town, the residents have no way of knowing what to do or where to seek shelter. Now, thanks to Viacom's complete disregard for public responsibility and their relentless pursuit of the almighty dollar, the same can be said for Los Angeles.