Saturday, October 09, 2010

KHJ: Inside Boss Radio

A few years ago I attended an informal high school reunion. It was held at someone’s house, everyone dressed in shorts, and the menu was pot luck. We basically just invited the people we wanted to see again.  So out of a class of several hundred there were like fifteen of us.  Being a lethal cook I volunteered to provide the music. I made hour long tapes of the 60s music that was popular during our high school years. The tapes were the hit of the evening. Why? The music? No, they were the same damn songs you could hear on any oldies station. "Oh wow!  Pretty Woman.  I haven't heard that since driving over here."  No, what knocked everyone out was what I played between the songs – KHJ jingles. Even though the party goers hadn’t heard them in a million years they instantly were able to sing along.

Radio was just taken for granted back in the 60s. Imagine if you can, a world without Nanos.  Everyone listened to the radio. All day and all night. KHJ Boss Radio was the soundtrack of our lives. And I’m sure wherever you grew up if you’re of a certain age you too had a radio station you played to death. The party goers were surprised by how much they loved and listened to KHJ.

That’s where we turned to hear the new Beatles songs. That’s where we were introduced to new acts like the Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Otis Redding, and the 1910 Fruit Gum Company. That’s where we celebrated the California Myth.

KHJ was a magic radio station. Larger-than-life disc jockeys, insane promotions, and those memorable Johnny Mann singer jingles. KHJ became such a sensation that stations around the country copied its format. I think it’s safe to say that KHJ was the most influential radio station of the decade.

Ron Jacobs, the Program Director and creative genius of KHJ has written a book detailing its glory years. For radio people it’s the Holy Grail but for non-radio geeks it’s a fun nostalgic ride back to a time when everything was new and exciting and changing. There are tons of pictures, stories, first-hand accounts, and even memos. You’ll meet the Big Kahuna, the Real Don Steele, Batman, Mr. Whisper, Robert W., Humble Harv, Charlie Tuna, Jayyyyyyy Paul Huddleston, Fail Safe, and Tiny Tim.

And you’ll be able to HEAR KHJ. The book comes with CD’s that will take you right back to those times. Just like those jingles did for my classmates that night.  The only thing the book doesn't provide is baggies full of hash. 

Here’s a website you can go to order the book, read more about it, and listen to a one hour presentation of the “Best of the Boss”.

The book is KHJ: INSIDE BOSS RADIO by Ron Jacobs. It’s not just good. It’s Boss!

16 comments:

Mike Bell said...

Tina Delgado is ALIVE!

Ray said...

Ken. I was honored to meet you and Ron Jacobs at the KMEN 35th anniversary bash, hearing Ron's stories about the early days of KHJ and KMEN was amazing. I look forward to reading the book. I still watch the California Airchecks video of the Anniversary broadcast, it's amazing to think about how long ago that was.

te said...

Ninety-three dollars?

The Milner Coupe said...

Worth every penny.

SeattleDan said...

I loved KHJ. But KRLA, when it played rock, and had the Credibility Gap with Harry Shearer, among others, and KFWB, when it, too, was a rock station, were also very much apart of my soundtrack in the late '60's.

buddybutler said...

FYI.. Johnny Mann is still alive and well, and is about to do his NEXT jingle session with the singers! I'm an ex-93 KHJ news guy and want that book, but $93 is a lot of money. If only boss radio had been on KLAC instead, the book would be $36 cheaper.

YEKIMI said...

Hopefully when Ken gets his book finished it won't cost $93.00. And the stations I listened to in Florida when growing up in the 1960s were WLCY & WSUN. When the Old Man was transferred to Ohio The ones I listened to were WIXY 1260, WHLO, WAKR, WKYC, WHK. I didn't think they were as good as the ones I listened to in Florida and almost every night tried to tune in to WSUN but their signal was competing with a station out of Milwaukee [WTMJ] so sometimes I got it, sometimes I didn't. Now that there is a station broadcasting out of Knoxville, TN on 620 I can't pick them up at all but it doesn't matter anymore seeing as how they don't play music anymore and the call letters have reverted to WDAE. Even when I ended up as a DJ in the early 80s on a Tampa station they were well past their glory days and no fun to listen to anymore.

WV: actergel: what aspiring "acters" from West Virginia use to slick back their hair.

ropo said...

Very cool. I'm slightly younger so it was the early '70s for me. I remember Charlie Van Dyke, and I still think of Charlie Tuna as "the new guy." And now I'm humming "Ninety-three K-H-Jay!"

Kathleen said...

My dad worked for Crowell-Collier during most of the '60's. He did a very brief stint at KFWB in the summer of '61 (as Jim Kelly, since there was another "Jimmy O'Neill" already on the air) then KDWB in St. Paul/Minneapolis. KDWB hosted the Beatles, the Motown Review, and all of the big names of the day made the pilgrimage up the dirt road off Hudson Rd. to what looked like a ramshackle building. I loved their jingles, which I believe the Johnny Mann Singers performed - "KDWB. Channel 63". Great radio.

Anonymous said...

How influential was KHJ? In 1980, I applied for a job at a radio station in Parkersburg, WV, an early FM top 40 that was very personality driven. Had I gotten the job, I would have been working for a man whose real name I've forgotten because he was known to everyone professionally as J. Paul Henderson. Henderson for a nearby county. The J. Paul part? After J. Paul Getty? Somehow I doubt it.

mcp said...

As part of my day job, I must check to see if the company's servers are on the network. For example, to check Server1 I type:

Ping SERVER1.

It responds with:

SERVER1 is alive.

I am now pushing the company to name a server Tina Delgado.

Tom Lodge said...

Hi Ken,
It is great to connect with a fellow radio guy. My name is Tom Lodge, I was a deejay on Radio Caroline, the pirate radio ship off the coast of Britain in the 60s. We launched the British invasion.
Check this out:
www.shipthatrocked.com/radiocaroline.html

Steve Sailer said...

I started listening to KHJ in 1969, so I'm looking forward to your book on growing up in LA in the 1960s. It's a great topic and an important one.

My guess is that the coming of jet airplanes around 1958-59 amplified the subsequent golden age of SoCal teen pop culture in the 1960s, in the sense that top people from NYC could now get to LA in five hours, so it wasn't just a provincial paradise (with the movie business, of course). LA was now plugged in. E.g., Tom Wolfe of the NY Herald-Tribune coming out to write about the kandy-kolored tangerine flake streamline baby car show.

VP81955 said...

Reminds me of growing up in Syracuse, when WOLF adopted a quasi-Bill Drake format in early 1969 and toppled WNDR from Top 40 supremacy. WOLF's nighttime jock was a local guy fresh out of Syracuse U. named Don Bombard, who eventually went downstate (via Pittsburgh) and gained fame as Bob Shannon on WCBS-FM.

wolferiver said...

My radio station was WLS out of Chicago. You could hear it as far north as Green Bay, and everybody of a certain age who lived in the Great Lakes region listened to it.

Anonymous said...

don't forget wcfl -chicago