Los Angeles Radio
(September 29, 1998) "Since I mentioned on your Web site that I had recently uncovered an old aircheck of Bob Crane's 5th anniversary show on KNX , not only have a lot of your fans asked me for copies, but a lot of the younger guys and gals have emailed me, asking for some info about Bob. Id like to offer some insight into him for those who aren't familiar with this legendary radio man.
Bob Crane arrived in Los Angeles in 1956 from the East Coast, where his local radio program was a big, big hit. CBS decided to ship him to Los Angeles affiliate KNX, where he replaced another L.A. radio legend, Ralph Story.
At first, Crane's show was not too successful...this was Dick Whittinghill's town...but after a year or two of appearing at speaking engagements and doing bit parts on tv shows, Crane became very well-known. He got top Hollywood stars to appear on his radio show. Bob used sound effects, on-air drumming, and absolute RIDICULING of commercials and he was suddenly challenging Whittinghill for the top spot in the ratings of Los Angeles radio.
This ratings battle lasted for years, until 1965, when Bing Crosby Productions, to play the lead in the tv series Hogans Heroes hired Bob. He gave up his radio job, and even though his replacement, Rege Cordic, did an incredible job on KNX, Los Angeles radio has never been the same. Whittinghill once again owned the morning radio dial [which he did until 1980]. Bob Crane became known as Col. Hogan for the next 6 years, and a lot of us have been left with just memories ever since. He died in 1978. We all know the rest of the story. Im proud to say that he and I were good friends. Rex Moore ( Rmoore5580@aol.com )"
(September 25, 1998) An update from Michael Moore:
"I was born in Charlotte, North Carolina on April 5, 1955. My folks moved to Southern California in 1958, settling in La Habra. I grew up listening to KFI, KFWB, KRLA & KHJ. My Mom during my high school years suggested that since I got in so much trouble for talking perhaps I should make a career of it. So after high school I went to the Don Martin School in 1974. I got my first job in Aztec, New Mexico and hated it. I stayed three months then moved back to work at KDES-Palm Springs. I bailed out of radio in 1976 to pursue stand up comedy, but found that to be successful you have to be on the road for about three hundred days a year. So in 1978 it was back to the airwaves at "K-WARM"-Corona, in 1979 to "K-Honey"-Riverside as pd. In 1980 I moved to mornings and md at KFXM-San Bernardino. I got to KHTZ in 1982 and moved to KHJ in 1985 and KRTH in 1986. I worked at KBIG in 1990 and KFI in 1995. Along the way I have continued to write and perform stand up. I wrote a script for Seinfeld and am active in voiceovers. Ive done spots for Del Taco, Baskin-Robbins, Ralphs, Canon etc. I am now in the midst of two screenplays which, hopefully, will make their way the big screen. I have a wonderful writing partner, Todd Portugal, who's first feature Flooding is now on the film festival circuit. But I still miss radio." Michael@amcnet.com
(September 19, 1998) When we started KIQQ ("K-100FM") in the early 1970s, Gene West was the original afternoon jock. He had come to the Southland from a very successful Rock career in San Diego. Gene updates his life:
"It's been a long time. I am no longer working in show biz...but in order to satisfy the hunger of my many fans and bill collectors about information about me...I am now just plain Tom Leland. I have three wonderful boys ages 14, 8, and 5. I received my Master's degree in counseling psychology from Pepperdine University in 1988 and was a therapist for awhile. Dr. Laura Schlessinger was a professor of mine, and do I have stories! Decided I liked teaching better than anything since radio, and am now working for LAUSD at Olive Vista Middle School in Sylmar. I teach computer technology to 7th graders, and manage to work- in radio and television production. It's really rewarding. Your column helps me to keep up with what's happening in L.A. radio [I guess it never leaves you]. Bobby Ocean and I still converse regularly, and I usually see Elizabeth Salazar and Hap when I am in San Francisco. Charlie Van Dyke was by far the best choice of all I heard auditioning on KRTH. He was a fellow boss-jock and my pd at KGB in San Diego, and I called and congratulated him on his new gig at KRTH. He seems like the same old Charlie. Congratulations on a great column. Gene/Tom" email@example.com
(September 17, 1998) War correspondent, author, broadcaster and Los Angeles Radio People, Pat Michaels is updated.
"I became news director of KWIZ when I returned from covering the Korean War as a correspondent for KHJ/Mutual Broadcasting System. I went from there to being news director at KFOX and then to KLAC and KFWB as a reporter [on such great shows as those of Bill Ballance]. I worked at both of those places with John Babcock. Shortly thereafter, I became the investigative reporter third of The Big Three newscast team at KTLA with my partners Clete Roberts and Tom Harmon. In 1961, I was the first to take phone calls on my talk program on KABC [it was Ben Hoberman's idea. Other shows, like Pamela Mason, did not take calls then]. I worked there as a daily talk show host and news reporter [Waco Pat was one of my producers]. I went from there to KCBQ-San Diego [where I hoped to spend more time with my boats] and then was hired-away to go to KGO-San Francisco, to do talk radio. I returned to Southern California to KWIZ as a talk show host and was quickly promoted to news director, then program director, then station manager and finally general manager. Ten years after re-joining KWIZ, I became co-owner of KWRM, Riverside-Corona and KQLH [now KFRG]-San Bernardino. I sold out eight years later to open my own video production company. For the past seven years I have produced corporate videos, training films and cable programming for the City of Newport Beach with a lot of news assignments thrown in from such tv entities as Good Morning America, Oprah Winfrey/Harpo Productions and Wall Street Journal TV report. I also author columns in the Newport Light section of the Orange County Register and I write another weekly column for The Desert Sun in Palm Springs where I now spend much time." firstname.lastname@example.org
(September 14, 1998) On August 29, Richard Beebe passed away at the age of 65. Lew Irwin remembers the longtime Los Angeles radio veteran.
"After you've served the usual tour of duty in the radio business, you inevitably learn that what makes a job memorable and pleasurable is hardly ever salary or spiffy studio facilities or even the plaudits of an audience. It is always the people you work with. Working with Richard Beebe was always memorable and pleasurable.
I first met Richard 34 years ago when I was hired by KRLA to do field reporting, investigative specials and documentaries. [Those were the days before broadcasting deregulation, and even rock-and-roll stations like KRLA routinely turned out that kind of stuff back then.] Although I had been working in New York as a producer for the CBS-owned TV station there for nearly two years, my previous job in L.A. had been as a TV anchor [on KABC-TV], while simultaneously broadcasting news and commentaries on the leading beautiful music station here, KPOL. While I was relieved to be escaping from New York, a city that I never could adjust to, my new job seemed to represent a drop in prestige, something I would have difficulty explaining to my friends and family.
And then I arrived here and heard Richard delivering the news -- like Edward R. Murrow on amphetamine. Authoritative, excited, intelligent, compelling. As part of a Richard Beebe newscast, my reports took on an added layer of significance that, in many cases, may not have been justified. But, God, he made me sound good!
In person, Richard was in many ways the opposite of his on-the-air self. Warm, enduringly cheerful and often self-effacing, he always seemed aware that much of what we were doing was pretense, and he rarely passed up an opportunity to remind those who worked with him of that.
For example: In the mid-sixties I started up a broadcast news company with Cliff Vaughs, a former civil rights activist. We hired two UCLA telecommunications majors as part-time employees. Our first major client was KRLA, and we had a broadcast loop and a direct telephone line installed between the studio and our newsroom at the L.A. civic center. Shortly thereafter, I produced a radio documentary about the newly fashionable [and not-yet-outlawed] hallucinogen, LSD and recorded by own experience under its influence, in which I described an epiphany that we were all the son of God. Richard thereupon labeled the hot line between KRLA and our office, Jesus, Mobutu, and the Teen Squad.
I was always aware that Richard wanted to do more than broadcast the news. During my very first month at KRLA I discovered an 8x10 glossy of him in a drawer below an ancient tape recorder that we used for editing. It was the first time I had seen him without a beard. In the photo, he looked downright glamorous. I also heard him do on-the-air schtick with the morning d.j., Emperor Bob Hudson. Here, I realized, was a man of many talents.
After about two years with the station, I began lobbying station manager John Barrett about a concept I had for an alternative kind of newscast that would engage our baby-boom audience more effectively. The idea was to integrate topical satire and music with news and features in a 15-minute program that would air on the station, completely updated, every three hours. I described it back then as a combination Time magazine and That Was the Week that Was [referring to the 1964-65 TV series that satirized current events]. John was intrigued but reluctant. He doubted that it could be sustained. I told him that I was confident that there were at least three newscasters at the station who could pull off the satirical bits and that we could probably hire additional talent from some of the improvisational groups like Second City and The Committee. In May of 1968, John finally gave the idea a go-ahead and named me news director. [The show would not have stood a chance with any other radio station manager; John was the most venturesome station executive I have ever had the pleasure of working for.]
I sold off my radio news company to City News Service and began making plans for the series. I phoned Len Chandler, a renowned Greenwich Village folk singer at the time, and asked him if he could come to California and write the music for us. A year earlier, Len had written and recorded music for a TV documentary that I had produced about the original Black Panther Party in Loundes County, Alabama. He had done it in a single day, and I was therefore confident he could turn out three songs a day for us about the news. Len will tell you today that he was not so confident -- but he never let on.
There were three newscasters at the station who, I thought, could turn out the satirical sketches: Richard, Thom Beck, and John Gilliland. In late May, I phoned each of them and informed them that I had been appointed news director and planned to alter the format of the station's news dramatically. I asked them to come to a meeting away from the station and not inform the other members of the news staff about it.
I had no idea how they would react to my plans. They would be required to produce at least one satirical sketch about the news within three hours prior to the newscasts at 9 a.m., noon, and 3 p.m. daily. [Sketches from the noon show were repeated at 6 p.m. and those from the 3 p.m., at 9 p.m.] I outlined my ideas and nervously awaited their response. Richard broke the ice. That's just great, I remember him roaring. From then on, it was, Let's get together and put on a show!
We got together on Thursday, May 30 for what was ostensibly going to be a dry run. We finished shortly after 5 p.m., exhilarated by what we had turned out. We all thought, This is too good not to go on the air, and since John Barrett had already gone home, I decided to put it on the air at 6:00 that night. I remember all of us standing in the station's lobby -- in a corner of the Huntington Hotel in Pasadena -- with the rest of the station staff still in the building at the time, and listening to the show go on the air for the first time. When it was over, they all burst into applause and we all headed over to the Tap Room at the hotel to celebrate.
With virtually no publicity -- John was still not totally convinced we could sustain such a project -- we went on the air the following Monday. The next day Robert Kennedy was assassinated in Los Angeles. It was obviously not a time to produce more satirical sketches. So, throughout that night and for the next two or three days, Len Chandler composed and recorded one touching song after another about the events related to the murder, setting an example for all of us of creative energy.
Two months later, Richard's then-wife, Heidi, suggested a title for the newscasts, The Credibility Gap. By the time it went off the air on KRLA two years later, The Credibility Gap had also become the name for the group of regulars. I had already left the station a year earlier after a disagreement with new management. The only person who remained from the original group was Richard Beebe.
Richard was a linking force in more ways than one. On one level, John Barrett was right about our ability to keep coming up with fresh material three times a day. Although clearly the audience was willing to put up with a lot of awful bits, realizing that we were commenting on events only hours -- in some cases, minutes -- after they occurred, the performers themselves understood that they faced a burn-out factor. I began replacing members of the group at an increasing rate, bringing some of them back after a few weeks, trying others for a few days.
Richard remained the unifying factor. Many of the new performers had never worked in radio before, had never been subjected to the pressures of a deadline, and were often not even capable of typing out a script. Moreover, I sought out guest stars to participate with us, ranging from George Harrison of the Beatles to singer Jose Feliciano to performer Sammy Davis Jr. to Rowan and Martin, the stars of the then-popular Laugh In -- who also needed kid-glove treatment. They all would gather around Richard, who always typed the scripts, throwing out ideas as he pounded away. Richard's enthusiasm was always the spur. He may not have been the funniest guy in the group, but he kept prodding the other guys, laughing up their jokes, tearing away at that typewriter.
I was the host of the show and generally wrote the introductions to the sketches and songs. I got together with the entire group at the beginning of each day and discussed some of the things that we might develop. But I worked more closely with the field reporters and with Len Chandler than I did with the guys doing the satirical sketches. (I was determined that the programs were not just going to be funny news but be -- forgive me if this sounds pretentious -- an influential and positive cultural force.) But I'll never forget the day that everyone in the group except Richard called in sick and I had no way of pulling in anyone else for the 9 a.m. program.
I can't do comedy. I'll make a fool of myself, I said in a state of near panic to Richard. Sure you can, Richard assured me. And we sat down together and wrote a sketch about a disastrous oil spill that had occurred off the Santa Barbara coast. [Richard played the slick. I played an interviewer.] It wasn't the funniest comedy bit of the week, and I have rarely felt so relieved as I was after it was over. But it worked out all right, and it got on the air, and it wouldn't have had it not been for Richard's coaxing and encouragement.
A few years later I began working with Richard again after I had started producing a nationally syndicated radio series called Earth News Radio. At the time, I was interviewing as many as six people a day for the twice-daily, five-minute program. Richard had the assignment of listening to the most dubious interviews and editing three or four of them into features. But he made even this humdrum task fun -- for example, compiling a collection of blooper outtakes [including the opening of an interview in which I thought my 11 a.m. guest was my 11:30 a.m. guest and began asking questions that utterly perplexed him -- until I realized why.]
Indeed, the last time I got together with Richard, only a few weeks before his death, he wanted to hear a famous outtake tape of Casey Kasem -- blowing up in a storm of four-letter invectives during a taping of American Top Forty -- that I had recently received. I had become aware of the tape after reading a message about it posted on an Internet forum by a Canadian disk jockey. The d.j. had obligingly sent me a copy. Richard and I had both worked with Casey at KRLA for years and had never heard him utter a four-letter word or even raise his voice during that time. But here was another side of the gentle Casey that seemed especially hilarious to both of us when we listened to it together.
On that day, Richard never mentioned that he had been undergoing chemotherapy treatments for lung cancer or even that he had been ill. We had a great time together. Like always."
(September 12, 1998) All summer Jeff Bowen has allowed us to wallow in his nostalgia about radio in 1973. This is the final chapter of a magazine piece that Jeff wrote for an airline magazine.
KFI once again employs Paul Compton, the ex-KGIL and KMPC personality. Frank Sinatra has often referred to Compton as his "favorite disc jockey." Paul and colleague Jerry Bishop both add to the KFI line-up.
Two females have graced the air over two top stations recently. Kathy Gori does the all-night segment at KMPC while Jill Taggart labors nights at KGBS with the only "swap meet" on radio not very exciting if you have nothing to buy or sell!
KABCs weekend lineup includes several big names. Tom Harmon airs an afternoon sports commentary, while tvs controversial Regis Philbin and ex-dj Lloyd Thaxton are heard on Sundays. Station regulars, Michael Jackson, Marv Gray, Ken Minyard, Elliott Mintz, Ray Briem and others are also a part of the "heavy" schedule.
Another weekend program that offers great listening is Casey Kasems syndicated "American Top 40" which airs on KGBS. Casey once served a rock term at KRLA.
Death came to one of the Southlands leading personalities at the peak of his career. Alex "pick up a couple a bucks" Cooper was him name, and KLAC was his home during the 50s. No telling what role Cooper might be playing today had he lived on.
Another of KLACs big names of the 50s was Peter Potter. His hit tv show, JukeBox Jury, where Peter sounded out, "will it be a hit, arrr a miss," as he dropped the gavel.
Dick Haynes ("Haynes at the Reins") was KMPC Dick Whittinghills big threat. Dick is back at KLAC after working at KFOX. He specializes in cornball humor with his "Yucca Bean and Yucca Stew." Versatile actor (No Time for Sergeants) Sammy Jackson is also at KLAC, as is ex-KFI personality, Jay Lawrence.
Will the REAL Bob Morgan please stand up! As if the Whittinghill-Whittington situation wasnt enough we have two Bob Morgans in local radio. Robert W. Morgan is one of the leading djs at KHJ, while Bob Morgan handles utility chores for KGBS. Also in the pro category is The Real Don Steele, formerly of KHJ. He left KHJ in the summer of 73 over a contract dispute. He continues to host a popular tv show on KHJ/Channel 9.
Two of the better personalities to come out of the FM scene have resided at KKDJ. The subtle talents of Bill Comb and Russ OHara (formerly of KRLA) are real assets to the station. They never over-power the excellent music format but offer a modified AM style for the stereo buff.
Gil Henry, who recently conducted his "Private Line" program at KGBS, was released, most probably because he was miscast at KGBS.
Frank Bresee, the radio historian, frequently guests with Roger Carroll over KMPC, with his "Golden Days of Radio." Franks show air in 30 countries over the Armed Forces Radio Network. Other nostalgic names from the more recent past include Gene Norman. After leaving radio he became active as a record producer and concert sponsor.
Al Jarvis has faded from the scene he once dominated. His local teenaged audience worshipped him back in the 50s. Together with his sidekick, Joe Yocam (KFWB), he was best known for his "Make Believe Ballroom."
Also powerful in the 50s was "the man wholl fill your musical bill Bill Stewart." Now in FM radio, Bill was once a big name in AM middle of the road radio.
Two personalities who enjoyed rather abbreviated stays in local radio are Al Collins (KFI) and Jim Lange. Jim is the host of tv The Dating Game. He took over at KMPC for Ira Cook, but seemed to have left his heart in San Francisco where he worked at KSFO.
During the Golden Years at KFWB, djs included Ted Quillin, Bill Ballance, Wink Martindale, Earl McDaniel, Joe Yocam, Elliot Field, Bruce Hayes, B. Mitchel Reed and Gene Weed.
The Talk show era, which was in its heyday in the early 60s, is now (with the exception of Bill Ballance) a much less important part of Southern California radio. That extremely popular format seemed to have lived and died with Joe Pyne. Todays new and varied talk formats include the normal run of the mill chatter, to Bill Russells specialized sports show to Ballances gals.
If you havent discovered your radio yet, give it a try! Youre sure to find a good new friend and constant companion at home and away. And what better place to search for a tailor-made station fitting your needs and desires than Southern California where the very best radio in the world is alive and VERY well!" Jeff Bowen ( JKB1919@aol.com)
(September 11, 1998) KLAC has a rich history in Southern California and Stuart Levy was there for almost a quarter of a century. He emails: "I spent 23 years at KLAC. Arrived in the mail room at the tail end of the Big Five Days. From the mail room, worked with John Dickson in PR at the station, then on to continuity, traffic, sales service, local sales, local sales mgr., general sales manager and in '79 gm. I followed Bill Ward who became Sr. VP at Metromedia. During that period, as you well know, many talented people came through the doors. Joe Pyne, Bob Grant, Joel A. Spivak, Les Crane, George Church III, Bill Stewart, Lohman and Barkley, Ray Briem, Jim McNamara, Charles Arlington, Jim Healy, Sam Balter, Dean Sander, Bob Forward, Don Page, Harry Newman, Sammy Jackson, Don Langford, Gene Price, Sam Benson, Jay Lawrence etc, etc. Formats galore: Standards, MOR, Talk, Country, and back to Standards. And many, many, General Managers. We carried the Lakers basketball, and auto racing. There were just a few owners. I started with Hall Broadcasting [Mortimer Hall] followed by Metromedia [John Kluge]. I have tons of pictures from the past and loads of voices on tape. I was born in Pittsburgh, the home of Rege Cordic who captured the Pittsburgh radio waves via KDKA. Yes, he came out here to LA in the 60's and really didn't make it. Barry Kaye also a Pittsburgh D.J. came out here and did make it, but not as a DJ...but as an estate insurance tycoon. I actually was brought up in Uniontown, just 50 miles south of Pittsburgh. Our hometown radio station was WMBS, a CBS affiliate. The only claim to fame that this small town is known for is the birthplace of General George C. Marshall. Time to sign off for now...enjoy landing on your Website each week. Talk with you soon. Have a great weekend." ( email@example.com )
(September 9, 1998) "I can write!" Jeff Hillerys response to Lew Irwins question moved Jeff from a $300 a week sports writer at the Santa Monica Evening Outlook (the paper recently folded) to joining the news staff at KDAY in 1973. From KDAY, Jeff went to KFWB until Lew started Earth News Radio. Jeff said: "Lew was awesome. I was a writer, producer, interviewer and reporter. I learned from the best." When Earth News folded, Jeff worked as a newsman at KRLA, KABC and KIIS. In 1985 he left for Dallas where he worked for nine years. In the mid-1990s he managed four stations in Santa Rosa. Jeff updates his activities: "Exited as OM of Amaturo Group in Santa Rosa at end of Spring book on an absolute high---rock station ["the Fox"] finished #1 overall, country station ["Froggy"] beat the 11-year heritage country station, oldies station trended up, and the news/talk station, KSRO, hit the million dollar mark in revenue for the first time in many years. Vaulted from market 114 to #22 as pd of Jacor talk stations KHOW/KTLK in Denver. Get to work with some great people, including director of AM Operations Robin Bertolucci and gm Lee Larsen. Love that Jacor is a radio company run by radio people. What a concept!!!" firstname.lastname@example.org
(Labor Day Weekend, September 5-7, 1998) The following is very timely and a wonderful piece written by KABC's Joe Crummey.
McGwire, Maris, My Grandpa & Me
As of this writing Mark McGwire is closing in on Roger Maris' 61 home run mark. This is the most famous record in all of sports.
Although there is some controversy, the big difference is that this time everybody wants McGwire to break the record. Did you know that on Maris' headstone it says, "Against all odds?" We might as well graffiti in "And against all fans, too," because Roger was not supported during his unlikely assault on Babe Ruth's home run record in 1961. He was perceived to be trampling on sacred ground. Roger Maris was an upstart, an unworthy challenger, a traitor to the memory of a great legend.
And now in 1998 most of us donıt realize that Roger's record has stood for 3 years longer than the Babe's ever did. But when its broken it'll be good because Roger will finally rest in peace. To the kids of today he will become just another name. He was never suited for the throne anyway. At least that's what my grandfather used to say.
I didnıt spend much time with my grandfather whose name I share. We lived in separate cities and he seemed to be impossibly older than I was. When I'd take the train to visit him in New York City heıd stand on the platform at Grand Central Station checking the schedule against a watch on a chain that he would pull out of his vest pocket. How weird, I thought. He was not the kind of man you called grandpa. He was grandfather. I never felt we had much in common although I suspect it had something to do with the fact that I was 10 and he was 80.
My grandfather was an old fashioned baseball fan. He was born of the era when baseball was a gentlemanıs game. In his day men showed up at the ballpark in three piece suits. They wore straw hats and when someone hit a home run theyıd pluck their hats from their heads and toss them into the air. How all those hats got back on the right heads has always been a mystery to me.
My grandfather really liked the old New York Giants but he had a certain amount of reverence for the Babe. I didnıt really get into baseball until 1962 or 3 but guys like him were still talking about the controversial 1961 season. It didnıt bother me at all at the time. And now, 38 years later, my grandfather is long gone but I am here to witness Rogerıs record being broken. At a time like this I think of him and what he might say if he were still around.
Because of the McGwire androstenedione controversy and the resulting debate, I have come to realize that so much about baseball has changed over the last 38 years. Its hard to get a sense of an absolute comparison even though we all know the magic number is 61. These days players stay in shape all year round. There is serious weight training. There's the downsizing of ballparks. But todayıs pitchers are better, too. After all this time there are just so many variables that the record might as well be broken for all its worth today. Maybe McGwire will hit 70.
But what remains is a sense of the moment itself. A rite of passage if ever there was one. A feeling that men of my generation last experienced as young boys with bats on our shoulders and dreams in our heads. We were living proof of the present. We, like Roger Maris, owed no debt to the past.
But my grandfather was not so impressed. And now I think I understand a little more about how he felt because as we experience that moment again, I realize that somewhere in my mind Roger Maris is still batting and I'm cheering him on. Maybe its because I like the "Against all odds" theme of his epitaph as opposed to the beefed up high-tech robo-bruiser McGwire. And maybe I think of Roger Maris because it is he who gave me my moment.
In any case, as the frenzy about 61 home runs grows louder and louder I find myself quietly reflecting upon my grandfather and the kinds of things that must have been going though his mind when he would take me, his grandson, to see the Yankees play at Yankee Stadium.
Even as I resist letting go of Roger Maris I have to thank the man of the hour, Mark McGwire. It is, after all, because of him that I feel a little closer to my granddad.
(September 3, 1998) An email from reader Jeff Newton appeared on August 20 in the WHERE ARE THEY NOW pages. Jeff was asked about longtime sports reporter for the LA Herald-Examiner and KABC Sportstalk host, Bud Furillo. I reported that Bud is working at KPSI-Palm Springs. Bud emails: "Ive been working in the desert since January of 1995. Ive never been happier than I am at the present working at Newstalk 920 KPSI. We like to think we present a sensible program from 4 to 6 each weekday. Im working with a Rutgers grad name of Steve Kelly. We broadcast from Big League Dreams each day. Big League Dreams is the darndest complex youve ever seen with three ball fields that resemble Fenway, Wrigley and Yankee Stadium. That is, you look into the same outfield backdrop and kids from 9 to 90 enjoy it very much. Similar facilities will go up in Riverside and Anaheim, according to Rick Odekirk, who spent 13 years in the minor leagues as a pitcher. Hes a USC grad and I first met him as a batboy with the Dodgers in 1977." DagoBud@aol.com
(September 2, 1998) Linda Morris at email@example.com wrote about a Los Angeles radio favorite, Red Blanchard, who had considerable fame in San Francisco. Linda writes: "I was a fan of Red's when he was on KCBS in San Francisco, [circa 1953] although I lived here in L.A. As a young teen I went to great lengths to find that distant signal and hang on. His zany act up there was on a par with another icon of that era, Mad Comics. I wrote letters, sent him drawings and my own version of commercials for his sponsors products, [Bellfast Rootbeer and Wildroot hair tonic among others] which he read on the air with a chuckle, to my great delight. I went on to a career that included writing retail radio spots, tv spots and direct marketing copy. So in a sense, he was my mentor. My friends thought I was pretty weird to be so obsessed by a radio personality 400 miles away. When he did a tv pilot here in about 1954, he actually phoned my house and invited me and my dubious friends to the show. I was thrilled! I still have a scrapbook featuring photos from that encounter, a spread that Life Magazine did on him during those years and a warped 45-RPM record of Ape Call by Nervous Norvus. I lost track of him after his stay in LA during the 60's. His programs here were pretty tame compared to his earlier stuff. By then I was a grown up and had progressed? to Ernie Kovaks and Soupy Sales. But I still think of Red whenever I encounter one of those words from his special vocabulary: zorch, dimph, puce and Parumph. Could you tell me what became of Red Blanchard?"
Red Blanchard, of early 50s KCBS fame, and later in Los Angeles at KFWB and KNX, among others, lives the quiet life alone in Sherman Oaks, accompanied by a neighbors cat who comes in daily to be petted [not fed!] His days are spent with Ham Radio, and computers, where he is known on the internet as firstname.lastname@example.org. He has three children, nine grandchildren, and, so far, four great-grandchildren, scattered all over the west, so he uses a motorhome to make periodic visits. He is also trying to locate old associates from the past via "search engines" on the web.
(September 1, 1998) Known as Mike Fright and erroneously as Mike Ivenk while working in Los Angeles radio, this email updates Mikes activities: "My name is Michael Ivankay and I enjoyed your book plenty. I'm sending you a quick email to tell you of a minor error. Under Mike Fright you have me as Mike Ivenk. That is the way Gary Lycan spelled my name in a couple of articles [about MARSfm and Poorman]. I thought it was funny and didn't bother to correct it. Tonight I was going through your Web page and viola! After MARSfm, I did a show on KWIZ for 9 months called Renegade Radio. Some fellow djs [DJ Racer, That Jen Girl, and Mr. Nipples] bought some time and had fun experimenting until the $$$ ran out. For the show I used Mike Fright [a name given to me by pd of MARS/fm and Freddy Snakeskin). No radio until I got a call from Ena Aalvik [Swedish Egil's wife] in June of 96. I produced Egil's afternoon show, worked a weird overnight shift [3 a.m. till 6 a.m. weekdays], and hosted a Sunday night/Monday morning show called World Class DJ's. While on Groove Radio I used my real name, Mike Ivankay. When Egil left (last year) and Mohammed Moretta became pd [for a limited time], one of his first duties was to fire me. Oh well, that's the way the cookie bounces."
(August 30, 1998) This summer we have been reminiscing about Southern California radio in 1973, thanks to Jeff Bowen. Jeff wrote a fascinating profile of the Southland airwaves for an airline publication. This segments deals with personalities:
Don Page is the resident historian of local radio personalities. Page writes a column in the Los Angeles Sunday Times on the subject, as well as airing a program called "Inside Radio." Those interested in radio can find him most interesting.
Several local personalities are quite successful in tv as well as radio. KMPC is well represented in this category. Wink Martindale (KMPC) is seen daily on the popular CBS game show Gambit. Clark Race (KMPC) handles the MC duties on the Chuck Barris production, The Parent Game, while former PC dj Jim Lange has anchored another Barris show, The Dating Game for years. NBC/TVs Bobby Darin Show employs KMPCs Geoff Edwards, while Geoff was just cancelled from the CBS/TV show, Hollywoods Talking. Watch for Edwards to make a quick and deserving comeback this fall in a new series called Treasure Hunt.
Other include KMPCs Roger Carroll who has frequent tv announcing assignments, which have included the Bobby Darin Show, and the national syndicated Mancini Generation. Gary Owens is probably the best known nationally. He has been featured for many seasons on the super-hit NBC/TV show, Laugh In. Another KMPC old timer, Dick Whittinghill, has done numerous guest shots on tv, most recently on Columbo. And, besides his sports assignments, KMPCs Dick Enberg hosts the well-known NBC daytime show, Baffle. He also does the nationally syndicated tv show, Sports Challenge. His golf game must really suffer!
Also, former L.A. rock personality, Bob Eubanks, has been hosting yet another Barris show The Newlywed Game on ABC for years. Eubanks was a longtime favorite of local radio listeners before entering tv.
Wink Martindale is without a doubt, the man in local radio who spends more time in preparation than any other personality. He has developed a "mini-special" format that features interviews and in-depth biographies of recording artists.
One would have to concede that KMPCs Dick Whittinghill is the dean locally. He has maintained his huge audience through several decades of listeners. His sometimes suggestive put-on humor is classic. Funnyman Foster Brooks' polluted appearances also add much color to "Whits" program. Whittinghill should in no way be confused with KGILs Dick Whittington. Also a morning man, "Sweet Dick" has an entirely different style and ability to entertain. Many listeners are not aware that Whittinghill got his start as a singing member of the "Four Esquires," who later became "The Pied Pipers" a top group in the 1940s.
From nine to noon on KMPC, Los Angeles is exposed to the resident tennis buff of local radio, Geoff Edwards. He has a tremendous wit and personality, and every bit of it comes out over the air.
Most radio stations have "utility men," who are called upon to fill-in for ill and vacationing personalities. KMPC has several such men, the best known to listeners being Pete Smith.
Golden West Broadcasters also employs two other uniquely qualified men Donn Reed and Johnny Grant. Donn is probably the "dean" of the field reporters. His "Night Side" feature qualifies him as one of the best investigative reporters in the business. Johnny was once a big drive time disc jockey in the Southland. His very popular "Freeway Club" was heard on KMPC a couple of decades ago. He has since become the goodwill ambassador for GWB.
A voice instantly recognized, as that of one of the favorites of the 50s and 60s is Ira Cook. He retired from KMPC several years ago and now does Armed Forces radio. He loved Hawaii and frequently played cuts of Hawaiian music.
Art Laboe, the oldies but goodies mentor, is still alive and well in local radio. His live requests from Scribners Drive-In will long be remembered. He is now heard on XERB broadcasting weekends from his nitery (formerly Ciros) on the Sunset Strip. Along with Art, many in that over-30 set should recall, "Hug, Hug, Huggie Boy!" Another memory flogger is Hunter Hancock also a big name from the 50s. And, Jim Hawthorne has returned recently to local radio.
Much can be said about the boy wonder from Peoria, now in his middle-earlies, KGBS Bill Ballance. He plays nursemaid to thousands of girls on his fabulously successful show, formerly called "The Feminine Forum." It is now syndicated through Dick Clark Radioshows, Inc. Bill has been copied, something the FCC should have take careful note of when they made a blanket crack down on this type of talk show. He was the creator of this format and was NOT responsible for the FCC ruling his imitators hurt Ballance far more than Ballance hurt himself. Many in the 25-34 group should remember "Billo" as the master of the one-liner at KFWB.
Another KGBS super-dj is "Beautiful Bob" Hudson. He is now teamed with Ron Landry, forming one of the funniest new comedy teams in the business. They are best known for their hit single, Ajax Liquor Store.
Dave Hulls very popular afternoon show on KGBS features a phone segment called "Action Line" and "Dial a Ding Dong." (Ballance referred to the bit as "Dial a Dog.") Known as the "Hullabalooer," Dave loves local sports. He teamed with ex-Dodger baseball great, Wes Parker, in presenting a drug abuse program to schools.
KFIs Al Lohman and Roger Barkley are the Bob and Ray of local radio. KFI also employs Paul Compton who is smooth and very knowledgeable on all phases of music. Frank Sinatra has often referred to Compton as his "favorite disc jockey."
Jeffs feature on Los Angeles radio, written in 1973, will conclude next weekend. JKB1919@aol.com
(August 28, 1998) When Jack Kent Cooke brought the expansion Kings hockey team to Los Angeles in 1967, he hired fellow Canadian "Jiggs" McDonald for play-by-play announcing duties. When Daily News sports guru Tom Hoffarth profiled "Jiggs," he reported that the nickname came from the popular comic strip at the time. Cooke said his brother had a nickname, his sister had a nickname, he had a nickname and his announcer was going to have a nickname. "Jiggs" lives in Florida and reviews his career and what he is up to in this email:
"As for my activities, I've free lanced hockey on tv for the past three seasons doing games for CBC Hockey Night in Canada, FOX Network, Toronto Maple Leaf mid week package for Molstar Sports [that was a 36 game package each year for the first two years]. I also did a few for ESPN and also some radio playoff games for the NHL radio Network. This upcoming season is wide open on my calendar, don't have one game to do yet.
I live in Florida during the winter and commute out of there, but I would relocate in a minute. I spend the summers back home in Ontario on the shores of Lake Simcoe at Orillia.
After leaving Los Angeles to join the Atlanta Flames, I took 8 seasons to put them out of business. Then moved on to the New York Islanders for the next 15 seasons, three Stanley Cups and a finals in the first 4 years there. Then along came SportsChannel America and I was their lead play by play guy for the 5 year run so I got to do the Cup finals for another 5 trips.
I was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1990. This should be season number 32 in the NHL if all goes well. Still trying to get one right!!!" Jmcdon3700@aol.com
(August 27, 1998) Growing up in Delaware, Ohio, Rick Scarry was a "go-fer" for Dave Hull, "the Hullabalooer," at WTVN-Columbus. Rick got into radio and he eventually arrived in the Southland in 1968 when he started at KEZY. Over the next quarter of a century, Rick worked at KKDJ, KDAY, KGIL, KMET, KRTH, KHJ, KMET, KMPC/FM/KEDG and KLIT. He was one of the last voices at KMET, "the Mighty Met," when the station went dark on February 6, 1987. That day became known as Black Friday in L.A. radio lore. Rick recalled being called to the Sheraton Premiere Hotel: "Id been fired by the best. But Id rather have someone say, Get out of here than to walk into a room and have the gm say, The cancer was too deep. We just had to cut it out." Rick moved on to a very successful acting career and has appeared on L.A. Law, Murphy Brown, Ellen and he has screenplays that have been optioned. He has been a regular on Arli$$.
Rick emails: "Love the site! I spend far too much time catching up with all the people I've worked with over the years. Please add my email address to your list. email@example.com. I just finished shooting a Drew Carey Show that was very nostalgic for me. I play the manager of the Cleveland Airport Ramada Inn and I hire Drew and his garage band to entertain. They need another member for the band and hold auditions. Among those who try out and are rejected are Dusty Hill from ZZ Top, Rick Nielsen from Cheap Trick, Slash from Guns n Roses, Joey Ramone, Dave Mustaine from Megadeath, Lisa Loeb, Matthew Sweet, & Roy Clark. The legendary Joe Walsh gets the job and during the show is reunited with his old band from Cleveland The James Gang. It's been a great job and lot's of fun for an old radio guy."
(August 26, 1998) For over two decades, Brian Roberts has been part of Los Angeles radio working at KDAY, KUTE, KMGG, KKHR, KZLA, KRTH, KCBS and KRLA. He graduated from Canoga Park High School in 1965 and started his radio journey leaving behind his high school sweetheart, Sherry Smolkin. During his radio odyssey he worked at KYA-San Francisco and KCBQ-San Diego before starting at KDAY in 1976. He married head sheriff Sherman Blocks daughter, Barbara. About the time he left his last L.A. job, KZLA in 1996, his marriage was coming apart and they divorced.
His high school sweetheart "maintained contact" with Brians parents over the years. Now single, Brian was going through prom pictures from 32 years earlier and wondered about Sherry Smolkin. He enthused: "I called her for lunch and I saw the same 15-year-old saxophone player from the school band who was now 50. She was just like in high school and we fell in love all over again. We got married on New Years Eve 1997." Brian continues to work weekends at the Oldies Channel at Westwood One.
(August 24, 1998) One of the great radio failures, or maybe just disappointments in Los Angeles radio, was the "Pirate Radio" format at KQLZ (100.3FM) in 1989. With much hoopla and fanfare, Scott Shannon arrived in early 1989 with national press attention and high expectation levels from Westwood One. Billboard magazine estimated that Scott had signed a $10 million deal for 5 years to be vp of the Westwood Ones station group, which would include launching "Pirate Radio." In February of 1991, WW1 pulled the plug and Scott said, "Just about every dj who starts out in this business dreams of opening the microphone and speaking to Los Angeles. It has been a dream. I feel we had a plan and we were going to do it and they pulled the rug out at the last minute." The "Pirate Radio" moniker stayed with the station for a couple of more years and one of the morning teams called itself, "The Rude Boys," made up of Steven O. Sellers and Greg Stevens.
This is Steven O. Sellers story and how the "Rude Boys" got to Los Angeles and where they went.
"In the early 1980's Greg Stevens and I started the original Rude Awakening morning show on the legendary KISS [99.5FM]- San Antonio, the heritage rocker in South Texas. In late 1985, we took the show to the first major market classic rock station, KCFX [the FOX] - Kansas City. During our years together, Greg would go in as pd and I would be nd and of course we did the morning show. After a year in K.C., we went to KGMG [Magic 102]San Diego and had a long successful run there. Eventually the station was changed to Rock 102 and call letters changed to KIOZ to sorta look like 1 0 2, 102=IOZ sorta.
Our Rock 102 signal skipped up the coast to Malibu where an executive of Pirate Radio and Westwood One heard us, liked us and hired us in June of 1992. The station sold for $44 million to Viacom in April of 1993 and Greg and I found ourselves in the Venice Blvd. unemployment office! That summer of 1993 was great for me! I worked for a short while for Metro Networks, which was housed in the K-Earth building, so every morning I got to see Robert W. Morgan. Then, I was hired away by rival Shadow Broadcasting and whisked back down to San Diego to be a news anchor for the new Shadow news service and ended up back on 'Rock 102' doing news. When the parent company bought KOGO, Shadow struck a deal to make me the local host and news guy on the Don Imus Show in 1993.
In spring of 1994 I was also doing a weekend talk show over KTSA in my hometown of San Antonio from the Shadow Studios in San Diego, and KTSA hired me away to do the morning talk show there in July 1994. I did that for nearly 4 years and then got an offer from the legendary Texas Broadcasting family of Mac Tichernor to help them develop a positive radio format. Thats what I am doing now at radio station KPOZ in San Antonio. I also work for the only cable TV company in San Antonio, Paragon Cable, which is owned by Time-Warner. I do various on-camera-hosting duties, but have a weekly interview show from the city council chambers that features the City Manager of San Antonio. I also do a lot of commercial voice over work and I am a part time studio musician. I play guitar and mandolin. Greg is at the Eagle in Dallas." ( firstname.lastname@example.org )
(August 23, 1998) Jeff Bowen wrote an extensive story on the state of radio in 1973 for an airline magazine. It has been fun to reminisce with his essay and the current chapter looks at news and sports:
"Once again, KMPC wins the honors supplying L.A. with the best news coverage in both AM & FM radio. Though much less frequent than news on either KFWB or KNX, no better or more sensible coverage could be carried out than is already being done by KMPC. PC airs news, sports and weather on the hour and half hour in capsule form. The station airs reports from the worldwide bureau of the Los Angeles Times, a service added in 73. Golden West Broadcasters [owner of KMPC, as well as KTLA/Channel 5] also employs its own White House correspondent.
Other newsmen, such as Steve Arvin, do a fine job on regular KMPC broadcasts. Another credit to the news department is Larry McCormick. His broadcasts make the listener feel like he is genuinely interested in bringing you up-to-date with the most accurate coverage possible.
Regulars in the extensive KMPC newsroom are Paul Pierce, known as The Panther," Dave DeSoto and "Big Daddy" Herb Green. These men handle the field reports and features. Herb replaced Capt. Max Schumacher in Airwatch duties following the fiery crash with a police helicopter over Dodger Stadium in 1966 that took the life of Captain Max. The late Jim Hicklin was also a veteran Airwatch pilot, spending many off hours doing stunt and special effect work for local studios. Jim died in April 1973 in a bizarre murder aboard the SS Princess Italia in Los Angeles Harbor.
Other well known local fliers in radio include Bruce Wayne [KFI in the Sky], and Francis Gary Powers, the ex-U2 pilot who is now a member of the KGIL Skywatch team. Even millionaire car dealer Cal Worthington once flew traffic reports for KLAC!
KFI has always offered a very complete news department, staffed with pros like Larry Chatterton, and the late Pat Bishop. Laker and Dodger games are regular features of KFI sports, during their respective seasons.
Although KGBS presents its news in an out-dated tape delay form, it features one of the better-known voices in local radio, Bob Warren. He is easily recognizable as the voice of Ralph Edwards This is Your Life on tv.
KBIG newsman Carl Baily is a longtime resident of the L.A. news scene, as is Dean Sander of KLAC. Dick Spangler, another seasoned pro, is heard over KGIL, while former KHJ 20/20 news vet, J. Paul Huddleston, is a regular over KROQ in Burbank.
One of the deepest voices ever heard coming out of a local newsroom was that of David Rodgers. He was the regular morning newsman on Lohman & Barkleys successful show, then aired over KFWB. He was often referred to as The Giant Frog by the comedy team because of his deep and serious sounding voice.
Peggy Bowen, on the staff of KGBS, is colorful on the freeway scene in the guise of Little Fanny Freeway in her big read cruiser 41-D. She airs license numbers and invites listeners to call her at KGBS where they can come in and get theirs from Little Fanny Freeway. She is every bit as good looking as she sounds over KGBS.
The standout sportscasters in town are Stan Brown [KGIL], Fred Hessler [KMPC] and Jim Healy [KLAC]. Healy was once with KABC/Channel 7 in command of the sports duties on Baxter Wards news team. Cleve Hermanns Live Line to the World of Sports [KFWB] also deserves its long-standing top rating. Stan Browns KGIL broadcasts will remind many of the old Bob Kelley style [once the Rams announcer].
The two thoroughbreds of local play-by-play are Dick Enberg and Vin Scully. Enberg spreads his time between the Angels and UCLA basketball, and the Rams! On the Angel broadcasts, Dick is now teamed with ex-Dodger star, Don Drysdale. Former Angel [KMPC] broadcaster Don Wells is now with KFWB as a news [not sports] reporter. Vin Scully is the longtime mainstay of KFIs Dodger broadcasts and is fantastic!" JKB1919@aol.com
The personality line-up in 1973 when this series continues
(August 22, 1998) In the late 1970s, KWIZ experimented with an "all-female" dj staff. Diana Kirchen was part of the staff and updates her activities: "I went through the Fullerton College radio program while attending Cal State Fullerton. When I graduated from Cal State Fullerton in 1977, I landed my first job doing 7 - midnight at KONG in Visalia. It was a great experience in a small market, but I really wanted to get back to Orange County, so when a part-time opportunity came up in 1978 at the all female KWIZ/FM, I jumped! KWIZ-FMs slogan was Young and Beautiful the format was the creation of Bill Weaver [gm at KLOK, our sister station in San Jose]. Shortly after arriving at KWIZ I was appointed Music Director, working long distance with Bill Weaver. Bill was a joy to work withI learned so much from him about radio programming. His enthusiasm was contagious! Bill Weaver has been credited with the All Request format he started at KWIZ.
However, as Bill Wright pointed out, the station was never strictly all femalebut it was somewhat unique at a time when there were not many female jocks out there. It was a strange station environmentwe were in a storefront in South Coast Plaza Village with a big picture window so people could press noses against the window when we were trying to sound young and beautiful without cracking up. We had a great air staff, including several who have gone on to very successful careers in other L.A. radio stations: Bill Wright, Mary Price, Joyce Eagleton, Jan Marie, Patty Martinez, etc.
I was Music Director at KWIZ for both AM & FM from 1978 - 1980, when I left to teach radio broadcasting at Fullerton College. I did Weekends on the air at KWIZ-AM from 1978 - 82 -- in fact, Im proud to say that I started the Disco Saturday Night show on Saturday nights at KWIZ in 1979! When I did the overnight shift Sunday midnight Monday morning, I followed Dr. Laura Schlessinger, who was on KWIZ/AM at that time from 9 to midnights on Sunday nights. She was just starting out in her incredible radio career -- very nice to work with. At the other end of my show, on Monday morning I greeted Bob Shannon and Ed Nix and Spider McLean and Ed Bergerand later Ronnie Richards. What a great group!
Is there life after radio? YesIve been very happy in my career in higher education since 1980, both as a radio instructor at Fullerton College [1980 1993] and now as Associate Dean at Cuyamaca College in El Cajon [1994 present]. But I miss radio in some waysits a FUN and energizing atmosphere because of the people. My husband, Paul Kelly, also worked on the air at KWIZ [fill-in] and taught radio broadcasting at Fullerton College from 1978 - 1992. He is now Dean of Vocational Technology at Palomar College in San Diego County. Alsoits a real thrill for us to hear our former students from Fullerton - including Stew Herrera, Bill Thomas, Robert Champagne, Julio Flores, and others." Diana_Kelly@gcccd.cc.ca.us
(August 21, 1998) For decades Waco Pat was as much a part of Los Angeles Radio history at KABC as Ken and Bob, Ken and Roger and Ken and Peter. Waco Pat was on the other side of the glass running controls for the morning teams from 1957 until his retirement in 1997. He did the voice drop-ins, musical stingers and became a personality in his own right. Waco worked at KFOX and KTYM before joining the local ABC O&O in 1957. When he was doing a morning jock shift at KTYM they wanted him to be known as "Side Saddle Sam." He compromised with Waco Pat and it stuck. I caught up with Waco this week and he is busy working in his community of Signal Hills. He was quick to point out that Signal Hill has 8,400 population and 28 cops. Waco is a trustee for the Long Beach City College Foundation, on the Board of the Signal Hill Police Officers Association and member of the Long Beach Motor Cop Association. Hes running for planning commissioner for Signal Hill. Waco said, "In some ways I hope I dont get it. It is a 2-year commitment." His wife teaches early childhood psychology and parenting at Long Beach City College.
(August 20, 1998) email@example.com emails: "With the passing of the great Jim Murray, this week, I recalled another great sports writer and broadcaster whom I haven't heard much of lately. The Steamer Bud Furillo edited the fabulous sports section of the L.A. Herald-Examiner from 1948 to 1974. His column, the Steam Room, was top notch. Bud also had at least two stints as the host of "KABC Sportstalk" in the early 1970s and again in the 1980s.
In about 1988 or '89, Bud appeared on a small station, KFOX out of Redondo Beach, with a young talent named Steve Hartman, who went on to XTRA AM 690 in San Diego and also KCBS Channel 2 in Los Angeles. I read that Bud had gone on to do sports talk on a Sacramento radio station and then moved on to either Las Vegas or Palm Springs.
Where is Bud Furillo now? I know he has had various health problems over the years. I would love to be able to write to Bud. I am a graduate of USC and a lifelong Trojan fan. Bud was a terrific host and interviewer, and had a knack of getting close to athletes and obtaining stories that other writers couldn't find. He always sounded like a very honest, caring person, and he knew and understood the L.A. sports scene as well as anyone.
I hope to write him and thank him for all the great contributions he made to my life as a kid growing up in L.A. Jeff Newton, USC 1984, 1991"
Thanks for the letter Jeff. Bud is working a two-hour afternoon drive sports talk show at KPSI-Palm Springs. Tom Hoffarth of the Daily News recently did a story on Bud. Bud talked to Tom about the show on KPSI: "Its the highlight of my day. Its the best thing I do all day." Buds radio career included KABC (1973-75), KIIS (1975-79), KABC (1979-87) and KFOX (1988-90).
(August 19, 1998) Ed Crook has emailed us the following: "Just read Steve Rays letter dated July 15th where he mentioned KGRB. I was one of the original ones working there back in the 60s along with Ron Harris and Bill Ford. Even back then the studios were in a house in West Covina which consisted of an office with just a couple of old desks, bare wooden floors [the carpet was still rolled up], the studio had no glass, the console sat on some wooden boxes and the turntables then consisted of portable suit case types. The transmitter was right across from us where we could watch it. All the floors were bare. Stuff was stored in all of the various rooms including the garage. It was a mess even back then. Nothing was finished. Bob Burdette, the owner, lived in Beverly Hills area and would call us if we played anything that wasnt in the orange crates. He had lots of LPs and 78s that consisted of Big Bands. It was the only format of its kind back then. The station was only a daytimer. The call letters KGRB was for Gloria and Robert Burdette. The station didnt have a sales force and we had very little commercials. Those that we had were trade. I left the station in 1973 and moved here to Lake Tahoe to put on a new FM station [KRLT] on the air as owner and GM. Speaking of Bob Burdette, the AM station here at South Lake Tahoe (KOWL) was originally owned by him. What a coincidence. I sure would like to hear from anyone who worked at KGRB." firstname.lastname@example.org
(August 17, 1998) At KLAC/Channel 13 in the early 1950s, Jim Hawthorne created the first late evening talk show on television, This Is Hawthorne. The LA Times reflected on the importance of the show as "a predecessor to NBCs Saturday Night Live." For many, Jim was known as "ol Weather Eyes" on local tv because of his huge horn-rimmed glasses and banjo eyes. He worked for many radio stations during his stay in the Southland, including program director for KFWB when Chuck Blore left the rock and roll "Color Radio." Jim emailed on his activities: "Well I just returned from a five-week stay in at my mountain home in Colorado -- and How about this? -- I am moving back there to stay next week -- YES, moving back permanently. My place there has been in the family since I was a kid. After spending numerous big bucks on it each year keeping it up to code it began to beckon more and more and I decided to defy Thomas Wolfe's admonition about going home. Home is where the hearth is, I always say. My two sons [Darr and Scott] plan to visit me and there's always Pa and Ma Bell's relatives to bridge the distance via fiber optics [in Colorado it's called glass wires] to communicate with each other. My 5 wonderful grandchildren promise to visit me, also. Will I miss SoCal? Mmmmmm, yes. Will I love going home? Yup! All my best 2U --- _///\/\ h" ( email@example.com )
(August 15, 1998) From her pdship at KPOL in 1979, Rollye James went on to work at KMPC, KHTZ, KGIL, KLAC, and KFI. In 1983 she joined Billboard as the radio editor and a year later was chairman of the magazines radio convention. Having worked in 32 markets, she has driven every inch of interstate in America. Rollye eventually made the transition to talk radio and worked KOA-Denver, KFMB-San Diego and KLBJ-Austin. She graduated magna cum laude from the University of Miami. Even though she qualifies for MENSA membership, she told me when I interviewed her for my book: "Before you leap to conclusions, Miami grades on a curve." Her story is fascinating. Her Bolivian father (at age 37 she learned that she was adopted) died in a commercial air crash when she was 10. Rollye became emancipated at 12 and has been on the move ever since. I caught up with Rollye yesterday in Philadelphia where she works evenings at WWDB. Four nights a week is, as she described it, "all-Clinton bashing, all-the-time" and Friday night she plays obscure r&b music. "Its obvious I have a bifurcated audience. Those who love to bash Clinton arent into listening to the Spaniels sing Stormy Weather and vice versa." For the past four months she has been fighting for occupancy of her two-story home. During a storm a few months ago, a tree uprooted and landed on the entire second floor of her home which imploded. "I claimed squatters rights while trying to get dirt, fungus and bark out of my files. Plus my insurance company doesnt understand what a valuable loss my WMCA Good Guy sweatshirt is to me." ( Rjames@wwdbfm.com )
(August 11, 1998) Multi-talented Los Angeles Radio People, Geoff Edwards, checked in from the road. "I am alive and well and living in Palm Springs. Doing a travel radio show, travel writing, and still doing Game Shows. This summer I am on the road doing a stage presentation, "The 25,000 Dollar Game Show." Geoff started at KHJ in 1964 and for the next quarter of a century worked at KFI and KMPC. He hosted numerous tv game shows including Treasure Hunt, NBC's Jackpot and Hollywood's Talking on CBS. He was a featured performer on NBC's Bobby Darin Show and was co-host with Meredith MacRae of Mid-Morning L.A., which earned him an Emmy while on KHJ/Channel 9. For many years Geoff traveled to Sacramento to host the California Lottery's Big Spin. ( firstname.lastname@example.org )
(August 4, 1998) Jeff Bowen continues his look at Los Angeles radio. He wrote an article on the state of radio for an airline publication in 1973. Travel back in time when FM was young.
KPOL is the station that could easily be referred to as the FM outlet on the AM dial. Many of the less fortunate that dont have FM in their cars can fake it by tuning to KPOL, near the end of the dial at 1540. KPOL likes to advertise that they "Usually go 15 minutes without interrupting their beautiful music." But, they continue, "Frequently, and without warning, can drop in a music dividend with 60 minutes of uninterrupted music!" KPOL has been on top for years and will probably remain there for years to come.
One of the lesser known, but best, stations in town is KGFJ at 1230 on the AM dial. Calling itself "Soul #1" their djs have been known to say that KGFJ is the station that other djs listen to, which is very believable when you hear its excellent sound.
Tripping the switch over to FM, we find fewer standouts, but plenty to choose from! Taking a closer look, we find KBCA (105.1FM) featuring excellent jazz and blues 24 hours a day. The station that devotes all its time to nostalgia is KRTH. They are successfully specializing in music for the era of the 50s. When it was using the call letters of KHJ/FM, KRTH specialized in an adult rock format of the very highest quality.
KJOI has advertised that it offers the "worlds most beautiful music, with up to 57 minutes worth each hour." They claim to have only four interruptions with never more than two sponsors each hour.
KOST is one of the best Easy Listening stations on the dial at 103.5. Besides good music it features regularly timed, concise, news "interludes complete enough to keep the listener well informed by "easy" enough not to bother the serious music listener who might have his thoughts a mile away.
Advertised as "K-West," KWST is merely attempting to help the prospective listener remember the call letters. "K-100-FM" is another "play on letters," less well known as KIQQ. K-XTZ (sound it out) is another attempt to capitalize on call letters. Located at 104.3, KXTZs pretty music, with a minimum of chatter might well suit your fancy.
KPSA, as its name implies, is a subsidiary of San Diego based PSA, the intra-state airline. KPSA specializes in the "romantic sound" at 107.5.
Once a jazz and comedy oriented station, KNOB (the "Jazz Knob") is now giving way to a more easy listening format. Its home is near Disneyland in Anaheim at 97.9.
Progressive Rock is the sound of KLOS with its 74,000 watts of power. This outlet is planning sponsorship of live rock concerts, to be presented on the air. Another station, KROQ (AM), attempted a rock concert that was held in the huge Los Angeles Coliseum late in 1972. Much controversy developed when police were called in to settle the near riot that developed.
The best thing to air over KMET in recent months was its salute to the Golden Days of KFWB. Inspired by KMETs B. Mitchel Reed (a former KFWB star), original jingles, personalities, newsmen and hit songs from the 50s were featured on the all-day super-nostalgia trip. That day was truly a treat for the listener who remembered those fabulous 50s and the part KFWB had played. ( JKB1919@aol.com )
Next in the series, a look at News and Sports from 1973.
(August 1, 1998) Last Sunday Jaime Jarrin was inducted into baseballs Hall of Fame. Former KROQ personality Curt Mahler emails: "Jaime did broadcast the Dodgers when they were off KWKW for XEGM which was owned by the Liebermans. They bought KTNQ after the Dodgers returned to KWKW. I know because I was working at KLVE/XEGM with Jaime and got to sit in the booth at Dodger Stadium a few times [a great thrill]! Jaime was one of the greatest pros I ever worked with. When I was doing production we called him one take Jarrin. He could do 10 commercials cold in one take and then run up the hall to do a live newscast. I still have some reel to reel tapes of some my favorite spots I produced for Jaime. He's a very special guy. I thought it was a shame that the ESPN telecast of the induction's did not show Jaime's speech." ( email@example.com )
(July 31, 1998) Star41402 at aol emailed a question about the former husband/wife morning team at KYSR wondering where they had gone. Jim and Melissa Sharpe worked mornings at KYSR from 1993-95. They met while working in Tucson radio and married in 1987 during an on-air event. When they left the Southland they moved to Phoenix and worked at different stations. Jim recently left KZON and Melissa is currently working at the NAC station, KYOT.
(July 28, 1998) In 1992, Dave Michaels arrived at KACE/KEAV and a year later was gone and that was his part in the history of the Southern California radio. Where did he come from and where did he go? Born David Smith, he recently sent a letter updating his life and career. While growing up in Columbus, he first went on the air at age 5 with his dad doing a weathercast. Dave officially started at 13 years old at family-owned WWWJ-Columbus where his father, John Smith, was the broadcast engineer and his mentor. His family moved west along the Ohio River to southern Indiana where he went on the air at WJYL-Louisville and later worked at WBLZ-Cincinnati. In the late 1980s he jocked at KSOL-San Francisco, WZKS-Louisville and WKKV-Milwaukee. In 1995 he returned to Louisville and is presently om for Cox Radio, overseeing WRKA, WRVI and WLSY. His co-workers often hear him comment, "Never forget where you came from and put God first."
(July 25, 1998) Between 1966 and 1975, Don Jaye worked in Southern California radio. He was gm of KCBH (later KJOI) and operations director at KDAY. Before leaving the Southland, Don hosted a variety show at KCOP/Channel 13. Don attended the University of Notre Dame before starting his radio career at WHOT-South Bend and then on to WSAI-Cincinnati and WJJD-Chicago. Don has been living and working in Las Vegas where he has done much radio and tv hosting and concert promotion.
(July 24, 1998) This is the third installment of an article that Jeff Bowen wrote about Los Angeles radio for an airline publication in 1973. Travel back a quarter of century and read what Southern California sounded like.
Now an all-News station, KFWB, was once the number one rock and roll station in town. It was "Color Radio" and "Channel 98" jingles, and a super format the creative genius of Chuck Blore. Thousands waited anxiously for KFWBs popular "Disc/coveries," which were referred to on the air as "Picks to Click," and the "Pick Hit of the Week." KFWB claimed that "over 50%" of their "Disc/coveries" became hits. They introduced the following records, all of which became big hits songs: "So Tough" by the Kuff Links, "Big Man" by the Four Preps, "Kookie Kookie, Lend Me Your Comb" by Edd Byrnes and "Hawaiian Wedding Song" by Andy Williams.
Many who remember those Golden Days at KFWB remember the little girl station breaks that declared "My mommy listens to KFWB!" That little girl, incidentally, was Chuck Blores daughter. It was one of the best programming jobs ever to come out of local radio.
The best regional station is KGIL, with KEZY a close second. KGIL proudly proclaims that it "is" the San Fernando Valley and has been for over 25 years. The station is capably headed by radio pro Stan Warwick. It is a shame KGIL has to be limited by a weak signal. For this reason it is tailored to the Valley. With a few changes, mostly advertisers, the station could be very universally accepted because of its excellent staff of reporters and personalities. KGIL is trying the re-introduction of very-old-time radio with ½-hour dramas airing during prime drive time. The station regular staff will write and perform the dramas. No one can claim that KGIL is afraid to innovate!
Orange County listeners are treated to KEZY, the other top regional station. Staffed by such likeables as Arnie McClatchey, this station could easily be a top rated one with the addition of a stronger signal and less competition.
Formerly KBBQ of Burbank, KROQ/AM has put together a new "ROQ" format that is staffed by some of the best talent (and most expensive) L.A. has to offer. "The Roq," however, is severely limited by its weak signal, and wont develop into a major outlet until this problem is solved. Big names like Charlie Tuna (formerly of KHJ), Sam Riddle (once at KDAY) and newcomer Steve Sands (following a short stay at KGBS) have recently appeared on KROQ. Sands, one of the better new personalities in local radio, has since left to join KIIS.
KROQ introduced itself to the media by throwing a giant party in exclusive Beverly Hills. The party was complete with live entertainment by such headline attractions as Sly and the Family Stone. Among the many guests were Edmund G. Brown, Jr. and Attorney General Evelle Younger, no less. This station has all the ingredients of full-blown success if someone would just hook up the 220 plug!
Chuck Blore has now created KIIS. Blores many talents will certainly add to the success of this new "soft rock" station. Besides good personalities, KIIS has three real pros in the newsroom: Charles Arlington (for years at KFWB), Ben Chandler and tvs Ken Jones.
In our next episode, Jeff details KPOL, KGFJ, KBCA and KRTH Jeff Bowen ( JKB1919@aol.com )
(July 22, 1998) During the 1980s Steve LaBeau programmed KFI and KLAC. He grew up in the San Fernando Valley and married his high school sweetheart. As a kid, he "played" radio in his bedroom and had his own little mock studio. During 1990s Steve programmed stations in Phoenix, Norfolk and Cleveland. Steve updates his activities:
"After spending the last four years programming in Cleveland [WLTF and WQAL], I joined the Associated Press in October of last year. Just so happens that the AP was looking for someone with a programming background for their West Coast affiliate relations position- I was looking for a good position with a stable company- it made for a great match. Were back living in Scottsdale now and I have an office in downtown Phoenix. I cover 13 markets for the AP- Los Angeles, San Diego, Riverside, Fresno, Sacramento, San Jose, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, Portland, Seattle, Tucson, and Phoenix. I love the job, the radio stations I work with, and the folks at AP. After the Cleveland winters, its nice to be back in the Southwest again. Enjoy the Website and book. Best....Steve LaBeau" ( SlaBeau@Juno.com )
(July 22, 1998) Back in the 1970s, Curt Mahler worked weekends at KROQ. When I was doing research for my book, I never found Curt. Turns out he has been an insurance adjuster, but he has found me. Curt remembers his work in Los Angeles radio and working with KROQs Scott Mason.
"Scott & I go back to Van Nuys High where we ran the campus radio station KWLF [the Wolf of Van Nuys]. At the time, Scott was already pushing buttons on the weekends at K-100 after working the phones for Rick Carroll at KKDJ. It was Scott who taught me radio. Our high school station was nothing more than a turntable and a microphone connected to a PA system. After graduation I worked with Scott at XEGM editing weekend shows. We were located in the 6430 Sunset Boulevard where K-100 was located and I got to run their board on weekends. When the Liebermans, who owned XEGM, bought KLVE I continued to run the board. I had the pleasure of producing election night coverage for Jaime Jarrin in 1976 when Jimmie Carter was elected. Jaime worked by himself for over 6 hours straight with very few breaks. I followed Scott to Ten-Q where I got to baby-sit and constantly re-boot the KGBS automation system known as Mongo. I worked the 5-midnight shift for the FM and was constantly sneaking over to the Ten-Q studio to do segues or just watch the likes of The Real Don Steele, Rich Brother Robbin and Joe Nasty. It was an exciting place to be at for a young kid learning radio and working for the late Ron Martin was a privilege. It was at KGBS where I got to know Bob Morgan and Nancy Plum, who I have both re-connected with lately through your Website. I eventually followed Scott to KROQ where Rick Carroll put me on Sunday nights after Rodney Bingenheimer [somebody had to clean up the Tab cans]! Rick later made me traffic director but gm Pat Welch insisted I quit school and work bankers hours. This mortified my dad to such an extreme that he agreed to support me my senior year if I stayed in school. So I left KROQ and stayed on the air at Marymounts KXLU jocking as well as traveling and doing color on the basketball broadcasts with Bill Seward, who is now with ESPN News. After college I did weekends at KLOM in Lompoc where my pd was Dave Montoya aka Skye Walker and later did weekends at KXZZ-Barstow for Cory Baker. However, I wanted to stay in LA so I ended up taking a 'real job' as an insurance adjuster in 1984 and Im still handling claims today. Lucky for me Scott lets me work behind the scenes for KROQ at concerts and other events to give me an occasional radio fix. I'm married with two boys, 4 and 2 and living in Valencia. Some day I hope to produce a weekend show or run a board. Well, Ive blathered on long enough. I was just a behind the scenes Los Angeles radio person with great memories." -Curt Mahler ( firstname.lastname@example.org )
(July 21, 1998) After Dusty Morgan of Elk Grove, CA, received my book, he sent me a letter about the radio host of "Make Believe Ballroom" at KFWB, legendary Al Jarvis.
"In reading the Al Jarvis bio, I noticed at the bottom of the piece the notation that Al died in 70 and was a sales executive at KLAC at that time. Something you may not have been aware of, and Im not telling you this to be a smart-ass, but at the time of his death, Al was working a sales position at KWIZ in Orange County. I know that because I was a young, fresh faced kid who had just started at KWIZ/FM reading their business news reports. I got the job through my buddy Bill Rice whos in your book and working currently at KJR in Seattle. About my second or third day on the job, Al popped his head into the FM studio and asked me, "How do you like my tie?" Id grown up watching his Make Believe Ballroom show on tv when I was a pre-teen. Man, all I thought at that moment was Holy shit, Al [freakin] Jarvis just asked me if I liked his tie. (It was red.) It wasnt too long after that that word came down via a memo on the bulletin board that Al had had a heart attack and passed away."
(July 20, 1998) If you were around when Hogans Heroes star Bob Crane worked morning drive radio in Los Angeles, you will appreciate this email from Rex Moore:
"I just found a recording of Bob Crane and his radio program from 1961 -- it was a 5th anniversary program on KNX featuring interviews with Pat Boone, Jonathan Winters, and Pat Buttram. It was CLASSIC radio! As long as I live, I'll swear on my dad's grave that Bob was the funniest radio personality who ever graced the airwaves. No matter WHAT people think of Crane's personal life and his addiction to pornography and such, this man was an absolute PIONEER in Los Angeles radio. I LOVED Dick Whittinghill and the rest, but Crane was the BEST who ever put on a pair of headphones. Those of us, who remember his program, will remember that Bob was a drummer, too. His goal in life was to be the next Gene Krupa. Bob used to have a set of drums in his studio at KNX, and drum along with the records he played. In 1974, when I was at KGRB, I emceed a big band dance on the Queen Mary, and Bob sat in with the band and was absolutely FABULOUS on the drums! During the band's version of Opus One, Bob played a solo that was INCREDIBLE!! This man was a remarkable talent, and I'm very, very proud to say that he was a friend of mine. He's been gone for 20 years now, but I'll NEVER forget all the things he did for me. I owe my radio career to Bob Crane. He was the best who ever lived, and I will ALWAYS be grateful to him." ( Rmoore5580@aol.com )
July 18, 1998) For three decades, China Smith has been part of the Southern California landscape starting at KDAY in 1971. Over the years he worked at KRLA, KROQ, KMET, KLOS, KWST, KMGG, KUTE, KTWV and KACD. In the 1980s, he was the voice on tvs Solid Gold. When he was between jobs, China would return like he was on a bungee cord to his home in Grand Rapids. China was a neighbor during his last stay in Southland. One day after the KACD job ended because of a format change, China up and returned once again to Grand Rapids. He emails from Michigan: "I have been hanging out at my fav vacation spot in Michigan, Hess Lake. I was partaking of some much needed R&R, collecting Maple leaves, going Snipe hunting, fishing for the ugliest Pike I could hook, and the like. Naturally, I've had to work a bit, at Classic Rock WLAV, and Oldies WODJ, where I am currently employed. My target date for re-entry into L.A. radio is August or September. This time around I'd have to say was a bit disappointing, so I'll not be visiting G.R. or anyplace in Michigan anytime soon. Really looking forward to be back in the City of the Angels a great deal. I've missed it. This will be the second time in 26 years, or is it the third, I forget, that I've come back to L.A. without a job. I'm fielding any and all offers." ( MrDJ99792@aol.com )
(July 17, 1998) Your name is Roland Bynum. You were born in Detroit. You were surrounded with entertaining relatives and friends (Diana Ross, Aretha Franklin and The Temptations). Sundays were fun when Uncle Smokey Robinson, who lived with the family, would sit on the porch and sing. In 1958, you went in the Marine Corps and were stationed for nine months with Lee Harvey Oswald. Little did you know what would explode in Dallas a few years later. When you were a private walking guard, you listened to the radio and a dream was born. You fell in love with the early djs in L.A. radio, Hunter Hancock, Margi, Larry McCormick, Wink Martindale, B. Mitchel Reed, Bill Ballance, Dave Hull, "Emperor" Bob Hudson and Bill Mercer (Rosko). You put down your rifle for a microphone and after graduating from Los Angeles City College with honors in 1965 started at WAPX-Montgomery. You meet James Brown your first week in radio. In the Southland you worked at KUTE, KACE, KAGB and KGFJ. You were a top black jock. You wondered why black stations (r&b) couldnt be more mainstream. In fact, you wondered why there was not one black dj who made the Top 10 listing in Los Angeles Radio People. You are restless. You continue to do your syndicate show for worldwide armed forces radio and go to school. You get a degree from Cal State Los Angeles and a masters from Cal State Northridge. You teach broadcasting at LACC for three years. When you first hit Los Angeles radio, you are known as "Soulfinger," hardly mainstream but your craft is perfected and acknowledged when you are named Billboard magazine Program Director of the Year for 1974, earning four major awards for yourself and KGFJ radio. In 1985, disillusioned with radio, you quit your first love and become a teacher. More than a decade goes by. You ask yourself, what is it that keeps drawing me back to radio. Your name is Roland "The Good" Bynum. Youre back on radio. Your new home is KJLH. Welcome home!
(July 16, 1998) Sherman Cohen is celebrating his 48th birthday today. His career has been about taking over "broken radio stations and fixing them." Born in Los Angeles, he grew up in Westchester and was influenced by the early Rock days of KFWB and KRLA. During the 1990s he went to San Diego to program XHRM and KUPR. Sherman emails: "After KUPR I moved back to L.A. because my parents had health problems. My dad passed away two years ago and my mom has cancer. Shes doing okay, though. Radio, being the unstable business that it is was not the right path to continue in so I started my own business called Best Event Mobile DJs. Ive been doing mobile dj parties as a sideline since it began in 1972. I also work for a company called Music Choice programming 4 music channels that are heard by over 4 million people nationally. I also take care of my three younger sons either after school or after summer camp. That keeps me pretty busy."( email@example.com )
(July 15, 1998) "Jeff Bowens article reminded me that it wasnt just the sounds and the people of L.A. radio that are important, but the places we worked.
KMPCs site at 5858 Sunset was a great place to work. There were four split studios [one voice booth/one engineer booth], a booth just for Jim Healy, a separate news booth, two production rooms, an FM booth with a waiting room, and a master control that had production capabilities. It was the most flexible facility Id ever seen, especially knowing that is was a. former bowling alley.
Upstairs was the wood paneled music library, in what had been an office for either Cecil B. DeMille or Jack Warner, [depending on who told the story], complete with a bathroom and back staircase for auditioning starlets to use with discretion.
KMPC/KLIT was in the frontage building for the soundstage where the first talkie, The Jazz Singer, was made. Years later you could hear the whooping of the crowd at Love Connection tapings coming through the FM studio wall. That old building wiggled like a piece of wet cardboard the morning of the Northridge quake, but she kept us safe in her aged belly.
In contrast, the sickly KGRB facility was a wiring rat nest in a ramshackle house in West Covina when I walked in as the last gm in 1994. They had no glass in the studio window, a 35-year-old Gates board, two turntables [one for 78s], an EV mic taped to a boom arm, and a mountain of trash stacked up in almost every available corner. The trash was everything from sales records from the 1960s to personal mail for owner Bob Burdette from ten years ago. The original 500kw transmitter hummed along just 25 feet away from the studio, and the best soundproofing was the stacks of milk crates filled with LPs and 78s along the walls. The garage had Bob Cranes old board from his remotes for KNX & production notes from KTLA/Channel 5s Frosty Frolics in the 1950s. What a dump!
Id like to think that the Hilton hotel room where KROQ was housed, along with the old KHJ studios on Melrose, the KMET/KLAC floor at Metromedia Square, the balcony above KNX, and the NBC Radio facility on Sunset will be remembered as fondly as Steele, Morgan, Freed and Wolfman." nostalgia emailed from Steve Ray ( firstname.lastname@example.org )
(July 14, 1998) This is the second installment of an article that Jeff Bowen wrote about Los Angeles radio for an airline publication in 1973. For those who were not around 25 years ago, travel back in time for some memories and strange call letters.
In looking over the AM dial, the casual observer of local radio would most likely view the standouts like this. KMPC would qualify as the best MOR station, while KHJ would hold Rock audience honors. KLAC, hands down, is the best Country and Western station, with KFI still trying to be the best of everything, from Talk to Country. KGIL (San Fernando Valley) and KEZY (Orange County) are the best regional outlets. KNX and KFWB hold the all-News attention. KIIS is joined by KROQ as possible new stars on the horizon. KPOL and XTRA are strong in the Easy Listening Category. KGFJ is excellent in the soul market and for many years KWKW in Pasadena has catered well to the Spanish-speaking audience, What a choice there is!
KMPC is the king of Southern California AM stations. Under the direction of Stanley L. Spero, KMPC is in a league by itself. KFI proudly calls itself "Total Spectrum Radio," because it tries to offer every type of radio all neatly wrapped up in one format. Cox recently paid over $15 million for this "Powerhouse of the Pacific" with its clear channel edge. One has to read Don Page in the Sunday Times to really keep up with KFI.
KFOX and KLAC are polished and professional Country outlets. Referred to as "California Country," under the leadership of Mort Hall, KLAC was once a MOR music giant. It has also become an auto race station, along with KBIG (Indy 500). This is due in part to KLACs Jay Lawrence and his interest in racing, with live on-the-track broadcasts.
KGBS simulcast on AM and FM, is the "hot" station for 1973. Bill Ballance and his popular show are responsible for much of KGBSs new found popularity. Other big draws for the station are the morning comedy team of Bob Hudson and Ron Landry, and L.A. radio veteran Dave Hull.
Next time, Jeff traces the changes at Rocker KFWB, KBBQ and Chuck Blores involvement with KIIS.
(July 13, 1998) Last Friday marked the 9th anniversary of Rick Carrolls death. His friend T. Michael Jordan (KMEN, KKDJ, KEZY) wrote a moving account of Ricks life that ran at this Website over the weekend. Craig Sea (KFXM, KEZY, KROQ, KNX/FM, KKHR, KMET) read T. Michaels essay and emailed: "I was one of Rick's fringe family. We met in 1977, and I remember that moment like it was yesterday. I was programming and doing afternoons at KFXM-San Bernardino. At the time it was located in a Holiday Inn with the studios overlooking the pool through huge picture windows. I head a rap on one of the windows and standing outside my studio was a very tan, very fit, great looking guy who I thought had to be a movie star. Through the intercom he told me his name was Rick Carroll and he was the program director of KEZY. He said he was coming back from Palm Springs and had heard me on the air and liked what he heard. He had a weekend gig available and thought management wouldn't mind if I moonlighted since it was in another market. KEZY was an awesome sounding station. At the station I met two other guys who would make a profound change in my life, Mark Denis and Russ O'Hara. Mark was and is one of the most focused professionals I've ever met. He has always taken on any job and given it 150% of his attention and made it sound great. I hope he wills me his gig at KFI when he decides to leave. Russ O'Hara was one of only two or three radio idol's I've ever had. To work with him and eventually take over for him was a dream come true. When Rick left KEZY, I stayed on but it was never the same. The day Rick left, so did the magic which I didn't find again until 1981 when Rick asked me to come up and do full time relief on his next little work in progress, KROQ. The ROQ of the 80's was so radical and cutting edge compared to anything else and I've always felt fortunate to have played a small part in its humble beginnings. During my year at KROQ I became a dad and the station fell into some really bad financial problems. The checks began to bounce all the time. With a new mouth to feed at my house, I needed steady income. Rick said he couldn't guarantee the checks wouldn't bounce and didn't know when things would stabilize. I hated to do it, but left shortly after that. In the years after that, I talked to him several times on the phone, but we only ran into each other face to face one other time. He still had the magic, he still had the aura, and he still made me feel like I was someone special to him. He is still someone special to me." Craig Sea ( email@example.com )
(July 11, 1998) A recent mention of Jim Healy has prompted numerous visitors to LARP feeling a need to reminisce. Jim Hilliker remembers: "I really do miss Jim Healy. I go way back with him, when he was on the old Eyewitness News doing sports on KABC/Channel 7 around '67-69 when Baxter Ward [later a Los Angeles County Supervisor] was the anchor and there was Hollywood gossip with Rona Barrett, or as Baxter would say, Our Miss Rona. Then I caught Healy doing sports on KLAC in the early-70s when my dad listened to country music. Most of Jims reports were straight, but one report, little by little was different, gradually adding gossip, laugh tracks, etc. I followed him from KLAC to KMPC. He was great! It was on KLAC when he started using the telegraph key to separate stories. He would say, Dateline, Miracle Mile and later "Dateline, Metromedia Square....isssss it true?" Jim Healy was one of a kind!"
(July 10, 1998) Ron Rohe emails: "The passing of Roy Rogers prompted this lunchtime discussion among us: During the seventies, there was a dj on KWST who used to have Roy on the radio every Saturday morning for awhile and talk about the old days. Roy was such a good sport. He used to compare and contrast the rock [then] and the music he grew up with. They always ended the segment with Happy Trails. This was the same dj that frequently called up this old weather beaten codger that used to run with Zapata down in Mexico. The conversation always turned to the old guy describing how he and the rest of the renegades used to do snowbirds before they engaged in ransacking and revolution. Snowbirds [according to the Zapata veteran] is where you put cocaine between your thumb and your first finger, snort it, then ride into anarchy. Does anybody else remember this - and who were the dj and weather guy?"
(July 9, 1998) Bill Wright was part of the successful "Bill and Sylvia Morning Show" at KBIG for over four years. Bill was born in Santa Monica and became involved with radio in high school and then in college at the University of California San Diego, where he earned his B.A. degree in communications. Bill emails: "Im now pd and morning host for KWVE-San Clemente. Between that, a busy voiceover career and three kids [ages 14, 8, & 4], Im never bored. One correction to your book, it is a myth that KWIZ/FM was ever all-female in the 70s and 80s. I ought to know; I worked for KWIZ from 1978 to 1989, and I was often the lone male among a sea of femininity [what a glorious situation!]. The air staff included Patty Martinez, Sunni Malone, myself and, at various times, Mary Price, Jo E. Griffin, Joyce Eagleton, Jan Marie, Margie Kelley, Dominic Vlasic, Casey Hayes, Doug Ray, Pat Tyler and more." ( firstname.lastname@example.org )
(July 7, 1998) "Killer Kat" was part of the KNAC rock scene in the 1980s. Kat Snow emails from Bakersfield: "I went to work as a part-time jock on KNAC in 1982 when it was rock n rhythm. Jimmy The Saint Christopher was the best pd ever. After about six months of part-time I requested and received the midday shift. Radio was so exciting during this time with groups such as Lone Justice, The Blasters, X and many others getting the airplay they deserved. Then in January of 1986 Jeff Pollack and Tommy Hadges entered the picture, changing the station to Pure Rock. This change was needed, as Heavy Metal music wasnt getting airtime. With this change I became Killer Kat your purrrrfect pet. During this time my daughter Krista Duncan (dad is Lee Duncan, KDAY and KRLA) became my phone answerer and was Killer Kats Kitten. We both left Long Beach in 1987 coming to Bakersfield. I have been on the air here off and on whenever the need arises. I graduated in June from Bakersfield College with my A.A. in psychology and will transfer to Cal State Bakersfield in the fall to continue working toward my masters degree."
(July 6, 1998) The Los Angeles Radio People Website has allowed old friends who may have worked together years ago, to get in touch with each other. During the research for my book, there were many personalities who seemingly dropped off the face of the earth. Im looking for help in finding: Steve Woodman who worked as a dj at KFWB in the mid-1960s. He went on to KDAY as Woody Stevens; Patty Haven worked at KEZY in the mid-1970s; and Allen Moll, who was a newsman during the embryonic days of KHJs "Boss Radio" in the mid-1960s. Any help in finding these Los Angeles Radio People would be appreciated.
One missing personality found us. Ron Johnson worked at KPPC in 1971. He emailed: "I was born March 27, 1942, in Brooklyn, New York. I came to California in late 1955. Before Les Carter hired me at KPPC, I studied broadcasting at Los Angeles City College. I had always loved equipment and mixers. I sold audio equipment for many years here in Los Angeles. I also engineered 14 albums for Warner Brothers, including Richard Pryor's Fist. I also had been cataloging music in a very sensible way even in those days. I became the minister of music for KPPC in 1971. I stayed on through the firings and kept in touch with most of the people over the years. I currently have my own music information service entitled Dr. Sound's Audio prescriptions. It is a service provided to those who need to locate songs for film, commercials, radio and multimedia projects. My current hopes and ambitions are to utilize my ever-expanding data in a creative way. I still consult for Audio/Video equipment at A/V City, Santa Monica. Life is Grand." ( email@example.com )
(July 2, 1998) The launch of KHJ as "Boss Radio" in the spring of 1965, was a historic moment in the history of Los Angeles radio. Bill Drake and Ron Jacobs have been quoted extensively about the beginnings; however, the djs have another perspective. One of the original KHJ "Boss Jocks" was Gary Mack, who worked noon to 3 p.m. He went on to be national pd for the Drake/Chenault enterprises. The native from Cedar Falls grew up in Chicago. Gary helped established the "Drake" format at KFRC-San Francisco, CKLW-Detroit, WRKO-Boston and WOR/FM-New York. Prior to his retirement last year, Gary was director for network operations at WSB-Atlanta, where he built the largest radio network in Major League Baseball for the Braves (166 stations). This is his story:
Memories from Gary Mack
Had we known it would be so famous, I guess wed have kept better records.
Maybe we should have buried a time capsule.
In 1965, I was working at KRLA in Pasadena when Bill Drake called, and he wanted to get together. The prior year, I had been Bills Program Director at KYNO in Fresno.
We met in Martonis, and while sitting at the bar, Bill told me he and Gene Chenault were going to be consulting RKO Generals KHJ - and he wondered whether or not Id be interested in working there. He had me at "hello." I didnt know it at the time, but I had just become the first Boss Jock.
As the rest of the crew was hired - Robert W. Morgan, Roger Christian, The Real Don Steele, Dave Diamond, Sam Riddle and Johnny Williams - we set about the business of getting organized. Ron Jacobs was brought in as Program Director - the best Ive ever met.
At the time, Steve Allen, and his wife Jayne, hosted the morning show from a studio in their home. Robert Q. Lewis did the afternoon drive show. They were phased out, and we "no-name announcers" were phased in. During our air shifts, we played a lot of Tony Bennett and Rosemary Clooney, and tried to sound like mellow staff announcers. But as soon as our air shift ended, we headed to a production room, where the real work was - the new Boss Radio format was in rehearsal.
It was grueling. Ron Jacobs and Bill Drake stood in the control room with an engineer, while the Boss Jocks practiced this new format. Every word and every nuance was critiqued on the fly. "More up! More energy! End up! Faster!" I remember the distinct odor of flop sweat. But every day got better, and we made our mistakes off the air.
The planned sequence of events was to break away from the MOR format and go into a more contemporary music format called the Cavalcade of Hits, followed by a listener-driven Million Dollar Battle, and then hit with the Boss Radio format.
KFWB made us change our plans. A leak in our high security gave us away, and suddenly KFWB became KFWBoss Radio. Hurried meetings were held, and we got our first bath of fire. That afternoon, The Real Don Steele launched the Preview of the Real Boss Radio. Bill Drake had recorded some great promos suggesting listeners sample the imitators on KFWB and KRLA, and then return to KHJ for the genuine original Boss Radio. It was fabulous.
When the smoke cleared, KFWB dropped their attempt to steal our format, and we returned to the original blueprint - running the Million Dollar Battle, then went to the format full time.
Our first big newspaper ad ran in the Los Angeles Times:
FOR 93 SWINGING HOURS
THE KHJ MILLION DOLLAR BATTLE
You dial the special "93" switchboard to rate the greatest record hits since
1950...year by year...for 93 consecutive hours around the clock! 93 hours of
excitement! 93 hours of your all-time all-stars...93 chances for YOU to phone
your vote for Champion or Challenger! And it starts Thursday, April 29 at
When we finally hit with Boss Radio, it was just amazing. We went from 23rd place in the market to number one in 90 days! And we stayed there. It was fast-paced, with short breaks, great music, constant contests and promotions. And it just got bigger and better. Big-name artists dropped by just to say hello - Mick Jagger, Sonny and Cher, all of em.
At the time, I believe we Boss Jocks really didnt know just how much we could dothat is, until Ron Jacobs and Bill Drake told us. They eliminated the limits. Then, whenever we reached a goal, they simply moved the bar up a little farther.
Jacobs was a motivational expert before that field had been invented. He taught us everything - and heard everything. I still believe he listened to KHJ 24 hour a day. And Ron was always working on something - he used to get Beatle songs days before other stations. Then hed whisper "KHJ Exclusive" over the music, so other stations couldnt tape it for replay.
Rons weekly jock meetings werent like any Ive been to before or since. They were like the coach and the players - John Madden exhorting the Raiders in the locker room. There was some criticism, but always a lot of positives. Ron did the real fine tuning in these sessions. They were good! Most times, we left the meeting ready to go out and kill for good old KHJ.
Jacobs would unveil the latest promotion and liners every week. There was a lot of oo-ing and ah-ing when hed roll out the latest promos he had written and Robert W. Morgan had recorded. What amazes me listening to them now is the quality of those spots. Theyre still better today than anything you hear done on the new digital production consoles. And all of it done on ĵ inch mono tape! Ill bet we went through a ton of splicing tape and razor blades. KHJs studio and production facilities were really rudimentary. Technically speaking, maybe we shouldnt have been able to do what we did. We just didnt know that at the time.
Jacobs was way ahead of his time. Once, he decided to consult the geniuses at the Rand Think Tank. He wanted to wire cash registers at Wallachs Music City to some sort of machine in order to have a constantly changing Boss 30. Remember, computer technology wasnt prevalent then, so after due consideration, they told us to try it first with pencil and paper. A kid could probably do it now.
When Ron Jacobs decided to leave KHJ and crank up Watermark, American Top 40 and all the rest, I think everyone thought KHJ would collapse. Come to think of it...I guess it did. But what a station it was.
I still get a kick out of hearing some of the phrases we used back then on the air - still being employed by ad agencies and comedy writers. Like Bill Drake said every hour - and they still say, "Ladies and gentlemen, The Beat Goes On." ( GaryMcD750@aol.com )