The Story of the 93/KHJ History of Rock & Roll by Bill Mouzis

February 21, 22, 23, 1969.
Tympani Hit and Roll.........
"Forty Three years ago, today".

On Monday, February 20, 2012, we celebrate Washington's birthday as part of Presidents Day. Although February 22 (Washington's actual birthday) falls on Wednesday in 2012, it fell on a Saturday in 1969.

It was when, for the first time in Boss Radio's four year history, that 93/KHJ suspended its regular broadcast format to present the original 48 hour 93/KHJ "History Of Rock And Roll", spanning three days over the holiday weekend. It was a time when we celebrated George Washington's birthday singularly. We had literally a captive audience listening to the history and birth of a musical revolution as it rained the entire time. For those that ventured out into moisture, this mind-boggling Special could be heard booming out of car radios, in stores and shops and anywhere within listening distance. The listener ratings were phenomenal, the highest in L.A. broadcast history, as it captured the hearts and minds of of generations of music lovers everywhere. It was indeed special and historical in every sense of the word when you realize that this was an achievement never attempted before in the rich history of AM Radio.

The KHJ Building in 1969
The KHJ Building in 1969 (Click to Enlarge)
In putting the show together at our studios in Hollywood, every human emotion was displayed at one time or another during the grinding and tiring process of striving to meet our deadline. Those involved worked hard and worked diligently — nerves were frayed and tempers ready to explode at any given moment. But we persevered and we succeeded.

The Original History Of Rock And Roll was produced and directed by 93/KHJ Program Director Ron Jacobs, a genius of unmatched quality, and written by Pete Johnson, pop music reviewer for the Los Angeles Times. Renowned 93/KHJ on-air personality Robert W. Morgan narrated the complete show without laying down one single voice track in advance. As a veteran staff member, I (Bill Mouzis) provided elaborate production and audio engineering. Never before had musical montages been used so effectively, with interviews and actualities interspersed throughout the complete show. Sandra Gibson and Ellen Pelllissero were expert in assessing content and in providing project coordination.

Executive producer was consultant Bill Drake, the architect of Boss Radio. The entire 93/KHJ operating staff contributed to the processing of interviews and special material, which proved to be invaluable in completing the project within 60 days.

Advertisement in VARIETY
History of Rock & Roll advertisement in VARIETY, February 20, 1969 (Click to Enlarge)
After we completed taping the show — a couple of hours before airtime — producer and director Ron Jacobs turned to me with an intense sense of satisfaction and relief and said "Billy boy, it was a gas". Indeed it was and much more. It was monumental in making history of our own. The show was such a huge success that RKO General negotiated a conditional agreement that granted the consultancy partnership of Drake/Chenault syndication rights.

The very first syndicated version went into production a few months later from the same 93/KHJ studios in Hollywood, with Humble Harve (Harvey Miller) doing a masterful job as the narrator, and me again doing the engineering and production. The very first of these aired on WLS in Chicago, beginning over the July 4,1969 holiday and subsequently was heard all over the world. Yes, "that's how it all got started".

As Vaughn Monroe put it, there are now Ghost Riders In The Sky, surfing the airwaves of our cluttered atmosphere. Many of those who participated in this historical achievement are sadly no longer with us today, but they are not forgotten. As I approach my 90th birthday this year, my prayers are with them everyday of the year and particularly at this moment in time.

Copies of the complete 48 hour taped show are contained in the Library Of Congress, the Lincoln Center in New York and the libraries of Juilliard and UCLA.

[Bill Mouzis passed away January 7, 2013. He was 90.
Thanks to Bill for sharing his story of The History of Rock & Roll.]

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