REEL TOP 40 RADIO REPOSITORY

Entrance to the KROY-AM Studios at 1010 11th Street, 1960's
Entrance to the KROY-AM Studios at 1010 11th Street, 1960's

KROY GM Dwight Case, 1964
KROY GM Dwight Case, 1964. Case was later President of RKO Radio and founded Transtar.

The KROY Production Room, 1964
The KROY Production Room, 1964.

(L-R rear) Chuck Roy, Don Christie, Martin Ashley, Dave Williams, KROY 1972
(L-R rear) Chuck Roy, Don Christie, (front) Martin Ashley, Dave Williams, KROY 1972

Aeronautical Authority Martin Ashley, 2000
Martin Ashley, 2000

The Martin Ashley Collection

Martin Ashley writes:

The telephone rang early one morning at my "day job," a United States Army recording studio in El Paso, Texas. It was my friend Johnny Hyde, who I had worked with a couple of years before at KXOA, Sacramento. He was now the Program Director for KROY. I was moonlighting on the 7-Midnight shift at KELP (Top 40), and a year earlier had been with KROD (MOR), both in El Paso. Johnny wanted to know when I was due to get out of the Army. I said next month. That was August 1, 1969, to be exact.

I had spoken with Johnny a few months prior when he left KXOA to join KROY as the PD. He said to "...give me a call when you're ready to return to Sacramento." Now, he was asking where was his aircheck of my KELP show. I had procrastinated since I didn't really need a job. Then Johnny commented, "...well, I like to hear the Jocks I hire." Hire? I was hired? But I was due to return to KXOA once my Army "obligation" was over.

As I fumbled for a piece of paper, Johnny became more emphatic, "I need you at KROY. We'll see you on August 2nd!" At this point I had no idea what a mega-station KROY had become in my two years absence. So I naively said "okay...see you on the 2nd." And that's how I got the best radio job in my 34-year career.

I didn't start out in radio being "Wonder Rabbit." I started by using my real name, Martin Ashley. Hell, all my friends knew "Martin," but who knew Wonder Rabbit? Funny thing about nicknames. Most stick-for life. After a few months at KROY as me, I was posting a PSA in the control room when our midday Jock, Bob Sherwood, cracks open the microphone and says,
Bob Sherwood, 1969
Bob Sherwood, 1969
"...and Wonder Rabbit will be here tomorrow night at seven." Earlier that day he had crossed out my humorous "Wonder Boy" notation on a PSA and changed it to "Rabbit." The following week we got new top-of-the-hour ID's. As a joke, the station "voice" and consultant Graham Richards recorded one that said "And now, another Music Power Hour with Wonder Rabbit!" (as the chuckle trailed off).

Now the phones were going crazy asking for this Rabbit. Kids, young women, and their mothers! There was no going back — I was Wonder Rabbit for life. Thanks a lot, Bob.

That was 1969. In March 1974 I joined KNDE (formerly KXOA-AM) with KROY alumni Dave Williams as PD. In December 1975 I was approached by Concept Productions, a local radio syndication house, to take the Rabbit out of the Sacramento "hutch" and distribute the show all over the country. That little project lasted thirteen years. I once figured out that while doing that syndicated morning show I intro'd over 236,000 songs, and recorded another 120,000 "customs" for all the stations. Excuse me while I clear my throat.

It was back to KROY-AM in early 1980 for mornings with my good buddy Barry K. Fyffe. Then to KROY-FM in Mid-1985 for an "Oldies" show on Sunday nights. Sort of Wonder Rabbit Favorites, or something.

Throughout my years in radio I've concurrently been on-air, the station engineer, and a production voice. I now divide my time between working in Radio Services for the California State Senate & Assembly at the Capital in Sacramento, and the "book" announcer for KVIE, Channel 6, the local PBS affiliate. I realized a lifelong passion a few years ago and became a pilot. Plane ownership is analogous to Tom Hank's movie Money Pit, but the thrill I receive from my volunteer work with Angel Flights West and Flying Paws, and other flying programs rivals my early days in radio.

I want to thank the Academy. . .

The Repository thanks Martin Ashley for sharing!

[Descriptions by Martin Ashley unless otherwise indicated]

G2/5.0 compatible TOP STREAM 44.1Kbps (16 Khz STEREO)
KROY Sacramento Image Jingle, 1960's (1:00)

That's How We Grow In Sacramento Record Label [Description by Martin Ashley]

. . . That's how we grow in Sacramento . . .

One of my duties at KROY was to re-cart the station jingle using the original 15ips master from Heller-Ferguson. I recall it was the second-to-last cut on the 10-1/2-inch reel and was a pain to cue properly without 'wow-ing' the BUMP! at the beginning.

When I ran across a couple of copies of the 'That's How We Grow In Sacramento' 45-RPM record, I immediately noticed it, too, was from Heller-Ferguson. The label reads: "Performed by the Hi-Lo's and Heller-Ferguson Orchestra, Created and produced by Marty Paich, Jacques Wilson, Allyn Ferguson and Hugh Heller. Station coordinator Bob Morgan."

I've always wondered if that was the famous Robert W. Morgan, since he once worked at KROY around the time the record was created.

[Uncle Ricky adds:] This jingle is courtesy of Sacramento voice talent Tom Buck, and we weren't certain of the origin until Martin provided the information above. The first few comments on this exhibit include some speculation. I suspect that this jingle was customized and provided to stations other than KROY in Sacramento. (TM had a similar offering years later, with their City Song.)

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G2/5.0 compatible TOP STREAM 32.1Kbps (16 Khz)
KXOA Sacramento CA. PAMS Jingles, 1963-1966 (4:42)

. . . The gentlemen who entertain . . .

[Description by Uncle Ricky]

I was trained in the tradition of PAMS-based Top 40 on the East Coast, and nobody told me nothin' 'bout no PAMS jingles when I arrived in Sacramento in 1978. KROY, the big-time winner for which I was working, never used PAMS jingles.

That's why I was excited when I heard the CD prepared by local VO talent Tom Buck and contributed by Martin Ashley to the Repository. Here's some of two classic PAMS series, (27 & 18), labeled by Mr. Buck as jingles in use by KXOA between 1963 and 1966. (KXOA was later owned by Brown Broadcasting of KGB (San Diego) fame.)

Heck, hundreds of people have worked in Sacramento radio who don't know a PAMS jingle from a TM jingle - it was all so long ago and so few of those who remember are still around. It took me 22 years, but thanks to Martin, I can confirm that YES - PAMS jingles were on the air in Sacramento - on KXOA!

(For more great background on PAMS jingles, visit the PAMS of Dallas website!)

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G2 5.0 compatible TOP STREAM 20.7Kbps (10KHz)
Russ The Moose Syracuse, KYA San Francisco 1965 (12:55)

. . . KYA Deluxe Airways now boarding . . .

[Russ Syracuse notes by Michael Hagerty; Aircheck description by Uncle Ricky]

Russ "the Moose" Syracuse (d. 4-18-2000) was a smooth and engaging voice on San Francisco Bay Area radio for 30 years. Mr. Syracuse left a late-night legacy that began when he was hired as a disc jockey at the AM pop music station KYA in 1962. He came from Buffalo and brought the nickname with him, expanded to "the Captain of the All-Night Flight on Super Freak 126" when he was transferred from days to nights. The flight took off at midnight and touched down at 6 a.m, and along the way, Mr. Syracuse invented an irreverent free-form FM style before free-form FM radio came along.

This rare sample of Russ "The Moose" Syracuse on KYA-FM in San Francisco was recorded 100 miles away in Sacramento, California, by Martin Ashley, most likely in August or September of 1965, on a half-track Wollensak. KYA-FM operated with 25,000 watts at 660 feet on 93.3 Mhz. Normally, it would have been difficult to hear this station in Sacramento due to inteference from local station KFBK-FM (92.5 Mhz, 115,000 watts at 240 feet.) The morning this aircheck was made, KFBK-FM was off the air - mostly, except for some testing. This explains the short and unwelcome "test tones" which infrequently interrupt an otherwise remarkably good recording.

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G2 5.0 compatible TOP STREAM 20.7Kbps (10KHz)
KROY Sacramento Music Power Demo, 1968 (07:13)

. . . don't forget to put the lights outside and turn off the cat . . .

[Description by Martin Ashley]

This is the original seven minute demo of "KROY Music Power" produced by Johnny Hyde in 1968.

It includes samples of Johnny (3-7PM), Bob Martin (6-10AM), Bob Sherwood (10A-3PM), Jack Hammer (7PM-12M) and Chuck Roy (12M-6AM).

This was the only known copy, and it was a squeaky old tape. When I transferred it, the oxide was coming off all over the heads. I had to clean the heads every few seconds. I digitally edited the pieces together. It squeaks in some places.

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G2 5.0 compatible TOP STREAM 32Kbps (14KHz)
Bob Sherwood, KROY Sacramento, 1969 (16:06)

. . . in the midst of Sherwood Forest . . .

[Description by Uncle Ricky with thanks to www.1240kroy.com]

Bob Sherwood is heard on a "Murky Sunday" (January 19, 1969) at the legendary 1240 KROY in Sacramento, California. Sherwood came to KROY in 1967 and became Program Director before his departure in 1971.

For the next three years Bob was an on-air talent/programmer for WRIT Milwaukee, WYSL Buffalo, and WGCL in Cleveland. In 1973, Bob became the National Promotions Manager for CBS Music, Inc./Columbia Records and continued with the company until 1978. He was then promoted to Vice President, National Promotion.
Picture of Bob Sherwood Today
Bob Sherwood, Today, courtesy of www.1240kroy.com

From 1979 through 1981 Sherwood served as President & COO of Mercury Records, and finally Executive Vice President of Polygram Music, USA. Back at CBS Music, Inc./Sony Music Entertainment, Bob spent the next ten years with the International Marketing division. In 1991, he became Corporate Senior Vice President, New Business Development for Sony Corporation of America, until 1997. Robert Sherwood Consultants resulted from Bob's successful background in broadcasting, the music industry, and business development.

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G2 5.0 compatible TOP STREAM 32.1Kbps (16KHz)
Wonder Rabbit, Composite, KROY Sacramento CA. September 1971 (12:23)

. . . We all love Wonder Rabbit . . .

[Description by Martin Ashley]

I grew up listening to 1240 KROY, and later 1470 KXOA, and the great personalities like Dick "Buffalo" Birch, "Emperor" Hap Hopkins, Don Mckinnon, Tony Bigg, Mark Ford, and Buck Herring.

I remember hearing Dick Birch on afternoon drive at KXOA one afternoon. As he finished talking with a listener on-air, he slammed down the telephone and proclaimed "Eat an orange!" I found the adlib so funny that I later changed the line to "Eat a Banana" and gained some notoriety for its potential double meaning.

Many Jocks in the early 60's used "drops" to accent their creative style. I attempted to emulate their efforts with my own set of custom recorded drop-ins.

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G2 5.0 compatible TOP STREAM 32.1Kbps (16KHz)
Chuck Roy Composite, KROY Sacramento CA. 1969-1973 (21:11)

. . . Well, I've got to go . . .

Chuck Roy on KROY
Chuck Roy on KROY
(Courtesy www.1240kroy.com)
[Description by Uncle Ricky]

This composite of Chuck Roy on KROY/Sacramento was assembled by Martin Ashley from studio reel and skimmer cassettes, and features airchecks from 1969 through 1973.

Featured is the Chuck Roy show closer used at the 1971 Gavin Awards Show, in which Chuck was nominated for Smaller Market DJ of the Year.

Several of Chuck's famous sign-offs are included. For more Chuck Roy, see the next exhibit.

For more about the legendary KROY, visit www.1240kroy.com.

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G2 5.0 compatible TOP STREAM 32.1Kbps (16KHz)
Chuck Roy, KROY Sacramento CA. August 1973 (13:31)

. . . Chuck Roy, there's not a dry eye in the house . . .

[Description by Martin Ashley]

In 1966-67, Chuck Gratner and I had worked together at KXOA when he was doing overnights. In 1969, I returned to Sacramento to find Chuck Roy on the afternoon drive shift at KROY honking his famous Model T-type horn.

As the story goes, PD Johnny Hyde told Chuck that when he screwed up on the air — just honk the horn!

Then, there were the famous sign-offs. Chuck would play the same Santana cut each evening underneath some ad-libbed story and finish with, "There's not a dry eye in the house!" Listeners would stop everything just to hear what Chuck was going to say that evening. HONK!

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G2 5.0 compatible TOP STREAM 44Kbps (20KHz)
1240 KROY Sacramento Reunion, April 1, 1996 (1:30:00)

. . . Nobody forces the Wonder Rabbit to eat a banana - he likes it . . .

[Description by Martin Ashley]

It was magical. It was thrilling. It was the most exhausting twelve hours I have spent in radio. "It" was the KROY DJ Reunion on April Fools Day 1996. General Manager Tom Schurr and Program Director Jeff McMurray of The Eagle (KSEG 96.9FM, Sacramento, California) said "How would you like to do something on the air April 1st?" What they meant was have the "Wonder Rabbit", alumni of KROY--the former Sacramento AM powerhouse, do a couple of hours of the old format for the Eagle's classic rock core listeners. What they got was a nearly identical recreation of KROY-- live! The broadcast included six former Jocks, 1971 ABC Contemporary News reports, actual sports reports lifted off old airchecks, the station and weather jingles, and, of course, the music. Every Sugar, Sugar and Donny Osmond and 1910 Fruitgum Company.

It took over six months to locate the former Jocks. Some were working at competing stations now and needed their management's approval. I needed to cart the jingles and that hallmark KROY "time tone"; then re-create the format clock, liners, flip cards, PSAs, and other nuances. This was no chit-chat "I-remember-when-you-were-on-the-air" DJ reunion. I wanted the listeners to believe 1971 was still here!

1240 KROY RADIO
And it worked. Former KROY listeners began clogging the request lines, e-mailing, and showing up at the Eagle studio. They couldn't believe their ears. At first many thought it was a recording, just a few songs and it would be gone. But once Johnny Hyde left, in came B. Winchell Clay. Then Terry Nelson, Dave Williams, Gene Lane, and after ten hours, The Wonder Rabbit.

One listener claims she almost drove off the road fumbling with the radio. She said she pulled over and just sat listening for a while until she realized these people were live! ("They just said the time--and it's right!") Others said they took the day off from work, went home, and listened.

Seven o'clock that evening came too soon for most. As the prerecorded "static" faded in, and the last song faded out, history was recreated for the last time in Sacramento. The Jocks all got plaques, airchecks, and wonderful memories for their participation. The listeners got a few more memories that, hopefully, will last another twenty-five years. It was magic, period.

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The Martin Ashley Collection has been part of REELRADIO since April 30, 2010

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