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If you grew up in Los Angeles, or have been here since the 1970s, no doubt the name Dick Whittinghill should ring a few bells with you. During a time when personalities ruled the airwaves, Whittinghill was one of its cornerstones when KMPC was known as “The Station of the Stars”. With its format generally unchanged since 1949, by 1979 KMPC was in danger of being out of touch and out of support. Not a top-40 station. but rather a station that focused on personalities and a wide range of middle-of-the-road music that held considerable appeal to an older audience, many of whom were loyal listeners since it got started.
But like everything – it either sticks around until its fashionable again or it fades into the sunset, usually not with fanfare but a quiet exit. So when KMPC decided to change formats to primarily talk, music was eased out of the picture. Many of the personalities who were with the station held on, but it became more difficult to pretend it was still 1959. Dick Whittinghill was one of the last to go before News and Sports stepped in and changed the landscape forever.
So when Dick Whittinghill decided it was time to go, his last week on the air was devoted to nostalgia for the station as it was, not what it was becoming. This last 30 or so minutes gives some idea of what Personality Radio in the hands of Dick Whittinghill was like. The humor is archaic and jammed with double-entendres, the delivery is low-key, a style which instantly set it apart from top-40 counterparts at the time, but a style that was very popular with what was considered an older demographic.
Whittinghill died in 2001 and KMPC no longer exists – having undergone a wide variety of changes (and languages) over the years. Radio is not the same as it once was. But then, technology made it that way and formats have become narrower, allowing nothing in the way of deviating from the norm to happen.
However you view this slice of popular culture, as either nostalgic or cringeworthy, it’s important to know that it existed alongside other stations and other formats and was allowed to do its thing pretty much unencumbered by focus groups or heavily invested corporations. It was just in the business of making people feel good.
Have a listen.