It’s the end of an era for Los Angeles-based news channel KNX.
Longtime morning presenter Dick Helton is hanging up his mic after 24 years on Audacy’s own station, which airs on 97.1 FM and 1070 AM. On Monday, the outlet will introduce a new program, “LA’s Morning News,” with a trio of hosts.
The new team includes Mike Simpson, who has served as the station’s afternoon anchor since 2015, and Jennifer York, a veteran traffic reporter. They will be joined by Vicky Moore, Helton’s co-host since 2004 and a fixture on Southern California radio since 1991.
“Mike, Vicky and Jen are the perfect team to build on the legacy of integrity, credibility and humanity in our amazing experience together – the LA morning commute,” said Jeff Federman, regional president of Audacy Southern California, in a statement. “We would also like to express our gratitude to Dick as his decades of service to our communities is unrivaled.”
The departure of Helton, 80, is the latest step at KNX to meet the challenges of a changing media landscape that includes satellite radio and podcasts. Last year, the 101-year-old station began simulcasting on the FM band to be more accessible to younger listeners, who are a growing spoken word audience. The station is also available worldwide on the Audacy app.
According to Nielsen, KNX garnered a 3.5 share of radio viewership in Los Angeles in September, ranked seventh in the market and reached 1 million listeners weekly. It is the second most listened to news channel on the market after KFI.
Helton, who was also KNX’s chief political correspondent, had his last broadcast on Friday. Throughout the morning he received tributes from the state and local officials he was reporting on, colleagues on the show and longtime listeners who could count on his quiet, soothing baritone voice to start their day.
Helton was behind the mic for 53 years and worked at the Chicago news agency WBBM before joining KNX in 1998. Both stations are owned by Audacy and previously CBS, making Helton that rare radio veteran to have worked for the same company throughout his career.
A native of southern Illinois, Helton came to Los Angeles in 1997 to be with his wife Carol Ramos, who competed against him while she was working mornings at KABC. They met while working at WBBM and married in 1995. Ramos is now the Hollywood correspondent for Radio New Zealand.
“I can’t imagine doing anything else with my life,” Helton told listeners ahead of his final sign-off on Friday, making his on-air cohorts weep. “One of my colleagues at WBBM used to end his show by saying, ‘May all the news in your life be good.’ I wish that for each of you.”
As Helton shared his career highlights on Friday’s show, he recalled working the night shift at WBBM in 1970 when news of the Beatles’ split broke. Helton called Apple Records in London to report the story. The receptionist put him through to George Harrison, who informed him.
As a political correspondent, Helton took an old-school approach, asking pointed questions on issues regardless of their party or beliefs.
“If you end your day and people on both sides of the political aisle are mad at you, you’ve done your job,” Helton told listeners.
https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/business/story/2022-10-14/new-morning-team-joining-knx-radio-as-dick-helton-retires KNX Newsradio morning anchor Dick Helton signs off