When we heard that LA’s favorite smooth jam radio show, the Art Laboe Connection, was taken off the air just before Valentine’s Day as part of a programming change on Hot 92.3, it was a punch to the gut. Laboe had been on Los Angeles’ airwaves for more than 60 years, with this show for 23, and will be missed. And now, instead, we get another standard, modern hip-hop and R&B station. It stinks.
We asked our friend Kyle Mooney — who first introduced us to the program nearly a decade ago — to weigh in on this crummy news.
I was probably in 8th grade when I first heard Art Laboe’s show. That was the late-’90s and his dedication show, the Art Laboe Connection, aired Sunday nights on our local San Diego old school station, Magic 92.5.
At first listen, the most striking part was his voice and how he’d interact with his audience: Art was this old, square-sounding white dude, talking to a predominantly younger, Latino audience. It wouldn’t really seem to make sense in any other context, but it was clear the listeners had as much love for Art as he did for them.
When I would describe the show to people who’d never heard it, I’d prep them by doing my best vato accent, and launch into what was my favorite type of phone dedication I tended to hear:
Hey, whattup Art. This is Lil Poko. And I wanna dedicate the song ‘Angel Baby’ to my girl Rosa, cuz she’s my "angel baby”.
Those very logical and literal dedications were the best — “angel baby” for someone who’s an angel baby. Makes sense. Plus, Lil Poko sounded like a really sweet guy.
Dedications could also get super real. Girls or guys would call in dedicating a song in an “I’m sorry” kinda way, because they did something to ruin their relationship. The callers were often vague, but we all knew they slept with someone else — Art would console them and remain positive, explaining that things would somehow work out.
Other callers really missed someone special. I later found out that the reason many of these people were missed was because they were incarcerated.
But while the listeners’ stories kept me entertained, the most exciting part of the show for me was the music.
San Diego was pretty set with Operation Ivy and Less Than Jake CDs, so being exposed to stuff like The Floaters or the Chi-Lites was refreshing. It also gave me street cred with my friend Shawn’s dad who listened to the same stuff. And he was in the army.
Having Art around when I moved to Los Angeles after high school made my life more comfortable. LA is a car city and his show played every night, so I had an even better chance of hearing him. I’d often play his show for girls I liked, always with this fantasy of dedicating a song to one of them, and providing an unforgettably sweet romantic moment. But logistically, it made me very anxious, so I never did. (Do I make the call in front of them? How do I time this? Is there a delay? What song do I dedicate? Would this be coming on too strong? Do you still like me? etc.)
I moved to New York, and stopped listening to music and got more into lifting/snowboard stuff... but when I heard that Art’s show — along with Hot 92.3’s old school programming — was being stolen from the Los Angeles airwaves, I got bummed. Art is a legend, and I know so many people who consider him an important part of their lives, just as I do. I'm optimistic about the future though — his show still plays throughout the state and streams on the Internet, so it’s not a total loss. Plus, I bet lots of $$$ that they’ll figure something out to bring him back.
In the meantime, I want to dedicate “It’s Gonna Take a Miracle” to you, Art, because “it’s gonna take a miracle” for me to find a show as special as yours :)