When Alan Michaels signed off yet again from his morning duties at oldies format 1450 AM, he sounded like a man working very hard to maintain his composure while attempting to explain to an older demographic how they can listen to the COOL format, now banished to HD 2, piggybacking its signal on the heels of MIA 97.1 FM.
Michaels closed with "Long and Winding Road" by The Beatles, and for one of Tucson's most noteworthy radio voices, a long and winding road indeed it has been.
Michaels was a focal point of the hits-of-the-'50s-and-'60s format when it enjoyed far greater popularity a quarter-century ago. Michaels transitioned with the format from its highwater days on AM 790 to its FM signal position on 92.9, and about a decade ago during the format's downturn on 1450 AM.
He was fired during Clear Channel's massive cutback swath two years ago, then rehired in a part time capacity to handle the morning show on 1450. He'll stay on as the format transitions again.
On one hand, this makes Clear Channel the first cluster in the market to put a live voice on an HD piggyback signal. On the other hand, few people actually seem to really care about the HD piggyback signals, created a few years ago as a terrestrial-radio effort to compete with satellite radio's increased variety of formats. But the care in those HD piggyback signals has been minimal, at best, basically utilized for small niche formats operated by little more than a computer program. If anything, phone-ap options have probably rendered the technology all but obsolete.
Yet in an apparent effort to reach a bizarre compromise, Clear Channel Tucson has bumped the station with the oldest demographic in its cluster to a location that requires some technological understanding.
The new station format: Funny 1450 AM. How funny is Funny 1450? Well, after The Beatles had winded their final road, the station flipped to six minutes ... yes, six minutes ... of canned laughter, a torturously unfunny laugh track that sounded like the worst of parody morning radio, or an Adam Sandler routine. (I'd say a bad Adam Sandler routine, but that would be redundant.)
Oh, and there was intermittent burping during the laughing introduction. Because burping is funny.
Funny 1450 is basically an automated stand-up comedy format. Perhaps Clear Channel will get the last laugh if the effort gains traction.
Efforts to reach Clear Channel Tucson for comment have been so far unsuccessful. Perhaps that will change by next week's Media Watch.