BY THOM LOONEY

Got my top down, and my talk radio turned up loud. You know, baseball ruins talk radio. I used to be a huge Tom Leykis fan, and I never listened to anything else in the afternoon. Then came Angel baseball, and I started listening to John and Ken. Now I listen to them all the time. KABC has never sounded younger and fresher, and Dodger baseball has come along to punish those of us who have been tasting KABC for the first time. It used to be a station for old people, and now it's not; so I listen a lot. Now here's baseball to nuke my enthusiasm. A lot of people who hated Phil Hendrie for replacing Mr. KFI will now have an opportunity to give him a chance.

One night Phil Hendrie was interviewing one of his "guests" -- an O.J. Simpson civil juror. Based on the nature of Phil Hendrie's show, it's impossible to describe what happened. Let me say, though, that it was almost as ingenious as Abbott and Costello's "Who's on First." I know that sounds like hyperbole, but it's really not. I almost crashed my car. (And I'm sure Mr. KABC fans pray that I will.) Hendrie's show is almost impossible to pull off, because every night he has to depend on first-time callers. Regular listeners are "in on the scam," so they never call. It's only first-time, knee-jerk suckers who call. Therefore, night after night, Hendrie has to use every clever bone in his body to get people who normally never call talk shows to phone in and express their outrage at the wacky opinions of his "guests." Most talk show hosts wake up, drink coffee or beer and flip a coin as to whether they'll talk about Clinton or cloning.

I have never received so much hate e-mail as I did two issues back when I complimented Phil Hendrie. (LooneyLA@aol.com) Hey, can't I like both Mr. KABC and Phil Hendrie? Mr. KABC is my main man; he's my homie. But it's not like we're in the same gang. Matter of fact, we're in rival gangs, but we still hang. (I'm "East Coast" and Mr. KABC is "Down with Snoop.")

I agree with him 35% of the time, but I want to know Dennis Prager. I called his show the other day, and he told me he wanted to know me! So, we're halfway there. I think the whole country should hear his show. I'll sell it; I'll produce it. I'll call the affiliates and strong-arm them. I already have the name for it: "Mr. Morality Pants." Half the time he's Joe Conservative, but he doesn't feel like he has to march in lockstep and lash liberals like the copious clan of confabulating conservative clones that command talk radio coast to coast. The Dennis Prager show also has a much hipper sound now that they've relinquished the satanic Beethoven bumper music, and replaced it with normal rock 'n' roll. When I wax with friends about moral issues, I use "Pragerisms" frequently, but I never give him any credit. My friends think I'm really smart now (suckers).

If 101.9 were so wonderful when it was alternative rock, people would have listened. A lot of people complain and say, "Why don't they poll the listeners before they get rid of personalities or change format?" The answer is simple: Why poll listeners when you don't have any listeners?

LOONEY BITS: Is "The Zone" supposed to be a cool name for a radio station? ... KABC's Art Bell's show is cool. There's no law about truth in radio, so people should get off his case... KFI's Scott and Casey actually have guests now and discuss issues instead of making fart noises. All I do is complain about those guys. I guess that means I listen a lot... KTZN's Doug McIntyre is another one of your more domesticated conservatives. He's grown on me... KTZN's Tracey and Robin have good guests in the morning... KABC's Peter Tilden is very funny... I have lived in Los Angeles for 11 years, and I have yet to listen to Mark and Brian... KRLA is really charming because it sounds so local... How come you never hear any Hare Krishnas with talk shows?

The opinions expressed above are Looney opinions, obviously, and not necessarily those of Radio Guide or Heaven's Gate, Peep, Bo Diddley or Diddley Squat.