BOB DE LEON Receives MAMA’s Lifetime Achievement Award

Remembering KDHS – Kenn Shearer, Student


Steve Falconer (standing) & Kenn Shearer at the controls of KDHS.

KDHS was an enigma to the general listening audience when it emerged on the Modesto airwaves on September 5, 1969. The station was licensed by the FCC to the Associated Students of Thomas Downey High School. The offices, studios & transmitter were located between rooms 50 & 51 at the high school. KDHS had the distinction of being the only high school radio station in the Modesto area, as well as one of the few high school radio stations in the entire country.

With Ron Underwood as the faculty advisor, KDHS was entirely student owned & student run. The radio broadcasting class was worth 1 credit as a vocational art. Its non-commercial, educational programming consisted of campus news, Downey High School Sports (especially football & basketball), special informational features, and a wide variety of popular music ranging from Rock & Roll to Jazz to Contemporary Christian.


KDHS student Carlene Scimeca
Rick Maze at the KDHS radio board

The original 4.5 watt transmitter served the station and the Modesto area quite well. In December of 1969, the station acquired a new 10 watt Sparta transmitter which enabled KDHS to be heard as far away as Riverbank, Empire, & Ceres. In 1972, Ron Underwood left Downey and took a teaching position at Beyer High School. There, he launched KBHI 88.9 FM, the second high school station in Modesto. Burt Vasche’ became the new faculty advisor at KDHS.

Since its inception, the student council had agreed to fund the radio station at a cost of $2,500 per year. This took care of most of the operating and repair costs. The students also sold local area businesses a “Booster Package” which consisted of a KDHS window sticker, and a “mention” on the air. Since the station was non-commercial, it could not run paid-for ads. Rather, it would mention a business in the same manner that most PBS stations do, (“Funding for this program provided by …”).

Bill Hines cues up a record at KDHS
KDHS student Sherry Corbin

Life went on at the little high school station until 1978. It was that year that 3 separate events signaled the start-of-the- end for KDHS:

Event #1…It was decided by the school district that the 1 credit radio broadcasting class would be discontinued at the end of the school year. Students would be allowed to continue broadcasting as an extra-curricular activity, but would not receive any class credit for their efforts. Graciously, Burt Vasche’ remained the faculty advisor for anyone who wanted to participate. It is believed that he did this without any pay or compensation from the school or district.

Event #2…The passage of Proposition 13, the Jarvis-Gann initiative, affected property taxes throughout the state, and in turn, dramatically reduced school funding. Athletic programs, the Arts, and extra-curricular activities took the biggest hit. In lieu of this shortfall, it was decided by the student council that they could no longer afford to continue to fund the station. The yearly stipend was immediately eliminated; however, the school continued to pay for the basic electricity used to keep the station on-the-air.

Event #3…While the station & students were reeling from the loss of funds, the FCC delivered the biggest blow by deciding to abolish all Class “D” FM stations (specifically, those operating at 10 watts). An overabundance of these low-powered, mainly high school & college radio stations were cluttering up the FM band, particularly in the 88-92 MHz range. An ultimatum was issued by the FCC; either increase your power to 100 watts, or leave the air. KBHI decided to do the latter. With no money for a new transmitter, no funding from the school, and a sharp decline in booster participation, KDHS was prepared to sign off for the final time. Instead, the station looked at a third option…one the FCC overlooked. KDHS decided to emulate KRJC, the AM station at Modesto Junior College. The transmitter was output reduced to 1 watt, and KDHS became a “Campus Carrier”. The signal could barely reach the outer edges of Downey Park to the north, and if you were more than 100 feet off campus, the signal was entirely lost. Furthermore, this meant that there was no protection by the FCC if a more powerful station petitioned to operate at the 90.5 FM frequency. Literally, on life support, the station remained on-the-air. The staff knew there was absolutely no money for repairs.

With the loss of the “1 credit class”, student participation had dwindled to a handful of believers. The listening audience at one time probably consisted of only one listener…the DJ on-air.

KDHS remained on the air until the spring of 1983. The once powerful 10 watt transmitter fell into severe disrepair and was unable to even crank out the single watt needed to remain on the air. The staff numbered less than 10, and the school insisted on reclaiming the office & studio space for a teacher preparation area. KDHS was officially gone.

When the license was allowed to expire, the Seventh Day Adventist Academy in Ceres petitioned the FCC in 1987 to acquire the 90.5 FM frequency. KADV, Your Christian ADVantage was launched in 1989. However, the call letters would not fade into obscurity. They were later claimed by Delta High School in Delta Junction, Alaska. In June of 2002, the FCC granted a license to KDHS-LP, a 100 watt high school station, which broadcasts at 95.5 FM, and on the internet.

Editor’s note: Kenn Shearer now lives in Tulsa, OK.

Remembering KDHS – Ron Underwood, Speech Instructor/Advisor

Remembering KDHS – Jeff Cree, Student

Remembering KDHS – Angie Decker Allen

Remembering KDHS – Mike Green, Student

Remembering KDHS – Les Simar, Student

Remembering KDHS – Ross Rumsey, Student

The Fillmore Auditorium

Memorabilia and Memories
of The Fillmore Auditorium
by Kathy Hansen

Museum Note:   Kathy Hansen, a member of the Modesto Radio Museum, has a lifelong connection to music. Her mother, Ramona Rae Hansen-Saben, owned Salty’s Record Attic in Modesto.  The cards shared in this article are from Kathy’s private collection.

The Fillmore, 1968
The Fillmore’s last show, 1968

The Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco played host to some of the most iconic bands and performers of the60’s. The Fillmore was built in 1912, at the corner of Geary & Fillmore, and was originally the home of the Majestic Hall and Academy of Dance. In 1936, it became the Ambassador Dance Hall. Then, in 1939, the name again was changed to the Ambassador Roller Skating Rink. In 1954, a successful business man by the name of Charles Sullivan began booking bands and the name became The Fillmore Auditorium.

In 1965, Sullivan let Bill Graham use his dance hall permit to book a benefit for the San Francisco Mime Troop and that is were the Fillmore history began

Jefferson Airplane performed the first nonbenefit concert at the Fillmore, playing February 4,5 & 6 1966. They would follow up that concert two weeks later, by playing with Big Brother and the Holding Company and Janis Joplin. They headlined several more times at the Fillmore.
Jefferson Airplane was the first non-benefit concert held at the Fillmore

But a lot more than music came out of the walls of the Fillmore. There were the posters. If you are lucky enough to still have an original poster from those days, you have something really special.

Yards Birds – Doors,  James Cotton Blues Band, Richie Havens 1967 Artist – Bonnie MacLean #75 Postcard
Not only are the posters collector items because of the artists who appeared on them but also, in some cases, because of the artists who designed them. The artist who designed most of the psychedelic posters from February 1966 until May of 1967 was Wes Wilson. He geared the art toward the audience who would be attending. Some posters were inspired by his own experiences with LSD. He had a loosely exclusive arrangement with Bill Graham during that time but money disputes apparently caused them to part ways.
Paul Butterfield Blues Band, CREAM, South Side Sound System 1967 Artist—Bonnie MacLean #79
American Flag, American Music Band (Mike Bloomfield Guitar and Buddy Miles on drums), Moby Grape, Steve Miller Blues Band, South Side Blues Band 1967 Artist—Bonnie McLean #77

Wes Wilson (July 15, 1937 – January 24, 2020) was the father of the 60’s rock concert psychedelic posters. Between 1966 and 1968, Wes would complete 56 posters for Bill Graham. There is a popular story that Graham liked Wess first poster but he couldnt use it because the text was not legible and supposedly Wes replied, Theyll stop to read it because they cant read it.There began his stint with Graham.

The Mystery Trend, Big Brother and the Holding Company, Family Tree, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Gentlemen’s Band, Great Society, The Skins March 18 – 19 – 20, 1966.  Artist Wes Wilson BG-2
Grateful Dead, Big Mama Mae Thornton, Tim Rose, Country Joe Dec 9 – 10 – 11, 1966. Artist  Wes Wilson BG – 41
The posters also took on other forms. When you walked into a show, you were not only greeted with Welcome to the Fillmore but were given either a miniature 5 x 7 Play Card of the poster or a post card.

Jefferson Airplane Sept 14 – 15 1970 Fillmore West.  Artist – Pat Hanks Play Card
In 1968, due to the deterioration of the surrounding neighborhood, Bill Graham abandoned the Fillmore Auditorium.   In July of that year, Graham took ownership of the Carousel Ballroom on South Van Ness Ave.
It operated under the name the Fillmore West. He also had Fillmore East in New York Citys East Village. Both venues were closed in July of 1971 as the use of larger arenas grew in popularity.

The Fillmore continued on with a few different names: The New Old Fillmore, The Elite Club which became a venue for punk rock shows. It was reopened in the mid-‘80s under Bill Grahams management but closed again in October of 1989 after the Loma Prieta earthquake damaged the building. After Graham was killed in the helicopter crash in 1981, it was reopened in 1994 after a Retrofit with The Smashing Pumpkins playing a surprise show. It is now leased and operated by Live Nation, a subsidiary of iHeart Media.

* Do you have memories of The Fillmore?  Please feel free to share them in the following comments section.

Have You Ever Called a Radio Station??















It was 1966. I was 16 years old, and top rated music station KHJ/930 AM Los Angeles California was doing a “Cash Call” contest. The cash prize, which grew larger at every incorrect answer, had just been won the previous hour, so it went back to a small amount ($10). I guessed wrong, and got the

Here it is! Denny’s long-lost album, or at least a photo.

consolation prize, which I wanted anyway. It was a souvenir KHJ Boss Radio record album, with pics of the KHJ jocks including Robert W Morgan, The Real Don Steele, and twelve songs from 1965 including “Gloria” by Van Morrison, Sonny and Cher’s “I Got You Babe”, and Barry McGuire’s “Eve Of Destruction”.

For someone who wanted to get into radio, this was better than winning the cash. Unfortunately, when I moved to Tucson, Arizona in 1970 for my first radio gig, my album collection and other stuff I left at home, was given to the Salvation Army.

“BORN TO BE MILD,” The Great K-5 Motorbike Giveaway.

Now, fast forward to 1972. The tables were turned. I was 22 and just started working at top 40 radio station, KFIV, Modesto. We were giving away a Yamaha motorbike.      We took one caller every four hours to try and win it. The program director thought we could milk the contest for at least a couple of weeks. I had a winner the first evening of the contest. Program director was upset. Management was upset. And I thought I was going to get fired. The other more ‘seasoned’ jocks, thought it was funny. Especially when I put “Jane”, the winner, live on the air to congratulate her. After a few questions about how she felt winning a motorcycle, I asked if I could be the first one to ride with her. She answered with a very loud “NO!” I hit the radio station jingle and went straight to music.

At the K-5 Bridal Faire, 1976–Jay Michael Stevens, The Unreal Don Shannon, Radio Rick Myers, and Captain Fred James.


Station management realized the contest needed to be reworked. Fortunately, the sales department got us a second motorbike. For this contest, we played the sound effect of a motorcycle throughout the day. We took the first caller’s name and phone number. All the contestants were then put into a barrel. After taking entries for a month or so, we had an on-air drawing for the “big” winner. This time around, the program director was happy. Management was happy. The advertiser was happy. And I continued working there for the next five years. But I never did get that ride on her new motorcycle.

(However, Jay DID get to sing at a piano bar):

Write us a letter, and we’ll sing you a song! Don Shannon, Radio Rick, Captain Fred James, Kenny Roberts, Larry Maher, Diane Cartwright, and J. Michael Stevens. 1976. KFIV

(And, he took a lot of requests)



Top 40 Radio Northern California

Dan Adams of KXTV 10 produced this story of Stockton and Sacramento Top 40 radio stations from days gone by; a time before corporate programmers dictated what to play and when to play it; a time when DJs had control and could make or break a record. Then things began to change. In 1966 there was a monumental shift and radio would never be the same again.

Top 40 Radio Northern California
Video by Dan Adams

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Kent Whitt and the Downbeats

Kent Whitt and the Downbeats was the first Modesto area rock ‘n’ roll band. Members of the band included Kent Whitt on drums, Bob DeLeon on Keyboard, Danny Toledo on Sax, Bill Gross on Bass, and Connie Hightman on Guitar. Kent Whitt and the Downbeats first formed to play school dances at Modesto High  and then became a popular draw in the area, playing the California Ballroom and the Fable Room as well as high school gyms.

Kent Whitt and the Downbeats played the California Ballroom, the Fable Room as well as many high school gyms.

The band developed quite a name for itself and in December of 1963 was invited to participate in a USO tour to entertain troops in Alaska, Japan, Taiwan, Korea, the Philippines, Okinawa, and  Vietnam. It was a five month tour which lasted until May, 1964.  While in Vietnam three members of the band got notice that he had been drafted.

In 2021 during an open house at the Graffiti USA Classic Car Museum Kent Whitt agreed to an interview with the Modesto Radio Museum.  Enjoy as he shares his memories with you.

Interview with Kent Whitt
video by Wes Page

Memories of Terry Nelson – Constance Nelson and Tricia Nelson-Milburn

Terry Nelson’s radio career began at KFIV in Modesto and from there he made stops at numerous radio stations across the country sharing his lovable sense of humor and his sharp wit. His laugh was infectious; he was the kind of guy that people wanted to hear everyday so they could get their Terry Nelson “Fix.”

The KFIV crew during Terry’s early days of radio.

The Modesto Radio Museum’s Derek Waring has been working closely with Constance Nelson, Terry’s wife and his daughter Tricia Nelson-Milburn to digitize many of Terry’s old airchecks and preserve these memories within The Modesto Radio Museum Website. Many thanks to Constance and Tricia for allowing us the opportunity to share samples of Terry Nelson’s radio career with our Modesto Radio Museum visitors.

Derek Waring with Constance Nelson, Tricia Nelson-Milburn and “cardboard Terry”

Constance and Tricia attended the Modesto Graffiti Days celebration in June of 2022 along with what they lovingly refer to as “cardboard Terry” which is a cardboard picture of Terry Nelson that was used to fill a seat at the Oakland A’s games during the COVID 19 shutdown. Terry was a big A’s fan. Cardboard Terry is now frequently seen beside Constance and Tricia at special events.

Terry Nelson

Terry passed away peacefully at home on May 26, 2020. There are many wonderful stories about Terry Nelson; Derek had the pleasure of asking Constance and Tricia to each share a personal favorite of theirs with us.

Memories of Terry Nelson – Constance Nelson and Tricia Nelson-Milburn
video by Wes Page

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Shotgun Tom Kelly – Broadcasting From The Sturgeon

In June of 2022 Modesto recognized  one of the “Power House” radio stations of the ’60s and ’70s. To many back then KFRC, The Big 610 was pumping out the hits for us from San Francisco because, truth be known, even though we were loyal to our local radio stations we would sneak over to 610 on the dial for our regular dose of Dr. Don Rose, Mike Novak, Bob Malik, Terry Nelson etc. After all some of these personalities were local guys and we had to support them, right?

Shotgun Tom Kelly is also a part of KFRC history and even though he is not a Modesto native he has strong ties to our community. Shotgun is best friends with KFIV’s Johnny Walker (Bob Neutzling) who was an on air personality at KFIV (K5) in the late ’60s, early ’70s. It was this connection that resulted in Shotgun Tom voicing the intros for the K5 disc jockies. Remember?

Shotgun Tom Kelly K5 Intro

Shotgun Tom is also connected to a number of Modesto DJs through Ogden’s Radio Operational Engineering School because they attended radio school together in the late ’60s. Through the years Shotgun has remained a good friend of ours and we are proud to say that he is a member of the Modesto Radio Museum.

Shotgun Tom and Modesto friends

We were excited to hear that Shotgun Tom Kelly was to be a part of the Modesto, 610 Day and that he was scheduled to broadcast from the historic KFRC, 610 Mobile Studio, the Sturgeon (it looks like a fish).

The Sturgeon in June 2022 during Graffiti Days celebration at the Graffiti USA Classic Car Museum
Shotgun Tom Kelly during Graffiti Days celebration at the Graffiti USA Classic Car Museum

Enjoy this video of Shotgun Tom broadcasting from The Sturgeon from Modesto in June of 2022. If you look closely you will see some of his biggest fans peering at him through the window.

Shotgun Tom Kelly – From the KFRC Sturgeon
video by Wes Page

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John Huey – How I Was Convinced To Go Into Radio

The “Midnight Honker” John Huey. He’s the KFIV on air personality that kept Modesto company through those long nights back in the late ’60s. John always boasts that he had better listener numbers from midnight till 6:00 AM than any other radio DJ in Modesto. He will also laughingly point out that  KFIV was the only station broadcasting from midnight to 6am back then.

We ran into John during the Graffiti Days celebration at the Graffiti USA Classic Car Museum in June of 2022. He took the mic as if he’d been doing it all of his life and proceeded to tell us the story of how he was convinced to go into radio by another well known Modesto radio personality.  Enjoy this video from the “Midnight Honker.”

Here’s the raw version of the KFIV jingle John Huey used:


video by Wes Page

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Bessie Pappas Grillos, 83


           Bessie Pappas Grillos

Bessie Pappas Grillos, 83, of Modesto, passed away on June 3, 2022, after battling Parkinson’s disease and dementia.
Bessie was born on April 4, 1939, in Hiawatha, Utah, to Nick and Mary Katsavrias, as was active in the Greek Orthodox Church all of her life.
Bessie met husband Pete Pappas at a church dance in Price, Utah. They were married in 1962 and had two (2) sons, Pete Pappas, Jr. and Mike Pappas. Always famous for her cooking, Bessie creating a warm, welcoming home for her family and countless friends. Bessie proved to be a dutiful wife and loving, caring mother.
As a broadcasting professional, Bessie was instrumental in helping husband Pete and his twin brother, Mike Pappas, build, manage and own radio stations in Las Vegas, Tulare and Modesto. Eventually, Pete and Mike, along with brother Harry J. Pappas, built and launched KMPH-TV in the Fresno-Visalia television market. At each location, Bessie was the unsung hero who helped manage the stations in the always-difficult but growing broadcast industry. Eventually, Bessie and Pete settled in Modesto and owned two (2) radio stations, KHOP-FM and KTRB-AM. In 1986, Pete suddenly passed away at almost 49-years old, leaving Bessie a young widow.
In 1998, Bessie married Steve Grillos, a retired CSU Stanislaus professor. They enjoyed travel, spending time with family and friends and serving their church community. Even in her later years, Bessie had a limitless supply of energy and was always active in her church’s Greek Food Festivals. Steve and Bessie shared 22 loving years together until his passing on February 9, 2021. Bessie finished her professional career working for Modesto City Schools and retired in 2011.
Bessie is survived by her sons, Pete Pappas, Jr. and Mike Pappas and his wife Katerina; grandchildren, Panayiota, Manolie and Yianni, all in Denver, CO; brother Gust Katsavrias (Sharon), Price, UT; sister-in-law Noula Pappas, Fresno CA; brother-in-law, Harry J. Pappas (Stella A. Pappas), Reno NV; and many nieces and nephews who all grieve the loss of their beloved Thea Bessie.
Trisagion services were held at 6:00 PM on Tuesday, June 14, 2022, at Salas Brothers Funeral Chapel, 419 Scenic Dr, Modesto, CA 95350.
Funeral services were held at 11:00 AM on Wednesday, June 15, 2022, at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, 313 Tokay Ave., Modesto, CA 95350. Interment at Lakewood Memorial Park, 900 Santa Fe Ave, Hughson, CA 95326.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church.


Mike Novak – How It All Began

Mike Novak at Modesto Junior College circa 1968

Mike Novak is hometown boy; he attended Thomas Downey High School class of 1967 and Modesto Junior College (MJC). It was at MJC  where Mike got an early taste of radio while participating  in radio broadcasting classes. Initially radio was not on the radar for Mike. He started out as an Agronomy major but tried radio at the suggestion of a friend. Not only did he like radio, he was good at it! In this video Mike will tell you first hand how it all began and where that first encounter with a radio microphone took him.

Mike Novak – How It All Began
(video by Wes Page)

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