by Ron Jacobs
Starting in April 1959, KPOI-AM, the station I programmed and on which I did morning drive, became the #1 station in Honolulu by October. Within two years the owners were looking for stations in California where we could apply what we had learned in the islands, hopefully with the same success.
By 1962 I was the 24-year-old Programming V. P. of Colgreene Broadcasting with ownership of five per cent of the corporation's stock. The company purchased KITO-AM in San Bernardino, California. I was dispatched there to clone our Honolulu operation from scratch. I knew very few people in Southern California radio.
Art Laboe was a friend. The hot Los Angeles deejay had visited Tom Moffatt and me during several visits to Waikiki. Additionally as a result of our 1960 "fake Ricky Nelson" stunt I was able to meet my programming idol, Chuck Blore. During trips to L.A. it was always KFWB that inspired me to strive for bigger and better things. Being out in the Pacific was a good creative exercise; it forced us to come up with our own ideas. Both Art and Chuck have always been supportive. They boosted my confidence when most people didn't give KHJ a chance when Bill Drake and I launched Boss Radio in 1965.
But in 1962 my mission was to make something out of a little station in the midst of a muddy cow pasture on Baseline Avenue in "San Berdoo." This, I quickly learned, was not Hollywood. And I was an unknown radio guy from a small market that only had one thing going for it - it was in the Aloha State. In those Jurassic days a station group could not exceed seven stations, with not more than one in a market. Often it took the F.C.C. several months to approve a license transfer. Until that occurred the new owners were not allowed on the premises or to be involved with the station's operation. (My, how things have changed!)
When KITO-AM finally became KMEN-AM in March 1962 the nexus of the air staff guys I'd met over coffee at the Gaiety comprised guys I'd met over coffee at the Gaiety. Of them, no one impressed me more than Bill Watson who had last been at KROY in Sacramento. Bill lived and breathed L. A. He grew up in the San Fernando Valley where he was an athlete and a very cool cat in high school.
Watson became KMEN's first Program Director and "Mr. Kicks from three 'til six." We became close friends. He and his late wife Jody took me in as if I were family. I learned the History of Los Angeles Radio from Bill Watson.
"How," I thought, "could a person be so insanely hung up on a football team? Players named "Crazylegs," "The Dutchman" and "Tank"?
There was too much radio work to do than dwell on football, but trapped in a car with Watson on the drive from San Berdoo to Hollywood I could always count on a 20-minute L. A. Ram Blast From the Past.
Details of the twists and turns of where this addiction has taken me are in my story in the September 17, 2000 edition of the NFL INSIDER, the game program for that day's Rams vs. 49ers contest.
By 1972 when I moved a few hundred miles south of "my" team, loyalty to the Rams was laminated to the brain cells where such emotions are stored. KGB was in San Diego Charger territory. That team was hapless throughout my time there. I tried not to laugh out loud when Charger fans whined and wrung their hands over their losing home team. One year they went 2 and 12 or something horrible like that.
Colleagues have heard me say repeatedly, "Everyone in the radio business thinks they know how to make a #1 record; everyone in the record business thinks they know how to program a #1 station."
In the Middle Ages the same person served as both doctor and dentist. And perhaps also as veterinarian. Eventually humans realized that specialization made for a higher level of performance (although I swear that a dentist I went to in Fresno was also a practicing veterinarian.)
Over the years since a "Top 40" hit list was compiled there have been some impressive hits by talented radio people. Some include:
Along the way, he battled rival publishers, record producers, copycats and America's changing musical tastes to become one of the most successful and distinctive novelty acts in the rock era."
MORE about Dickie Goodman.
Along the way, he battled rival publishers, record producers, copycats and America's changing musical tastes to become one of the most successful and distinctive novelty acts in the rock era." MORE about Dickie Goodman.
In 1959, the opportunity came up to use this technique, as it had for dozens of other deejays across the country. To those of us keiki o ka 'aina, (born in the Territory of Hawaii), hopefully this would be the year our islands would become the 50th State in the Union. A political matter, this typically had dragged on for years. The white man completed his takeover of the Native Hawaiian Islands by 1900. Hawaii's "delegate" to Congress couldn't vote. By 1959 island citizens were pissed off about "taxation without representation."
While the prospect of Statehood was only a local Hawaii topic I thought it would be fun to use Buchanan & Goodman's approach to the subject. Thus was born "Hawaii Strikes Back" by Ron & Jon on the SICK label portrayed by yours truly and a radio buddy named John DeMarco. It was bound to go over fairly well in Honolulu since it was played "maximum rotation" on KPOI. Record collectors tell me it keeps going up in value, clearly an example of rarity over content.
That brings us to "The 12 Days of Christmas," released in 1972 and an enterprise that achieved some recognition, albeit totally by the grace of the Pigskin Gods.
This is being written on October 5, 2000. The National Football League is one-third into its 81st season. (My favorite team has a record of 5-0 and a bye this week and that is all I can say. We hard core fans have our superstitions.)
At this time back in 1972 the Miami Dolphins were playing terrific football. They were unbeaten and they just kept on winning. No one before or since has achieved what the '72 Dolphins did: They ran the table, went undefeated throughout the entire season and championship playoffs. As time passes their unblemished record becomes more awesome.
The year 1972 was also a victorious one for me. Our team had taken KGB-AM-FM in San Diego from worst to first even before the NFL season ended. (That story and one of my favorite production pieces are archived as "The KGB Recycle Documentary.")
Perhaps you'll recognize Reni the next time you see "Howard Stern's Private Parts," "Cobra," "Brewster's Millions," "Manimal," "Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid," and as Clint Eastwood's sidekick Chico in the original "Dirty Harry" plus a bunch of other feature films.
Reni is often cast as a voice-over artist (it was Reni that Dustin Hoffman listened to on the radio in "Rain Man" for instance). Reni also possesses an outlandish sense of humor.
Monday Night Football was new and hot and Reni did a cool Howard Cosell. The 1972 football season was starting soon and we decided that Reni would become a character on KGB's Monday morning show hosted by "Cap'n Billy" (Hergonson). Reni would phone in a schtick about Sunday's NFL and babble pretentiously like Cosell about Sunday's NFL games.
In the years that followed the KGB gig, Reni could be seen on such television programs as "Judging Amy," "Seinfeld" (playing "Poppy"), "The Practice," "NYPD Blue," "Walker, Texas Ranger," "Murder, She Wrote, "Miami Vice," "Hill Street Blues," "Charlie's Angels" and "The Rockford Files," to name a few.
As the Dolphins rolled along surprising everyone with their undefeated season, Reni came up with an off-the-wall concept that I was more than happy to produce. Facilitating new schemes that require oddball components is just about my favorite thing. (Or is that merely a definition of "Program Director"?)
Within 24 hours our anthem to the aqua, coral, blue and white Fantastic Football Fish was blasting out of just about every Miami radio station. They never stopped playing the record until the gun went off with the Dolphins winning Super Bowl VII. The season ended on January 14, 1973 when the Miami Dolphins triumphed over the Washington Redskins 14-7.
Going undefeated, they had won the Vince Lombardi Trophy which goes to the National Football League Champions because no one came up with the game plan to beat Miami!
TOP STREAM 32.1Kbps (16Khz)
(Thanks to Doug Bray, Rob Durkee, Ray Randolph and Rick Smith.)
© 1997-2007 Ronald H. Jacobs