Midway through the last year of the 70s. July 30, 1979. Smog is bad. Traffic is bad. Buses are never on time. Things just seem a little off – you can’t really describe it – can’t put a finger on it. 1979 isn’t shaping up to be what 1969 was; a lot happening – a roller-coaster of a year, ending a haywire decade. 1979 is different. It’s quickly heading in a direction, you just don’t know which direction it is.
One thing you know for sure, gas isn’t going down in price and Dick Whittinghill, the guy you’ve been faithfully listening to on KMPC since 1958 is leaving, and this is his last week on the air. He’s playing songs you grew up with, and maybe it’s got you thinking. Thinking that things just aren’t the same anymore and that life changes when you aren’t looking. This must be what they mean by getting nostalgic – thinking about the past and how, one day you wake up and it’s all different, you got older, grayer, a little more near-sighted and your Chevy Impala doesn’t go nearly as far as it used to on a dollars worth of gas – and you’re trying really hard to picture yourself driving a 1979 Datsun.
It isn’t working.
By 1979 the writing was on the wall for AM radio – it had been the bastion of pop culture for decades before giving way to FM. And even though KMPC’s audience tended to be older than the audience listening to KRLA and KFWB at the time, it was still considered one of the most popular radio stations in the country. But times and tastes had changed, and the music format was slowly giving way to more news and talk and Personality Radio was rapidly on its way to becoming a thing of the past.
So in July of 1979, it was announced that one of the early KMPC personalities, Dick Whittinghill, would be leaving his regular show, and this broadcast from July 30, 1979 would be his last week on the air. But even at that, you can hear that the station was in a big hurry to change things, and even Whittinghill’s last week was buried in a sea of commercials and news reports.
When the decade began, FM radio was still considered ‘underground’ – by the end of the decade it had taken over where AM radio was leaving off and AM radio was becoming the relic of a bygone age.
Here is a 45 minute snapshot of that morning on July 30, 1979.