BOB DE LEON Receives MAMA’s Lifetime Achievement Award

The Carol Glass Story

(Excerpts from a printed article on February 18, 1944. Publication name is unknown.  Courtesy of Sandra McCoy, Modesto Radio Museum)

Mrs. Carol Glass was born in Stanislaus County, the daughter of pioneers, and the youngest of seven children.  In 1934, shortly after Modesto’s first radio station KTRB came on the air, she became the moderator of  the Children’s Hour  heard at  10 o’clock Saturday mornings.  In addition to local children, children from  distant towns, such as San Jose, Vallejo, Stockton, Lodi, as well as from all parts of Stanislaus county were heard performing each week.  Mrs. Glass and the children  appeared numerous times in person at  the  Strand Theater  and at other local events.   Mrs. Glass’s sister Georgia Lyons was the pianist on the program for many years.


The Stanislaus County Committee for the International Exposition on Treasure Island chose the program as a feature representing Stanislaus County for both years of the Golden Gate International Exposition (World’s Fair), held at San Francisco’s Treasure Island  in 1939 and 1940.

Prior to the Children’s Hour,  Mrs. Glass and 5 girlfriends  formed a singing group they called the “Melody Maids” which sang on KTRB every Sunday night at 7 PM during a program they called “Smile Awhile”.    Mrs. Glass was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. O.C.  Bangs, who owned and lived on  a 480 acre ranch on Bangs Avenue.

The Story of Carol Glass
(Produced by Wes Page for the Modesto Radio Museum, 2009)

Kim Dooley – Aircheck

By Derek Waring

Kim Dooley Allison

Kim Dooley Allison (Allison is her married name) has always gone by Kim Dooley throughout her radio career, with one exception.  We’ll tell you about that later.

Kim’s story begins here in Modesto where she was born.   She grew up on a peach farm behind what is now Johansen High School.   She graduated from Downey High School and continued on to Modesto Junior College (MJC) majoring in speech and radio broadcasting.    Kim envisioned a career in TV, but as often happens, she was drawn in another direction.   That direction led to forty years in radio!  Most of those years were behind the mic, but her career included marketing, management, and programming.   It should be noted that Kim’s quest for higher education did not end with MJC; she received her BA Degree from Pepperdine University.

Kim’s first job was at KTRB/KHOP in Modesto.  She started as the receptionist.   The lure was strong, though, and it was not long before she was on the air as the “morning news gal” on KHOP-FM.   Her next stop, K102/KFIV, where she shared the air waves with Radio Rick Myers and Ryn Stephens.   Other Modesto radio stations on her resume include KBEE and KOSO.

In 1985, Kim set out on the road headed to Las Vegas where she toggled the microphone switches at KITT and KLASSY-100 KMZQ.   In 1988 she moved her show from Las Vegas to the City by the Bay, San Francisco, where she went to work for K-101.  At that time, Terry McGovern and John Mac Flanagan were also working at K-101.  The Program Director shared with Kim that he thought the station was sounding too “Irish Heavy” (note: name exception we alluded to at the start) so Kim through the magic of show business became Lisa Marino, but just for this one time.  Kim found that San Francisco was a nice fit for her so she spent the next twenty years there, entertaining audiences from the studios of Double-99 KDBK, KABL, BIG 98, KSOL, KISS-FM, and KKSF.

Kim shared with me that the on-air part of her job was “spectacularly fun” but there was also great joy that came from the people she met and worked with along the way, including Don Bleu, Rick Shaw, Carter B. Smith, Jim Lange, John Mac Flanagan, Renel Brooks-Moon, and her favorite Program Director—aside from Radio Rick Myers—Michael Erickson.

Kim Dooley leaves no doubt that she loves the experiences and the people that came into her life as a result of the career path she chose.   But wait!  There’s more!  She continues to do voice-over work.  Following her love affair with San Francisco, she moved back to Las Vegas where she went to work for the Journalism Department at UNLV which hosts a public radio station on campus, 91.5 KUNV.  KIM did the morning drive show, some of which was broadcast from her home during COVID times.  Students at UNLV were also treated to Professor Dooley’s course on Audio Announcing.  Kim has since retired from this position but is still affiliated with UNLV, providing voice-over work for e-scripts.

Kim wants to share the following message with all of us: It’s been a glorious adventure.  I remain extremely appreciative of the opportunities that came my way.”

Kim Dooley – 98.1 KISS-FM, San Francisco

 

“KNIGHTIME”on KBEE

(The Radio Museum is grateful to Ron Underwood, former faculty member at Downey High School, and advisor to the school’s radio station, KDHS.   Here’s where this story begins:  Bob Pinheiro, Webmaster Emeritus of the Radio Museum, discovered a 1964 recording labeled “Knightime.” The program had audio about activities at Downey High.  They are the Knights.   We asked Ron for details.

He wrote back, and here is Ron’s backstory of “Knightime.”

“Yes, this program was called “Knightime.  It was a fifteen-minute program highlighting Downey High activities, athletics, and student talents.  The shows aired weekly on KBEE-AM 970.

 

They aired until 1972. (NOTE: 1972 was the year Ron Underwood transferred to Beyer High School.)
Interestingly, the program aired with the same title and the same format in the mid-1950s as well.  Downey Speech teacher Edna Spelts organized and produced those shows through the efforts of her Advanced Speech class.
I was a part of these shows then as a student!   Years later, when I returned to Downey as a teacher,  I told the class about “Knightime” and they seemed eager to revive the show.   So we did!

Furthermore, in the late 50s we added “Funny Paper Time” to our broadcasting efforts. This was a program where the students would read-with character voices and sound effects-from the Sunday comic section of The Modesto Bee.  Our version of the comics also aired on KBEE…..In the late 60s we changed the name to KCEY Comics as the shows were moved over to KCEY in Turlock.

P.S.   I sure do enjoy the Radio Museum web site.
I am looking forward to a visit to the new -in person- edition with one of my future trips to Modesto.

Keep up the good work.
Sincerely,
Ron Underwood”

Here is one of those programs.   We are happy to present “Knightime,”  from 1964, produced by the students of Downey High School, and heard on KBEE-AM 970:

One of the guests was Chuck Hughes, for many years, Coach of the Downey Football Knights.   The stadium is named after him.   KFIV-AM broadcast a number of their games.

KFIV broadcasting a Downey High football game. The press box was often cold, but the games had a big audience.

 

 

 

Dick Boynton-KBEE. A Day In The Life of a Radio Newsman

 

Editors note:  This Modesto Bee article appeared on November 21st, 1968.  Later, Bee Photographer Al Golub added follow-up commentary. Special thanks to Al, a friend of the Museum, for permission to archive his story.

November 21, 1968

Wellesley Richard “Dick” Boynton was the news editor at KBEE AM, The Modesto Bee’s sister radio station. In November 1968, Dick volunteered to be my subject for a day-in-the-life-of-a-radio-reporter story. My goal was to improve my story-telling skills.

I asked Dick to just do his job and ignore me. We met at 6 a.m. at the Stanislaus County jail to get booking information.

Dick began every morning at the County Jail to find out who had been arrested the night before.
In 1968, a newsman had to physically retrieve information; nothing was divulged over the phone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then we were  off to Modesto Police Department to read the police logs.

In less than an hour, Dick would be on the air, using these notes in his morning newscasts.
Dick went through police logs daily, looking for newsworthy stories.

 

 

 

 

 

Dick talking with Deputy Sheriff Billy Joe Dickens. Note: Dickens would later die in the line of duty during a Hughson bank robbery.
Dick was dedicated to accuracy; stories were verified before airing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At MPD, we discovered a big story was unfolding.  Stanislaus County Superintendent of Schools Fred Beyer and his deputy Joseph Howard had died the night before in a plane crash coming back from Fresno.

Dick recording a phone interview regarding the Fred Beyer plane crash.
Quickly, Dick edits the phone interviews.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Making images was easy under these circumstances: I just followed Dick as he worked. I moved in and out while Dick ignored me, just as I had asked. When he finally sat down to write copy, he talked aloud and banged away on his typewriter. Next thing I knew, he was on the air broadcasting the news.

Several newscasts each morning, require non-stop updates
It seems newsmen are too busy to keep things tidy.
A listener calls in a news lead. Dick listens now, and verifies later

 

 

 

 

 

Boynton worked as the news editor for KBEE for nearly a decade under managers Roy Swanson and Ed Boyle. Earlier in his career, his deep, resonant voice was heard on the airwaves at KWG in Stockton. Boynton had also worked as a newsman for radio stations in Salinas and San Diego. Among racing fans, Dick was known as a winning driver of dragsters and super-stock cars.

First Prize: A Job at the White House

Richard Strauss’s childhood mimicked countless other youngsters:   he was hooked on radio.

One generation before Richie’s childhood (he was “Richie” during his younger days), a household’s radio was large, was placed on the kitchen counter, and was controlled by the parent.   Kids listened to Arthur Godfrey, because they were forced to.  Or Don McNeil’s Breakfast Club, which didn’t appeal to youngsters, but it was better than going hungry.  Then, in 1957 things changed.    It was the year Sony  mass produced the  transistor radio.   Overnight radios the size of toasters were replaced by radios the size of  cell phones.   Since transistors didn’t require much electricity, they ran on batteries.   Wow, they were small, lightweight, and could go anywhere!!   They were personal! Since they came with a little earpiece, they were private!!  They made a worldwide splash, and they made Richie Strauss’s world.

By the mid ’60s, SONY had sold 7 million radios!
Transistor radios were such the rage, Pepsi gave its version to Paul McCartney, Feb. 1964

 

Day and night, the radio was on, on the way to school, even during school,  at home doing homework, at bedtime, under the covers.   It was non-stop, it was addictive, it was fun!   The radio station with the most fun was KFIV, known as K-5, Modesto’s first Top 40 Radio Station!

Oh, what a station.   The music was modern and fun.   The disc jockeys were glib, clever, and shared the Low Down on Mo-Town (they knew what was going on in and around Modesto).   What’s more,  you could call them on the phone!!  They were friendly, would joke around with you, and sometimes they played your request.

But for Richie, contests were the real fun.    They were non-stop.  K-5 would give away a brand new ten-speed bike a day for 30 days, and the following day the next contest began.  The size of the prize didn’t matter, from movie tickets, to K-Tel albums, to ski lift passes, to crisp clean hundred-dollar bills, it was fun to play and even more fun to win.

One contestant won…The K-5 Corvair Convertible!

Richie played as often as K-5 allowed.

 

 

Often the contestant would have to be “caller number 5” or “13” or “27.”    Richie’s house had two phones.   He would call on one, and then start dialing on the other.    He might be caller “3” and then “11” and then “18”.   And sometimes he got to play.     These persistent players were given a nickname!  The KFIV Program Director, Larry Maher, called them Contest Cuties!    Richie was a dedicated Contest Cutie Craftsman.   Sometimes he won “older people’s” prizes, such as concert tickets to see Englebert Humperdink, or Liza Minelli.   Those tickets he gave to his parents.

One time, K-5 virtually hid an ounce of solid gold.   Listeners did not go dig up the town looking for the gold; they listened for, and studied the clues, which went from vague to more and more precise.     As an example, one ounce of gold was hidden inside the skull at the old dental office exhibit at the McHenry Museum.  (Note:  as the clues revealed the gold was somewhere inside the Museum, the McHenry Museum set all-time attendance records!!  The curator couldn’t figure out what was going on!)

Another time, K-5 gave away Five Motorbikes!

Back to Richie.   He had a cassette player, and he recorded every contest he played.   When it came to contests, Richie was practically an on-air regular.   The jocks could have fun with him.  One time, Radio Rick, on the air, took Richie’s guess, and said, “Richie, over here, I have a big book where we write down the names of people with wrong guesses.   Next to that book, we have one piece of paper where we write down the winning name.    Richie Strauss of Modesto, your name goes. . . . into The Big Book of Losing Guesses!”

Along with all this good fun, Richie fell in love with radio.  His father’s friend, Jerry Rosenthal, managed one of the local stations, and he helped Richie get an intern job at KTRB with news director, Carol Benson.

He graduated from Davis High School in 1988, and then on to UCLA.   He is now Richard, and his extracurricular activities centered around  KLA, the university’s station.    He wrote and delivered newscasts, and covered news and sporting events.   He was at the press conference  in 1991 when Magic Johnson announced to the world he had H.I.V. and was retiring.   With his press pass, Richard covered sports for free, would record quotes from coaches and players, and feed the audio to radio stations.  This Free Lance work paid him fifteen dollars per audio feed.   Not bad for watching games for free.

In his senior year,  Richard left school to work in the Bill Clinton Presidential Campaign.   Traveling with the campaigners, his hard work impressed the Clinton staff.    Dating back to Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1930s, Presidents delivered  weekly Radio Addresses.

Calvin Coolidge, promoting that his speeches could be heard on the radio. 1924
Ronald Reagan delivered weekly radio addresses.
George W. Bush delivered 18 radio addresses.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bill Clinton won the ’92 election, and with his knowledge of the inner workings of the medium, Richard Strauss was appointed White House Radio Director.

Davis High grad, Richard Strauss, served three years as White House Radio Director.

Hard work and long hours paid off, and Richard took what he learned about public relations, and started Strauss Media Strategies, which has grown into the nation’s premier communications, public relations, consulting and strategy firm specializing in comprehensive radio and television media relations services.   Now in its 25th year Strauss Media has offices in Washington, New York, Charlotte, and Los Angeles.

Richard with President Obama
The President introduces Richard to Nelson Mandela.
Is he the greatest of all time, or, next to the greatest? Here with Tom Brady.

 

 

Richard Strauss today

 

 

 

 

 

Don Maddox. 1922-2021

The Modesto Radio Museum mourns the loss of Don Maddox, the last surviving member of “The Maddox Brothers and Rose.”

They began singing on KTRB in 1937, sponsored by Rice Furniture.   Radio propelled them into Central Valley Superstars, and Maddox Brothers and Rose went on to nationwide fame, with hit records and concerts throughout America.  They were favorites on The Louisiana Hayride and the Grand Ole Opry.

Don, second from the left, spent his final years in Ashland, Oregon.

Don had a wonderful career resurgence 50 years after his success with Maddox Bros and Rose, playing at the Britt Festival in Jacksonville, Oregon, opening for Big and Rich, performing at the Muddy Roots festival in Cookeville, Tennessee, in 2011 and 2012, playing on The Marty Stuart Show, and a receiving a standing ovation show at the Grand Ole Opry. He also performed in Las Vegas at the first annual Rockabilly Rockout at the Gold Coast Casino on October 5, 2014.

The Maddox Brothers on the air on KTRB!

From a broadcast, a medley of songs, and a promo for their sponsor:

Don was 98 years old.

Read the story of Maddox Brothers and Rose

Sennheiser MD 421 Microphone

Here’s a favorite microphone of disc jockeys; a high quality cardioid dynamic unit designed and made in Germany. The Sennheiser MD 421 came out originally back in the 1960s. This mic is still used at radio stations all over the country to this day.

 

Sennheiser MD 421-I Microphone
Sennheiser MD 421-II Microphone

The MD 421 has a robust sound; it has a slight boost in the mid-high frequency range for a brilliant response. The MD 421 is also fitted with a low frequency roll off switch to compensate for close talking.

Sennheiser MD 421 Microphone pattern. Bass roll off switch and graph.

All in all the MD 421 is an excellent choice for radio control rooms and is a top choice of many announcers and voice-over artists. So we chose the MD 421 to add to our Mr. Microphone line-up on the Modesto Radio Museum site!

Showing radio control room setups with the MD 421 with foam windscreen.

Hear and see demonstrations of the Sennheiser MD421 microphone on the Coutant Microphone Website links below:

Sennheiser MD421 microphone  audio sample.

Sennheiser MD421 microphone response curve sample

Sennheiser MD421 microphone roll off audio sample

Back to Microphone Man Index

Mel Williams – Aircheck

 

Mel 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, he was an accomplished musician.

Mel Williams on Sax

Mel’s radio career began in 1974 with a one-hour program on KHOP in Modesto. Following KHOP he found a home at KUOP-FM where jazz listeners from throughout the valley would tune in at 6 o’clock to hear him open his KUOP-FM show with: “Good evening, my wonderful listening audience…this is the world of Mel Williams.”  He was at KUOP-FM for 13 years. In a 1990 interview, Mel said: “Music is my first love, and it will probably be my last.

Mel Williams 1994 (Photo courtesy of Laura  Jensen-Hooker)

Mel Williams died May 30, 1999 in Modesto, CA. He was 69.

Here’s a segment from “The World of Mel Williams,” courtesy of KUOP-FM. 

The following airchecks were donated to the Modesto Radio Museum by Christian Walter of Pocatello, Idaho. Christian lived in Modesto back in the ’90s and recorded many of “The World of Mel Williams” programs.

The World of Mel Williams on KUOP-FM,  hour one from March, 1996

The World of Mel Williams on KUOP-FM,  hour two  from March, 1996

 

Gary Avey’s Radio Journey

By Derek R. Waring

Gary Avey’s interest in radio began as a youngster back in the early 1950s. He was fascinated with, of all things, microphones! Belonging to the 4H club in the San Fernando Valley of Southern California, Gary was able to acquire PA sound equipment from selling animals at auction at the local fair. He used that sound system for their monthly 4H meetings and other 4H events.

Growing up in the LA area Gary loved listening to the wide variety of radio stations, noting how their different formats worked. He watched a lot of early ’50s TV as well and noted how microphones were used in different program situations (Editor’s Note: Gary is our Microphone Man).  Gary’s dad encouraged his interest and after graduating from high school he decided he wanted to enroll in the radio broadcasting course offered at the Don Martin School of Radio and Television Arts and Sciences in Hollywood. This school offered a complete course that included instruction in all phases of radio production and announcing as well as Federal Communications Commission (FCC) First Class Radiotelephone license test preparation.  After completing the year long course and getting his FCC license Gary was  hired at KYOS radio in Merced, Ca. in 1959; his very first job in radio.

Gary’s first job, KYOS, Merced – 1959

KYOS was an old station that dated back to the mid 1930s. It was a 5,000 Watt full time AM station with a directional pattern at night which required an operator with a “first phone” FCC license. KYOS had an M-O-R, or “middle of the road” type music format with Mutual Network newscasts every hour. At night they had a teen music show called: “Rotinom” which was a title the station manager came up with. It was “Monitor” spelled backwards! Gary says he is sure the kids listening had no idea what Monitor, the NBC Radio Network’s weekend program that started in the mid ’50s was. Rotinom was an all request teen record show in that very beginning era of “rock ‘n roll” music. Gary says he was “thrown” into doing this show every night Monday through Friday which was quite an adjustment for him as he didn’t even like rock ‘n roll at the time!  He did survive the test and learned quite a lot about this new music called rock “n roll.  KYOS, after about a year, converted to a Top 40 music station guided by programming consultant, Ted Randall, who was a popular personality at San Francisco’s KOBY.  Ted supplied KYOS with copies of all the Top 40 records which made things much easier than if they would have had to get them themselves.  Gary was assigned the duties of “music director” at KYOS; this entailed lining up the order of play of all the music for each DJ shift.  He remained at KYOS for two more years gaining valuable experience.

After KYOS Gary moved up Highway 99 to Modesto’s Top 40 station, KFIV . At K5, as it was called, their format was known as: “The Top 45 on K5.” It was a much better run operation than KYOS; their studios were better equipped to deliver the fast paced rock ‘n roll format. The building was built as a radio station; the studios were well designed and had a “sound lock” where one walked into a small room and the door closed behind them then they could go into the small production studio or the bigger main control room through their doors; this kept outside sounds from entering the broadcast studios. K5 did not yet have cartridge tape machines, all local recorded spots had to be played on reel-to-reel tape machines from small 3 inch reels. The DJs were constantly “cueing” up tapes on five Magnecorder  tape machines as well as cueing up 45 rpm records. It was a whirlwind of activity.  Gary’s boss at the time said, “being a disc jockey is like a being a one armed wall paper hanger!”

K5’s operations manager was Gene D’Accardo who had been with KMOD and KTRB. Gene also did a 15 minute local newscast at noon, as well as a later afternoon newscast. He was the production guy voicing most of the recorded local commercials as well as promos. Gene went on to become a newsman and eventually News Director at NBC’s KNBR in San Francisco.

Mel Freedman, K5’s chief engineer, was installing the first cart machines on Gary’s last day at the station! Mel was quite a character and a superb engineer who really knew his stuff. Being a DJ was not something Mel aspired to be but he did reluctantly pull an air shift. He followed Gary from 8:00 PM to midnight, at which time K5 signed off the air until the next morning. Mel didn’t say much on the air just the minimum to get by; he definitely was NOT a “rock jock” but he was an excellent chief engineer.

K5 used four turntables in the control room, two 12 inch Presto units that were only used to play the music on 45 rpm records and two larger 16 inch turntables that were used to play the various “agency” commercials that, in those days, were recorded on 12 inch records called “ETs” for “electrical transcriptions.”

KFIV had only had those call letters for about 4 years, when Gary was there, it had been KMOD before that. KMOD was an ABC radio affiliate and KFIV continued that affiliation which meant that they carried many network programs including Don McNeil’s “Breakfast Club” every morning and  a few ABC news and comment programs in the late afternoon.

Gary Avey was all of 22 years old when he worked at K5; he enjoyed his time there and would liked to have stayed longer. Instead he joined the Navy and became an electronics tech, receiving his training at Treasure Island in San Francisco.  It was also at this time that he married his wife Norma just before setting sail across the Pacific to Hawaii and then to the Philippines to Subic Bay Naval Station.

While at Subic Bay the Navy found out that Gary had radio experience so he had the opportunity to work at an Armed Forces Radio Service (AFRS) station on the base. It was a little 250 watt AM station that even had call letters, KCMB.  Gary recalls that Armed Forces Service stations were not really supposed to have call letters but this station was somehow allowed to use them. Gary was assigned to do the morning show for KCMB. He used music that was produced and sent over from the Hollywood headquarters of  AFRS on pressed vinyl records. These were 12 inch LPs that had multiple cuts on them with the top tunes by the original artists in the Top 40 and easy listening genres. KCMB also had recordings of state side radio programs that could be scheduled as needed. The morning show was fun says Gary; he was given free reign to do the show as he wanted with no hard and fast rules. There were many Navy families living on the base who listened, as well as the Filipino community in the nearby town who loved listening to American radio. Gary was required to read the news on occasion.  This duty usually popped up when the taped newscasts from AFRS shortwave stations in South Korea or Japan were of such poor quality that they could not be broadcast.  KCMB did have an American wire services teletype machine but even that was “iffy” due to the poor condition of the telephone lines in the Philippines.

1962- Gary Avey at Subic Bay Naval Base in the Philippines when he was a DJ on the Armed Forces Radio Service.

After the Navy Gary returned to California in 1963. He needed a job and radio seemed to be the most logical way to go. So Gary began his search; he searched and he searched. Starting with KFIV he talked with Gene D’Accardo about coming back. Gene had an opening but it was the all night shift and Gary wanted none of that. He headed up Stockton way stopping at KSTN which at the time was under the consultation of Bill Drake of “Boss Radio” fame. It was early in his career and shortly before Drake began programing KHJ in Los Angeles and KFRC in San Francisco. KSTN did not have an opening. Next it was over to San Francisco where Gary visited an old Don Martin classmate, Bill Keffury, who had become the Program Director of KYA. Bill took Gary and his wife Norma out to dinner and gave them a tour of the station. Gary decided he was not quite ready for San Francisco radio though!  Next stop Santa Rosa where Gary met with another of his Don Martin buddies, who did the morning show at KSRO; no openings there either.

Maybe there was a place for Gary up Sacramento way!  He started up the Sacramento Valley checking in at KGMS which happened to be owned by the same people who owned KFIV.  Gary walked into the building and ran into Mel Freedman! Mel also did engineering for KGMS. No openings there either. KXOA was next on the itinerary where Gary ran into another former Don Martin classmate who was Program Director (Editor’s note: Gary Avey knows people).  There were no openings there either. Continuing  up the valley Gary stopped in at KMYC in Marysville and KUBA in Yuba City; no luck. On to Chico and first to KPAY where there was no opening and then to KHSL where Gary finally got some good news. KHSL indeed had an opening; He was hired on the spot! He says he knew the Good Lord had lead them to Chico and it’s in Chico where Gary and Norma have spent their lives raising a daughter and a son.  Gary’s  daughter and son-in-law have given them two grandchildren, a girl and a boy.

Gary Avey at KHSL-AM late ‘60s

KHSL-AM went on the air in 1935 and was a CBS Radio affiliate paired with its sister station, KHSLTV a CBS-TV affiliate which went on the air in 1953. They shared space in the same building in downtown Chico at 4th and Wall Streets. The radio and TV personnel were shared on both. Gary was able to do some on-camera TV spots as well as “voice overs” for TV. In the early ’70s Gary even did occasional subbing as anchor of their noon TV newscast. KHSL Radio’s music format was middle of the road.  He recalls that they started off each hour after the CBS newscast with an up tempo big band instrumental; then rotating vocals with occasional easy listening instrumentals. On the half hour CBS had a 5 minute feature called “Dimension” with various personalities including several of the high profile CBS News journalists back then like Walter Cronkite and even one feature done by “Dear Abby.” CBS Radio still had some remnants of “old-time” network radio. Arthur Godfrey’s daytime show was on Monday-Friday from 10:10 AM to 11:00 AM with a live small orchestra and vocalists along with Arthur’s interviews with high profile people, plus commentary on the current scene. Then at 11:10 AM it was Art Linkletter’s House Party, a simulcast of the TV show that was edited down to fit the 20 minute window for radio. In the afternoon there were various other features that were about 10 minutes in length. Long time newsman Lowell Thomas did a nightly CBS newscast at 5:00 PM. KHSL was big on local news.  A radio news producer prepared the local newscasts. Gary Gerould was the radio news director and did the morning newscasts. Gary moved on to KCRA radio and TV in Sacramento and did news and sports. He later did radio play-by-play for Sacramento Kings basketball.

Gary became the program director of KHSL-AM in 1965; he did spot production as well as riding herd on all the jocks. In addition he did a mid-afternoon air shift and lined up the music. Back in the ’60s there were only two AM stations in Chico, KHSL and KPAY, and they were in heavy competition; there were no FM stations in those days.  KHSL was big on live remotes from anywhere in the Sacramento Valley. A news cruiser was equipped with its own two-way radio system that also ran through the TV transmitter site and back to the downtown studio.

One of the promotional features at KHSL Radio was the annual KaHiSLe-Bug treasure hunt. They gave regular on-air clues as to the location of the hidden bug. The prize for the winner who found the bug was $1,290 in cash (our frequency was 1290 kHz). They finally had to cease the hunt due to problems with seekers causing property damage in search of the bug.  The hunt was then changed to a “mental” hunt rather than actually hiding the bug in a physical location.

KHSL’s station manager around 1960 behind the wheel of the KaHiSsLe-Bug!
KHSL personality Frank McDonald interviewing at the KaHiSsle-bug mobile studio circa 1966.

Gary remembers that in the late ’70s it was decided they would automate the station. It was not a good move; trying to make the system switch in and out of CBS network and trying to do voice tracks synced into music on reel-to-reel machines with the primitive computer brain proved quite difficult. The automation experiment lasted about a year and they went back to live operation. About this same time KHSL decided to switch to a “modern country” format. This turned out to be a good move and their ratings increased along with their revenue. Not long after this the company purchased land north of town and built two beautiful new studio buildings, one for radio and one for TV and moved the whole operation out of downtown. The new facility was well designed and provided much more room. New equipment included Panasonic direct-drive turntables and Revox reel-to-reel tape machines and Electro-Voice RE15 microphones. The station kept a few of the old RCA ribbon mics for old-times sake, one of which Gary has in his collection.

KHSL’s new studios in 1982.

KHSL’s station manager was Dino Corbin from the late ’70s through the modern country format. Dino came to the station in the early ’70s as a Chico State student hired to do weekends. He advanced to sales and then finally became manager. He was very instrumental in promoting the country music format and making it successful through the mid ’80s.  In 1984 Dino was promoted to station manager of KHSL-TV.  Gary continued at KHSL radio until 1989 when Dino moved him over to TV.  This was a good fit as Gary had done traffic on radio in the ’80s along with an air-shift and some production; he was given the traffic supervisor position at TV and stayed with that for 13 years.

Gary Avey at KHSL in the early 1980s before the big move to the new studios.

In the late ’90s KHSL Radio and TV were sold by the original family that had owned Golden Empire Broadcasting since 1939.  It was quite a transition for Gary and the other “ole-timers” to now be owned by a mid-west company. That didn’t last long as they were sold again after a couple of years to an east-coast company that came in and made many changes. The first of these new companies did not want the radio station, so KHSL-AM was taken over by Russ Pope, longtime director of engineering. He ran the station for a short time and an FM station was acquired which became KHSL-FM. Another of the changes was to “retire” some of the long time employees; one of them was Gary.

Alas, it was not the end of Gary’s broadcasting career; he was called back in to assist with the TV traffic part time. By this time Dino Corbin had resigned as TV manager and was hired as Market Manager by Clear Channel Communications, which had purchased KPAY-AM and its associated FMs. Gary had been in semi-retirement for about a year or so when Dino offered him a full time position as production director for his stations. So it was back out of retirement for Gary for five and a half years. He had lots of fun learning all about digital audio. Gary was happy to be back working with Dino and his staff. KHSL-FM eventually wound up in this group and continued the country format started by KHSL-AM.

Gary retired from broadcasting in 2008 after some 50 years; again, he was not completely finished. In 2017 he was able to produce and voice some historical 60 second pieces for KPAY’s ‘Morning News.”  Gary continued this until early 2020.

Gary Avey 2006 at Deer Creek Broadcasting, Chico doing production for several stations.

If you’d like to hear and learn more about Gary Avey please visit the Modesto Radio Museum’s links below:

Listen to Gary Avey (G. Martin Avey) on KFIV

Gary Avey – The Microphone Man

Gary Avey – History of Automation in Broadcasting