How did the cops catch the bra thief? They set a booby trap.

 

 



14 Years Ago Today

“Help Me Rhonnnnnnda, Rhonnnnnnnnda, Rhonnnnnnnnnda” 

The Queen of Stops

(May 27, 2008) The alarm goes off at 4 a.m. in the upstairs bedroom of KFWB traffic guru Rhonda Kramer. She contemplates her own morning commute. No need to check traffic conditions because her commute is literally eight feet. She swings her legs out of bed, walks the eight feet to her desk, then turns on her two computers and other equipment. While waiting for everything to boot up, she heads downstairs for hot coffee, already percolated. She feeds her two cats before heading back upstairs. After dressing in comfy sweats, Rhonda sits at her console built in a large alcove adjoining her bedroom. Next she calls Metro Traffic headquarters while looking over the CHP scanners and monitors that cover the hundreds of miles of Southern California freeway system. “I like that hour to get it all together,” said Rhonda. At 5 a.m. Rhonda is poised at her microphone with headphones on, ready for her first KFWB traffic report at 5:01 a.m., and for the next four hours every 10 minutes on the ones.

Rhonda is one of the most decorated traffic reporters with a bookshelf filled with awards and Golden Mikes. She’s coming up on 30 years of providing that information with her calming voice preparing us for the daily commute.

In 1982, Rhonda started LA Traffic Network with her husband Kenny Green. She boasts that her service worked with all the big stations including KROQ. "We made the traffic cool for the station,” said Rhonda. “We always kept in mind the audience of the station when doing traffic. Our banter would reflect the listeners of a particular station.” The Real Don Steele introduced Rhonda's traffic report with "Help me Rhonnnnnda, Rhonnnnnnda, Rhonnnnnnnda." Rhonda loved starting her afternoon shift with such energy, recalling “he woke me up.” 

Nowadays, Rhonda works a back-breaking double shift covering both drive-time periods for KFWB. On this particular Thursday afternoon, Rhonda made the crossover with midday anchor Jennifer Burns at Metro. She cautioned Rhonda to watch out for scattered storm cells that were playing havoc with traffic. “She’s one of my favorite people in the whole world,” said Rhonda about Jennifer. “She’s awesome.” 

Between 5 a.m. and 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. and 7 p.m., Rhonda is in charge of what gets aired in the traffic world on the market’s oldest all-News radio station. “I control everything,” she said playfully, "but I couldn't do it without our airborne reporters. In my garage is an entire wall of phone circuits. I’m glad they trust me.”  

Not only is she in constant communication with Metro, she works with airborne reporters, Jeff Baugh and Tom Storey. She works with a seven-second delay. “If you were to listen to the radio and you called me, I would go on the air and they would hear me seven seconds later. I come back on the phone and they would say you’re still on the radio. So I’m listening seven seconds before it’s on the air.” (Photo: Shelf above Rhonda's work station showing partial display of traffic awards)

How did the split shift come about? “About three and a half years ago, Jane Monreal left Metro for KABC/Channel 7. Metro kept sending tapes to Andy Ludlum [KFWB pd] and he wasn’t happy with any of them. Her boss at Metro, Terry Edwards, came to me and wanted to know what it would take for me to do a split shift. I thought he was joking. For years I worked a split shift and when it finally ended I said never again. It seemed like forever.” 

Up to this point Rhonda was commuting from San Pedro to Metro headquarters in Culver City, where she worked from 4 a.m. to 10 a.m. Jokingly she said she would do the split shift if she could do it out of her house, thinking there was no way that would ever happen. “Be careful what you wish for because three weeks later Terry Edwards showed up at my door and said they were interested in putting a studio in my house. My first reaction was that it would be pretty cool and a good thing. And basically it has been. And I don’t have to worry about people stealing my food out of the Metro refrigerator,” she said half-jokingly. 

“It was an easy decision and I think a win for everyone,” commented Ludlum. “I get the market's number one, most experienced traffic anchor for both drive times – and she gets the advantages of working from a home studio.” 

Ludlum’s concern was making sure Rhonda had the same technological capabilities as any other traffic anchor. “She has that and more – direct interaction with the CHP, she can talk to all the airborne reporters, the traffic centers, she can see all the cameras, she can even talk back and forth with the KFWB anchors during breaks. It's not a little remote in a shoebox, it's a command center!” insisted Andy. 

And there are other benefits to working at home. With gas prices what they are, Rhonda saves big time on not only the commute hours each day, but on gas costs. “I have a year-old SUV and I think I have less than 5,000 miles on it. It’s great and fun.” 

Working out of the house creates cabin fever, so Rhonda takes off on the weekends to Vegas or other destinations. “Even if I have no place to go I’ll go to Disneyland to see my kid. I have an annual pass.” Her daughter, Erin, stars in the Aladdin production at Disneyland, which is a 45-minute presentation in a 2,000-seat auditorium. (You can see Erin in this YouTube clip: http://www.youtube.com/v/75tbOoAF5mg&hl=en"></param><param

Rhonda became one of those dedicated backstage mothers watching while her daughter pursued her acting dreams. A number of years back, Erin played Helen Keller at the Pasadena Playhouse. “She would drive Erin from San Pedro to Pasadena every evening. Erin’s rehearsals would go to midnight,” said Rhonda. “This is when I was only doing one traffic shift. I would wait in the lobby, read until she was done at midnight, drive home, stay awake until leaving for work at 4 a.m. and after my shift is when I would sleep. And then do it all over again every night for eight weeks. And this went on for years. It seemed like everything she auditioned for she would get it.” 

Rhonda was born and raised in New York, moving to Palos Verdes Estates for her last two years of high school. She started doing overnights at KFOX before moving to afternoon drive. She was soon offered the airborne traffic job at KHJ. When KHJ experimented with “Car Radio” they asked Rhonda to be a part of the new format. She recalled telling KHJ: “I am not in love with my car. Puh-leeze. I was not going to take a car down the altar.”  

Yet traffic reporting is what Rhonda does, and traffic reporting has been good to her – and she has indeed been good to commuters. She remembers when they did the traffic with 3x5 cards and a telephone. Rhonda hired CHP dispatchers to provide up-to-date traffic problems. (Rhonda with Dodger exec Tommy Lasorda)

“They would just say Northbound at Adams and they’d know if it was on the 110 or 710 by who was going there. It was the best investment we ever made. They were fun.” Today there are computers and the Internet to provide current information. 

Rhonda reflected on almost 30 years of traffic reporting. “It was so different back then. Now it’s so competitive with huge companies that bought out traffic companies. It has turned out to be a huge business.” 

Gas prices may have affected traffic patterns. “We have noticed that there are certain times of the day when the traffic hasn’t been as bad as it used to be. Certain things have lightened up unless there is a crash. People are finding other ways to get to work or to working out of their homes. They can’t afford to drive to work these days. I don’t know how people are doing it, even those who make decent money, much less people who don’t. It is just insane.” 

Anything Rhonda misses by working out of her home studio? “I do miss the interaction with the people. That I miss.” And she’s begging to get off at 6 p.m. “I’m having a hard time with that.” You can reach Rhonda at: RhondaKramer@aol.com  


For over 27 years, LARadio has tracked thousands of personalities
who have entertained us in the Southland from 1957-present.
These are snapshots of each on-air personality –
where they came from, where and when they worked in Southern California,
and where they are now.


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LARP update...

(May 25, 2022) The heartwarming story about single father Michael Crozier, prompted some questions. His daughter Amy turns 21 this year. "She’s been living on her own in the Southland since last year, going to school and trying to get to USC for music production while also teaching and performing in the Southland’s biggest KPOP choreography group," emailed Michael. "Of course, I’m going on my first full year as news anchor for the Tim Conway, Jr. Show, which just hit Number 1 in Los Angeles for evenings. I just got married last month in New Orleans by a Voodoo priestess!"


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Overheard in May 2008 

Overheard. 

  • “TV ratings down in baseball. We like homeruns. This is the first time in 15 years that baseball is powerless.” (Colin Cowherd, KSPN)

  • “Britney Spears is not horrible anymore. She’s definitely going in the right direction and soon it will be okay to think naughty thoughts again … I hope.” (Bean, KROQ)

  • “Burma has actually been turning away airplanes that are packed with food that happen to have reporters on them.” (Gary Hoffman, KFI)

  • “The next time you're at Ted Kennedy's place in Cape Cod try the Seizure Salad.” (Steve Dahl, Chicago)

  • “U.S. airlines are outsourcing a majority of their repair work on those airliners. Nothing more amazing than watching a 737 landing on the wheels of a ‘57 Chevy.” (Jim Carson, KRTH)

  • “43% of people who think it is somewhat important or very important overwhelmingly do not want judges to force same sex marriage and a redefinition of marriage.” (Michael Medved, KRLA)

  • “L.A.’s average price per gallon of gas regular unleaded is in three nineties. If you shop around, you can pay over four.” (Doc on the ROQ, KROQ)

For 25 years LARadio chronicled the news of Southern California radio and the personalities who populated it. Alan Oda was editor for much of that time. With the closing of LARadio he opened a weekly blog, mostly about radio at ayodaradio.blogspot.com After 25 years, LARadio came to an end in  2020.

Read the final column by clicking the curtain.


 

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