Picture of
Lee "Babi" Simms,
KRLA 1971

Picture ofLee Simms
courtesy Ben Fong-Torres

Picture ofLee Simms
KOOL 1994

Picture ofLee Simms
At Home, 2005

The Lee Simms Collection

Only 16 in 1961, LaMar Simms quit high school and started his 40-year radio career as Hot Toddio On The Radio at WTMA in his hometown of Charleston, S.C. His best recollection is that he worked at 35 stations in 22 markets. He was known as Lee Simms or Lee Baby, a nickname given to him by PD Woody Roberts at KONO in San Antonio. He had 41 jobs, working at some stations twice, and was fired 25 times. Lee says, "I guess I really wanted to be a DJ, but I never accepted an insult from anyone."

Top 40 Programmer George Wilson became an early mentor when Lee joined WMBR/1460 in Jacksonville, Florida in 1963. He worked at WLOF/Orlando and WSHO/New Orleans (the only time he was a PD) and WIST/Charlotte before Wilson set him up at KRIZ/Phoenix in 1964. He was there for 18 months before he started moving back and forth between KONO/San Antonio and WPOP/Hartford in 1966 and 1967. He joined WKYC/Cleveland in 1968. His annual salary was $18,000 and it was the first time he had worked with a board operator. Regarding that experience, Lee says, "It's impossible for an engineer to hear what's in your head." Six months into the Cleveland gig, everyone was fired, and Lee went home to Charleston. A few weeks later, Wilson called again, and Simms was off to San Diego and KCBQ, working with programmers Mike Scott and Buzz Bennett. When Scott left for WJBK/Detroit, Lee moved again.

With the exception of WMYQ-FM/Miami and WGCL-FM/Cleveland, Lee Baby worked most of the Seventies in Los Angeles, twice at KRLA. He was 27 in 1971 and making about $30K annually. He moved to KROQ until his paychecks started bouncing, then he moved to Miami. Lee returned to KRLA as Veterinarian "Doctor Matthew Frail" in 1975, and did a two-hour "audition" on KMET. Following six-months of a morning show in Cleveland, circa 1976, he did two nights on KTNQ in Los Angeles, and then went to Honolulu as the guest of Wally Amos. He stayed five years, working at KKUA, KORL, KDUK and KPOI. Lee says, "I sometimes think that some guys hired me just so they could add their name to the long and ignoble list of others who had fired me."

In 1982, Lee returned to the San Francisco Bay area and KFOG-FM until 1985 when he got a "nice 3-month contract" at WLVE in Miami. He moved back to Northern California and stayed at KKIS/Concord, KRPQ/Rohnert Park and, by 1992, KYA/San Francisco. He was off to KOOL-FM in Phoenix for big bucks — and 90 days to #1 — in 1994. And then, in 1997, Steve Rivers connected him with KISQ-FM in San Francisco, where he played R&B Oldies for 4.5 years — the longest gig of his career. He was happily retired in the hills overlooking San Francisco. Not surprisingly, he hadn't saved much sound over the years, but he shared everything he had with REELRADIO.

On January 28, 2015, Lee Simms ended his life. He had been fighting prostate cancer for several years. He was 72, and survived by his daughter, Kim Simms.

The Repository thanks Lee Simms for sharing!

[Descriptions by Uncle Ricky]

G2/5.0 compatible TOP STREAM 32 Kbps (10 Khz)
Lee Simms, KRIZ Phoenix, 1964 (05:52)

. . . Music and kicks from our bag of tricks . . .

This short, low fidelity composite of a very hi-fi Lee Simms on KRIZ/1230 in Phoenix is the earliest-known aircheck of Lee. He received it in 1992 from Ken Steele, who made the original recording. Not only do we hear Lee counting down the Top 123, we get to hear Lee reading the news, with newsbugs!

KRIZ was THE station in Phoenix at the time, rated Number One, playing the hits and lots of PAMS jingles, including a rarely captured New Year's jingle.

Lee Simms, (not yet named "Baby" or "Babi") was 20 years of age, and a very hot jock.

Return to the Repository

G2/5.0 compatible TOP STREAM 32 Kbps (10 Khz)
Lee Simms, KCBQ San Diego, November 20, 1970,
Part One

. . . and then, the snake ate the baby . . .

A 'scoped version of this exhibit was published in The Gary Allyn Collection on February 13, 2000. Master Restorian Rob Frankel put the music back in, creating the near-real-time experience of this incredible performer and playlist again. The restored aircheck was over two hours in length. This is Part One. Thank you, Rob.

With the music back in place, we get a much better idea of the overall power of this remarkable station, and the personal magic that Lee brought to the presentation. KCBQ undoubtedly had one of the heaviest "rock 'n' roll" mixes of any top 40 station in America at the time.

Return to the Repository

G2/5.0 compatible TOP STREAM 32 Kbps (10 Khz)
Lee Simms, KCBQ San Diego, November 20, 1970,
Part Two

. . . Wow, Lee Baby, you're really a disc jockey, aren't you? . . .

As explained above, a 'scoped version of this exhibit was published in The Gary Allyn Collection on February 13, 2000. Master Restorian Rob Frankel put the music back in, creating a wonderful new exhibit for the debut of The Lee Simms Collection. This is Part Two of the restored aircheck. Thanks again to Rob.

Buzz Bennett wanted Lee in Mornings at KCBQ. Lee didn't want to do that, and says that originally, this aircheck was intended to score a new gig at KRLA/Los Angeles.

Return to the Repository

G2/5.0 compatible TOP STREAM 32 Kbps (10 Khz)
Lee Simms, KRLA Los Angeles, April 30, 1971 (01:06:38)

Play Scoped This Exhibit 'SCOPED (15:52)

. . . My blessings on you all, children . . .

Lee Baby says that he only needs about 20 minutes to get ready, and fortunately, there's a little more than an hour here, so he's completely in control for at least 40 minutes.

Lee was one of the best-practiced practioners of extemporaneous radio perfomances on "format" radio, and this (sometimes) speed-challenged studio recording features lots of raw vinyl and fresh Lee! Also: Lee says goodbye to engineer Barry Mishkind. Barry made the original recording of this hour. Cousin Brucie is in L.A., too. And, BULLFIGHTING starts Sunday, May 2 in Tijuana!

Thanks to Don Jennett and Peter Tesoro for this delightful sample of the magic Mr. Lee.

Return to the Repository

G2/5.0 compatible TOP STREAM 32 Kbps (10 Khz)
Doc Frail, Famous Amos, KRLA Los Angeles, 1975 (14:06)

. . . I'll let 'em have a cookie . . .

Play Scoped This Exhibit 'SCOPED (05:16)

Picture of
Lee Simms and
Wally Amos
In 1975, when Lee Simms returned to KRLA, he played the part of veterinarian Doctor Matthew Frail, or Old Doc Frail. At about the same time, he became friends with Wally Amos, aka Famous Amos, purveyor of fine chocolate chip cookies.

Lee has very little tape of his Doc Frail days. In this short restored segment from sometime in 1975, we hear Doc and Amos attempting to do it with a duet, accompanied by The Ink Spots.

KRLA was somewhat mellow by this time, and this is a fine quarter-hour with NO burn-outs.

Return to the Repository

G2/5.0 compatible VIDEO TOP STREAM 300 Kbps (30 fps, 10 Khz)
Lee Baby, KOOL-FM January 11, 1996 (VIDEO) (07:19)

. . . For more information, call the older workers program - y' hear that, Tom? . . .

Picture of
Lee Baby and
Shotgun Tom Kelly
This rare video features Lee Baby and his pal, Shotgun Tom Kelly at KOOL-FM in Phoenix, Arizona. Shotgun Tom recorded this on January 11, 1996. Lee is doing his show standing up, moving around and having a great time.

In 1996, everything had not yet gone to computers. The KOOL-FM studio had three CD players and six cart machines. The mixing console was a modernistic, curved design that wrapped around the jock. And look - there's even a reel machine in the control room.

Lee told me that he doesn't like to be videotaped or photographed while working. He said it was distracting. So, it's a real privilege to get this "behind the scenes" view of a master air talent at work.

Return to the Repository

G2/5.0 compatible STEREO TOP STREAM 64 Kbps (13 Khz STEREO)
Lee Simms, KISQ San Francisco, June 30, 1999 (11:44)

. . . Today's R&B and Classic Soul . . .

Wrapping up the century and working his last and longest gig at 55, Lee Simms holds forth — in San Francisco stereo — in the summer of 1999. Lee says that many KISQ-FM (KISS FM) listeners thought he was black, like most of the staff. Programming excecutive Steve Rivers had listed Lee as one of his all-time favorite jocks in a Gavin article, and when Lee called to say "Thanks", Rivers arranged a gig in the city by the bay.

Lee says Rivers did him a tremendous favor. KISQ was an AFTRA gig, and Lee's long-term engagement there allowed him to fully fund his pension. Not all radio careers end up as well, but Lee was able to retire comfortably.

Return to the Repository

G2/5.0 compatible TOP STREAM 32 Kbps (10 Khz)
Salesman Records A Spot, Unknown (12:26)

. . . Where's the people at? . . .

Contributor Lee Simms has no idea where he got this, or where it originated. But we agreed it is funny, especially funny to those old-time radio guys that remember producing commercial announcements the hard way.

Radio-time salesguy Steve wants to voice and produce the commercial for The Rogue Theater's presentation of The Ten Commandments. He knows how to run the gear, but he is increasingly disappointed in his performance and, as his frustration mounts, we learn that Steve has anger issues.

Finally, he brings in professional help, which is what he should have done in the first place. But before that, he violates at least one of the commandments more than once.


Return to the Repository

The Lee Simms Collection was established January 22, 2012!
Reel Top 40 Radio Repository ©1996-2016 REELRADIO Inc.