The last banner at Country 93.9 KZLA.com, before the format flip
On August 1st, Katie, Jen, Sharkie, and I were fortunate to be able to visit the studios of KZLA, in Burbank, and meet Vicki Pepper (for the first time), Shawn Parr, and Whitney Allen. Here are some cool pics of our visit which was a wonderful way to start off our 3-concert Carrie-palooza road trip.
Excerpts from my Carrie-palooza review, day 1...
After making our way past NBC Burbank, where we had seen Carrie on The Tonight Show, 9 months earlier, we arrived at the KZLA studios. We said hello to the receptionist and after a short wait, we were greeted by the effervescent and very pretty, Vicki Pepper. She's the Programming Assistant and is someone I've been in contact with for several months, but had not yet met. What a delight! After our introductions, she escorted us into the non-public areas and we saw a lot of cool studios where a couple of producers were working on mixing stuff, and then out pops Shawn Parr! He's the mid-day personality and also hosts the 8 o'clock block and is host of the Top 20 Countdown on Sunday mornings. We all took pictures, but I'll leave the pictures of Sharkie and Katie to tell the story better than my little camera can.
Katie, Shawn, Jen, Me, Vicki
We bid farewell to Shawn and got to take a peek into the office of Peter Tilden, the host of the morning show, which Ashley Paige co-hosts with him.
Peter and Ashley
We got to take a peek into the back-up studio which we heard was used recently. There's always a little something like a snafu when you least expect it, huh? We passed by many, many records and awards on the walls. Very impressive! We happened to get there just when Whitney Allen was starting her show and, tada, this was the place. The main studio and Whitney was standing and doing her announcing. I was surprised that many DJs stand while broadcasting. Hmmm. Something about energy and projecting the voice. Very interesting! For those of you who don't know who Whitney is, she's just the evening drive DJ for "America's Most Listened To Country Station." Plus she hosts a couple of syndicated shows: The Big Time Saturday Night and America's Hot List. Plus, she's just a darn nice person.
Vicki, Jen, Me, Whitney, Katie
Whitney came out from the studio to say hello and we got to take some pictures with her. We spoke with Vicki some more while Whitney went back in the studio and then Whitney came out to show us her tattoo.
Whit and Sharkie
Whit had to get back to work so Vicki took us in search of more tour goodies. I asked Vicki about syndication and we spoke ever-so-briefly about companies such as Westwood One.
One of many awards lining the halls of KZLA, this one from SHeDaisy
Everyone was so nice and Vicki even gave us all KZLA caps and cup cozies. We said our goodbyes and I know I'm not the only one who felt very fortunate to be able to see the inner workings of our favorite radio station. It looks like a really fun place to work. We decided to act like tourists in our own backyard as we all mugged for the camera in front of the KZLA logo in front of the building. What a wonderful day to start off our Carrie-palooza road trip!
As we now know, a mere 16 days later, Emmis Communications would flip the format from country music (KZLA's format for 26 years) to "Rhythmic AC" and would go by the name of "Movin' 93.9." This would turn out to be our first and last visit to our friends at Country 93.9 KZLA. So, it is somewhat bittersweet for me to present this here. But, it was a wonderful year for me. If I had not tuned in to American Idol for the first time last year, I would have never met Carrie. If I had never met Carrie, I would, most likely, never have become a huge fan of country music. So, to have been able to meet such wonderful people at KZLA is really something for which I'm truly blessed. They were and are the nicest people. Vicki and Kevin (the station's webmaster) appear to be the only employees who have been retained for the new operation.
Many of us listeners in Los Angeles are deeply saddened for this loss to our airwaves and are working hard via a petition and letter-writing campaign to help shed light on the urgent need for country radio in our major cities, in this case Los Angeles. Artists, fans, record labels, and radio all benefit from this wonderful art form: country music. Sure, there are some reasonable alternatives if one is only looking for the music itself. But, what KZLA and it's on-air personalities brought to all of us is a local community and a family through which we shared our love of country music. This is something we want to recapture and country radio is a wonderful addition to our lives. I understand the ACM and the CMA are working diligently through their board members to find a solution to this void, so this is also something that is a positive note.
To Peter Tilden, Ashley Paige, Shawn Parr, Whitney Allen, Brian Douglas, Blair Garner, Buzz Brainard, Paul Freeman, Larry Santiago, Justin Michaels, Vicki Pepper, Tonya Campos, RJ Curtis, and anyone at Country KZLA who I may have left out, a huge thank you so much for giving all of us so much listening pleasure. We miss you!
Whitney Allen can still be heard on numerous stations on her awesome show The Big Time Saturday Night and America's Hot List. Blair Garner is also going strong with his After Midnite show, now in it's 13th year. I understand Peter Tilden is looking into syndicating his show called "Hollyville." We're still looking forward to many years of listening to these fantastic on-air personalities. This isn't the end, it's just the beginning! Feel free to sign our petition here and visit Country Boards.com and Country Fanlink.org to stay up-to-date on our blossoming projects to help bring back Country in the City. To our friends at KZLA, we'll be right here ready to celebrate the return of country radio in L.A! More pics at CarrieFORUMS.