LOS ANGELES -- The fat lady hasn't sung yet.
Radio station KGIL (1260/1650 AM) is still playing show tunes, albeit on a much-reduced schedule.
After having announced recently that it was abandoning its all-show-music policy, the station received so many irate calls and letters from listeners that it backed off from switching over completely to a syndicated "Music of Your Life" format, which features soft standards with no connection to theatre or movie music.
Theatre music fans should not despair, said KGIL president Saul Levine. "We want to keep show tunes on the air, so we're finding the best times for them."
Thus far, that means show tunes are still on KGIL 7-9 AM and 6-9 PM each weekday, plus 4-6 PM Sat. and 3-6 PM Sun. under the guidance of new music director Chuck Southcott. The emphasis on show tunes in the early evenings, when people go to the theatre, makes their broadcast "more of a theatrical event," said Levine. "But you don't go to the theatre between breakfast and lunch."
The station had already lost its two top female deejays, Florence Henderson and Stephanie Edwards, before the format change, Levine said. Edwards left to do a daytime TV show and actress Henderson exited for eight weeks of concerts and personal appearances.
The main issue with the show-tune format was "that we had been on since July and we had yet to show up in the quarter-hour shares" -- ratings that measure how many people are listening for at least 15 minutes at a time, said Levine. "It's like a show closing -- if people don't buy tickets, you can't keep going.
"We know we have a loyal audience" of theatre-music fans, Levine said, but callers who said they would never listen to the station at all, as long as it isn't totally devoted to show tunes, "are not helpful."
The format switch has not affected KGIL's daily 8:55 AM broadcast about availability of half- price theatre tickets at Theatre L.A.'s Times Tix booth in the Beverly Center.
-- By Willard Manus
Southern California Correspondent