You’re in for a treat. The Museum thanks Ken Levine for granting us permission to post these podcast interviews with the nation’s leading radio personalities. Their stories give great insight as to what it was like to be “that guy on the radio.”
We think you’ll learn a lot; we know you’l laugh a lot. After all, these are disc jockeys. . .
We begin with Shotgun Tom Kelly, a radio star who was given his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame:
Ken Levine is a creative giant with at least four huge careers: Comedy writer for MASH, CHEERS, FRASIER, AND WINGS, among others; Broadcaster of Major League Baseball for the Orioles, Mariners, and Padres; prolific writer of books, plays, movies, and one of America’s most-read daily blogs. His Career Number Four: Radio Personality! Yes, it all began with radio. His podcasts, Hollywood and Levine, focus on Entertainment, Pop Culture, and, of course, all things radio. Want more? Ken has over 200 podcasts, click the logo below:
Superman had his Lois Lane and Wonder Woman had her Steve Trevor. Before the Wonder Woman movies, Wonder Woman, the TV Show, airing for 4 years, paired Lynda Carter with Lyle Waggoner. He was a good-looking, mighty fine Steve Trevor.
And, one day, Steve Trevor came to Modesto. . .
(Rick Myers wrote this back in 1975)
Last weekend, Modesto was invaded by celebrities in tennis shorts. Comic Fred Allen once said, “A celebrity is a person who works hard all his life to become famous, and then wears dark glasses to avoid being recognized.” Most of these celebrities did wear dark glasses, but they came to have fun, and help raise money.
The Lyle Waggoner-Best Chevrolet Pro/Celebrity Tennis Classicbenefited the Stanislaus Association for the Mentally Disadvantaged. Twenty-four“famous” people came to Modesto and played tennis over three days at the Sportsmen of Stanislaus (S.O.S.) Club. The locals paid five dollars per match to watch the stars come out—all in all, a pleasant way to donate to a charity.
Lyle Waggoner, a star of The Carol Burnett Show, organized these charity events around the country. It was Modesto’s turn. Lyle came to KFIV several days in advance to set up the promotion, and our first meeting began a wonderful friendship. When the others at the station were introduced to Lyle, they had the usual compliments: “It’s a pleasure to meet you,” and “I’ve been a fan of yours for a long time,” “Thanks for coming to Modesto; this is quite a thrill.” Me? I went for humor (it’s my disc jockey DNA). As Lyle approached, I stared awkwardly at his feet, looking confused. Then I said, “Wow, I thought Porter Wagoner always wore cowboy boots.” Lyle laughed and said he was the other Waggoner. (I had a similar remark about Leon Wagner, the baseball player, but that joke had run its course.) However, with that comment, Lyle Waggoner and I connected.
Lyle Waggoner was gracious and witty—so few of us have both these traits—and instinctively he knew he could have fun with me. When asked to record a station promo, he was ready, “This is Lyle Waggoner, and whenever I’m in Modesto, I never miss the Radio Rick Radio Show; I don’t listen to it, and I don’t miss it.” (The audience loved it, and I aired that promo off-and-on for years.) Later that day, on the air, I asked about his future endeavors, he said, “I plan to do a little screen work this summer; my kitchen door needs repair.” We were having fun. Lyle Waggoner conducts dozens of these tournaments but while in Modesto, I became his go-to guy.
Modesto was rocking with celebrities. Friday evening found these greats and us mere mortals congregated at a party and Lyle Waggoner, my new friend, saw me first, and–happily for me–it was “Hey, Rick, I want you to meet my wife!” His wife
was the lovely actress, Sharon Kennedy. I returned his friendly gesture by introducing my girlfriend who was five-foot-ten. Then came Lyle’s marvelous, awkward miscue. He shook her hand and commented on what a big girl she was. She apologized, explaining her plans were to lose some weight! Lyle gasped, caught off guard, foot in mouth, totally embarrassed. He stammered, searching for an apology, searching his brain for a funny comeback; his brain gave him nothing, and all he could do was utter that he meant “tall” and not “heavy.” I was enjoying this. Sharon rolled her eyes and gave Lyle one of those “What does Wonder Woman see in this schmuck?” looks.
Just then, the great actor Cornel Wilde came limping by and Lyle Waggoner seized the opportunity to change the subject, and introduced us. Nice save, Lyle. Mr. Wilde had pulled a muscle and was in no condition to run through the jungles as he had in The Naked Prey. He was supposed to play tennis the next day; maybe he’d use a stunt double.
As he gazed at us, Mr. Wilde pleasantly accused Lyle and me of starting a “height conspiracy,” and limped away. Wow that was nice; Cornel Wilde, an Academy Award Nominee, was looking up to us.
My eyes scanned the room and there was Ron Ely, a mammoth of a man, who portrayed Tarzan on TV for three years. As I was wondering if he ever tired of being referred to as Hollywood’s original swinger, I noticed a celebrity I practically grew up with: Ozzie & Harriet’soldest son, David!!
David Nelson is a good-looking young man, but extremely shy. According to Lyle, my great friend for the weekend, he and David had been neighbors for years before Lyle ever discovered his quiet neighbor’s existence. Lyle further noted this was David’s first attempt at celebrity tennis. Even surrounded by admirers, David Nelson appeared so uncomfortable I doubt he’ll attempt another.
Merv Griffen’s pudgy trumpet player, Jack Sheldon, supplied most of the humor. His jokes were non stop. And each joke was politically incorrect.
Ex-athletes play tennis, too, and they were there, returning us to the joys of our youth. Former football stars RC Owens and Bruce Gossett had put on a few pounds. They looked like they retired to the buffet table. However, Y.A. Tittle and Frankie Albert were tanned and fit. (Moral: When you retire, it’s best to retire as a quarterback.)
As our weekend with the stars came to a close, I told Lyle Waggoner I was impressed by what a sincerely nice person he was. (Yes, I could be serious for a change.) Jokingly, Lyle replied, “Well, you know, the bigger they are, the nicer they are.” I said, “Lyle, at six-foot-four, you should know. And I hope you’re right, because I’m six-foot-five.”
(Post Script: Following his acting career, Lyle created Star Waggons, providing customized location trailers used by the entertainment industry. He and Sharon were married for 59 years, until his passing at age 84.)
When DJs take on a subject, their train of thought often jumps the tracks. One of us radio guys read an article that breast-feeding could improve the neuromuscular system involved in speech. All that suckling activity is just darned good, healthy exercise. That article morphed down into the lower levels of disc jockey humor. “Hey, DJ guy, you’ve got a great voice, but imagine where you’d be if your momma breast fed you. You’d probably be in New York by now…” I wasn’t breast-fed and I’m not in New York. That’s my excuse.
With that in mind, this February 21st, I came upon an “Ask the Doctor” column. A woman wondered if it was all right to continue breast-feeding her twenty-six month old son. I misread the column, thinking for a second it read “twenty-six year-old son.” I did a quick double take, and talked about my goof later on the air. All was fine, as I summed up the story with “But if there were to be a woman out there somewhere breast feeding a twenty-six year old son, I’d be happy to put myself up for adoption.” It was just one punch line out of many, and I forgot all about it—until those letters started coming in.
Negative letters usually are addressed to the boss; favorable ones come to the disc jockey. I wish it were the other way around. The first paragraph of the first letter read:
“I am surprised that you would let a disc jockey profane himself on prime time public radio by making gross mockery of such a sacred subject as breast feeding babies….” The closing sentence had some holy wrath with it: “In my opinion this man should be ‘adopted’ as he wishes—only by a mental facility!”
Another letter decided to embellish what I said: “And he wondered what it would be like for a 26-year-old to be breast fed and he could go about volunteering to be adopted and breast-fed by that young mother.”
That was more than what I said! I closed by saying I wondered if I could put myself up for adoption. This listener added to the punch line. In radio, that’s called “talking past the punch line.” The writer watered down what I said just to make sure it didn’t even remotely sound clever. When it comes to humor I need all the help I can get. As fellow disc jockey, J. Michael Stevens, once said, “Rick, to call you a wit is only half right.”
Radio stations do get letters! Most are complimentary. The critical ones seem release tensions. The writer just feels better. “I told them a thing or two.” My Program Director, Larry Maher likes to say some people listen with one hand on the Bible, and with the other hand on a note pad ready to dash off a letter of protest.
Most protest letters come when the listeners are given the chance to be “righteously indignant.” At the letter’s heart lies the assertion the disc jockey was insensitive. One winter day, I made the comment, “It’s December 7th, and every year on this day, the Navy goes out and bombs Pearl Bailey.” In came a letter:
“How dare one of your disc jockeys make fun of Pearl Bailey, a woman who is such a great entertainer, she is practically an American Institution…”
Oh, come on now! Just because you don’t get the joke, don’t take it out on me. (Note: Pearl Bailey was a great entertainer, passing away in 1990. The Navy never sought revenge.)
I’m not alone on these incoming slings and arrows; many DJs are Writers’ Wrath Recipients. One foggy morning, Terry Nelson made the comment, “be careful out there, folks; it’s foggier than a pervert’s breath.” In came a letter:
“…How dare you people! I was in the car with my son when your disc jockey talked about a pervert, and my 10-year old asked, ‘Daddy, what’s a pervert?’ I was all embarrassed and didn’t know what to say. Parenting is hard enough without idiots who think they have the right to ruin my day!! Well, thanks; you succeeded!!”
You’re welcome. Another time, Ron Posey started his show with “I got a letter here, let’s see what it says (then the sound of the envelope being opened). Ron then reads, “It’s addressed to All the Virgins of the World. It says, “Thanks for nothing!” Let’s not even get started on those letters.
One brutally cold day, I mentioned that it was “colder than a Mother-in-Law’s love.” Those incoming letters were pretty much universal, along the lines of “I laughed at what you said, but, I want you to know that MY MOTHER-IN-LAW is a VERY NICE PERSON!!” The letters all had that common theme. I guess mothers-in-law have their own union, and they’re headquartered in Modesto.
So keep those cards and letters coming! They let us know that at the microphone’s other end are living, breathing people. Letters keep us on our toes. DJs really strive to never cross the line. We just like to get close.
I’ve learned threes things about listener letters: 1) they are certain to continue. Therefore, 2) It’s better to limit any controversial comments for when the boss is on vacation, because 3) when he’s away, he’s put me in charge of the mail.
Rick Myers always dreamed of getting into radio, and it became a dream come true. He started early. He went to radio school while still in high school, and two days after graduation, was hired by KSRT-Tracy. He was seventeen, on his way to a 47-year career.
At KSRT, he learned a lot, and saved a little money. In June, 1968, he, John Chappell, and Wes Page went to Ogden’s Radio Operational Engineering School and got their FCC First Class Licenses. That was a big step; that license allowed announcers to work at any radio station in America. It was at Ogden’s that fellow student, Shotgun Tom Kelly, gave him the nickname “Radio Rick.”
Rick went right to work at KFIV-AM, Modesto, hired by Tim St. Martin. After serving in the Air Force, Rick came back to KFIV. He liked working with the public, and MC’d dozens of Miss Modesto and Miss Stanislaus County pageants, along with telethons and fundraisers.
Rick joined the Modesto Radio Museum Foundation in 2019, and is currently serving as President.
Here are some samples of Radio Rick’s work. We hope you enjoy them as much as he enjoyed creating them.
KFIV – Radio Rick blasting the air waves in 1974
KFIV – Radio Rick, Rockin’ the 136 in 1976
Aside from on the air duties disc jockeys were called upon to produce commercials for local businesses. Many times they would write and record the commercial. Here are some examples of Rick’s talents.
K5 Cash Cruiser. Rick says this contest went well until people started taking too many chances to win the loot. K5 either had to discontinue it or change the name to K5 Crash Cruiser
Mountain Air Concert
Sierra Seasons with the voice of Virginia Lundquist as Klondike Katie. Virginia was Assistant Production Director at KFIV
The Hamburger Caper with the voice of Dave Nelson
Magnins in McHenry Village Radio Rick and Radio Maggie
Read more about Rick Myers here at the Modesto Radio Museum:
In this story, The Museum points out The Excellence of radio. A survey of radio professionals once concluded it takes one thousand to five thousand hours on the air to become skilled, to sound natural. Yes, it takes years to be an overnight success.
When an announcer speaks the wrong word, or chooses the right word but mispronounces that word, the mistake is instantly out there in the real world, never to be retrieved. Some announcers quit because embarrassments are too much to bear. Others are spurred on, committed to a lifetime of improvements. Bob Lang, a member of the Radio Museum’s Foundation, fell in love with the pursuit of word excellence. He kept track. He wrote a book. “Now You’re Talkin'” is a book you’ll enjoy. If you’d like a career in radio or TV, Bob’s book might help you avoid a few hundred on-the-air blunders. Bob’s book is available on Amazon. We recommend it. Even if you’re not going into radio, this book is a good read, which is the correct way of saying ‘it reads good.’
Every so often I find myself yelling at my TV. Not that it does any good. It’s just so frustrating to hear so-called professional communi-cators regularly mangling the language on our daily news.
For example, there is not a single weather person on the air these days who seems to know that the word temperature has four syllables. Nope, not a single one. That’s why we hear “tem’puh-chur” all of the time. These forecasters also tell us that temperatures will get higher or lower, but they don’t. Temperatures warm up or cool down.
In 2012, I published a book called Now You’re Talkin’, a reference book for media professionals. It’s a compilation of misused words and phrases in dictionary form with the intent to provide current and aspiring broadcasters, writers, speakers, and presenters with a guide for maintaining their professional integrity and credibility. The book contains sections on misused, mispronounced, and misspelled words and phrases; written communication including punctuation, foreign words and phrases, even announcing tips. For years now my book has been literally sauntering off book store shelves!
Someone once asked me what I considered the most common mistake heard in our media. The one that sticks out to me is when a reporter says, for example, that there were over a thousand people in the crowd. Actually, correct would be more than a thousand people! Over is spatial, like a plane flying over the mountains. Likewise, another correct word would be fewer instead of under.
The word less as a designation, however, is different. A correct use would be that the football team had fewer good linemen and less experience. Yes, it gets tricky, but a credible broadcaster should know that!
Another blatant mistake that we hear a lot lately is when we’re told that the president or his staff members appear behind the podium. They don’t! They’re behind a lectern. A podium is what Olympians stand on to receive their medals or a conductor stands on to lead the symphony.
Sometimes words are mispronounced because we’ve read them without actually having heard them pronounced correctly. When Harrison Ford reprised his role as Indiana Jones, the correct pronunciation would have been with a long “E” as in “ruh-preeze’,” not with a long “I” as it is spelled. In this context, it comes from the musical term which means the equivalent of “do it again.”
Occasionally, words have two acceptable pronunciations. Data is a good example. It can be pronounced with either a long or a short “A.” Heard less often is onerous. It means “arduous” or “tedious” and the preferred pronunciation is “honor us,” but most pronounce it with a long “O.” In those cases, my book suggests to the reader, “take your choice.”
Lately we’re heard a lot about a “return to normalcy,” an expression adopted and made a cliché by President Warren G. Harding. Shouldn’t it really be normality? That’s the first choice, although normalcy is also regarded as acceptable. Again, “take your choice,” even though, as a professional communicator, I would tend to opt for the first option.
Then, there are the meanings of words, and some are simply not interchangeable. Reluctant means unwilling to take action while reticent means unwilling to speak about something. But, lots of times, they get mixed up. Or, for an example nobody seems to get right, when you put pieces of something together, you compose the object. That thing then comprises the pieces. Don’t confuse these words. A CD is composed of individual songs. Conversely, the CD itself comprises the tracks. Or think of a musical composition that’s made up of chords and notes and lyrics. The word compose is right there! Here’s another hint: never say “comprised of.”
How about the way the word invite is used? Some broadcasters use it as if it were a noun. It’s a verb! And some of them say it with the accent on the first syllable—it’s on the second syllable. If you receive one, it’s an invitation. That’s the noun!
Have you ever made a concerted effort? Are you sure? Concerted means it was “in concert” with the efforts of others. You can’t do it by yourself! Perhaps you made a concentrated effort.
Finally, here’s a phrase to simply avoid. ‘Ever hear of a bad guy being forced to wear an ankle bracelet? There’s no such thing! If it’s worn on the wrist it’s a bracelet. If if’s worn around an ankle, it’s an anklet. More accurately, call it an ankle monitor.
Why is all of this significant? Potential mistakes like these become reflections on the integrity of those who have chosen to become our spokespeople. Correctly-used language is their most valuable tool. Think about it. A professional communicator really has one essential thing to offer and that’s credibility. For them, maintaining and protecting credibility is vital.
Speaking of being a professional communicator, I find it disappointing that so many of our spokespeople, both locally and nationally, care so little about the condition of their professional skills. There’s even one morning show individual who insists on referring to others as “you guys” and, at the toss, regularly greets reporters with, “Hey!” Worse, this person is often overly familiar with interview subjects and calls them “hon.” (Insert wide-eyed emoji here!)
Sorry, but, to me, this is extremely unprofessional. In fact, professional decorum prevents me from providing the complete identity of this individual. No, I must respectfully refuse to provide full identifying information on this person. It certainly would not be the thing to do.
That’s why I would definitely only agree to provide a first name: Hoda.
The Modesto Radio Museum salutes Shotgun Tom Kelly. Tom enjoyed Major Market fame in Los Angeles and San Diego. He was as big a star as any disc jockey in America.
But before all that, he went to radio school where he met a bunch of aspiring announcers from Modesto.
Tom has a gift. It’s not his on-air style, nor is it his marvelous, booming voice. His gift is how he becomes an instant, and close friend with just about everyone. His friendships continue to this day.
Top-40 radio stations used big-voiced announcers at the top of each hour. These “sounders” were legal station identifica-tions, always delivered with Top-40 flair. You probably heard many of them. For KFIV, Shotgun Tom Kelly voiced them all: “AND NOW, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, BOB DE LEON!” “YOU’RE LISTENING TO JOHNNY WALKER!” “AND THE HITS JUST KEEP ON COMING!” “THE MILLION-DOLLAR WEEKEND CONTINUES!” All of these were followed by the jingle, “K-F-I-V, MODESTO!!” It was fun having this huge, national voice. It made K-5 sound big, as big as Shotgun Tom Kelly.
We are honored to have Shotgun Tom Kelly as a member of the Modesto Radio Museum Foundation.
1972 – Shotgun Tom Kelly with the intro to the Derek Waring Show
(Oh, to be in radio and then to count Ringo Starr among your friends. It was a FUN journey for this Modesto boy.)
By Bob Malik
It was tough trying to condense a 47 year career into a page. But, here goes.
I began my career in radio shortly after graduating from Central Catholic High School in 1971— It was Central’s 2nd graduating class.
During my senior year I had garnered enough school credits to earn a half day school schedule. I would leave Central around noon, and drive to Modesto Junior College, where I was taking Radio classes.
In the summer of 1971, I went to a broadcasting prep school in Huntington Beach, Ca. Shortly after returning to Modesto in the fall, I got my 1st radio job. I was hired by Program Director John Chappell to be the weekend DJ at KFIV.
It proved to be a critically important opportunity. The supportive staff at the station included my Central Catholic High School classmate and friend, Chet Haberle. That positive environment only served to inspire me to pursue this path.
From there, I worked at radio stations in Sacramento, San Diego and San Francisco, where I was fortunate enough to become Program Director at K-101. I found myself in the unlikely situation of advising the people I grew up listening to how to do their jobs. That was something I really hadn’t anticipated. But, it turned out to be a winning team. We were able to take the station to #1.
I also spent a few years at the radio station many of us listened to in high school— KFRC.
In 2001, I was offered a job as News Director at CBS Radio’s flagship station in Los Angeles— one year after I had retired from radio. And, that offer came from someone I had hired— 20 years earlier. I would end up staying at K-EARTH for a dozen years.
In 2004, I began hosting a nationally syndicated radio program called The Beatle Years. Which would eventually lead to an interview with Ringo Starr.
In 2015, I got a phone call from Capitol Records. Ringo Starr was about to release his new album, “Postcards From Paradise”. His rep said Ringo had heard The Beatle Years, and they wanted to know if I would be interested in doing an interview. I told him- I would think about it….Just kidding!
After I got up off the floor, I said “Are you serious?” “Of course I want to interview Ringo!”. I met the drummer inside the Capitol Records building in Hollywood. Was it all a bit surreal? Yes, it sure was!
The Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan show on February 9, 1964. Less than 80 days after the assassination of President Kennedy. That performance was a pivotal moment in American pop culture. It pulled this nation out of a deep depression. We went from black and white—to color. Overnight.
Even though Ringo Starr was one of those 4 guys who changed the world—he was very kind, unassuming —and, well… shorter than I expected. He wanted to talk more about his new album instead of The Beatles. However, I did get a few questions answered about the band. And, I sure didn’t expect to ever see him again.
But, last summer they called again —with an invitation to Ringo’s 77th birthday party on July 7th. Yes, he turned 77 on 7/7. I was able to sit down for another one-on-one with him. This time, he answered all of the Beatle questions I wanted to ask. My final question: “How would you like to be remembered, Ringo?”—-His answer? “I’d like to be remembered .… as being taller”
When the interview was over—he said, “Come here, brother” and gave me a hug. It was an unforgettable day.
My advice to current CCHS students: Discover what you truly love. Then, pursue your dream. It will make your career so much easier—and, more meaningful. And, pass along the inspiration you’ve received from others. (Who knows– you may run into someone you haven’t heard from…in 20 years!)
Abel Pulido, a Latin radio host, and famed entertainer for nearly four decades, passed away November 17, 1992. He was 80. Mr. Pulido was best-known as the host for many Spanish-language music programs on several radio stations in the San Joaquin Valley. He also performed in vaudeville shows.
In addition, Mr. Pulido owned and operated Frank’s Marketon South Ninth Street in Modesto and helped with his wife’s restaurant business, Abel & Lupe’s Café, next door. The restaurant was well-known for its authentic Mexican dishes, and was popular with local patrons.
He began his broadcasting career in 1945, working for KCEY, Turlock, and continuing on KMOD, Modesto, which became KFIV, and KTRB, Modesto, for nearly 40 years. He retired in the mid-1980s due to ill health. As a young man, Mr. Pulido performed in vaudeville shows! He played with live mariachi bands, Mexican dance troupes, and big bands.
In addition to his wife Lupe, he is survived by his son, both of Modesto and two grandchildren.
He was a member of St. Stanislaus Catholic Church and President of the Tuolumne School Parent-Teachers Association.
Remembrances were directed to Community Hospice, Visiting Nurses Association and St. Stanislaus Catholic Church, all of Modesto.
Best known for his jazz program that ran on KUOP-FM radio for some 13 years, the famed Mel Williams died May 30, 1999 at Doctors Medical Center in Modesto. His radio career began in 1974 with a one-hour program on KHOP in Modesto. He was 69.
Williams, a wise and well-respected member of the Modesto community, was familiar to radio audiences for nearly a quarter-century as a genial program host who offered up mellow sounds and insight commentary drawn from his encyclopedic knowledge of music. In addition, Mr. Williams was an accomplished musician.
He retired in 1992 from the city of Modesto, after having served mostly as a supervisor in office services. He is credited with establishing the Sickle Cell Anemia Program, which tested 11,000 people in 18 years and which was funded through jazz benefits. He also created the Mel Williams Physical Fitness Program, which began with a few persons in his back yard and later was offered at Modesto Junior College. The program grew from 10 youngsters to more than 100 of all nationalities
Every Friday evening for thirteen years, jazz listeners from throughout the valley would tune in at 6 o’clock to hear Williams open his KUOP-FM show with: “Good evening, my wonderful listening audience…this is the world of Mel Williams.” In a 1990 interview, he said: “Music is my first love, and it will probably be my last.
Mr. Williams is survived by his children: Monte Williams and Morris Williams, both of Modesto, Mel Williams of Ohio, Mike Williams of San Jose and Marcus Williams of Virginia. Marcus continued in his father’s footsteps and enjoyed success as an area radio personality. Mel also leaves behind nine grandchildren.
Russell Bryan Pope, a pioneer in radio and television, died on May 2, 2012 in Berry Creek, Calif., he was 95.
Mr. Pope was the long time Director of Engineering for Golden Empire Broadcasting Co., owned for several decades by the McClung family. The company owned KHSL-AM and TV in Chico. He retired in 1995 after 54 years with the company. He was the company’s President and Director of Engineering when he stepped down.
Even after his retirement, Russell continued to do consulting work for the company that purchased KHSL-TV in Chico. He was well known across the country in the industry as a top notch engineering mind. Mr. Pope served as an active member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers and the National Association of Broadcasters, having chaired the NAB conference committee four times; and the Satellite Frequency Coordination Committee.
The McClung family, at one time, owned or had part interest in several radio stations stringing from Longview, Washington to Redding, Chico, Watsonville and Merced in California. Russell Pope was head of engineering for all these stations.
The Merced station, KYOS, went on the air in 1936 and was owned by the McClung’s until 1953. Mr. Pope coordinated the effort to increase the power of KYOS to 5,000 watts and move to 1480 KCs in the late 40s. The station, up to that time, had been a low power 250 watt station on 1040 KHz. He designed the complex directional antenna system utilizing 3 towers that aimed KYOS’s night time power to the west protecting other radio stations on the same frequency to the east of California. The transmitter location remained at the same place some 9 miles north of Merced on Old Lake Rd. near Yosemite Lake until 2017 when the building was leveled and the station move to a new transmitting site.
The McClung’s decided in 1953, with Mr. Pope’s encouragement, to take the plunge into television by building KHSL-TV channel 12 in Chico. Mr. Pope completely rebuilt the transmitter plants and increased the power for two other McClung owned stations, KHSL-AM in Chico and KVCV-AM in Redding. He also built some of the first FM stations in California in the late 40s at Merced, Chico and Redding.
I worked under and with Russell Pope for over 30 years at KHSL-AM and KHSL-TV in Chico. He had a keen engineering mind and was a very kind and good man. Much of the information in this article came from my years of knowing and working with Russell and from his telling the many stories of his long and varied career.
He is survived by two sons, a daughter and by 7 grandchildren and 7 great grandchildren. He married Forest Helen Moore in 1941 in South Pasadena, CA. She died in 1997. He is survived by their children: Ron Pope of Normal, IL, Kathy Main of Chico, CA;…
His two sons followed their dad into the electrical engineering field.