In Memory of our 40th President
Ronald Wilson Reagan
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This month I wanted to take time to thank some people who help me everyday. They do not know me, and they do not know how much their help means to me.
About 1975, a local radio and TV personality by the name of Bill Keene, a meteorologist by training, was asked to do traffic reports along with his weather reports.
1927 - 2000
Bill, who worked for radio station KNX and TV Station CBS in Los Angeles was very reluctant to take on this assignment.
Fortunately he was talked into it by the KNX manager, George Nicholaw. Every weekday and Saturday morning from 5:00 AM to 10:00 AM and every weekday afternoon from 3:00 PM to 7:00 PM, Bill would report on the traffic. Every ten minutes, "traffic and weather together with Bill Keene".
This was the start of the traffic reports that are so prevalent today. Bill was quite a punster and would punctuate his reports with things like "there is a ladder in the number 2 lane of the westbound 605. I guess that someone is trying to get a rung up in the world" or "there is a pickup catawankus to the world on the Harbor Freeway at Manchester".
He would make up names for the major problem areas of the local roads. "Malfunction Junction", "The El Toro Y", "The Orange Crush" all became recognizable places because of Bill's reporting.
As the traffic congestion grew worse in Los Angeles, the reports became more important. The knowledge as to why you were stuck took some of the anxiety out of the wait. It also gave you the ability to make plans to bypass the problem areas.
The reports became so popular that George Nickolaw expanded the reports first to 5:00 AM to 7:00 PM and then to the 24 hours that KNX is on the air. To help Bill, Donna Dower, and a California Highway Patrol officer, Jill Angel, took over time slots during the day.
To get timely reports about what was happening on the roads, Bill started his tipster program. KNX installed a phone in the traffic booth where drivers could call in and inform the traffic reporters of accidents, tie ups, and other traffic problems. This was an important step as the traffic reporters, unlike other on-air reporters, ad lib all their reports. The KNX traffic reporters do not have producers, writers and a support staff to help them.
Eventually airborne capabilities were added. The airborne reporters have their own set of problems. There is a lot of air traffic over the Los Angeles Basin. Besides the Hollywood sign, Los Angeles is famous for high speed chases (and even some very famous low speed chases). Of course every helicopter and light plane is going to be over those chases. I guess that they need traffic reports just to keep from bumping into each other.
Meghan Reyes is a local airborne reporter who reports from the air all morning, lands the plane, speeds over to the KNX studios and fills an afternoon slot in the traffic booth. I have nick-named her Super Meghan, the gal who crashes airplanes and dodges bullets in a single bound and acts like it is a normal everyday occurrence. She had a fire aboard her aircraft and reported upon it while her pilot made an emergency landing. That would have been the end of my flying days. Not Meghan. She went out and got her pilots license. Meghan's other shining example of her coolness under fire is that she was caught in the cross-fire of a shoot-out between the police and man in her apartment complex. For several hours, she hunkered down in her apartment and gave live reports of the unfolding events.
The ability of the contract reporters to work all hours and crazy shifts is another thing that I admire about the reporters. KNX has a 50,000 watt transmitter and can reach a broad area. I can always pick up KNX about 200 miles from L.A. and with the right weather conditions I have picked it up as far away as the Grand Canyon. Last night on my way back from Phoenix, Randy Keith was guiding me home with his reports. This morning, barely six hours later, Randy is back on the job guiding me on my way to the factory.
A good many of the reporters also do voice-over work. Tim Greenwood is one of them. Tim does some overnight shifts and the afternoon shift on Saturdays and Sundays. You can get a sample of some of his work on his website TimGreenwood.com. I assume that others have web sites, however Tim's is the only one I know about.
Another reporter with vast voice over work is Jim Thornton. Jim is the only current KNX traffic reporter who worked with Bill Keene. Jim has a degree in linguistics, and is so good with languages that he worked for a time at a Spanish language radio station doing his reports in Spanish. When calling him on the tipster line, one is never really sure who is answering as Jim can and does do so many inflections that he could be anyone from anywhere. Last week I was taken aback when a little girl answered the phone. Of course it was not a little girl. It was Jim.
Jim has carried on the legacy of Bill Keene and lightens up the stress of driving with puns, double entendres, and a such a vast knowledge of the Los Angeles area that he is the acknowledged dean of traffic reporters. Jim is so tied up in traffic that he is literally "tied up" Click here to see Jim's Traffic Tie Ups..
Jim, like Mehgan and all the rest of the reporters, is cool under fire. Jim works the weekday 5:00 AM to 10:00 AM shift. Not too long ago on his way to work, Jim hit a puddle of water during a major downpour. It was about 4:30 in the morning, dark, pouring rain, and of course difficult to see. The car hydroplaned and overturned. What was Jim's reaction? Call Chuck Rowe, the overnight traffic reporter and tell him that he might be a little late to work. But like the professional he is, he was reporting not only on the accident, but telling us about the puddles, why he lost control, where to expect puddling, which lanes were more susceptible to flooding, how to react to keep us from flipping our cars, and all of the other information necessary to keep us safe during the major storm that was hitting Los Angeles at the moment. I credit Jim with giving me the knowledge to make me a better and safer driver.
As a long time traffic tipster, I want to thank Christina Gregas who recently left KNX, Tim Greenwood, Donna Page, Larry Barajas, Meghan Reyes, Randy Keith, Tommy Jaxson, Tommy Rogers, Chuck Rowe, and of course Jim Thornton and all the other traffic reporters for making my life so much easier during the many hours I spend behind the wheel of my car.
For those of you in the Los Angeles area, listen in to these great reporters at KNX Newsradio, 1070 on the AM dial.
This month I would like to recommend the following web site. Architectural Antiques Exchange. Marvel at this bar and sideboard along with some beautiful doors and a variety of architectural pieces. I am sure that you will like them as much as I do.
We are offering our 505 model stool this month at a 10% discount. The normal price is $110.00 plus shipping making the web price $144.96. This month's price is $99.00 plus shipping making the price $133.96. For our newsletter readers, we shall take an additional 5% off, making the stool only $93.50 plus the shipping for a total of $128.46. This price is for you or anyone you recommend. To receive this special discount, the person ordering the stools would have to call the factory.
I hope that you have enjoyed this month's letter. I am always open to suggestions and would like to hear your ideas and comments.
Please feel free to contact me.
Until the next letter,
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