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Bob Pinheiro, 84

Clarence Pinheiro Tribute

Clarence Anthony Pinheiro
June 20, 1938 – June 19, 2023

Modesto , California – Clarence Anthony (Bob) Pinheiro, passed away peacefully on June 19, 2023, surrounded by family, just one day shy of his 85th birthday.

Born at home in Stevenson, Calif, to parents Edward and Mary Machado Pinheiro,  Bob joined the family that included older brother, Eddie Ralph Pinheiro. Bob graduated from Livingston High School in 1956, and married his high school sweetheart, Donna Cole.

He began his life-long love of radio broadcasting in 1958 by attending the William B. Ogden Radio Operational Engineering School in Burbank, CA.  In the school’s 27 years (1946-1973) nearly 11,000 people “graduated” into careers in radio.

Bill Ogden and his school made a huge impression on Bob.  As the Modesto Radio Museum’s first Web Master, Bob retrieved, organized, and displayed 280 photographs of the school, and chronicled the school’s history and success.    Over 100 graduates have placed their comments in the Museum’s website, and Bill Ogden’s family graced Bob with letters of appreciation.   As of 2023, search engine Google lists Bob’s work as the world’s on-line authority on the school.

Bob was a major radio personality at several Valley radio stations including KROG, KYOS, KNGS, KTRB and KBEE using the on-air name, Bob Sterling.

Museum’s Webmaster Emeritus, Bob Pinheiro (Bob Sterling) 1964

He moved to Modesto in 1960 and began a 30-year career as a deputy with the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department. The majority of those years were spent in the investigations division. Bob earned several awards of commendation,  including the American Legion Albert L Pedersen Award and the American Legion Law Enforcement Officer of the Year.

Bob never abandoned  his love of radio.  He immersed himself in Amateur Radio, and earned his Ham Radio Operators License, WA6ZLO.   For years, he encouraged and  tutored others to do the same. Bob was a founding member of the Stanislaus Amateur Radio Association (SARA).     

KTRB’s Ham Radio Station

 

QSL Card, verifying Ham Radio Reception.
The Stanislaus Amateur Radio Association’s show of appreciation

Bob had many friends, one of his closest was legendary singer-turned radio personality-turned broadcast owner, Chester Smith.   Two months before Chester died, he called Bob, and said “let’s do lunch.”  It was quite a lunch.  Bob shared about that day with his buddy:  My last visit with Chester.

He retired from the Sheriffs Department, and began his “part time” business, “Bob Sterling Mobile DJ,” which he proudly operated for many years, entertaining throughout the Central Valley, and accumulating dear friends along the way.

Even after hanging up his ear phones, he kept busy in broadcasting, and was a founding member of the Modesto Radio Museum Foundation. Websites were just beginning, and Bob took on the challenge, creating the Radio Museum’s beautiful website, Modestoradiomuseum.org.  He was, indeed, the Museum’s WebMaster.   In 2019, at the age of 81, Bob enrolled in an on-line college course on Enhancing Websites, just to increase his already impressive skills.  Bob retired with the title, “Webmaster Emeritus.”

Bob is predeceased by his parents, brother, and loving wife of 59 years, Donna Clyne Pinheiro. He is survived by his three children, Terrance Pinheiro and wife Cathy, Cheryl Pinheiro Keener and husband Michael, Mitchell Pinheiro and wife Stephanie. Grandchildren Matthew Pinheiro and wife Kendall, Chase Keener and wife Alexis, Colin Keener and wife Alyssa, Michael Pinheiro, Ashley Pinheiro, Clayton Keener, Cydney Keener, Grant Pinheiro and Mackenzie Pinheiro. Four great grandchildren and two more on the way.

Private interment was held at Acacia Memorial Park, Modesto. Remembrances may be made to the Modesto Radio Museum to help build and operate the museum inside the Graffiti USA Classic Car Museum.

Bob Pinheiro, a founding father of the Modesto Radio Museum. His air name was Bob Sterling.

–Modesto Bee, July, 2023, along with contributions from the Modesto Radio Museum.

Harry Pappas-78

 

Harry Pappas, one of three brothers who founded Pappas Telecasting Companies in 1971, died April 24, 2024. He was 78 years old.

Pappas is survived by his wife Stella, son John F. Pappas and daughters Mary K. Pappas and Destiny Jewell.

The youngest son of Greek immigrants, Pappas as a high school graduate pooled the $5,000 he had saved for college with the funds of his twin brothers Mike and Pete to buy KVEG radio in Las Vegas. Working as a salesman and on-air talent under the name “Harry Holiday,” Pappas and his brothers were able to put the station into the black in less than 90 days.

In 1971, he and his brothers put KMPH (“M” for Mike, “P” for Pete and “H” for Harry) on air as an independent UHF channel serving viewers in the San Joaquin Valley originally from Visalia, Calif., and eventually from Fresno.

Pappas financed the station by issuing stock to 117 local people who knew of the brothers’ success in radio, he said during a 2021 interview with KMPH on the station’s 50th anniversary.

Under Pappas, the station racked up several notable accomplishments, including the launch of local news, which made it the first TV station outside the top 40 markets to air a primetime newscast, the establishment of a small investigative reporting team, which was credited with uncovering financial irregularities at a local savings institution, and the launch of the “Great Day Show,” a local morning program. The station became one of the first Fox affiliates in the country.

In his 2021 interview, Pappas noted that he met with Barry Diller and Rupert Murdoch to convince them that it was feasible for Fox to launch a fourth national broadcasting network. He also helped to pioneer Fox Kids, a children’s network launched as a cooperative with participating broadcasters.

As a broadcaster, Pappas was focused on serving the local communities of his stations. “I had been raised in the tradition of broadcasters—that a broadcast station is obliged to serve the public in its areas in a meaningful way,” Pappas said in the 2021 interview.

During the recession of 2008, Pappas worked diligently to maintain the financial health of his company’s stations, but ultimately the 13 stations filed for bankruptcy.

Pappas was well-liked by his former employees. “It was always a very special day when Mr. Pappas came to Omaha to visit KPTM, the third TV station he built,” recalls Dale Scherbring former vice president, director of corporate engineering at Pappas Telecasting. “His energy, dynamic personality and vision for the future of broadcasting garnered respect and admiration by so many of us in the TV industry.”

Jim Ocon, who was deputy director of engineering at Pappas Telecasting, says Pappas should be remembered for broadcast innovation. “I wish more people would know how important this man was to our industry, and the innovation he pushed continues to this day. He was a strong proponent of UHF—the new beachfront in broadcasting at the time—and digital television.”

Following his broadcast career, Pappas enjoyed spending time with his family, which “he loved more than anything else,” says his son John. “He was the most genuine person I have been blessed to know. He was loved by hundreds—maybe thousands—of people and will be missed.”

F. Robert Fenton, 66

F. Robert “Bob” Fenton, former owner of KFIV in Modesto and several other radio stations in the state, passed away November 22, 1991 at the age of 66.  He bought KFIV in 1966 and created its sister Station K102-FM six years later.
KFIV Radio Station, Orangeburg Ave.

Mr. Fenton also owned other broadcast properties in the West,  including KMIX-KCEY in Turlock, KTOM-KWYT in the Monterey-Salinas area and a radio station in Oregon. Once known as one of the largest small-market owners in the Western States, Mr. Fenton sold his Modesto station in 1982, but remained active in the industry for many years.

He was a member of many organizations, including the California and National Associations of Broadcasters, the Modesto Rotary Club and the Del Rio Golf & Country Club.

Clifford Price, 69

Clifford (Cliff) Lloyd Price, a 29 year veteran broadcast engineer for KTRB Radio, died October 7, 1983 at a Modesto hospital following a short illness.  He was 69 years old.    Cliff was a native of Turlock and served in the U.S. Army during World War II.  He was KTRB’s chief technician from 1947 to 1968.  He lived in Modesto since 1956 and retired from broadcasting in 1968.
Cliff Price working on KTRB antenna.
Cliff was an avid amateur radio operator holding the call sign W6ERE.  He was also past president of the Stanislaus Amateur Radio Association.

Glenn Stepp

Glenn Stepp and his Western Swingsters were regulars on the California Hayride in the 1950s and were heard on KBOX, Modesto, CA. KFIV Modesto, CA. KLOC, CERES, CA (Glenn Stepp was also an on air personality on Chester Smith’s KLOC radio station playing the latest country and western records).
Glenn Stepp
Glenn Stepp, according to a 1954 article, was born and raised in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. He came from a large family; he had 3 brothers and two sisters.
He got the musical bug at an early age, forming his first band called the Oklahoma Music Makers while in high school. The group played venues such as school dances, halls, rodeos. Speaking of rodeos, he also rode Brahma bulls and bare backed broncos as well.

Glenn entered the military service in June of 1948. He served with the Paratroopers of the 187th Regiment that was operating in Hikkido, Japan. While he was stationed at Camp Campbell, Kentucky, Glenn became one of the stars of the WKDA Hayloft Jamboree in Nashville, Tennessee.
He received his discharge from the military service after two years and went back home to Tahlequah. He decided to hitch up with the Oklahoma National Guard, 45th Division. This time is tour of duty took him to Japan and Korea. While stationed overseas, in addition to his regular military duties, he also had a group called the “Oklahoma Swingsters” that performed for the troops. He was also heard over AFRS out of Sapporo, Japan. When he received his discharge from the military service, this time he returned to Modesto, California to be near his folks.

In the middle 1950s, folks in the central valley of California near Modesto were said to have heard “Keep in step with Stepp” over the airwaves three times a day on radio station KBOX. In August of 1953, an ad we found shows that Glenn and his group was playing at the Oakdale Beer Garden in Oakdale, California. The ad also mentions that the steel guitar player for the band, Lemon Davis(sp?), who was formerly with T. Texas Tyler.
Glenn Stepp and his band were regulars at the Oakdale Beer Garden
Around the time the 1954 article ran, Glenn Stepp and the Western Swingsters were working regularly at the Fun Center in Riverbank, California, just up the road from Modesto. Glenn remained popular in the central valley. By 1957, he was a part of the cast of the television program, “Country-Western Time” that aired on Monday nights for 90 minutes over KOVR-TV, channel 13 in Stockton, California. Bill Ring, formerly of KWTO, Springfield, Missouri and Ozark Jubilee fame, was the show’s emcee. The station also featured other country and western themed shows such as the California Hayride and “Corral 13”, a sort of talent contest type show where the winner won a spot on the California Hayride. The grand prize winner was to receive a six-month engagement on the Hayride show and a weekend appearance at Riverside Rancho with Tex Williams and his band.

Roaming around the internet, we found the names of a couple of former members of Glenn Stepp’s band. One was Elmer Whittle, who was also from Tahlequah, Oklahoma. He was said to play guitar and did the lead vocals for Glenn’s group. According to the Western Swing Society’s write-up, this appears to be about the time they both returned from the military service the first time around. Elmer continued his career and was inducted into the Pioneers of Western Swing in 1999. Another member at one time or perhaps just appearing with Glenn’s band, during Glenn’s career in the central valley was Smokey Silver, born in Beggs, Oklahoma and later his family moved to Stockton, California 1942. He was also inducted into the Pioneers of Western Swing in 2006.

Credits and Sources:
Country Song Roundup; No. 34; September 1954; American Folk Publications, Inc.

Country Song Roundup; No. 50; June 1957; American Folk Publications, Inc.
HillBilly-music.com

Heil Microphones

Bob Heil was an early pioneer in developing sound systems for the emerging rock music era back in the early 60s. This lead to starting his own company creating their own audio products including microphones.

Today Heil microphones are used in every kind of application from ham radio to top quality units for professional sound systems and pod-casters to commercial radio broadcast units. Since this is the Modesto Radio Museum site we will concentrate on Heil’s broadcast mics.


The two top-of-the-line broadcast mics are the PR 30 and PR 40…both are cardioid models that have found use in some top radio stations like KMOX in St. Louis among others.
The Heil PR 30 is slightly smaller than the PR 40 but is also an excellent broadcast quality unit. This one features a black finish with a red front screen.
Heil PR 40 in black mounted on it’s matching shock mount.
The Heil PR 40 is Heil’s deluxe broadcast model.

Heil also offers a mic in the style of the RCA 77D & DX that they have named the Heil 77D! It is not a ribbon mic but a high quality unidirectional dynamic unit.

The Heil “RCA” style called the 77D. It’s a dynamic rather than ribbon like the real RCA model 77s.
Heil designed his cardioid mics to be different than other manufacturers. He claims his unidirectional patterns reject off-axis sounds by up to 40 db. He also insists on a mid-high boost of around 4 db to give increased voice articulation for better speech intelligibility.
This model PR 781G has now been discontinued by Heil. It’s also a fine quality unit for broadcast or podcast or streaming use.
Below you can hear a demonstration of the Heil PR 781 microphone.
By the way, not many know that Bob Heil was an accomplished pipe organ player! He started doing this decades ago as a young man by playing movie theater pipe organs.

So we add Heil microphones to our Modesto lineup of high quality broadcast units.
Editor’s Note: Shortly after posting this article we learned of the passing of Robert “Bob” Heil founder of Heil Sound.  Bob passed away on Feb. 28, 2024 at age 84.   We send our condolences to the family and employees of Heil Sound.  Bob certainly had a great influence on the professional audio industry.

Bob Salmon, 81

 

Robert Michael Salmon, age 81, died peacefully on May 14, 2023, at his home in Modesto, California, with his beloved partner of 30+ years, Sadhna Perez, and his younger sister, Ann Nichols, at his side. A local Kalamazoo radio legend known as Bob King, he was a longtime on-air personality and half of the duo behind the Doc Holiday and Bob King Show. Bob was born and raised in Edina, Minnesota, and spent twenty years in Kalamazoo, Michigan, before he moved to Modesto in 1985.

 

After getting his start in radio at KDWB in the Twin Cities area, Bob relocated to Kalamazoo in 1964 and became the on-air talent, sales manager, and ultimately general manager of WKMI radio. While there he was co-creator and one half of the the Doc Holiday and Bob King Show, a long-running morning drive-time program best known for its amusing antics and practical pranks. In 1985 Bob began his tenure as a station owner and operator with the purchase of KMIX Radio in Turlock, California. His group acquired, turned around, and sold several stations in both California and Michigan, including KEWB in Redding, California and WJFM in Grand Rapids, which Bob reformatted from classic rock to country. WBCT (B93), the resulting station, has been a top market performer ever since.

 

During his long career, he was the mischievous spirit behind and leader of the team who brought the Do-Dah Parade to Kalamazoo, as well as the WKMI Underdogs Basketball Charity Team and the B93 Birthday Bash, an event that still takes place annually. Bob retired in 2006 and, never one to sit still, began a new career as the publisher of Broker Agent Magazine.

 

Bob was an all-around sports enthusiast and participant. When he wasn’t out on the field or court himself, he was organizing family football or softball games, taking too many of his young children to area golf courses (and letting them loose on the carts), or coaching his sons in the Oakwood Little League while in Michigan and then Riverbank Little League and Modesto Teen Baseball in California. While this started as a way for him to spend time and share his love of baseball with his sons and stepsons, it continued well past when they had moved on from the program. Bob mentored and coached hundreds of Kalamazoo and Modesto-area youth and he regarded it as one of the highlights of his life.

 

An avid storyteller, the reason Circus Peanuts candy is still made, and continuously disappointed Minnesota Twins and Vikings fan, Bob was most proud of his family.

He is survived by his loving partner Sadhna Perez; his children, Deborah (Dan) Borre, Kathleen (Larry) Lowis, Michael (Laurie), and Casey (Zanna); his stepchildren Todd Schuster, Shawn Werner, Francisco (Malisa) and Richard (Lizett) Perez; his grandchildren, Jonathon (Allyson) Lowis, Jordan (Eric) Beery and Bailey (Macon) Boes, Ethan and Claire Borre, Ava Salmon, Taylor, Tristan, Teagan, Tahlia, and Tarynn Salmon, Marcus, Jessica, and Mikayla Perez, and Rachel and Julien Perez; four treasured great grandsons, Judah, Asher, and Silas Beery, and Shiloh Boes; his sister Ann Nichols; as well as nieces, nephews, and many other loving family members and friends.

 

Bob is preceded in death by his parents, Robert and LaVerne Salmon, and his brother and sister-in-law Stephen and Kay Salmon.

 

Wolfman Jack; Did He Work In Modesto?

Did Wolfman Jack work in Modesto? Did he work at KFIV?  These are questions that we are frequently asked at the Modesto Radio Museum. The answer to both is… no. The misconception that he was once a DJ in this area may stem in part from the George Lucas blockbuster film American Graffiti in which  Wolfman Jack’s voice is heard throughout as part of the film’s fabulous soundtrack. The fact that George Lucas singled out Wolfman Jack to also star in his movie gives us a clue as to who George may have listened to during his youthful days of cruising in California’s Central Valley. There is a scene in the film in which the Richard Dreyfus character, Curt Henderson, visits a radio station that closely resembled KFIV in those days; here Curt meets the man behind the voice, although he doesn’t realize who it is at the time.  Perhaps this scene also led people to believe that Wolfman Jack worked at KFIV in Modesto.

Wolfman Jack in the 1973 George Lucas film American Graffiti

It’s more likely however that folks tended to believe over the years that Wolfman Jack is from this area because he was on our radios a whole bunch in the ‘60s. We cruised to his voice and the music he played, laughed at his antics; We loved him, we imitated him, we accepted him as one of us, a seemingly local guy who knew how to tickle our wacky entertainment buttons. What we didn’t realize is that this scenario was unfolding in thousands of towns across the nation and around the world.

Wolfman Jack is not a stranger to Modesto. He made a few visits here to host Graffiti Fest concerts at Modesto Junior College stadium and was even seen at a movie premiere in our town, more on his visits shortly. In 1972 the owners of KTRB decided that on air personality Derek Waring would be called “The  “Godfather” during his show. Wolfman Jack was asked to do a drop-in voicer for the Godfather and he obliged. Derek has always regretted that the Wolfman didn’t say “Derek Waring…The Godfather” to make it a little more personal, given the thousands of Godfathers out there, but that’s show biz. One of Modesto’s former local talents,  Mr. Wonderful, Dave Holmes was once a producer for the Wolfman Jack Show in Southern California.

The Wolfman Jack Drop-in for Derek Waring, The Godfather on KTRB

Graffiti Fest ’88 at Modesto Junior College Stadium hosted by Wolfman Jack. (courtesy of Derek Waring)
Dave Holmes producing the Wolfman Jack Show.

Modesto Radio Museum member Greg Edwards who is a retired on air personality and former adjunct professor of broadcasting at Modesto Junior College remembers as a child scanning the radio dial and listening to distant radio stations. It was at this time in his life that he first heard what he describes as, “A wild DJ” named Wolfman Jack. He was broadcasting from Rosarito Beach, Mexico over station XERB and playing music that Greg had never heard before. In between records he would call listeners and ask them questions such as, “Are you naked?” XERB’s program listing showed Wolfman Jack filling the 9:00 PM to 3:00 AM slot and promoted him as, “The most unbelievable thing you have ever heard on the airwaves. It’s so different that word spreads like wildfire and people can’t help but listen to Wolfman Jack and his Wolfpack. The most talked about personality in America, both out in the audience and on other radio stations too.”

Wolfman on XERB, 1090 (courtesy of Greg Edwards)

Throughout his years in broadcasting Greg has met many VIPs but he says that meeting Wolfman Jack for the first time left an indelible impression on him. He remembers that it was in the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee. Wolfman was working for the Nashville Network on radio with an all-night country show that was broadcast across America. Greg walked past the Opryland Hotel studio window and… there he was! Greg was able to spend nearly an hour with the Wolfman watching the, “genius at work.” He was impressed with how “high energy” the Wolfman was while the microphone was open but how “laid back” he was when off the air. Wolfman’s approach to doing his show was, “If you ain’t sweatin’, you ain’t workin’.”

In the late ’80s and early ’90s Modesto held annual Graffiti Fest celebrations which included musical concerts and cruising. Greg tells us that although Wolfman Jack didn’t actually work at a radio station in Modesto, he did make some personal appearances during which he guest starred on Modesto’s air waves. On one occasion in 1990 he joined a remote broadcast over KOOK AM-970 which originated at Northern Tire and Wheel on McHenry Ave.

KOOK, 970 was formerly KHYV and KBEE in Modesto.

During his first encounter with Wolfman Jack in Nashville Greg couldn’t have imagined that they would meet again, but it happened. They met when the Wolfman was in Modesto in 1990 to emcee a Graffiti Fest concert. In 1993 and again in 1994 Greg was working for KAT Country 103 doing Graffiti Fest remote broadcasts from Save Mart Supermarkets;  The Wolfman showed up to visit with Greg on the air! He graciously answered questions and greeted the public. During one visit while introducing the Wolfman Greg recalls that he conjured up his best Wolfman impression which many of us have, some much better than others. Greg proceeded with his introduction by growling out, “How is your Boogaloo situation?” It was apparent from Wolfman’s facial response that he was not amused. Greg remained in good standing though; He even went on to work in the Wolfman’s personal security detail while he visited Modesto. Fortunately, according to Greg there were no situations that threatened Wolfman Jack’s security and Greg says that his job was pretty much to make sure that our esteemed guest got his favorite meals, greasy cheeseburgers.

Wolfman Jack and Greg Edwards doing a KAT Country live remote from Save Mart in 1994 (courtesy of Greg Edwards)
Greg Edwards with Wolfman Jack,1993 (courtesy of Greg Edwards)

Ok, so who was Wolfman Jack and where did he come from? Let us shed some light on these questions. The Wolfman will assist us at the end of this story by also responding to these questions, in his own words. He even throws out some mentions of Modesto in the process!

The person who was to become Wolfman Jack was born Robert Weston Smith in Brooklyn, New York January 21, 1938. As a young man he was a Rhythm and Blues music kind of guy; He listened very closely to the radio announcers of the day making note of the music they played and their particular gimmicks and deliveries on the air. The ear catching names that made them unique in the field of early radio entertainment were not lost on this fledgling radio announcer. It’s conceivable that at this point Robert Westin Smith gave some thought to what name he would use if he were a DJ.

It was in the late ‘50s that Robert Smith made the move toward a career in broadcasting when he enrolled in the National Academy of Broadcasting (NAB) in Washington D.C. He graduated in 1960 and went to work for WYOU in Virginia using the name “Daddy Jules.” When WYOU changed formats he changed his name to “Roger Gordon and Music in Good Taste.”

In 1962 it was on to country music in Shreveport, Louisiana at station KCIJ where Robert Smith became “Big Smith with the Records.” It was at KCIJ that the Wolfman Jack moniker was first heard by radio listeners. Robert “Big” Smith, soon to become Wolfman Jack especially liked DJ Alan Freed who called himself “Moon Dog.” Freed would use a recording of a howling dog during his broadcasts and this left quite an impression on the budding radio star. Big Smith began calling himself Wolfman Jack and created his own unique library of sound effects to bolster his new radio identity. Sound effects that eventually would forever be associated with the Wolfman Jack character. Incidentally the name “Wolfman” came from a love of horror movies and “Jack” came from the lingo of the day where people would refer to each other as “Jack,” for example, hit the road Jack.

The Wolfman Howl (courtesy of Greg Edwards)

Wolfman Jack grew from local recognition to national prominence in 1963 when he became involved with a radio station XERF just across the border in Mexico. Radio transmitters in Mexico didn’t have the power limitations of U.S. stations and could operate at many times the power. The Wolfman Jack show was introduced to people all over the continental United States and even some foreign countries. In the mid 1960s Wolfman Jack would tape his shows in Hollywood and then ship the tapes across the border to be broadcast on radio station XERB.

Wolfman Jack Show Opener (courtesy of Greg Edwards)

In August, 1973 Wolfman Jack began working at WNBC in New York; That was the same month that American  Graffiti premiered. He worked there for a year before returning to California in 1974 to work on his syndicated radio shows. In 1989 Wolfman Jack moved to Belvidere, North Carolina to be nearer his family.

Greg Edward’s American Graffiti poster signed by the Wolfman, 1993 (courtesy of Greg Edwards)

At the height of his popularity Wolfman Jack was heard on more than 2,000 radio stations in 53 countries. On July 1, 1995 the world lost Wolfman Jack   when he suffered a heart attack; He was 57 years old. Robert Weston Smith, the Wolfman was laid to rest in the family cemetery in Belvidere. His headstone reads, “One more time,” “Clap for the Wolfman,” and “ooOOOWWWW.”

Picture to Greg Edwards from Wolfman Jack, 1993 with little Wolfies drawn by the Wolfman (courtesy of Greg Edwards)

Wolfman Jack Closing A Show (courtesy of Greg Edwards)


In His Own Words

Here’s a 1990 interview with Wolfman Jack at Canadian Music Week in Toronto, Canada in which he describes in his own words how he became  the Wolfman.

(The above Wolfman clip was edited for this article but is available in it’s entire one hour format by clicking here. )

– The Modesto Radio Museum has drawn on information from Wikipedia and from the Wolfman Jack 1990 interview at Canadian Music Week to compile this article. Many thanks to our friend Greg Edwards for his recollections, pictures, and audio contributions.  If you have memories of  Wolfman Jack that you would like to share please leave them in the comments section below.

– Derek Waring

San Diego salutes our own, Tom Kelly

 Before I had a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, I was a kid in San Diego with DJ dreams

 

Radio personality "Shotgun Tom Kelly" poses for a portrait at his home studio.
Radio personality “Shotgun Tom Kelly” poses for a portrait at his home studio.
(Meg McLaughlin/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

I once got to introduce President Ronald Reagan at a campaign rally in San Diego in 1984, later gave him one of my ranger hats, and in 2013 received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Irwin, known as “Shotgun Tom Kelly,” is a longtime radio and television personality in Southern California and can be heard on SiriusXM 60s Gold(Channel 73) from 4 to 9 p.m. He is working on a book titled “All I Wanna Do is Play the Hits” and lives in San Diego County.

It’s been a more than a 50-year career, and it’s still going strong. I once got to introduce President Ronald Reagan at a campaign rally in San Diego in 1984, later gave him one of my ranger hats, and in 2013 received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

I was born and raised in San Diego and have always been proud to say that San Diego is my hometown. As young as 10, my dream was to be on the air in the radio industry, and I was very fortunate to have my dream realized when I was just 16. I was attending Mount Miguel High School in Spring Valley, and I was the school’s announcer every morning on “The Morning Bulletin.”

 

"Shotgun Tom" Kelly visits with President Ronald Reagan in the oval office in the late 1980s
“Shotgun Tom” Kelly visits with President Ronald Reagan in the oval office in the late 1980s
(Thomas Irwin )

Then, in 1966, I got my first on-air job at KPRI-FM playing standard music through a work-study program. At the time, FM was not the radio giant it is now. AM radio dominated the airwaves with stations like KCBQ and KGB-AM playing the hits, and that’s where I wanted to be, behind the microphone of a Top 40 radio station, playing those hits.

Shotgun Tom Kelly in radio school. It takes hard work to sound like a natural.

When I started, I needed a Federal Communications Commission first-class radiotelephone operator license to work at the big AM stations. So as soon as I graduated high school, I enrolled in the William B. Ogden Radio Operational Engineering School in Huntington Beach. I graduated from Ogden after six months with my first-class license, and I was on my way.

My first AM radio job was in Merced at KYOS-AM, then I worked at KACY-AM in Oxnard, and later, I was hired in Bakersfield at KAFY-AM.

It was in Bakersfield that I got a chance to host my first television kids show. I was “Nemo, the clown” every Saturday morning on KERO-TV, channel 23. I was in heaven. I was playing the hits and slowly making my way back to my hometown. One day, I got the nerve up to send an audition tape to Charlie Van Dyke, the program director of KGB-AM. He hired me for the 9 p.m. to midnight show. A year later, in 1971, I was the afternoon DJ at KCBQ-AM, at the same time I was asked to host “Word’s A Poppin,” a syndicated children’s game show on KGTV, channel 10. Now, I was working in two media industries, radio and television.

In the late 1970s, I worked at various radio stations in San Diego, including B100-FM and K-BEST 95, and in 1983 I began hosting the KUSI-TV “Kids Club.”

In the 1980s, Rep. Duncan Hunter reached out to me to voice his radio spots. He suggested that I present one of my ranger hats to then-President Ronald Reagan, and arranged for a presentation at the White House. It was an honor. President Reagan got up from the Resolute Desk, walked over and said, “Well, Shotgun, I hear you were the emcee in San Diego and kept the people entertained while they were waiting for me.”

I said, “Yes, Mr. President, and I bring you my ranger hat.” He put it on for a photo.

At that time, I started voicing radio and TV commercials. One of my commercial clients, Mad Jack’s, an electronics retailer, was selling a new piece of equipment, the Sony CD player. I was fascinated with the size of a compact disc and instantly wanted to replace all my dusty vinyl records. The player was portable, which was a new innovation. Of course, I immediately purchased one and installed one in my car.

In 1997, I got my big break and went to Hollywood at K Earth 101and succeeded one of my all-time radio heroes, “The Real” Don Steele.

I worked there for 20 years, and eventually was honored with a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. Stevie Wonder was one of my presenters during the event.

Shotgun Tom, on the Hollywood Walk of Fame!

Working in Los Angeles, I had the opportunity to meet celebrities like Clint Eastwood, Regis Philbin, Vin Scully, Tom Jones, Elton John, Mike Love of the Beach Boys, John Stamos and many others. When I met Clint Eastwood, he knew who I was, and we talked about our favorite jazz DJ Chuck Niles. Regis Philbin and I talked about people we worked with at KFMB. To this day, Mike Love and I are good friends.

Now I work from a home studio and am on satellite radio. I am heard all around the world. I hope my Southern California listeners say, “Tom Irwin made good in San Diego and Hollywood.”

(Note:  Tom is a member of the Modesto Radio Museum, and for years was the station announcer, “The Voice” of the legendary Top-4o KFIV.)

*** To read the Museum’s tribute to Tom click here: “Quite a Ride, when you ride Shotgun.”  

***In his own voice, here are a few of Tom’s favorite radio memories: https://hollywoodandlevine.libsyn.com/ep142-meet-radio-star-shotgun-tom-kelly

OGDEN’S – Stan Atkinson Remembers

 

Stan Atkinson

 

 

Editor’s Note: This was part five in a series about local people connected to the early days of television.

When it comes to discussions about legendary figures in the history of local television, former TV anchor and reporter Stan Atkinson should always be in those conversations.
With a review of Stan’s awards alone, one can quickly gain an understanding that he was far from an average person in the field of journalism.

Stan Atkinnson, early days on television
Television was young and so was Stan Atkinson in the 1950s

Stan was a three-time Emmy Award winner and a recipient of both the World Affairs Council Award of Excellence for International Reporting and the Sacramento Region Community Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award. And these are just some of the awards that he has received.

Last week, Stan sat down in his Arden area home to discuss his journalism career, which spanned nearly a half-century. But before presenting details about that time, he spoke about the pre-media portion of his life. “I was born (in San Diego) on Nov. 11, 1932,” Stan said. “I was a peace baby, a Veterans (Day) baby.” After being asked to speak about his parents, Stan said, “It’s a long story, because I was adopted. I was raised by the Atkinsons – Stan and Bess Atkinson.”

Stan Atkinson, early days starting in radio
Stan began his broadcasting career in radio, in Los Alamos, New Mexico

Although most Sacramento area residents remember Stan for his television days, the majority of those people are not familiar with his relatively brief time working in radio.
In speaking about his first experience in radio, Stan said, “I was the sports editor of my high school newspaper and they started doing a radio show on Friday afternoons. So, I would do the sports segment, and I enjoyed it so much I ended up doing most of the show. I really liked it. I hadn’t had any experience with radio other than to listen to it. I was a high school senior then and I thought, ‘Well, I really like this and maybe this is something I could do (for a living) and should do.’ So, I announced to my father (the eldest Stan Atkinson) that I didn’t want to go to college.

I wanted to go to a school that would get you a first-class (Federal Communications Commission) license. My father was very disappointed, disgusted maybe, because he wanted me to go onto college and he had ideas of me becoming a lawyer. In disgust, he said, ‘Okay, I’ll give you the $300 to go to school.’ And he said, ‘And that’s it; then you’re on your own.’ I said, ‘Okay, good deal.’ So, I went to school (at the William Ogden Radio Operational Engineering School) in Burbank Calif.). I got the first-class license with great difficulty.”
Stan explained that after earning his first-class license in 1951, he had many employment opportunities in radio.

“Gosh, there were 200 jobs out there all over the country for the 25 of us who were in the (Ogden) class,” Stan said. “You pretty much had your pick.”

After reviewing his options, Stan decided that he would like to work for a particular, Armed Forces radio-founded radio station in Los Alamos, New Mexico.

To Stan’s delight, the station, after reviewing his audition disc, offered him a job.

 

Stan Atkinson

Stan lives in Sacramento and celebrated his 91st birthday on November 11, 2023