Thursday, April 11, 2013

B100 reasons to love radio

Happy to say I was a disc jockey back when radio was fun. In the ‘70s there were two formats that appealed to young listeners. Laid-back album oriented FM stations where all the DJ’s were stoned or at least aspired to be. And Top 40 where the presentation was high energy. Speed instead of downers. I gravitated towards Top 40. There was more freedom to be zany, you could talk every three minutes instead of every fifteen minutes (after long far out album sets), and you could play jingles and sound effects and wild tracks of people telling you to shut up. Top 40 was a better fit for my personality. I was not cool. I was not mellow. I thought “Nights in White Satin” sucked.

The only downside to Top 40 radio was that you played the same damn ten songs over and over again. That’s what eventually drove me out of it (that and being fired a lot). But playing “Kung Fu Fighting” four times a night every night almost turned me into Mary Todd Lincoln.

In 1975 KFMB-FM San Diego became B100. Programmed by a radio genius, Bobby Rich, it was a wild fun station with the slogan “Better Boogie” (whatever that meant). By then I had retired from radio full-time and was in Los Angeles launching my TV writing career. But I still did weekends on B100. Thank goodness the station had a trade deal with PSA airlines and the Travelator Hotel (where all the stewardesses stayed and slept with everyone but me). I was using the air name Beaver Cleaver and having the time of my radio life. Imagine Seth MacFarlane but not as tasteful.

Almost from day one the station was a huge hit. San Diego kids were very discerning when it came to “Boogie” and appreciated that ours was better.

For the one-year anniversary of the station, program director Bobby Rich put together a weekend special – 100 hours on non-stop music. No commercials. And better than that, he invited top disc jockeys from Southern California to come down and make guest appearances. Rich Brother Robbin, Dave Conley, and Chuck Browning (former well-known San Diego personalities) and Billy Pearl (formerly of KHJ and once my roommate) joined the airstaff for 100 hours.

To mix it up everyone worked one-hour shifts. And in a couple of cases we doubled up. I did an hour teamed with Rich Brother Robbin and another with Billy Pearl.

Pretty much anything went. Inside radio jokes flew. At the time there was a syndicated program rock stations were airing called the Fantasy Concert, where a Woodstock-like concert was imagined. (They played "Kung Fu Fighting" but put crowd noise underneath it.)  So I did the Concert from Rock n’ Roll Heaven. In an Ed Sullivan voice I introduced all dead acts. There were Mama Cass ham sandwich jokes, Jimi Hendrix jokes – like I said, good taste was not a high priority.

And for most of the weekend everyone hung out at the station. It was one continuous party. Hopefully the listeners got swept up in our enthusiasm and rowdiness because we were probably terrible. It’s like seeing home videos of the party you thought was so awesome. In the light of day taking off your clothes and peeing in the cat box was not the great idea you thought it was at the time.

But the point is radio was fun. It was live, it was audacious, and sadly, I don’t think will ever be like that again.

Today marks the anniversary of that anniversary so I thought I’d play a compilation of the weekend produced by B100. Thanks to Airchexx.com for the exhibit.   Get ready for Audio Red Bull, mixed with speed, and then a Mountain Dew chaser. I apologize to the cat.

28 comments:

Mike Barer said...

I still have memories of listening to theMighty Met, when I visited LA after college in the early 80s. They didn't just push the envelope, they broke it.

Thomas said...

If radio were like this I think I'd listen.
But in the UK we have 6ish major channels and a couple of local ones. Nothing that strives to be different, because there just isn't enough variety.

Radio 1 here has about 20 songs on its A, B, and C playlists. How depressing is that - only ~60 songs per week, and mostly just the 20 from the A list? (On average, 58 or 59 of those are from the 4 major labels.) There are no miracles on UK radio.

Anonymous said...

Where is Billy Pearl these days.

Paul Duca said...

In court...he became a lawyer.

Great Big Radio Guy said...

One of the great regrets of my career was never working with Bobby Rich who I consider a genius. The closest I ever got was scamming a job interview with him at 99X in New York in 1977...but only because I posed as a record plugger on record promoter day. I got into the huge conference room armed with...78 RPM records. When he came to me, I said I had the answer to the nostalgia craze and pulled out these ancient disks. He was genuinely apologetic (and later told me he felt horribly sorry for me) and said they really weren't appropriate for 99X. I sadly tucked the records back into my briefcase and said he was probably right...but while those records may not work on 99X, maybe I CAN! That's when I pulled my audition tape out of the briefcase and shoved it in his face. After sitting there with his jaw dropped for about eight seconds, he threw his head back and roared with laughter. I never got the gig, but it did start a friendship.

Today, I'm helping him in creating liners for Bobby's B-100, his Internet station. At last - I'm finally working with the guy. It's not the 100 hours of better boogie weekend, but I'm still grateful!

Hollywoodaholic said...

It's because you thought "Nights in White Satin" sucked that you didn't get laid. I can personally testify it worked great with stewardesses.

Great Big Radio Guy said...

PS - Here's a direct link to the madness:

http://airchexx.com/2011/07/18/kfmb-fm-b-100-san-diego-a-year-of-better-boogie-april-9-13-1976/

emily said...

On further reflection, I've concluded there's nothing worse than mediocre boogie.

Barefoot Billy Aloha said...

Very cool. Knocked three decades off my life this morning just listening to the whole thing...

Bobby Rich is radio's Babe Ruth...

I'm ready for a Do-Over: Instead of working as a dj on B-100's AM sister station, I'd rather have donned a Betty Booger shirt and played the hits with you guys. Much more dangerous and fun!

...and a shout out to Rich Bro and his fine classic/oldies internet station at www.richbroradio.com He's also back on the air playin' the hits afternoons at San Diego's Walrus FM.

Beaver Cleaver for President!

Brian O. said...

Fantastic recalling of the event. Where's the excitement nowadays?

Brule Eagan said...

Ken, I still have the American Air-Chexx containing a 'scoped version of that (I have a complete set of AAC). Still ten tons of fun to listen to!

Sean in NoCal said...

Hay Ken,
Back in the old Radio Dee Jay days, did you ever have any run ins with Don Geronimo? Dude is always going on about the Top 40 days and he worked pretty much everywhere.

Great Big Radio Guy said...

Sean...we worked together in Providence. HELL of a talent and an amazing career.

Anonymous said...

This post reminded me of why I love this blog. Where else are you going to get Mary Todd Lincoln and peeing in the cat box references together? LOL! I love where your writing takes us, including things most of us never get to do. Julie, Burlington, Iowa

Manti Ectiof said...

Turn that crap down! It's my dad's birthday and that's what he told me many, many times! If he were living today, he'd likely amend it to Turn that shit down! I can imagine it was quite popular in the 70s. Now that I'm that much closer to my 70s, it's just loud and inane, but I guess that was the point, wasn't it! Great fun for the participants, I'm sure. Thanks for sharing, is it still going????????

Rob Sisco said...

Beaver...
Those of us who were lucky enough to be at B-100 in those days know that it was true magic! Bobby has been the inspiration for so many amazing radio stations and for countless careers (including mine). He is also the inspiration for countless inverted segues!

Nothing compares to a Bobby Rich radio station and, working with Bobby means that you get a lifetime of unforgettable memories. I think you'll agree that is why, even hearing stuff from more that 3 decades ago, it still sounds as fresh as the day that you and your Boogie Brother's first broadcast it from a "little room in a big building".

By the way, Great Big Radio Guy, I was in that conference room at 99X the day that you did that. Still hysterical!

Rob Sisco

Mike in Seattle said...

I was a kid living in southwest Michigan and got my first transistor radio in 64. We had our local talent at a top 40 station, but I could also easily pull in WLS and CKLW which was awesome stuff to grow up to. Sometimes at night I could also get Cousin Brucie on WABC. Big city stuff, so exotic to my small town ears.

That and the Tigers and the Cubs in between thunderstorm crackles during the summer, and I was all set.

Then about 1967 or 68 I got a new radio with FM. There was a station in Kalamazoo that had a syndicated program with JJ Jackson. Oh, the music he played and the way he said "broadcasting from studios on La Cienega Blvd" and wow did that turn my head. I was digging that. And listening to those longer pieces all the way through, was great music with which to grow into adolescence.

Oh, and everybody thought Knights in White Satin sucked.

Ken, speaking of bad music getting air time, Imus used to joke about the truckloads of cocaine they got for playing songs like Billy Don't Be a Hero. Is that a joke or was payola rampant?

Anonymous said...

Beaver, Rob Sisco and Bobby Rich ALL IN ONE POST! To be in your company is (sincerely) an Honor guys. Ken: i have a ton of pics (w/ you, etc) I'll rescue from storage and send. Here is my FB crap, but you WILL see a lot of old B100/Ten-Q/WRKO pictures. Cheers my friend!
http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002464360367&fref=ts

Scott Wright said...

Beaver - "Rocket Man" here, the original 6-10p night jock on B-100 in 1975. I split before the 1-year anniversary, but had a total blast there. Have great memories of working with you and Rich Bro - radio was indeed fun, exciting to be a part of, exciting to listen to. No more, alas...

John said...

Wait a second .. you disliked a song that rhymed "fighting" with "lightning", "frightening" and "timing"? Have you no appreciation of poetic license? (Actually, I think in honor of the song subject's Asian roots, Carl Douglas apparently tried to write lyrics with the rhyming feel of a haiku poem).

Matt said...

-- FRIDAY QUESTION --

It dawns on me that the ribs from MASH's "Adam's Ribs" are a great example of a MacGuffin. Were there any others?

Cap'n Bob said...

Being from the east coast, I missed this, but we had our own dj's. Up until age 17 I loved those motor mouths. After that, I preferred the album-playing stoners. And I like "Knights in White Satin." So there.

Bobby Rich said...

wow. i am speechless. thanks.

James Stephens said...

About Billy Pearl. He's now Bill Pearl, and he's absolutely nothing like he apparently was over 30 years ago. His bar license is inactive and he no longer practices, hasn't for many years. He runs a blog, www.lbreport.com, that focuses on Long Beach politics and issues. He married Sharon Katchen, formerly of KFWB News 98. He's turned into an eccentric, petulant gadfly who fancies himself a journalist because he has the website. City officials loathe the guy, not because of his alleged watchdog actions but because he rarely gets anything right yet trumpets his opinion loud and long.

You'd never know he had this other life to look at him now. Not one bit.

Marconi said...

Remember it well. I was next door at "The Mighty Kuff Mubb" (yikes! they actually called the AM that!) You are still one of the funniest, most entertaining people on our planet. Oh, and I still miss The Chucker.

Bob Johnson, now a SiriusXM listener said...

I must have been the strange kid... I loved "Boss" top-40 radio AND KMET.

And I KNOW I was strange because I loved the deejays (ahem, excuse me, on-air personalities) as much as the music.

I once put together my own fantasy radio station. It would have been a train wreck of a format, because I would have allowed all the on-air talent to simply do whatever they wanted — what they did best. I will try to re-create it here (keeping in mind that this is based on my L.A. radio upbringing)...

6-9 a.m. — Robert W. Morgan
9 a.m-12 noon — Lohman & Barkley
12 noon-3 p.m. — Michael Jackson
3-6 p.m. — Gary Owens
6-9 p.m. — Jimmy Rabbitt
9 p.m.-12 midnight — Jim Ladd
12 midnight-3 a.m. — Mary Turner
3-6 a.m. — Billy Pearl

Rick Knight said...

B-100 was an important part of San Diego radio history. It even has a tribute page on Facebook. I am a little partial because I created it, but with the help of our other admin (Bobby Rich) we have added some great old photos and airchecks over the last three years. Check it out.

Badjef said...

...And I'm still waiting for the B100 reasons....
I thought it was going to be a countdown!