Tom was born and raised in Modesto, California. He played in rock bands from high school on! This love of music led him into radio as a DJ: First in Modesto at KFIV and KTRB, then in
Sacramento at KCRA, KWOD and KXOA. Tom was hired at KCRA to do mid-days with his “Italian Love” radio show. He also produced jingles and sound tracks for KCRA TV programming. During that time Tom was involved in some of the first music videos with a group called Biplane. He also managed the Moon Recording Studios.
In 1988 Tom was hired by San Francisco’s KNBR 680, radio home of the San Francisco Giants and Golden State Warriors as an air talent and Director of Creative Services. In 1997 Tom joined KFBK, KGBY, and KHYL as Director of Creative Services and fill-in air talent. Most recently Tom was added to the air staff of Classic 93.1. Tom said “I am very happy to back on the air playing the Classic hits of the 70’s and 80’s. Great station, great people!”
Tom’s Favorite hobbies: Playing guitar, sailing his Hobie Cat catamaran, going to Huey Lewis, Eagle’s and Fleetwood Mac concerts, Sacramento Kings basketball games, and hanging out with his beautiful wife Stephanie and two great daughters Sara and Amanda. He has also been a synchronized swimming judge and the voice of the Cordova Cordettes every summer for the past .
Bob Malik is a former Modesto resident and KFIV radio personality. After leaving Modesto Bob had a successful major market radio career. He now lives with his family in Southern California. For years, Bob was the host of THE BEATLE YEARS, a weekly program that aired nationwide, including locally on KRVR, 105.5.
Bob was asked to provide his autobiography for the Modesto, CA Central Catholic High School (CCHS) Alumni Magazine. He has graciously given us permission to share his story here at The Modesto Radio Museum.
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
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!)
Anyone who worked in radio or TV stations prior to the computer and satellite era, which began in the early ’80s, will remember how the news they delivered on-the-air reached them. The gathering and reporting of the news by radio has come a long ways since the beginning of broadcasting.
In the “old days” the news, supplied by reporters around the world, was fed to radio stations around the country primarily by telephone data and voice lines (teletype machines and voice networks.). Many stations were affiliated with a major network like NBC, CBS, ABC, & Mutual, to name a few, which was delivered by a newsreaders over network lines.
Additionally, stations received news via teletype networks including United Press and Associated Press and local news copy which was prepared and delivered from local stations as depicted in the photos below of the KTRB newsroom in the 60’s.
Today, satellites have become the transport method and computers greatly assist the newsreaders delivering the news on-the-air.
The FCC First Class Radio Telephone (First Phone) examination was a very difficult test and required many hours of study to pass. The William B. Ogden Radio Operational School (ROES) was established in 1946 in Burbank, CA. offering a standard course of study lasting over a period of several months. However, at the request of broadcasters, and to meet the high demand for first class licensed operators, owner Bill Ogden converted his standard course in 1949 to a concentrated course (cram course) of 6- 8 weeks, 12-16 hours a day, seven days a week.
Bill was the main instructor, his wife Tally and her sister Thora ran the office and Major (the collie) offered encouragement.
In 1966 the school moved to Huntington Beach, CA with the first class being held in the summer of that year. The school continued to operate until 1973 or 1974 when the FCC deregulated license requirements and Bill announced his retirement.
If you are an Ogden grad, please read and sign our guestbook and relive those memorable days at the William B. Ogden Radio Engineering School.
Much of the information here was contributed by many of the students from across the country who know they were lucky to be a student of William B. Ogden. We are particularly pleased to locate and contact Bill’s niece Patty Porter and nephew Jim McDonald who contributed information and photo’s of Bill, Tally and Thora. Thank you very much.
Now sit back and enjoy this trip and memories of the William B. Ogden Radio Operational school.
Thomas Joseph Irwin was a young man from San Diego had a difficult time studying for FCC Radio telephone license in 1969 at the William B. Ogden Radio school in Huntington Beach, CA. With help and encouragement from his classmates he successfully completed the course and passed the FCC First Phone license exam. He went on to be one of the most successful Disc Jockeys in the Los Angeles and San Diego radio markets. He developed an on- the- air personality known as ShotGun Tom Kelly. Tom Kelly was
born on August 8, 1949 in San Diego and is a two-time Emmy award winner, Billboard Air Personality of the Year winner and recipient of a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Born in San Diego as Thomas Joseph Irwin, Kelly worked for several area radio stations including KDEO, KPRI, KGB, KCBQ, KOGO, KBZS and KFMB-FM before replacing the late Don Steele in the afternoon slot at Los Angeles oldies station KRTH-FM, K-Earth 101. In August 2015, Kelly was taken off the air and became KRTH’s “Ambassador,” doing personal appearances throughout Southern California.
He eventually returned to the air as a weekend host. Kelly exited KRTH in November 2016. In September 2018, Kelly debuted on SiriusXM Satellite Radio’s ’60s On 6 channel. ShotGun and fellow gradute Neil Ross have become the most successful radio personalities whose careers were launched at Ogden’s Radio School.
In this video Shot Gun has some fun impersonating Bill Ogden with his “Pimple” parody.
As an A immigrant to this country, from Germany , I became a US citizen, in part, to someday try to fulfill a long held dream to own and operate a radio station. And in 1976, along with my wife, Anne, we decided to go ahead and file an application with the Federal Communications Commission to build and operate a new FM station that could serve the Modesto Market. Initially planning was to apply for a new Class-A FM frequency that was available in Manteca , CA.
However, while preparing the application we had the good fortune of contacting local Broadcast Consulting Engineer, Cecil Lynch, who made us aware of the potential of a better opportunity for a new station that would be licensed to Oakdale, CA. as a Full Power Class B FM station.
However this was the last available frequency and came with certain restrictive technical rule requirements that had to be met. Although meeting these conditions would shift and thus waste some of the potential coverage area it still would be capable of reaching the Modesto/Stockton and Merced Markets.
In 1979 Goldrush Broadcasting, Inc. was granted a Construction Permit by The Federal Communications Commission for a new FM station to be licensed to Oakdale , CA .
In 1984, Wally Heusser, who owned KKDJ in Fresno , CA was brought in as a partner. Together with his help we were able to finish construction in time to begin broadcasting equipment tests by spring of 1985.
KDJK 95.1 FM, Oakdale , CA officially hit the air March 11, 1985, programming from Studios/Offices located in Oakdale, and broadcasting from its site located up in the foothills west of Oakdale, with 30kw ERP from an antenna that is 1400′ above the valley. Listener response was immediate and positive. When the next market audience research surveys came out, KDJK was rated the new No.1 station in the market with the most listeners, adults 12+ (Arbitron Spr.’85).
For KDJK to debut at No.1 was unexpected. Competing stations were saying it’s a fluke, potential advertisers were being told to wait and see what the next ratings would show. In the meantime KDJK’s balance sheet continued to flow lots of red ink. Station operating costs were always a challenge and had to be met thru our own boot straps.
But after the initial ratings we knew we had a winner and things were going to turn around.
There was a lot more excitement when the next book came out and reaffirmed the new kid on the block was here to stay. For the next seven years business was good. By not having any major debt to service, revenues generated were able to be put right back into the station.
Investing in the latest state of the art technical equipment and providing competitive compensation with full benefits including profit sharing. Everyone at KDJK, whether in the sales, engineering, or programming always seemed to work well together as a motivated team that really cared about the success of the station. Occasionally the station would host out of town trips and activities for the entire staff. I think most would say it was a fun time to be working there.
In the meantime, Wally became associated with a new partner, together they wanted to put together and operate a group of radio stations. They went on to acquire several more stations, and incurred millions of dollars of debt in the process. Later this would lead to financial problems that would also come to affect KDJK. In 1990 we were compelled to buying out his interest in KDJK, in order to do so we had to assume a portion of the debt from his lenders.
Unfortunately it wasn’t long before KDJK faced a much more competitive market situation when two other stations in the market were programmed to go directly after our listening audience. This along with a deepening overall economic recession left us unable to service the loans under the repayment terms of the debt we assumed.
Over the next couple of years expensive litigation over FCC licensee rights and foreclosure proceedings followed. These legal battles were lost when a Federal District Court ordered the sale of KDJK and appointed a trustee to carry it out. The station was sold and transferred to new owners, Photosphere Broadcasting Limited in Dec.1994. About a year later it was sold again to Citadel Broadcasting.
Listener response was immediate and positive. When the next market audience research surveys came out, KDJK was rated the new No.1 station in the market with the most listeners, adults 12+ (Arbitron Spr.’85).
Other Stories and Features
KDJK, a dream come true
Aroma from Manstinka
Beaver Brown remembers KDJK
Fast Lane Clark & Mark Davis (1986)
Joe Gross obituary
What is payola ? In the American music industry, it is the illegal practice of payment or other inducement by record companies for the broadcast of recordings on music radio, in which the song is presented as being part of the normal day’s broadcast. A radio station can play a specific song in exchange for money, but this must be disclosed on the air as being sponsored airtime, and that playing of the song should not be counted as a “regular play.” The number of times the songs are played can influence the perceived popularity of a song.
The term Payola is a play on the words “pay” and “Victrola”, meaning to bribe to play on the radio Victrola was a phonograph made in the early 1920s by the Victor Talking Machine Company of Camden, New Jersey, and became a word used for radio-phonograph combinations of all types with an enclosed listening horn or speaker in the cabinet, just as Kleenex is used for all facial tissue paper in a box. Payola means a bribe to influence the programming content of a broadcast radio, television or cable television program and is a federal misdemeanor.
HOW DID THE PAYOLA SCANDAL BEGIN?
It actually began in 1958, with the infamous “game show” scandals, in which federal investigators revealed that the wildly popular NBC- TV show “Twenty-One” and “$64,000 Question” were rigged. That scandal led to the investigation of similar practices in radio.
On January 25, 1960…the National Association of Broadcasters proposed that radio disc jockeys accepting payment from record labels for broadcasting particular songs would be charged a $500 fine and spend a year in prison. The practice, known as payola, had provoked an extensive investigation by the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) .
In May 1960, disc jockey and TV personality Alan Freed, who coined the term “rock ‘n’ roll,” was arrested along with seven other people on suspicion of commercial bribery. Freed had refused to sign an affidavit in 1959, denying that he had accepted payola, which was not against the law at that time. He said he would accept a gift if he had helped someone, but he would not take a bribe to play a record. He was charged with 26 counts of commercial bribery, but got off with a fine.
Radio disc jockey Dick Clark, in testimony before a House subcommittee, denied involvement in the payola radio scandal of 1959 and 1960. Clark, one of the top two deejays in the country had much to lose, and quickly gave up all his musical interests when ordered to do so by ABC-TV. In testimony, statistician Bernard Goldsmith…brought in by Clark…stated that Clark had a 27% interest in records played in the past 28 months and those records had a 23% popularity rating. The committee was stunned as they wondered what came first the chicken or the egg.
Clark testified that the only reason he had gotten involved with those businesses were for the tax advantages. He admitted a $125 investment in Jamie records returned a profit of $11,900 and of the 163 songs he had rights to, 143 were given to him. When questioned about Jamie Records, it was discovered that Jamie paid out $15,000 in payola, but Clark denied ever accepting any. The committee clearly did not believe Clark…but he received a slap on the wrist. In fact, committee chairman Orin Hatch called Clark “a fine young man.”
THE SORDID HISTORY OF PAYOLA
In 2003, Cliff Doerksen of the Washington City Paper, wrote that payola isn’t really back – just back in the news. Payola has been a constant universal part of the economy of popular music for about 125 years, and the likelihood that legislators will be able to do anything constructive about it is about a high as the odds of winning the war on drugs. It was old when ragtime was new, and it still will be going strong long after rock ‘n’ roll has died. Generations of reformers have gone up against payola – and those few who have accomplished anything lasting have succeeded only in making things worse.
Turning a song into money requires repetitive exposure. No matter how infectious a tune might be, it won’t go anywhere with the masses until they get to hear it…a lot. Accordingly, a firm with a promising new number on its hands was obliged to prime the pump by paying to have the song performed until such time as popular demand for it became self sustaining and the bucks began rolling in a process known as “putting a song over.”
Prior to the advent of radio, song-plugging campaigns entailed the orchestrated outlay of cash bribes and/or other emoluments – a new suit or dress, some luggage, a case of liquor, a piece of the song royalties, the services of a prostitute – to flesh-and-blood performers. By far the most important of these were itinerant vaudevillians, who, once paid…would carry a publisher’s song clear across the continent, exposing it one performance at a time from the stages of hundreds of theaters to a cumulative audience of millions. The bigger the star, the more valuable were his or her services as a song promoter. Headliners working the big-time circuits stood to make as much or more from his song plugging as they did from their theatrical salaries. But smaller performers were also in line to receive their share of the graft. This was true even of performers whose talents were not primarily musical. Dancers, jugglers and conjurers, for example, worked to music…and music publishers found it worthwhile to assist them in selecting appropriate accompaniment for their acts.
On the local level, practically anyone involved in mediating between the music industry and the public stood to benefit from the largess of the publishers. Cabaret singers and dance bands were all on the take. But, so was the blind busker whose one talent was winding the crank of a wheezing curbside barrel organ; ditto the guy in charge of stocking the rolls in the coin-operated player piano in saloons and penny arcades.
There were a million other angles to the song-plugging racket, but the point stands: Payola was already a ubiquitous feature of urban life. It was also legal…although interpreted even then as a symptom of the ethical bankruptcy of those in control of the music industry.
THE PAYOLA SCANDAL AND RADIO STATIONS
Paying somebody to place a song before the public dates to the early days of the modern popular music industry. At the height of the scandal, Billboard magazine claimed that payola in various forms had been common during the big band era of the 1930s and 1940s and in the vaudeville business in the 20s. Be that as it may, payola on the scale that became apparent during the 50s was the product of a unique conjunction of circumstances – the emergence of rock ‘n’ roll, the introduction of the inexpensive 45 RPM single, radio’s shift to Top 40 music once television commandeered drama, postwar prosperity, and the arrival of teenagers as an economic force. In the 50s, records were taking over from live performance as the principle way to hear…and sell…music. Record industry moguls were well aware that teenagers had cash, loved rock ‘n’ roll, listened to the radio, and were easily stampeded into buying hit records by popular deejays.
The question was how best to exploit that fickle market. At the time, a major record company might release upwards of a hundred singles a week. Then, as now, maybe 10 percent of those would become hits, or at least make a profit for the label. Radio air play was the easiest way for an artist to get exposure and sell records, but with singles pouring into the stations at such a fast clip, labels needed a way to distinguish their songs from those of their competitors. Since this was before the era of MTV and slick promotions, bribery seemed the way to go. Record labels hired promoters who paid deejays to feature songs by favored artists.
Will the practice of payola continue? It’s debatable. It’s not common now, and with so many radio stations owned by conglomerates, there’s less opportunity for the local market deal making that was so prevalent in payola’s heyday.
Demolition crews began demolishing the original studios of radio station KTRB on January 25, 2016 following the sale of the property. KTRB’s home for 75 years (1941-2016) sat on what originally was 40 acres of farmland station owner Bill Bates purchased on Norwegian Avenue just west of Coffee Road in 1940.
Three cylindrical antennas structures, a studio building and Bates home were constructed on the southwest corner of the property. The new owner has announced she intends to build an independent and assisted-living facility on the property.
Bill Bates died in 1969 and the station operated under the auspices of Bates estate administered by the Crocker National Bank from 1969 to 1973 when it was sold in 1973 for $675,000 to a corporation headed by the Pappas brothers (Mike, Pete and Harry) of Visalia (formerly of Modesto).
Other members of the purchasing group included Bob Piccininni (Save-Mart Super Markets) and Mike Sturdevant among others.
In 1981 Pete Pappas bought out his fellow investors for $1110,000 and operated the station until 1986 when he passed away of a heart attack while visiting in Price, Utah. The station was inherited by his wife Bessie who subsequently sold KTRB-FM to a Sacramento based broadcast company for 6.5 million in cash.
In October, 2002 Mrs.Pappas tired of the business and sold KTRB-AM to her brother-in-law Harry Pappas, the only surviving brother, who at that time owned several TV and radio stations across the country. The local staff was let go at that time and the programming for KTRB came from Harry’s news-talk station KMPH-FM in Fresno. The microwave programming feed continued from Fresno until September 2005 when origination control returned to KTRB on Norwegian. Satellite receivers were installed and the news-talk format continued.
In 2004 Harry Pappas applied for, and was granted, a permit by the FCC to move KTRB-AM 860 KHz to San Francisco and to replace it with KMPH, 840 KHz in Modesto. In preparing for KMPH in late September 2005, workers began repairing and remodeling the KTRB studios on Norwegian with the intent to return the building to it’s original appearance and design in 1941.
Once completed, it was to house the new KMPH and the Modesto Radio Museum, which was the brainchild of Harry Pappas. However, the economic downturn resulted in Harry Pappas being forced in bankruptcy and becoming unable to provide a home for the museum. The KTRB building and 1.5 acres of land on Norwegian was put up for sale in 2009. (Asking price $800,000) On June 18, 2006, KTRB in Modesto went off the air and was replaced on July 10, 2006 with KMPH on 840 KHz officially ending the history of Modesto’s Pioneer broadcast station.
Those Ogden grads at the Burbank school location in and around 1963 were able to meet and be taught math by actor Richard Kiel who was just starting his acting career at the time. Ogden grad Denny Blair was one of those students with fond memories of those nights with Kiel .
“I attended Ogden’s in early 1963 when our math teacher was RICHARD KIEL, the actor who played “Jaws” in the James Bond 007 movies. He stood 7 foot 2 and that first night he walked into the class room….the whole room fell silent. We had not been warned ahead of time to expect him. Ogden’s little joke . He was a neat guy and we had some great times visiting.
One time, we went downtown with him in the front seat of a Jeep, his knees under his chin. You can imagine the looks he got from other drivers At that time he was doing the “Jolly Green Giant” at supermarkets and had done some Disney stuff. Kiel knew his math and was 24 at the time . He started acting professionally in 1960. It was a wonderful experience.”
(Editor’s Note) After receiving this information from Denny we searched on the internet and found Richard’s official fan club website. We sent him an email asking if he had any information on Bill, Tally, Thora etc. Here is his prompt reply:
I am sorry to say that I do not have any information about Bill, Tally or Thora. The last time I saw Bill he was still on Olive Avenue in Burbank. I stopped by to see them the day President Kennedy was assassinated and went to work that day on The Man From UNCLE and never stopped.
I didn’t take algebra in high school and was terrified of the math part. I worked so hard at learning math that Bill said one day after one of the final exams, “I am mad at you Richard Kiel!” I wondered what I had done and then he said. “You’re the first student in the history of the school to ace the 75 question math final.” I guess it’s too easy and I will have to make it harder.
His son-in-law was teaching math at night when I attended and when the young man got a really good job at Cal Tech or some other similar institution Bill was left without a night time math instructor. He offered me the job and I worked from 7:00 – 10:00 PM every night for a couple of years except for Friday and Saturday nights when I worked as a doorman, I.D. checker and very rarely as a bouncer.
Acing Bill’s 75 question math final gave me a lot of confidence that if I worked hard enough I could accomplish almost anything. My Dad used to say, “The harder I work, the luckier I get,” and it’s true! Many obstacles were put in my way as I pursued my career as an actor that weren’t nearly as challenging as Ogden’s 75 question math final and I overcame them and became a successful actor.
Richard Kiel ” (Clovis, California)”
From Wikipedia—Richard Dawson Kiel was an American actor and voice artist. Standing 7 ft 2 in tall, he was known for his role as Jaws in the James Bond franchise, portraying the character in “The Spy Who Loved Me,” and “Moonraker.” He lampooned the role with a tongue-in-cheek cameo in Inspector Gadget.
Denny Blair Remembers his days at Ogden’s in 1963
“I was employed at KCVL AM radio in Colville, WA when we had need of a First Class Operator. I was young, married a year with a daughter and one more on the way when I got on a bus and headed for Olive Ave, Burbank, CA. I rented a room in a private home close to the school and survived on 29 cent TV dinners for the two months I was there. Sometimes we splurged and went for a hamburger at this place close by that made burgers as big as footballs.
For a small town guy who grew up in Palouse, WA the 50’s, the whole California thing was a real culture shock. I saw a VW Beetle with “JUST DIVORCED” and trailing cans and streamers, what a sight. The Ogden’s were great. Thora was beautiful and reminded me of Harriet Nelson, everybody’s Mom, a real sweetheart.
I remember Bill was a friend of Moe Howard (The 3 Stooges) and he talked about him a few times. Our math instructor was Richard Kiel, the actor best known as “Jaws” in the Bond films. At that time he was doing the “Jolly Green Giant” at supermarkets and had done some Disney stuff.
I remember the first night he came into class (yes, NIGHT) classes were, as I recall, from 8 AM to 10 PM…something like that. Richard was so tall (7 foot 2 and 315 pounds) that he had to duck coming through the door. The room just fell silent when he walked in, we had not been warned ahead of time what to expect. Ogden’s little joke on us.
Kiel was very nice and knew his math. He was 24 at the time and had started acting professionally in 1960. One night some of us gave him a ride to LA and he was in the front seat of this little open top Jeep, his knees up under his chin. You can imagine the looks he got from other drivers. I really missed my family, but it was a wonderful experience. I remained in radio till 1979 when I went into real estate. I still have my Gold Pencil, ID card, and some great memories.”