LARP: What radio station had (has) the total sound
that impressed you the most? And why?
Steve Angel (voicemale.net): KSFO in San Francisco when Don Sherwood and Jack Carney were the djs, and Al Newman was the pd. Late 1960s and early '70s. Sherwood was "Peck's Bad Boy" and led off the morning with such charm, the whole city fell in love with him. Newman created the "Sound of The City" jingles, (anthems, really) and a number of great on the air and off-the-air promotions. Most notably, the "KSFO Loves You" valentines, and the series, "What does KSFO really mean? What do the letters stand for?" They called themselves "the world's greatest radio station" and to my mind that was true.
I was the afternoon drive guy and pd at KOLO in Reno at that time and we tried to make our station sound as close to KSFO as possible. One day a traveler from San Francisco-to-Reno came by who wanted to know if we were sister stations. He had been listening all the way from Sacramento on. That was our greatest compliment. I joined Golden West Broadcasters at their station in Portland, KEX, I was familiar with their power-house station in Seattle, KVI, and later I went to KMPC, but still, nothing touched KSFO in its heyday.
Dave Anthony (ex-KODJ): Early 1970s stations like KRIZ in Phoenix, WABC-New York, KHJ, KCBQ-San Diego, and WLS-Chicago all played major roles in spotlighting music as the product. Formatics evolved to shotgun jingles and truly dramatic promos that generated sheer excitement. Forward momentum was an excellent way of generating added TSL. As a programmer in the 90s, I would frequently dip back 20 years for inspiration. Almost always, I found it.
Dwight Arnold: 91X in San Diego in the 1980s. PD Max Tolkoff combined an artist driven alternative format, (when there were no alternative charts to follow), with lifestyle events and promotions that absolutely captured what was cool about San Diego, and was the kind of station the market wanted demanded. Max made 91X a truly legendary radio station.
Dan Avey (KABC): KXLY in Spokane, early 60s. Danny Morrow in the morning, Chuck Roast middays, Robin Sherwood afternoons, the early evening the Night Creature, The Late Tom Connors 9 - midnight, and PJ Nightie, midnight to 5.
Bruce Barker (production, Salem/Los Angeles): 1) Best-Sounding Station: I'm diggin' the numbers of LARP we're seeing voting for AM music stations as best-sounding. Good ol' AM: you could (and still can!) smash and squeeze so much excitement into that tiny frequency range. And I'm with 'em, going with the early-80s then-CHR KFI. Lohman & Barkley. 'Nuff said.
Jeff Baugh: Starting back in New York, WBLS with Frankie Crocker. First, Frankie was smart. We're talking early seventies and Frankie would hit a lot of the hot clubs at night. If he saw a record light up the room and the crowd, he'd come flying towards the booth. It was kinda' funny because we all got use to it and by the time he fought thru the dance floor crowd and got to the booth, we'd be holding a copy of it up for him to see. Most times it would be a plain label test pressing with a title scribbled on it by the promo team. Anyway, next day, you heard it on WBLS. The "Sound" of "BLS" was fantastic because Frankie was really plugged in to the city. The signal was so sweet and strong (decent car stereos were just starting to sell and WBLS had one of the first stereo signals) the station just sounded...HOT. Talent, program, and signal. Perfect!!
Jeff Wyatt in Los Angeles around the mid-eighties, did EXACTLY the same thing for KPWR. It's how I met Jeff who is another sharp cookie! (What label is that? Where did you get that? How long have you been playing that? Do they always scream like that? He used to crack me up!) What you heard in your fave club the night before, you'd hear on "Power 106" on your way to work the next morning. Again the sound was tight and oh, so strong. Talent, program and signal!
For me of late, there is nothing more soothing or enticing (if you're on your way to pick up your date) as "The Wave." J.J. Jackson, I love you man but Don Burns, I miss you a lot.:) KTWV has an unmistakable sound. So clear and easy to listen to.
Steve Behm: For me it was, and will always be, The Voice of Labor - WCFL in Chicago! I used to DX at night and when I found WCFL, I usually left it on that dial position for hours. I recall one of the jocks reading a poem he had written with Procol Harem’s Repent Walpurgis (their only instrumental) playing in the background. It was magic. Too bad the sales people who run radio today would never allow such a thing to happen. A very large honorable mention to Y-100 in Miami/Ft. Lauderdale, a station that kept the excitement going ALL the time.
Chuck Benedict: 1- The old KFAC, when it was the big local classical music station. It was always true to its format,. and there never was a recorded commercial to ruin the image of sound. It was the most true to its image station in L.A. radio history.
2 - The old KMPC. on Sunset Blvd, later, moving to Sunset and Bronson. Like WJR in Detroit, it was one of the last stations to have a versatile format, and it did everything - sports to news to deejays, at a top quality level.
3 - The old KLAC on Wilshire Blvd. Maybe its because of the fact that I was there as sports director and a talk show host, but when we took advantage of Joe Pyne's presence and became the first station in the nation to go talk for 24 hours, we had a truly family -like approach to this new phenomenon. Joe Pyne, myself, Joel A. Spivak, Tom Duggan, Gil Henry, Ray Briem, Lohman & Barkley, Mr. Anthony, Roy Elwell, Mort Sahl, Dean Sander, Charlie Arlington, Chick Hearn, Arbogast and Margolis, Charlie Edwards, Bill Travis, Paul Harber, Sam Benson, Dick Enberg - all of us who were on the air were like a big family, and we promoted each other back and forth on the air and had a ball. The fans must have sensed the fun because we were number one in the ratings for quite awhile.
4 - KNX. Lately, it has been using some poor readers, but the station has been true to its format and conscientiously newsworthy for years. It had great local sports coverage in the days before format sports was in vogue.
Ed Berger (Fullerton College/AirWatch America): With all due respect to the legendary KHJ of the mid to late 1960s, has there ever been a station that melded a musical format and personalities better than KMPC of the early-to-mid 70s? That station was THE classic example of an animal we'll never see again - the full service AM station. They played for what would pass today as a completely crazy cross-section of music, from adult standards to up-tempo adult contemporary. The personalities were incredible - the legendary Dick Whittinghill in the morning, Wink Martindale with his celebrity profiles and interviews, and the completely insane Gary Owens, who could turn a simple stop set into a giggle-fest. Other hosts with an incredible knowledge of music, ad-lib ability, and timing came and went while the station was at its high point. In-depth newscasts from an award-winning team, pioneering traffic reporters, and even the Angels and Rams to boot. An outstanding station that you could never mistake for anything else but KMPC - truly, a distinctive sound.
Chuck Blore: KFWB, 1958 - 1964. I'm much too modest to answer the 'Why?' part of your question.
Jack Boxer (Westwood One Radio Network): In retrospect, the old KMPC of the 60s and 70s was far and away the most impressive. The amount of preparation, creativity and talent in every daypart was incredible. Other stations had their stars, but no other station had a legitimate star in every shift, not to mention the pioneering work they did in news and traffic coverage. Today's listener, raised on today's programming, would not know what to do with that kind of full service radio.
Bradley (KYSR): KOME - San Jose/San Francisco - from 1994 until it sold. The station had Howard Stern in the morning and was one of the only stations to mesh Stern with Alternative and make it work. I did middays. Carson Daly did afternoons. DJ w/No Name (now mornings on Alice in S.F.) did nights followed by Loveline. Jim Pratt did the imaging. Even Howard Stern said it was the best station he has ever heard!
Wayne Bradley (WLGX "Smooth Jazz 106.7" Wilmington, North Carolina): I grew up in Boston in the sixties and the AOR format was just beginning to grow. In my opinion WBCN in the late sixties through the 70s was simply "magic."
Boyd R. Britton (Doc on the ROQ): WNEW in New York, 1960s version, tied with early 1970s KSFO, San Francisco. They were just so goddam good. (Whatever happened to MOR?)
Honorable mentions back then for WMCA-New York and WICE-Providence, RI. The latter had the most tricked-up bells and whistles news format ever, all energy. Of the stations I worked at, 70s KCBQ and, of course, KROQ.
Oscar Brooks: The station that had the total sound that impressed me the most was KKGO, the jazz station. It had the music and the personalities that worked well together. I hated to see it vanish from the airwaves.
Brother Bill: 102.7 KIIS/fm had the total sound and impressed me the most because of the music, the breaks, the jingles, and the overall format. The management, promotions, sales staff, operators, phone ops, and producers. One big family. This radio station had the best morning show team (still the best morning show) and radio personalities. We were all stars at a station that was written and talked about all over the country. And I still don't know of any station that plays the "hits" that has ever netted a ten share in L.A. I have a gold ten pin. And then there are the copycats who wanted to be as much like KIIS as they could copy, i.e., a vast number of people on the morning shows yapping with not a lot to say, just in L.A. alone.
And it gets worse as you travel east. Drop-ins galore, and using any excuse to put a caller on air, mostly without merit. Check out the number of stations around the country that changed their station handle to KIIS etc. all of our guys/girls were well planned and thought out before we went on the air to deliver our daily shows. We were giving away big money/exotic cars/prizes, helping out worthwhile causes, promoting music talent in L.A. and turning out thousands at events. Rick Dees is still funnier, and has the best morning team, without being down right vulgar like some of these morning shows. He has class and he's a class act. And finally, no one has impressed me more than Gerry DeFrancesco as a pd. He was always available, always returned calls, always helpful and never afraid to try something new. Jerry was interested in how you were doing, if you had any questions, how’s the family, and I've NEVER heard him yell at anyone. Many pds could learn from him.
Mark the Shark Brower: I remember back in the late 80s as a kid, I would listen constantly to “Power 106.” At that time they had the best djs and the best total sound. Everything mixed in perfectly from the dance music at the time to the constant giveaways. I got to know Jay Thomas, Mucho Morales, Joe Servantes, and the rest of the jocks very well because I would always win prizes and make requests on the radio. It was a lot of fun back then for a 13-year-old kid.
Larry Bruce: WLS-Chicago 65-68
Buck Buchanan: Since 1966, I have worked the country, from KBLA, to KDWB in Minneapolis, the KDKA in Pittsburgh, the ABC talk, but my favorite radio station was KRTH AM-930. Our library was as tight as any Top 40 station I ever worked. The library was compiled from years and years of research of this market, Los Angeles. The contests were all local in origin, the events tailored to our demographic. We remained the number one oldies AM in the market as a result. Phil Hall is the best of the best. He is a dear friend and one of the top programmers of the past three decades. My afternoon show was a joy, as I knew what was being played was right on target. He also allowed us to "do our act." That is why he hired us, to compliment the music and the market.
Dave Burns (KMLT): CKLW in Windsor, Ontario (Detroit market) in the late 60's and early 70s. Big sound could be heard all the way down into Ohio. 20/20 News with Byron MacGregor... the sun never sets on the Shannon Empire (Scott Shannon). If you lived in or around Detroit and wanted to hear the latest, hottest or greatest you had to listen to the big sound of CKLW AM800. Honorable mention the WKNR (Keener)
Mike Butts: KCBQ-San Diego and KDWB-Minneapolis. Both for the same reasons. KCBQ and KDWB both had a great technical sound, the energetic Top 40 vibe that you can feel either sitting in the big chair with the phones on, or driving down the road with the speakers turned up.
At KCBQ I had great teammates. I did mornings. Others were Bill Moffitt, “Shotgun Tom” Kelly and Rich "Brother" Robbin. It was created out of the twisted mind of Buzz Bennett. The music was phenomenal. The Southern California energy was superb. I’ve said it many times, when you pushed a button on the Q board and one of those shotgun jingles fired off, you’d better hold on for dear life and match the energy or you'd fall off.
In a different way KDWB was a super fine station. Again, I had great teammates. John Sebastian was our program director, Gary Stevens, one of THE BEST gm's ever (he came out of programming folks), True Don Bleu did afternoons and Bob Lange was the all night guy. He was a market fixture. And the feeling of being the #1 CHR out of 5 – yes, 5 in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul was unbelievable!!
We were always promotionally RIGHT THERE. Huge $$$giveaways, The KDWB Phantom Booby-Traps, $10,000 stickers and we did it the right way, actively visible stopping the winner live on the air. Of course at KDWB that frost bite kept kicking my ass but hey.....
Mike Callaghan: I think the greatest station ever was the freeform sound of KPPC in the early 70s, totally diverse, with an air staff that knew the music inside and out. Steve Dahl, who came to work for the 'PP while at La Canada High, was there. Each staffer assembled his own show. Bill Slater had three ring binders full of categorized music, and could do a set about being in jail that ran for hours. The Credibility Gap for news. Eliot Mintz calling Timothy Leary (in exile) on Sunday nights. Before the station went full power and eventually became KROQ, we were literally in the basement of a church. The programming and air sound presented a freedom that will never happen again. I started in radio there, and became the C.E. two months after I started.
Lee Cameron: I'm an East Coast boy, and most of my radio geek friends were in love with “Z100”-New York, which was a great station. I was all over “Kiss 108”-Boston in the early 80s when the late Sunny Joe White had that station humming on all cylinders (so to speak). Matty in the Morning, Dale Dorman (both already Boston legends), and of course JoJo "Cookin'" Kincaid! It's great to hear JoJo out here now! “Kiss 108” was one of the early post-disco rhythmic CHR's and was really the sound of Boston in the early 80s. Great promotions, too!
Gary Campbell: I will give you two...one from my childhood, and one from my adulthood. First KFWB of the late 50s-early 60s. The reason I got turned on to radio. The consummate Top Forty station with great music, jingles, promotions and personalities like Elliot Field, Joe Yocam, Ted Quillin, B. Mitchel Reed,
Bill Ballance, Bruce Hayes, and Gene Weed.
In the 70s it was KNX/fm. A brilliant use of automation under the direction of Steve Marshall, Michael Sheehy and others, great information features like the Galaxy File, and a perfect mix of what would now be called AAA music.
Dan Carlisle: Easy one for me to answer. WABX/fm in Detroit was very good. I liked it because I could put it on and leave it on all day. Each show was different from the one before. Of course there was a thread running through the twenty-four hours but each dj could do what they wanted.
Chris Carmichael (SDRadio.net): Yesterday: I was spoiled growing up in Southwest Kansas in the late 60s and early 70s. I got to ear witness stations from Chicago (89WLS) to Los Angles (KFI). However, it was 1520 KOMA from Oklahoma City that impressed me. I remember Charlie Tuna, “Machine Gun” Kelly as on airhosts. "Million Dollar Weekends" was their Friday to Sunday promotion. Where I grew up, most stations signed off at sunset and KOMA was the station that gave me a taste from the Beatles, to the Monkees - KOMA was the station as their 50,000 watt channel brought top 40 radio to the western half of the United States, and beyond.
(Today): It's hard to argue with KFI AM 640, who brought listeners more stimulating talk radio. That was my first introduction to Marc Germain as "Mr. KFI", John & Ken, Bill Handel, Dr. Laura [in her original very listenable night time slot] and others. Today the station has moved forward and manages to get great numbers in L.A., Orange County and the Inland Empire. San Diego, home of four talk stations ... gets pummeled into submission in ratings from the 50,000 watt flamethrower. KFI is the standard in excellence. Accept no substitutes.
(Tomorrow): Internet and satellite radio could be the saving grace in radio if certain copyright and bandwidth conditions are met. Music Freedom Fighters such as William Goldsmith (Radio Paradise) and KPIG have a niche market and prove that there is still creative musical freeform thinking that doesn't insult the intelligence of listeners.
"Big John" Carter (ex-KHJ): KFRC in the glory days of the mid-to-late 60s. Why? A sound perfectly integrated with the times, the City and the soul of rock n' roll. Match that with a classy news department (heavyweights like Bob Safford) and, oh yes, the greatest straight jock who ever graced a microphone: Steve Jay, working in those days as Jay Stevens doing PM drive. Nobody ever sounded better. Period!
Bruce Chandler: The station that impressed me the most was the mid to late 80s KIIS/fm piloted by Gerry DeFrancesco. Rick Dees was fresh and right on in the morning; enough so to generate a 12 point something in the 12 plus numbers at the pinnacle of their incredible ride to the top. Paul Freeman was the most "up" and energetic mid-day personality I had heard in ages and Big Ron O’Brien in afternoon drive was also "up"...fun to listen to...filled with personality, and the best LA PM drive jock I'd heard since The Real Don Steele during KHJ's heyday. KIIS reached a two digit 12 plus share overall (a 10.2, I think) and totally dominated for a couple of years. The contests, promotion, logo, jingles and excitement of the station made it one of the true Top 40 legends in the country. Being at the competition at the time (KIQQ) I can appreciate how formidable they were...they just sounded so "there." The music at the time was experiencing kind of a "Second British Invasion" with songs like Take On Me by A-ha...and with an abundance of tuneful rock 'n roll and the non-stop colorful "sound" of 102.7. I think it was a force that may never be heard again on L.A. current hit music radio.”
Jay Coffey (KRTH pd): Without a doubt it was KFRC-San Francisco 1965 to 1973, especially when Dr. Don Rose arrived. Every aspect of the station was perfection. From the engineering to jocks to marketing it was just the best.
Joe Cosgrove (KPOL, 1957-63): It was KPOL (1540 AM/93.9fm), a 24/7 music box. It was a great time to be on air. We covered Southern California with the most beautiful music 24 hours a day. "Where the difference was the music."
I pioneered the block format, wherein we created a mood, a theme, a tone for 15 minutes or more before a commercial break. We had such great programs, "The String Shift" "Music from Cloud Nine," and my favorite, which I hosted was "A Holiday In Stereo." It was the music of Percy Faith, Mantovani, Stanley Black, Roger Williams, George Greeley, Ray Coniff, etc.
Every Sunday from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m., we featured music from the classics, the Broadway stage and motion pictures and uplifting music feature great orchestra's and voices. We owned that time period. The music was the world's greatest from Mozart, Bach and other classical masters along with music of faith and hope and patriotic themes.
Listeners knew when they had KPOL on at Christmas time when we played the uplifting and joyful music of the season for 24 hours without commercials. Millions tuned us in and enjoyed the mood we created. KPOL truly took advantage of the Mozart affect...music can relax, heal and inspire. That was KPOL in the 50s 60s and 70s.
I founded KTHO AM/FM at Lake Tahoe with the same format as KPOL and after three months on the air we had 80% of radios tune to us from Tahoe to Reno and beyond at 540 AM dial. We had some of the greats of show business on KTHO. My friend Bob Crane (KNX) came by and asked "Cosie, what are you doing here?" I replied that I was having the time of my life. Arthur Godfrey tuned us in while there, someone I grew up listening to as a teen was most supportive. Liberace spent time on air with us. His brother George often brought their music to KPOL himself. The Lawrence Welk music group came to the Lake each summer and we had them on air as well along with Sammy Davis Jr., Robert Goulet, Jack Benny, and on and on. Many of them were KPOL fans and when they came to the Lake and heard KTHO they felt right at home traveling around the wonders of the Sierra Nevada listening to the sounds of music...oh, of course Hank Mancini was there at the lake many times.
Jeff Davis: WLS-Chicago during the 60s and 70s was a stellar place to work and certainly had some air talent that became known commodities. Technically, it was a monolith with 7 million listeners in 38 states (documented). We used to get cards and QSL's from Europe and, one night, we got a call from Australia! But a big part of my affection for WLS goes all the way back to its inception in 1924. What a history that station has!
Dave Diamond: I think it was KOIL-Omaha, WIL-St. Louis, WNOE and WTIX-New Orleans. But my favorite would have to be KFRC when Les Turpin was pd and then Ted Atkins. We were a dynamite sounding station.
Bill Earl (author of Dream House): There is no doubt in my mind what radio station was the very best. I was only 10 years old when I first was given a little 6-transistor radio, upon finishing my elementary school years in a military academy, in August 1961. Being a child, and in a rigid military school environment, I never listened to the radio before then. But when I turned that radio on for the first time, I still can remember the excitement I felt, the awe, and the thrill to my imagination, as I discovered Hal Murray and "The Murray-Go-Round," then Don French, Charlie Brown and his in-studio daughter, Jim Hawthorne (who I had remembered from my parents television!), Bobby Dale, Art Nelson, George Babcock, and Bill Angel. Those early August 1961 jocks of KFWB, Channel 98. Yes, Chuck Blore's "Color Radio," in my book, was the best."
Ken Edelberg: The one station that impressed me the most was the late 94.7 KMET. It was one of the last stations in the L.A. market that allowed the disc jockey to be just that, a dick jockey. They didn't listen to overpaid consultants telling them what the listener wanted to hear. It was real music. Not some formula that was digitally produced with no soul with the only purpose to make money. What station can honestly claim that today?
Tommy Edwards: A tie:
WOR/fm-New York City, 1969-1972. Unlike any other station in America in programming, technical sound and talent. It competed with giant WABC and was the first rock ‘n roll fm station in America that found success. Programmed by Sebastian Stone, it continues to inspire me and several other veterans of this legendary radio station.
WLS-Chicago 1973-1984. Proved that time and temperature formats were unnecessary. Great technical sound even though it was on AM. It was a station that led talent to join the industry both on-air and in management.
Mike Evans (ex-KROQ): KROQ - KROQ - KROQ! In the 80s. Seldom does a radio station change radio, music and lifestyle. Ric Carroll was the captain of the good ship KROQ. He was the "ROQ OF THE 80s" and found and played some ground shaking stuff. Even today, stations play his playlist as a legitimate format. Hey, it’s still Ric's list and flow. Although the music was the engine, it was the 'beast of KROQ' that made it so great.
In the beginning, KROQ was also a real pirate station, with no general manager, sales department, no public file, sometimes no pay and trading spots for rent! And the jocks were real people and were active in meeting listeners. Darrell Wayne, Rodney, Poorman, Richard Blade, Jed, and on and on.
And finally, it was probably the last station that did pranks and contests that were never insured, and would NEVER be allowed now! I mean, Poorman driving a bus down a mountain with a bunch of drunken listeners!? Now that's a promotion.
I spent some time at the “Mighty Met” in their heyday, was at KABC when the Dodgers and Superfan came aboard, and I'm now syndicated in 3 countries, and NOTHING matches the best of times, at KROQ. But that's just me.
Dave Forman: KEZY/AM, the hot tight compression and EQ got the most out of the frequency, (not to mention the programming and air staff).
John Fox. This sounds like a broken record, especially since I hosted the show celebrating exactly this subject on the station itself all last year, but, for me, it has to be KCBQ-San Diego.
Growing up in Fallbrook, with easy access (at least during the daytime) to the best of San Diego AND L.A. radio, I heard some great individual shows like Lohman & Barkley and Dave Hull, and some stations with undeniably well thought out, effective formats like KHJ and KGB. But my home base was always KCBQ, especially in the late 60s. It wasn't as tightly formatted as Boss Radio and personalities like Happy Hare in the morning, Bob Collins in the afternoon, veteran overnighter Jack Vincent and Lee “Baby” Simms in the evening each brought something extra to the table.
Then of course, there was the music. Everything from bubble gum to album tracks. KCBQ's playlist was probably the broadest ever at any San Diego station and news didn't take a back seat. KCBQ's news department was the best - at various times Richard Mock, Ed Deverill, Lee Marshall, Reed Carroll and many more. And of course, being the only 50,000-watter in town didn't hurt.
Sonny Fox (Deep Tracks Channel 40, XM Satellite Radio): There were three stations that come to mind. The Great WCFL in Chicago when they went up against the mighty WLS in the early 60s. I listened long distance from Grand Rapids and was floored by looseness and personality. (Too bad they underestimated the importance of the MUSIC!)
Then there was KCBQ-San Diego (where I worked with Jack McCoy in 72-73). From the Last Contest to the laid back surreal "theatre of the mind" on air production, that station did everything that was different from normal radio AND IT SHOWED!
That is why I currently work at number three on my list. XM. XM is to radio what HBO is to television. No ratings! No commercials! No censorship! Just subscription based listeners who support us because of the quality and uniqueness of our product. Radio the way it should be.
Gary Franklin: KFWB, between 1972 and 1985. KMZT, right now. Also, now - any NPR outlet. KFWB put out a unique, personality-driven all-news format that was exciting and created the kind of following among the listeners that has never been equal led since. We were allowed to experiment with sound and editing and coverage. And a superb Washington bureau backed us up. As for KMZT and NPR, the answer is obvious.
John Garabo (93-7 Kiss Country, CBS Radio/ Fresno): Growing up in New York City, I was always impressed with 77 WABC. From the early 70s until they went Talkradio in the early 80s, they had awesome "stationality." Their classic jingles and fun personalities like Dan Ingram, Ron Lundy and Bob Cruz made listening to WABC a real experience. I was 9 years old in 1974 and that's when I knew that I wanted to be like the guys on WABC.
Another great radio station was Z100 (WHTZ) in NYC when they first signed on. I moved to Southern California about the time Scott Shannon signed on Pirate Radio. As a radio guy, it was cool to hear that launched.
Two other stations I had the opportunity to do mornings at that have incredible "stationality" were WWYZ in Hartford and my current station, KSKS in Fresno. The radio station has a soul that reflects our community. It's a very cool thing.
Norm Garr: If the operative word is TOTAL sound, then I would have to say it was KMPC/710, the station where I had my first paying job in the business, on their news & sports wire (Webster 8-3000). They played the MOR hits of the day; phenomenal air personalities; a top-notch news and sports department and, among others, UCLA basketball!
Cary Ginell (KCLU-Thousand Oaks): You couldn't beat KFAT in Gilroy. During its heyday, this literal hole-in-the-wall produced the most esoteric mix of roots music ever. On a given day, you might hear Jimi Hendrix followed by Robert Johnson, Gid Tanner & the Skillet Lickers, and then the Jim Kweskin Jug Band. Wonderful. Surprising, eclectic, with knowledgeable announcers. The radio consultant gurus ruined those stations by convincing pds that people want to hear what is familiar to them. Bolshoi. I wish someone had the guts to do now what KFAT did in the '70s. Radio really needs it.
Laura Gross (L.E.G. Productions): KRLA in the 60s. It just captured the excitement and thrill of the era.
Bob Guerra: KROQ/fm. Easily the best-produced station in the country. KISS/fm not far behind. My old station KZLA really has great production these days.
Evan Haning: What radio station's total sound impressed me most? That changed, of course, over the years. After moving to Los Angeles in 1963 (in early adolescence) I'll bet KFWB would have been my favorite. Instead, I somehow got hooked on KHJ - Calder, Compton, Crowley and Hayes - so much entertainment in so many ways. At night, ex-disc jockey Michael Jackson had a radio talk show, something I had never heard. He screened his own calls during his commercials and I only bothered him with my 13-year-old calls twice (the same night).
I fell in love with talk radio. Paul Compton was my musical favorite, and Sunday afternoons were devoted to Sinatra, Compton, and Strings. Jackson also played records late Sunday afternoon. In his own manner, without a hint of Valley Girl accent, he would say "Gather round, everyone ... stomp your feet and tap your toes. We're going to have a Hoot-ih-nann-ih." This was delivered with the same attitude he would use later when dismissing a foolish caller as if disposing a dirty diaper in the dumpster: "Thank you for airing your views."
No time for later favorites like Boss Radio, KRLA, KABC in the early to mid-70s, KFI with all comedy teams, KLAC which switched from music to talk - Lohman & Barkley, Joel A. Spivak, and Ray Briem with his pet mynah bird "This is Ray with the Records - Briem Broadcasting!" They eschewed the hits and chewed the fat with callers, attempting to ride the wave that was Joe Pyne.
Greg Hardison: KNX, by far! because of it's consistency over the past 32 years (of personal listening knowledge).
Jack Hayes (KFWB): The best sounding station I ever worked for was, without question, KFWB - Color Radio - Channel 98! I was hired in early 1965 when the ratings and mystique were still there. What an incredible place! Wink Martindale, Gene Weed, B. Mitchel Reed, Don MacKinnon. The station was technically perfect, the jingles and production were incredible and it was a privilege to go to work every day! It was any young man's dream!
The best station I NEVER worked for was KSFO-San Francisco when Golden West owned it. Morning man, Don Sherwood led a memorable cast of characters (Jack Carney, Al Collins, Carter B. Smith, etc.). What a news department! What promotion! What studios (in the Fairmount Hotel)! I've always been of the opinion that the, "KSFO - Sound of the City" jingles were the absolute best ever recorded for any radio station - anywhere!
Jeff Hillery: It's gotta be Boss Radio 93 KHJ. The jingles. The jocks. The contests. The wildly creative writing and production. The SoCal attitude. The fun.
J.J. Johnson (ex-KDAY and KACE): The following comes through the filter of memory. If I were sent back in time and space with my memories and experiences to date intact, who can say what I'd think?
But, in the late '60s, there was CKLW-Detroit/Windsor. Drake-Chenault consulted and Paul Drew, an admired and respected mentor of mine, was pd. I lived in Cleveland, but "The Big Eight" came through like a local station. It was, hands down, the best sounding AMer I've ever heard. I mean that in the technical sense as well as with regard to the station's formidable roster of talent. I don't know what those engineers did, but it worked. The highs, lows and mid-range were all present and one never heard the limiters pump. There've been few, if any, fm stations with such dynamic technical sound, in my opinion. In addition, the on-air production was second-to-none. I never heard a mistake in that regard over years of listening. Actually, I don't recall ever having heard a jock flub a line. Ever. Of course, those of us who've worked with Paul Drew can fully understand that. "CK" was also the first station I'd heard with a truly compelling news delivery. Any doofus can relay facts. The 20/20 News Team gave the listener something to "watch." One could "see" each story unfold. As a kid, I'd actually turn the news up! CKLW had the "biggest" sound I've ever heard on radio.
Bear in mind that I've listened to and worked at some truly great major market radio stations including KFRC-San Francisco and KDAY. If I were to pick apart the various components that make for a winning sound, I'd give high marks here, OK marks there, even to the best. Nobody, after all, is perfect. But, CKLW was as close to all A's as I can recall.
T. Michael Jordan (Tom Nefeldt): Man it’s hard to pick one, being that a lot of my career had me all over the country, instead of just SoCal. I may have a different perspective. Programmatically I think KXOX-St. Louis, was one of the best ever. Technically I think KKDJ/fm and KEZY AM, were both way ahead of their time in audio processing and signal enhancement.
BUT overall my vote would go to WABC-New York as best sounding station of all time. Nothing on the dial today offers so much to its audience in the way of entertainment, information and professionalism.
Steve Julian (Morning Edition Host, KPCC 89.3): For me it's 93.1 KNX/fm during the days of Michael Sheehy, Dave Hall, Christopher Ames, Bob Madigan, Joann Erhart... everyone who kept the soft rock beat going once Steve Marshall got it moving.
Sheehy had a tremendous skill in segueing music through automation; he and Hall were the ideal music hosts - they made for "smart" fm radio in my late teens and early 20s. Its demise to KKHR was the first - and only - time I've felt betrayed by a format change.
KHJ, KKDJ and a few others played prominent roles in my life, but none so much as KNX/fm - where the music (was).
Mr. KABC (KABC): KGO in San Francisco is the market leader and has been for years for good reasons: intelligent hosts, an excellent mix of political opinions and news blocks that are both entertaining and informative.
Skip Kelly (KYSR): That's an easy one. It's “Kiss 108”-Boston in the late 80s/early 90s when it was being run by Steve Rivers. I was across the street working for WZOU and we were always jealous of how tight, how well produced, and how larger than life they sounded. All their full-time jocks were 20-year veterans, not in the business, at THAT STATION! They were innovative, and really had it together. There's never been another station that has impressed me as much. Boston has some great radio, the majority of it is because the stations in town are copying something that “Kiss 108” is either doing or has done in the past.
Todd Kelly: KIIS/fm from 1989-92. Fun time for Top 40 Muzak, Ernie Anderson, KIIS jingles, air line up...AMAZING.
KROQ from 1993-98. Great music, John Frost imaging, Sluggo, Jed the Fish and Tami Heide. Those two stations, those time periods, a constant reminder of why you fell in love with radio.
Jared Kliger: Part of what makes the radio listening experience complete for me is the ability to flip around at will from station to station, so choosing one among many took some thought.
I finally decided on the old KMPC-710 from the Golden West era of the 70s, because on one station it offered so many of the different things I listen for. Listening through the day, you'd hear music, the best personalities, particularly Gary Owens and Dick Whittinghill, comedy, regular news and sports updates, plus the sporting events to break up the programming: Angels, Rams, and UCLA games. I guess if I have to pick only one station, I'd go with a "full service" station, and KMPC was at the top.
In the same genre was the OLD version of KFI, with Lohman & Barkley, Dave Garroway, and the Dodgers, Lakers and Kings, who were often tape delayed until the wee hours of the morning. Sorry: I couldn't stop at just one!
Bob Laurence (KOLA): My all time favorite radio station is WFIL-Philadelphia, from the late 60s to early 70s. "Famous 56" with Jay Cook as pd, Dr. Don Rose in the morning, Dick Heatherton, Diamond Jim Nettleton, George Michael was truly trend-setting in overall stationality. Production was superb, jingles were great, and news department was excellent, promotions always timely. It's one of the legendary stations that made me want to be a pd and it's still in my head when I image a new station.”
Michael Levine (ex-KRLA): For its audience, KFI has a sound that is perfectly "In your face" and works to create a sound consistent with its mission.
Scott Lowe: Current favorite: KFI, The local programming and imaging, great! Plus, April Winchell, what more do you need?
Mike Lynch: I know it's going to come across as selfish, but, I'd have to say that KATY out in Temecula sounded really good when I was programming it, with Fred Folmer engineering it. We had a great sound and the station had ratings for the first time in twelve years. It's never done as well since I was let go. That's O.K. I'm enjoying helping Bob Shannon with his new talk show on KRLA.
Mary Lyon: You really took me back a few years with this one: I would nominate the late, lamented (at least to me) KWST. That station, for some reason, just spoke to me. Not only the music programming, with a fellow named Jim McKeon at the helm, but the news department led by Brent Seltzer. It existed at a time when the two main players in fm radio in L.A. were KLOS and KMET, two stations I liked a lot. But KWST was like the little outlaw engine that could, and did, lurk not far behind. At least for a while.
This was truly great radio. Jim McKeon programmed terrific progressive rock music - a mix of which I haven't had the pleasure of hearing since KLSX in its early heyday. As proof of the quality of his work – I have to mention the quality of his personality. After leaving the pd-ship, he went into record company work, but remained a friendly, accessible gentleman who always greeted me by name (when I was well worth the title of Green Peon). At the time, that meant a lot, and still does.
As for Brent Seltzer, a brighter, more wickedly witty, more no-nonsense, take-no-prisoners truth teller there hardly ever was. He leavened his excellent, relevant, comprehensive newscasts with his bracing commentary, humanism, humor and satire. He also had the honesty and the guts to openly and routinely label his presentation "K-West News and Comment," and never tried to cloak or misrepresent his opinions as anything but what they were - clearly labeled opinions.
I loved the music, I loved the format. I loved the information programming. I wanted to work there soooooo much, but it wasn't meant to be. Nevertheless, in the years after that, I was lucky enough to be able to call both those gentlemen my friends.
It is a privilege to be able to offer a reminder of some really great and greatly missed local radio, and local radio people, from about three decades back. Thanks for this opportunity!
Richard McIntosh: WCFL-Chicago in the 70's. They ruled.
Bill Jenkins: KLIF in Dallas in the mid-fifties. The genius of Gordon McLendon's creation of the modern disc jockey and news cruiser concept.
WIL in St Louis '58 - '60 (Until the payola scandal wrecked its format of great music)
KWK in St. Louis - throughout the '60. It defied the new sound floating around and kept with singers who could sing, not grown men singing like girls etc. On top in the ratings.
KABC in Los Angeles from the late 70's through the early 90s. Consistently outstanding.
Patty Lotz (“Powermouth Patty): Power 106. The station kicked off in 1989 with Jeff Wyatt at the helm. Los Angeles radio heard a station unlike any other - the artists, the jocks, the management. What an incredibly talented group. This was and still is to this day, the best experience I've had in radio. Jeff Wyatt and Jay Thomas (you little bastard!) taught me radio. A heartfelt thank you.
Nik Luna (“Arrow 93.1”): I can think of two, one from the past and one today.
I remember my first visit to L.A. on a vacation back in the early 80s, listening to nothing but KPWR. The jocks all sounded like they were genuinely having a blast on the air, and at the time they were playing a lot of the Prince/Jam & Lewis-influenced Minneapolis stuff. It was also during the very beginning of Hip Hop. Everywhere you went on Venice Beach people were blasting that station out of their boom boxes. Just pure fun. That was the last time I ever gave a damn about Urban music, back when it was only about dancing, partying and having a good time. The music was positive and upbeat, and Power 106 reflected that attitude perfectly with their sound.
KFRC in San Francisco when I was a kid growing up in the East Bay during the 1970's. THE station singularly responsible for motivating me to get into radio. Dr. Don Rose, Bobby Ocean. 'Nuff said.
KUPD, an Active Rocker in Phoenix, continues to impress me every time I visit the Valley Of The Sun. Killer imaging and excellent on-air production. They always have great promotions perfectly targeted to their demo that make me wonder, "Do you have to be in a smaller major market to do this cool stuff?" The air staff sounds laid back, but not stoned. Some of the veteran jocks get a little 'pukey' at times, but overall they fit with the sound. Why doesn't L.A. have a station like this?
Manon (ex-KACD): Three letters: KHJ/Boss Radio had all the elements. The best part was the music mix blending seamlessly together, before radio was so segmented, something the generations since have sadly missed.
Mark Mendoza (fired from almost every station in L.A.): Without a doubt, it was 93/KHJ! On my 8th birthday mom and dad gave me the coolest gift ever, my own AM transistor radio. I would run home after school, do all my homework just so I could listen to The Real Don Steele! All the jocks were the coolest, but Steele was THE BOSS!! "Up, bright and outta sight." Thanks to The Real Don Steele, I knew what I wanted to do - BE A BOSS JOCK. Sometimes I wonder if I was just born too late.
Ken Miller (the retired engineer not the former gm of KMPC): I heartily second the comments of Steve Ray regarding KMPC. When I was a youngster growing up in Chicago, radio was still in its' golden era. NBC, CBS, ABC and Mutual radio network programming was the dominant form of in home entertainment. Television was in diapers and probably less than 20% of homes had a set until after 1950. While I enjoyed that programming, my favorite station of all was WIND; an independent, with all locally produced content. Music, News and Sports was their slogan at the time and they were the radio home of my beloved Cubs.
As a young adult in 1960, I "discovered" KMPC. Not only was the format nearly identical to the WIND that I remembered fondly; the on air talent was vastly superior and the production values and overall presentation impeccable. I can't think of another station whose personalities and news staff virtually all were or became legends.
The Chuck Blore Color Radio KFWB and Drake-Chenault Boss Radio KHJ are certainly runners up; but, neither had the strength of format to last anywhere near as long "The Station of the Stars."
A related note: Since I retired and moved to the Verde Valley in Arizona, I was astounded to find a local station that is carrying on the Full Service tradition. KAZM 780, licensed to Sedona, bills itself and Music, Talk, News and Sports. They carry the Diamondbacks baseball network and AP News via satellite, but everything else is locally produced. The AP newscasts are always followed by live local news and/or sports reports. Their jocks are local and their production is fantastic for a station in such a tiny market. Even their locally produced talk shows are exceptional.
"Banana Joe" Montione: Without a doubt WFIL-Philadelphia. Not just because I had the great fortune to work there during the 70's, but because WFIL emulated why many of us got into the business. Not just exciting, great production, personalities, music, and promotions, but WFIL really took seriously the phrase "in the public interest." We constantly gave back to the community, all year long. The WFIL Helping Hand Marathon funded the small Philly charities like The School For the Blind, Deaf, etc. Our last Marathon in 1975 featured John Lennon, which was his last radio station public appearance before his son Sean was born, he then became a "house husband" until the "Double Fantasy" project.
I had the pleasure of being with John on the air, and out on the street collecting money for the WFIL Charities. It's not just who sounds better, but who serves better, an idea lost somewhere down the road to consolidation. Oh yes, we also had a news department. Led by the legendary Alan Stone, WFIL had a 24 hr. manned news staff. I wonder how the tracking computers dealt with 9-11? Most did not.
Billy Moore (B. Harold Moore, “voice” of Drake-Chenault): WIL-St. Louis and WABC-New York (when it was ‘music radio’), and CBS/fm. And why? Because Ron Lundy worked there.
Jack Naimo: The old KMPC was where I wanted to be, especially the music and sports. I did the same thing at KRKD but always wanted to be at 710. Loved the work of Roger Carroll and Fred Hessler.
Jerry Naylor: Early 1960s KFWB, without question! With the antics of my old and dear friend, "T.Q." – Ted Quillin, he made the Los Angeles radio market. That was great radio. I was fortunate to be on KRLA in those early days - when I was not traveling as the lead singer of The Crickets after the death of Buddy Holly. I would listen to TQ every afternoon for inspiration on my drive to Pasadena - home of the KRLA studios. I learned a lot from him, and loved every second of his great radio performances. Real personality radio!
Tricia Nickell (Metro Traffic): One of my favorite stations just happens to be one for which I provide traffic reports. It's KOLA 99.9. They have a huge playlist of great songs and djs who really know their stuff. KOLA sticks by its Oldies format and overall sound. I really value their consistency and commitment to quality.
Greg Ogonowski: in chronological order:
KHJ - Boss Radio
KPOL/fm - Stereo Island
KNX/fm - The Mellow Sound
KTWV - about 4-5 years ago. Not now.
Referring to programming sound, not technical sound.
Joe Ortiz: I would have to say that KFI Radio (especially in the early 70's and mid 80's) captured the personality, mood and character of Los Angeles. The days started with Lohman & Barkley's comedic flair, coupled with playing standards, pop and contemporary music; great news reporting by Mark Coogan, et al; Jerry Bishop's great selection of music, and other great programs. That programming was reflective of the LA spirit of that time period; a charming innocence that existed before we entered into the maddening rap, hip-hop and "scorched earth" talk programming that pervades today's airwaves.
Andy Park: No question about it. KFWB and the Group W all-News stations of the 60's. It was the first time (long before CNN, Fox, anybody) that a major broadcast medium had the courage to start gathering and presenting news instead of "rip and read" from the morning papers. As a former newspaperman I didn't believe it could be done; in retrospect I believe the KFWB of the 60's was a landmark and is now a legend.
In a lifetime in news, I consider that one single station (KFWB) and that one period (the 60's) as the epicenter of my professional life. Even when I went on into tv news and tv anchoring, I never experienced the intensity and integrity of news reporting that I did in radio at KFWB. It didn't just happen. It came about because of people like Herb Humphries, Bruce MacDonell, Art Schreiber, Frank Georg, "iron-pants anchors" like Don Herbert, John Swaney and Ed Pyle and, of course, the man at the top, the late Don McGannon.
One last note: A couple of years ago I lived across the street from Columbine High School near Denver. I pulled out my cell phone, called KFWB and went on the air from the scene for more than 5 hours. The nd, Crys Quimby, heard objective, straight reporting and not once was I told what to say, how to say it or when to quit. And that was 30 years after I had left KFWB. Reporters are only as good as their editors.
The "legend" lives on so long as people put news integrity before everything else.
Todd Parker: If you're asking me which station I worked at that had the best overall sound, I have two answers: Mike Joseph's Hot Hits formats at WCAU/fm-Philadelphia and KITS-San Francisco for how tightly he had the jocks operating. Although the maximum "talk-time" was ten seconds per break (yes, ten seconds), he taught us how to say more in that amount of time than most jocks could say in sixty. It was all about content, entertainment, and most of all the music, and for my money it was a well-oiled, great sounding machine.
The second answer was for a different city and a different time, and that was when Jeff Wyatt was running things at “Power 106” in the mid to late 80s. After the formatics were taken care of, his single rule for the on-air staff was "have fun." Man, did we. What a feeling to be part of the dominant player in Los Angeles for nearly a decade.
If you're asking in general who had the best sound, here's another San Francisco slant: In the early 80s I'd get off from my afternoon show on KITS, and race for my car so I wouldn't miss a single break by the night guy across town at KFRC, the amazing Bill Lee. I'd drive home across the Bay Bridge and just marvel at what a fantastic talent he was. An unfortunate poor choice of content one night ended his career in SF (mild by the standards of today), but what a time to be in radio.
Gene Parrish: For me, the answer has to be the former KFAC, which was the station my father listened to most often as I was growing up in the 30s and 40s. Hearing classical music presented by Thomas Cassidy, Bruce Buell and the rest of the stellar announcers of the Golden Age left an indelible impression. (I believe Thomas Cassidy also did the "Voice of God" announcements at the Hollywood Bowl in those days). In fact, those men inspired me to become a classical music announcer and, fortunately, my dream came true with a 20-year career in public radio at KQED/fm in San Francisco and KUSC.
That got me to thinking about other radio experiences and I remember how Dad would arrange our schedule, whether at home or visiting friends, so we could be near a radio to catch Jack Benny, Bob Hope or “Amos 'N Andy” without fail. I also thoroughly enjoyed The FBI in Peace and War, Al Jarvis' Make Believe Ballroom, I Love a Mystery (with Tony Randall as Reggie), “The Lone Ranger,” “Time Marches On,” “Li'l Orphan Annie” (I got my de-coder ring), “Calling All Cars” and “Noah Webster Says” (both with announcer Charles Frederick Lindsley, my speech and radio broadcasting professor at Occidental College), and, when I was sick at home, the soaps like “MA Perkins,” “One Man's Family” and “Backstage Wife.” Ah!, the good old days.
Les Perry (KCSN): The one that impresses me the most is the station where I’m working - KCSN. Where else can you hear SoCal surf music, The Beatles commercial free, a Frank Zappa show, Classic Country, Broadway Music and a great selection of all types of music? Each day we receive emails and phone calls telling us they’re tired of commercial radio and the crap they play. This is the future.
Nancy Plum (KFWB): The Mighty Met in the 70s. I was always afraid I'd miss something if I didn't listen to KMET. Great music and really fun-to-listen-to announcers! L.A. in 2002? No one station has it all but thank goodness there is a large choice.
Tom Quinn: As to your impressive radio station question, I have three stations - KMPC and KFWB, both in the late 50s/early 60s period, and KRLA in the mid- to late-60s. I first went to work at KMPC as a 15-year-old newsroom assistant. And what a newsroom it was! Hugh Brundage was news director and Chet Casselman as assistant nd. Then there were Val Clennard, Donn Reed, Stanley Warwick, Capt. Max Schumacher with Operation Airwatch (the only traffic reports on the air in L.A. at the time) and at least four others whose names I forget.
Dick Whittinghill did mornings, followed by Ira Cook, Johnny Grant, Bill Stewart, Val Clennard (who doubled as both a newsman and jock) and Big John McShane overnights. Bob Reynolds was gm and Bob Forward was pd. Forward always had time for a green kid who wasn't even old enough to drive. More importantly, he had a great show business sense, and (with Gene Autry's encouragement) he made KMPC bigger than life - huge personalities, the city's largest and best radio news department, along with the Dodgers, Rams and Bruins. KMPC was THE station in town.
As to KFWB, to those of us who were teenagers in L.A. in the late 50s it was the most exciting radio we could imagine. What great production and great jocks! Even the newscasts on Color Radio were exciting. Chuck Blore created a radio station that sizzled.
Finally, KRLA - after its FCC license was revoked and assigned temporarily (for almost a decade, if I remember correctly) to a non-profit organization - became a station unlike anything I have heard before or since. The station manager John Barrett and pd Cecil Tuck (who started as news director) formed a Top 40 station that uniquely captured the liberal anti-war sentiments of many young people at the time. Lew Irwin with his "Credibility Gap" was more then spice; it actually captured the mood of the station. I still remember "Travelin' Sam" (Yorty) and the great original folk/rock music from KRLA's newscasts. KRLA was fun, loose, irreverent, political, a true original.
Steve Ray (ex-KMPC 710): The East Coast had many great radio stations that reached the mid-Atlantic area when I was growing up in Washington, DC. WABC, WSM, WBT and WJW were the ones I remember most fondly. Later in the evening, we could even pick up KOA Denver if the weather was right, but it wasn't until I came to Los Angeles in 1980 that I was truly impressed. The original KMPC 710 AM with the MOR format was a benchmark of quality that many still search for. Flawless jingle and commercial production; a superb broad-based music library; friendly, knowledgeable air personalities; and, a well tuned AM sound from those three towers off Burbank Blvd. in the San Fernando Valley.
It was the full-service elements, well-staffed news department, and sports coverage wrapped around the music and personalities that made KMPC 710 something I could always listen to, no matter what mood I was in and no matter who else was with me. You would rarely find an off-color remark, stunting that relied on tits and ass, or screamers who did nothing with the luxury of a :20 second talk-up. Gary Owens, Robert W. Morgan, Wink Martindale and Jim Lange were just great friends on the radio. The most off-color thing you might hear was a double-entendre between Pat Buttram and Morgan, or imagining what was between the bleeps in a Jim Healy drop-in. The flawless music flow, the attention to quality in the production, details in the execution of the format and KMPC's connection to their audience made them a most influential station for me. Although KMPC 710 provided my employment after the switch to Sports Talk, I wonder what might have happened if they had never made the format flip, and eventually sold to ABC/Disney.
Bill Rice: It had to be Boss Radio and KHJ. It was the total package. Great personalities who knew how to do a bit without dragging it out. It was the music, the production etc. And much of that tradition has been carried on through KRTH.
Mike Ritto: I thought the Rock 'n' Rhythm format at KNAC, before they changed to Heavy Metal, was a very enjoyable format because it included currents as well such rock classics as Chuck Berry, Little Richard, etc. How can a radio station be rock 'n' roll and ignore artists like that? Well, the KNAC format played any rock that was, in their opinion, great music. Too bad it's long gone.
Dave Rizzo (Dr. Roadmap): I do have a favorite, but it is from the past. It was KGRB before the owner died about eight years ago and it changed hands. They played Big Band hits. I mean the REAL old big band hits, going back to the 20s and 30s. On that station, the 40s were considered modern. A far cry from what you hear today. Imagine, I heard Lou Reed's Take a Walk on the Wild Side on KSUR, “The Surf” (1260 KHz). What a contradiction in formatting.
Mark Rocchio: The old KNAC of the late 1960s and early 1970s was pure, unadulterated rock radio. The djs were allowed to play what they wanted so listeners got a taste of every kind of music from The Animals to Zeppelin. What you didn't hear was corporate rock or Top 40.
Josefa Salinas (HOT 92 Jamz): Wow that is a hard question. Just when you think a station has a great sound, they play something that makes you hit the speed change. I think the closest station to being great would have been KBLX-San Francisco back in about 1989. They played a great blend of r&b and a little jazz. Nothing too eclectic. Nothing to bluesy. Just a great blend. Then they changed. The WAVE here in Los Angeles does a good job but they go too far off center sometimes for me. Hot 92.3 was on the right track and KJLH has a great Sunday night, hence the need for speed programming on your radio (smile).
Ron Samuels: KHJ - The first time I heard Robert W. Morgan, The Real Don Steele, even Johnny Williams the all nite guy, I was TOTALLY blown away, and COMPLETELY intimidated. The station was PERFECT, every break, 24/7, the music was on target. Each jock was a disciplined personality, and the station had a personality of its own, too!
Jeff Shamrock (producer Peter Tilden KZLA): Armed Forces Radio. While I was in the Air Force stationed in Germany in the early 90's "AFR" was a great way to keep up on EVERY genre of music that was happening back in the States. There's nothing better for your ears than hearing Garth Brooks segue into Pearl Jam!!
Bob Shannon (ex-KRTH): Without question 93/KHJ, circa 1965 –1970. With talent like Robert W. Morgan, The Real Don Steele, Bobby Tripp, Frank Terry, Sam Riddle and the Johnny Mann singers with those "Boss Radio" jingles, they were the best ever. A lot of imitations, but nobody did it better!
Bryan Simmons (KBIG): Which station had or has that total programming sound that impressed or impresses me most is a tough question considering I worked at KOST 103 for 19 years. KOST is a station with a very focused vision and programming philosophy.
However, having grown up in Northern California I thinks it's probably a fairly easy conclusion for me. Hands down, it's KFRC in San Francisco. The list of jocks that worked there reads like a who's who of air talent.
Dr. Don Rose, Bobby Ocean, Charlie Van Dyke, Chuck Browning, Eric Chase, Mike Phillips, J.J. Johnson, Jay Stevens, Jim Carson, and a list too long to continue with. Many who worked on the air there went on to KHJ, a station that many from Southern California will say was better. But the Big 610 had such a great sound. It was the Billboard Station Of The Year for more times than I can remember, and when other AM stations were dead or dying, KFRC was going strong well into the late 1980's. The air-chain is still one of the best sounding of any AM station ever and it boasted some of the best program directors in the industry. Names like Les Garland and Gerry Cagle to name just a few, working for consultants like Bill Drake and Paul Drew. Go to reelradio.com, type in KFRC and your search will bring up a list longer than any other on the site.
KFRC's closest competition was KYA, a station Bill Drake himself programmed before he went to RKO. It was a pretty good station. But it couldn't even come close to the hold on the Bay Area that KFRC had. For my money, it was the very best, and that's saying a lot when you think about the impact that KHJ had on the radio industry.
Kat Snow: It would have to be the new studios at KNAC where everything was to the djs needs, sound was excellent, bathrooms 5 steps away, studio climate control and a program director " Jimmy the Saint" Christopher who utilized the individual talent of his djs. But that was almost 20 years ago. Too bad operation managers and pds don't hone their jock talent like they did back then.
Chuck Southcott: As program director of KGIL "in the Valley" until the mid-70s, I believe I was most proud of the combination of music, news, sports and personality that was offered. "Sweet Dick" Whittington was at the top of his game, Wink Martindale, Larry Van Nuys, Ken Griffin, and Thomas Brown the Fourth, along with our sports director, Stan Brown, news from Howard Culver, Jim Martin and
Frank Bingman were always thoroughly professional.
Of course, KMPC (where I was fortunate enough to eventually work) was also no slouch at that time.
Dave Spiker: My vote would be for the old KNX/fm, under Steve Marshall, Michael Sheehy and Dave Hall. It was always interesting with just enough familiar music and new material to make you pay attention. They went through great effort to set up their smooth segues to fit their jingle motto: "The song that never ends." And with a voice like Michael's to glue it all together, how could you go wrong?
Brie Tennis (KOST): “Arrow 93.” They play the best music and I love hearing the bits on artists that didn't come from People magazine!
Marshall Thomas: The radio station that impressed me the most was a great radio station here in SoCal, Long Beach to be exact, KNAC 105.5/fm. The station is now Spanish but before their heavy metal days I was part of the on air staff doing what they called Rock N' Rhythm. We played everything from Elvis Presley to Elvis Costello and anything in between. Great jocks and more diversity than KROQ. I did a regular shift during the week and on the weekends was allowed to do an Oldies show called Marshal l’s Memory Lane. It was a time in radio history here in Los Angeles that will probably never be repeated, sad to say thanks for asking us in Los Angeles radio to pass along our fond thoughts on radio.
Keri Tombazian (KTWV): Well, let's leave aside the “Wave” for a moment and hearken back to 197? KNX/fm was IT! Their "jingles" were windows into the emerging lifestyle of the Boomer. It was the most incredible use of understatement that radio in L.A. had ever heard. From hooking us with the familiar Court & Spark, American Tune, & Carolina In My Mind (album cuts, thank you very much) to introducing us to Wondering Where the Lion Is, KNX/fm helped us hold on to our collective identity even while it evolved as reflected through the music.
I cried the day it ended.
Jerry Trowbridge (at Flying Pig Ranch): KMPC - Los Angeles - 1960s. It was a sweet spot in the career paths of AM Radio, popular music, and Southern California. Before CNN and KCAL news, it was the pulse of L.A., with a news department so robust it could feed 24/7 and not draw an extra breath. It could spend a week on a half-hour piece, and humbly air it once. Today's radio listeners have no idea how great radio can be, if you just hire hundreds of talented people to do the job.
Cameron Ward (KLOS): The radio station that impressed me the most is the one I am at now, KLOS. When I first started out, I was at a multicultural station, and a majority of the programs were not in English, and I could not comprehend most of the program content. Since Rita Wilde was promoted to pd at KLOS, the station has been playing "Classic Rock that Really Rocks"! The format is the music "I wasted my youth to." I could not be happier, with the playlist, talent, and overall experience. Rock on!
Randy West (tvrandywest.com): I don't live in the past, but haven't heard any transmitter in a long while that made me feel that if I wasn't listening, I could be missing something cool. Some stations truly did do unique contesting, record exclusives or remotes, but the formatics of even a usually predictable Drake presentation gave me that "something special is going on" feeling when the tymp or fanfare hit and I heard "And now, Ladies and Gentlemen...".
Even Sklar's micro-massaged WABC '(circa 62-'72) had that "wild card" element to it.
Short of KFWB or KNX's coverage of the next earthquake, the only unpredictability I hear, except for the rare humorous comment from some of the LARP's morning shows, are Howard Stern and KOLA.
As a former programmer I know that consistency and "familiarity" are important elements, but not to the point where you feel like you have a 50-50 chance of predicting the next record, and can almost lip sync the jocks' comments!
I'll omit the names, but one of the best laughs I had was years ago riding with a friend who pointed out a billboard that read "Did you hear what (morning jock) said this morning?" The friend said "Sure. He said 'It's 8:14 and 78 degrees, and how about those Dodgers?'"
Al Wiman (ex-KFWB): In its day, KFWB, and that was because of the genius of Chuck Blore. The total sound was there, the personalities, the newscasters, the station IDs. It was and to me always will be the GREATEST. Thank you Chuck Blore. And following Chuck, thank you Jim Hawthorne for letting me be a small part of it.
Larry Woodside (ex-KPPC, KROQ, KLOS): My vote goes to old KPPC/fm. Although I was there at the end in 1972 thru '74, we played everything from A to Z. What impressed me the most about the “PP" was the they hired jocks who knew their music and always turned the listener on to tunes that could not be heard anywhere else. I was very fortunate to be part of a station that was truly FREE FORM and always close to it listeners. What happened to real radio? It tried to survive in the beginning at KROQ under pds Mike Swiensburg and Darrell Wayne and consultant Shadoe Stevens from 1976 to 1979, but eventually silenced by the almighty corporation and the radio consultants and programmers who don't take musical chances.
Bill Wright: KROQ hands down. From their top notch imaging through jock presentation through the music, everything fits everything else to a tee. It is seamless. Others have tried (a moment of silence for “Y107”), but no else has come close!
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Last modified: September 30, 2002