BOB DE LEON Receives MAMA’s Lifetime Achievement Award

Dave Holmes – Mr. Wonderful

Dave Holmes

The broadcasting industry and its listeners lost a friend with the passing of Dave Holmes on September 4, 2020. Dave died peacefully in his sleep. He began his radio career  in 1974 doing character voices for KGBS in Los Angeles before landing his first full time on-air position in 1980.  Known affectionately as “Mr. Wonderful” he subsequently graced the air waves of Central California for more than 20 years.  He had been with Kat Country 103 (KATM) since its beginnings in 1992 and was known as the guy with a big voice, a big heart, and a big personality according to former KATM Program Director Nikki ThomasShe went on to say of Dave’s passing, “It’s a sad day for all of my KAT Country friends and family … Mr. Wonderful has passed away and I’m pretty sure he took his rim-shot with him. Dave Holmes was the epitome of ‘larger than life.  He was my coworker and my friend … and the world is a lot more depressing without him in it.”

Dave bringing home the hardware

Dave retired from KATM in 2016 due to chronic pain. Retirement was a tough decision for Dave because he lived to entertain others. He posted his decision to retire to his Facebook page in November of 2015 saying, “I have thought long and hard about this decision for the past year. I have come to the conclusion that I will be exiting KAT COUNTRY. I suffer from chronic pain, which I have had for over a decade, and it’s gotten to the point where the pain is just too distracting. For the past 23 years, KAT COUNTRY was a giant part of my life. I’ve spent over a third of my life at KAT, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. With that being said, I will leave on top. Whoever takes my place will be very lucky. KAT COUNTRY isn’t just a radio station, it’s a FAMILY.”

Holmes Production Studio

Dave continued to live in MANTECA after retiring from KATM doing commercials in his studio. He built a global audience on RETRO RADIO and was active doing charity work for TOYS FOR TOTS and other organizations. Dave told his listeners that he wasn’t going away he’d just be in a different location.

Dave was proud of his sons Kenny and Ryan and never missed an opportunity to say so on the air.

Kenny and Ryan, Dave’s sons describe their dad as, “The guy who was always ready with some kind of quip, whether it be a good or a bad one, to lighten the mood and make people smile. He was always the life of the party.  He was born to entertain, from a young boy sticking a speaker in a tree and convincing the neighborhood kids it talked to his final days running his internet radio station, Retro Radio California.”

Some of Dave’s favorite memories were of producing the Wolfman Jack Show. That’s young Dave Holmes in the back.

Kenny and Ryan related in a Facebook post honoring their father that years after his retirement, “He would go to the grocery store and as soon as that booming voice came out, people would ask, aren’t you Mr. Wonderful? He was dedicated to his community. He did so much over the years with the local animal shelters (HE LOVED ANIMALS), Toys for Tots and St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital among many other causes and charities.”  Kenny and Ryan thank all who helped make their dad the special guy that he was and to honor him they ask that donations be made to the Stanislaus Animal Shelter or Adopt-a-Pet in his name. Dave asked that listeners support these organizations at the end of every one of his shows.

To Dave Holmes life was a party and everyone was invited. His mantra throughout his life was, “Find a career you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.”

The Radio of My Youth–KYA

By Radio Rick Myers

I left My Heart in San Francisco, with KYA.   But  before that, my heart started pounding to the beat of radio at the age of eight when Cal Purviance  (“Cal Your Birthday Pal” on KTRB) wished a Happy Birthday to little Ricky Myers of Manteca!  (Wow, my name, on the air!)   Cal later became a friend; we laughed that he had set me on my career path.    Cal was a magician; in one sentence he turned me into a radio lifer.

I was drawn to personalities who did far more than “play the hits.”   To say something entertaining in short bursts of 3 to 17 seconds is an art form that intrigued me.  These weren’t “Rock Jocks” they were entertainers.  How could they be so bright and clever as they talked out of, or into so many songs?    How could they do it every three minutes, hour after hour, day after day?

As a teenager, I discovered KYA-1260 AM, a station packed with high entertainment disc jockeys ’round the clock.  A station after my own heart.

Gene Nelson, the morning guy, touched that heart.  I remember how he could rotate being funny with being sincere, a true communicator.   The day after Martin Luther King Jr died, Gene went on the air and gave America a pep talk; somehow we would rebound, things eventually would be better, but for right now, give yourselves time to process.  His comments weren’t insensitive; what happened was horrible, the shock of it all had us back on our heels, but don’t give up on the resiliency of America.

I wrote Gene two fan letters.   Each time he wrote back.  I think he understood his abilities were a gift, and didn’t take them lightly.   Over a period of 15 years, I never heard him tell the same story twice.   I later learned how difficult it is to be creative on demand, but Gene always delivered.

In 1967, I was on the air at KSRT, Tracy–my first radio job–when my sister called, all excited.   She had just won $100 listening to Gene’s show on KYA.   I’m on the air and she’s listening to someone else!!  Yes, blood is thicker than water, but Cash is King.

Johnny Holliday and The Monkees.

 

Johnny Holliday was a huge performer.   He had been Number 1 in New York City.   He started when Top-40 jocks were glib, hip, and talked jive.   That fast-talking “I’m the geeter with the heater, playing stax of wax and mounds of sound, number one on the charts, number one in your hearts” stuff ended in

Johnny Holliday with The Four Seasons.

May of 1965 when Bill Drake forced every jock to relate better.   Quickly, it was showcase the music, not your DJ gimmickry!    Johnny adjusted perfectly, but on occasion would throw in stuff like, ‘It’s five minutes on the Hello Side of Five o’clock.” (only disc jockeys talk like that.)   With great tongue-in-check bravado, he referred to himself as “Every Teen Queen’s Dream,” “The King of the Concrete Jungle,” and for San Franciscans, he was  “The Knight of Nob Hill,” and “The Baron of the Bay.” He bought a house in Tiburon for $50,000 that’s now worth 1.4 million (Of course it is).

Johnny Holliday, Sportscaster of the Year, 2022

He left for Washington DC, and switched to sports where to this day (53 years as of 2022) he is the radio voice for University of Maryland football and basketball.   For 14 years he hosted the pre- and post-game TV shows for Washington Nationals.   He wrote a great inside look at his life, “Johnny Holliday:  From Rock to Jock,” a book I recommend.

 

Johnny was also the PA Announcer for the Oakland Raiders, and was the national announcer for the Roger Miller and Hullabaloo TV shows.   He would fly down to L.A. on a Tuesday, tape a TV show, and be back on the air Thursday.   One Sunday he had to pull an air shift at KYA, forcing him to miss the Raider game.    On the air he said this was all pretty simple:  Roger Miller paid him enough to miss an occasional show; the Raiders did not.

Amazingly, Rick Barry of the Golden State Warriors idolized Johnny Holliday, maybe they idolized each other.  In any event, they became close friends.   Barry got his hair styled at same place Johnny did, and was delighted to be part of the KYA radio basketball team.   I never saw the spelling, and always assumed the team was called the KYA Radio Wonders!    It wasn’t until about 5 years ago I learned it was Radio Oneders (Radio One).   Radio Wonders looks better.

The KYA Radio Oneders played school faculties and went 59-1 in 1967. Top row, 4th from left is Rick Barry. Front row far left is Sean O’Callahan, 4th is Johnny Holliday, next is Ed Hider.

Johnny brought Ed Hider with him to San Francisco.   Hider was a one-liner machine, much like Dr. Don Rose at KFRC, but Hider didn’t laugh along with his punchlines.   Dr. Don always seemed to enjoy being corny.

For years, every night at the stroke of midnight, KYA had a tradition:  on came  “Baby, What I’d Say” by Ray Charles.   I like a station that doesn’t take itself seriously.   The all-night guy was Russ “The Moose”Syracuse.  He referred to KYA as an air liner, The Super-Freak 1260.   If he was tired of a song, he’d drop the sound effect of a bomb on it.   His “air liner” featured a bevy of stewardesses.   If you wanted to be served some food, just ask for stewardess, Kay Ration, and when the Super-Freak landed and you needed transportation, talk to stewardess Lisa Carr, etc.  The audience got it.

Mike Cleary at KROY. For the sake of publicity, disc jockeys have no shame.

Mike Cleary and Sean O’Callahan came from KROY, Sacramento.  Cleary also had a TV Dance Show (a la American Bandstand).   I think his TV show was on Sundays, early afternoon.   Tommy Saunders had great wit and was way too good for 9pm to midnight, but that shift allowed him to go to school and become a teacher (an honest job).

Years, later, in the 80’s, Gary Halladay, the General Manager of KFIV, Modesto, and I tried to hire Russ the Moose Syracuse to work mornings at K-5.   We thought a great entertainer could slow down the onslaught of FM’s popularity.   We couldn’t agree on price.   Also, I recall that he was living in Sonora to be close to his daughter and her family, and I thought he would tire quickly of the commute.   Russ was a pleasure as we tried to make it happen.   I remember him telling me he wouldn’t be embarrassed to be working in a smaller market like Modesto, the drive down from Sonora would be easy, and he wouldn’t “phone it in” but would make it work.

Russ The Moose Syracuse, KYA & KSFO Radio.

 

It woulda been fun.  He woulda been a Radio Oneder.

 

Ron Richards, Confessions of a K-5 DJ

Confessions are good for my rock ‘n roll soul

By “Rockin Ron” Richards

Meet Me At The Station KFIV (1975-77)

After “breaking the ice” with my first job in radio at KCEY,Turlock,  the late Larry Maher, KFIV Program Director, hired me on as a “weekender.”  So in February of 1975, I began my venture into TOP 40 radio.  The late Stuart Chase and I were the only ones working weekends until A.J. Roberts and Mike Green joined us as Weekend Warriors.

The first time I walked into the building was for my interview.   The business offices were to the left; DJ offices to the right.  The DJ office was one large room, and one entire wall had windows looking into the main on-air studio and the production room.    The only radio personalities with their own desk space were”Radio” Rick (Myers) and “Captain” Fred James (Music Director).  To the left of the main office were the offices of the late Robert Fenton (owner) and the salespeople.  Further down the hallway was the bathroom (on the left)..and the backroom, housing the Teletype, Coffee machines, and the 5000-watt daytime transmitter.  Later, the bathrooms were labeled “K-BOY” and “K-GAL.”   Radio people are nothing if not cute.

The KFIV studios were in a brick building that had a 1950’s “feel” to it.  Outside of the main office, the windows that decorated the front entrance and DJ office area were of a “Block Ice”/”Frosty” type,… you know… very heavy-looking and  you couldn’t really see through them.  In the studio, the on-air DJs sat facing the DJ room, which Radio Rick referred to as “the disc jockey lounge.”  Behind the disk jockey on-air chair was the 1000-watt transmitter (used for night times) and several racks that housed tape recorders and audio processors.  The reel-to-reel tape decks were used for playing Public Affairs Programs, which aired on Sundays, either in the early morning hours, or just before midnight.  KFIV was on the air 24 hours a day, but went off the air Sundays at midnight for regular, scheduled maintenance.

When you sat down at the console, you were mesmerized by the number of buttons and switches, and volume-control knobs. Those knobs were called “Pots,” which stood for “potentiometers.” It was surprising–and a relief–to learn that only a few of those buttons were essential.  As you sat at the microphone, to your right were three turntables, above them was a wooden cabinet with slots that housed the current Top 40 records.  There were three boxes which held the three main categories of songs:   A’s were the Power Hits, B’s were “not as popular” hits (played less often), and C’s which were brand new “hit bound” songs.  Right above the console, at eye level, sat the cart machines.   “Cart” was short for “cartridge.” The “Carts” themselves resembled 8-track tapes with one big difference.  Onto each cart was wound  40-seconds to 5-minutes of tape for the airing of one thirty-second commercial up to several minutes worth of commercials.   The station’s jingles were also placed onto cart.   While a record was playing, the DJ would “load” the cart machines with commercials, promos, jingles, and get ready to hit the “play” button  at the right time.   Stations had hundreds of carts. To the right and left sides of the console were “towers” (cart racks) where the carts  were numerically stored.

The PSA (Public Service Announcement) metal file box was placed just  to the left of the DJ’s left hand.   It  contained typewritten announcements to be read live concerning local events.  Above the window that looked out into the disc jockey lounge, were two infamous clocks (not real clocks, these were large pizza-sized circles.  They told the DJ what to do at :03, :07, :11, etc, hour after hour).  KFIV had a daytime clock, and a nighttime clock.  The nighttime clock allowed for a few more Album cuts.  The Daytime Clock was used between 6am and 4pm. To your left, as you sat at the console, was an area where brand new releases (LPs) were kept.  These were often called  “DJ Promotional Items” that record companies supplied to the station.  It was the duty of the Music Director to decide what album cuts were to be played, usually determined by Record Magazines, requests to the station, and recommendations by Billboard Magazine or other related periodicals.  The Music Library itself was located in the back, a small narrow room “dressed” with Oldies But Goodies.  The 45’s were “catalogued” by years, in bins, on your right and vintage LPs to your left.

As a “Weekender”…you usually had a second or third job to make ends meet!  At that time, I was working for Wherehouse Records (now known as F.Y.I.), when it was located next to the now-defunct Mervyn’s on McHenry.  My third job was working part-time at KTRB.  Let’s see…a full-time job and two part-timers..h-m-m..yes, I eventually “paid” the price for my health.

Now, that you have an idea of what the station looked like and what you had to do to survive, what follows next are little stories that came to be, while working at KFIV only.

The Rookie Behind The “Mic”

My inaugural “air time” on KFIV, came on a Saturday, for one hour of training!  The Program Director was the late Larry Maher.  Larry had stepped into John Chappell’s “shoes” as PD a few months earlier and guided me during the hour that I was on the air.   Larry was kind of a hyper-guy, and was more nervous than me.  I suppose just like any other person who smokes, Larry was doing his best for the tobacco company in that one hour.  As the moment of truth approached, Larry was showing me what to do and when to do it.  I think I got more of a “kick” watching him fumble through carts (spots), PSA’s, making sure that my music was lined up according to the format clock.  I think Larry got the message, as I was beginning to show signs of frustration, and left me alone (finally!) during the last twenty minutes of my debut.  A well done job by Larry, but disastrous results could have evolved into a nightmare!

The Chief Engineer

A “Weekender’s” schedule began by looking into the On-Air Studio during the week to find out the times for your weekend shifts.  Since I was the new kid, I basically worked the “All-Nighter,” from Saturday morning to Sunday night.  Remember back in those days, radio stations closed down for maintenance on Sunday nights.   This is where I met our Chief Engineer, Mel Freedman.  My first impression of Mel was that he was unique in character. Harsh, subtle, and yet professional, after all… keeping the station “on the air,” was his job.  Sometimes Mel could be overbearing and a bit much. He was constantly on you if you were headed towards potential violations that needed immediate attention.  Well enough was enough, as one afternoon I was filling in for Larry Maher and in came Mel, “barnstorming” through the studio.

Questions were asked, “Did you sign the transmitter log?”….”Did you hang the clipboard up and put it back where it belongs?”….Did you do this?.. do that?….finally I started raising my voice and told him everything was done, “go over there and check it yourself!”..Ready to put my boxing gloves on…my pilot light was lit!  Mel backed off, as my shift was over to make room for “Captain Fred James” who came on next at 4p.m.  Poor Fred, got into the line of fire, when he came in, I shook my head and left the control room.  After that incident, Mel and I became buddies, as I eventually understood where he was coming from.

Later in my career, I worked with Randy Hill (Chief Engineer at KYOS-Merced)..I began to realize what needed to be done to keep the station running and prevent a local disaster, if it went “down.” Although Mel was “hard” on us all and”ruffled” a few feathers we would be constantly on our toes. “Thumbs up!” Mr. Freedman, for a job well done!!  Throughout my tenure as a “weekender” at KFIV, I would anticipate and greet Mel, who came in shortly before sign-off on Sunday nights.  After the station was shut down for maintenance, I made it a point of saying good-bye as I was going out the door, and in reply..I got a hearty….. “Night, Night.”

The Turntables

There were 3 turntables (record players) at KFIV.  Each turntable had 3 speeds: 45..33 1/3…16 (rpms)!  As a general rule I would keep the front two turntables at 45 and the back one at 33 (for LPs).  Many of us, and I was no exception, would be caught sometimes playing the records at a wrong speed.  This was embarrassing at times, especially when working the prime shifts.  To hear somebody like Linda Ronstadt on Quaaludes was something else and if you played it that way at night,…everybody thought it might be a new Pink Floyd single?!!  Well you learned to live with it and have fun too!  One night, I remember playing an LP and the corner of my eye spotted dust collecting and building up on the needle.  I knew what was eventually going to happen, so I “opened” up the “mic” did a play by play description, explaining to listeners what was about to happen next.  Well, as expected the stylus collected too much dust and “skated” across the rest of the album.  I then picked up the stylus, cleaned off the dust with my thumb, making a wonderful scratch-like noise over the airwaves and promptly put the tone-arm down and resumed play.

The All Night Show

My all night show leaned more towards AOR (Album Oriented Rock) rather than Top 40.  At this time FM was still in its infancy and I patterned my style more or less after KSAN radio (San Francisco).  I believe I was the first one, locally, to do this…and had a great all night audience following.  I remember one night, some young caller kept pestering me to play “Deep Purple” (another rendition of this song from the 40’s, don’t you know?) this time by Donnie and Marie Osmond.  Well then, the “light bulb” went on and what I did was cue up the song on one turntable, grabbed a DJ copy of an artist that wasn’t going nowhere, and placed another LP on the back turntable.  What happened next, is I started up the Donnie & Marie song and after a few seconds “killed” it on the air, pretending that I had the “45”(rpm) in my hand (when it was actually the Promo copy)…I said something to the fact as..NO! NO!…this will never do, broke the “45” on the air…and then said, Now!…Here’s some real Deep Purple and I then played, “Smoke On The Water.”

Sometime later, I got a call from Larry Maher, wanting me to come to the office!  Oh! Oh!…I thought to myself, somebody must’ve registered a complaint…okay, Junior!…. time to eat your spinach!  Much to my surprise, Larry had found out what I was doing with the all night show from a letter written by a listener, who commended me for making the all night show at KFIV sound better than ever!  Whew!…not quite out of the “woods” yet, I explained to Larry what I was doing!  After going several rounds, Larry consented and gave me his blessing on keeping up with what I was doing, but to only play my AOR format between 1a.m. to 5a.m.  Agreed upon, from here on out, that’s the way it was during my time at KFIV.  I never again experienced the freedom of choice in music like I did during those years!

As my time with KFIV went further, I eventually became a full-timer!!  So what I did was take my AOR format to the next level.  I would track a whole LP during my show.  A Classic LP from the past on Tuesday and the rest of the week…all new releases!!  I was the first one to do this locally and it would eventually come around, in some form later, when FM finally took hold!!  During the LP tracking, I usually got caught up on “cutting” (or, recording) commercials (also known as “spots”) or taking “cat naps.”  For the most part I had an instinct of waking up at the right time, when one side was completed, I “back sold” the songs (or back announced the songs that had played), played a PSA while flipping the record onto  Side 2 and resumed airplay.  Well that backfired one night..as I was playing a then new LP by Stevie Wonder, “Songs In The Key Of Life,” a double album.  I started to doze off and lo and behold woke up to the sound of a needle (stylus) “hitting” the record label (Another Pink Floyd song?!) when I awoke and realized that the ABC News “feed” was already in progress I switched over!  Okay! nobody responded to it…except…Dave Bowling..who was on his way to do the morning shift at KJOY-Stockton.  Dave said he never laughed so hard!

 

After I went full time at the station, one of the things I did on the “all nighter” was to feature specials on certain groups.  It would be an anthology-like program with tidbits of history on bands like The Beatles, CCR, The Doors, and one of my most successful ones  was on The Rolling Stones!  The night I had featured the Stones, I had people knocking on the front door, mind you, and requesting songs from the group!  Needless to say it kept me on my “toes” that night..ah!…the power of Radio!!!  A couple more interesting things happened…Homegrown (Modesto’s local Folk/Rock group) had their first LP pressed and I was able to give them exposure by playing that vinyl in its entirety.  An interview with Modesto’s, Mike Allsup, lead guitarist for Three Dog Night, came “into the light” one evening too!  Although, this was “dropped”  into my lap at the last moment, I felt I didn’t have time enough to gather enough “info” about the band’s background and tried to make the most of it!

One thing I can say as far as lengthy album “cuts” or longer versions of “hit” songs by a group or an artist, is that it gave you a chance to stretch your legs, grab a cup of coffee, or..make a trip to the Powder Room!  Some examples were: “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” (Iron Butterfly), “Funeral For A Friend/Love Lies Bleeding” (Elton John), “Get Ready” (Rare Earth) etc., all songs that were at least 17+ minutes or more.

The old skating rink on Tully (just a block from Modeto Junior College) was a haven for rock groups and artists during the 70’s!  Among them: Alvin Lee & Ten Years After, Pablo Cruise, Iron Butterfly, Gino Vannelli, and a group that was about to make a comeback….Fleetwood Mac! (this was before the “Rumors” LP was released!) Before the 70’s were over, the skating rink was torn down and made way for Roller King!

Night Crawlers

Back in 1975, for those who grew up in this area, you’ll remember that turning on E. Orangeburg and heading for the station, there was nothing but orchards!!  Thank heaven for the White Rail fence that graced the front of the station, because on nights where the Fog was so dense, this was the only way to recognize the studio’s location and your whereabouts!  Now because the station was located, at that time, surrounded by orchards, you had a feeling that you weren’t alone.  During the cold months of the year, the central heat was on, and once in a while you could smell the stench of some dead animal (mice).  One night when I was in the backroom (music library) searching for some albums, much to my surprise when I came back to the console, was a mouse standing on it’s hind legs!  As soon as the discovery was made, we both scattered in different directions!  I did the balance of my show that night sitting with my feet cross-legged and up on the chair!!  Inflection is inflection, but I didn’t need any surprises crawling up my pant legs!!

Oops!…Did I Say That?

Every radio broadcaster (DJ) has his or her moment(s) that involves the “slip” of the tongue.  Mine came one Sunday afternoon as I was pre-selling, “Some Kind Of Wonderful” by Grand Funk (Railroad)!!…Yeah!..I mispronounced the word Funk!!!  Okay, I thought to myself, just shut-up and close the “mic.” (microphone).   My brother had me tuned in that very day and asked if he heard right?….he did!!  Fortunately nobody else called and asked questions.

Deck The Log…Fa La La

Christmas time can be a wonderful time of the year..except commercial time on the radio!  Outside of BMI/ASCAP week, which was a pain because you had to write down every song you played on your shift, there was the Fa La La season.  The logs were extremely heavy during the Holiday Season, as we had perhaps, a 70% – commercial and a 30% music ratio.  Shall we just say the station was overloaded with ads??

I remember doing a 1 hour shift for Larry Maher, one afternoon, and because of the commercial time you had to keep the music under the 2:30 minute mark..otherwise it becomes a make-up and added to the already headache!  Anyway I kept it “tight” to say the least in that 1 hour and as “Captain” Fred James came into the studio to do his “Afternoon Drive” shift, I was just timing it out to make the ABC news feed at 5 minutes in front of the hour.  As Fred arrived, he realized that I was still in commercials, when the bewitching hour arrived.  I had just previously talked enough and got into my last set of “spots,” the last one being a 30 sec. one and as it finished, the ABC News Fanfare started up!  Wow!! Fred was impressed and a sigh of relief from me.

The other incident happened with Fred James, as he was reprimanded for something he said on the “air,” around the same time.  On top of the heavy load of ads during the Holiday Season, we also got “bogged down” with ticket giveaways!!  Oh yeah!..not only were you “fighting” the format clock, you had prizes to present also.  Well Fred got in trouble when he was heard saying over the “air,”…”I’ve got a pair of tickets to giveaway, if you can guess how much commercial time there is…this hour!”..Needless to say…that didn’t “set” well with the front office.

Dances, Remotes, & Parades…Oh My!

One of my favorite things to do was to broadcast live and take on High School dances, Haunted Houses (abandoned homes ready to be torn down), and special functions by local organizations.  KFIV had a console built with two turntables and in very primitive fashion, comparing it to today’s standards, a hook-up by means of a telephone line.  The line was “fed” through the console at the station…and you got a very hollow classic AM sound.  One remote I did along with “Radio” Rick Myers at the time, was promoting the grand opening of a new Radio Shack store in the same shopping center that introduced Modesto to the first Raley’s (Tully & Standiford).

Some of the most common things to give away at Remotes were free tickets, album/record giveaways, etc.  Promotional items were given away to bring in the customers to a local merchant.  Well as everything was loaded in the KFIV Van (Keep On Truckin’) and we were on our way, Rick and I discussed what we could “pull-off” to promote customers at Radio Shack.  Being a fan of Comedy, I came up with the idea of having listeners come by and throw a pie in my face.  “Great idea!..Let’s do it!!..Rick replied.  The response was overwhelming as I had everything from Chocolate and Strawberry creams to Berry, and even a Mud pie that I graciously accepted!  Luckily, I knew a family friend (pictured with me on The Radio Museum website) who was working at Raley’s at the time.  She led me to the large sink area in the produce dept., where I washed up!  The tee shirt I had worn, resembled a “Tie-Dye!”…and it was  retired afterwards.

The first and last time I got involved in the traditional Modesto Fourth of July parade, came in 1976.  With the KFIV van, supporting larger speakers affixed on top and the sounds of the Rock’n 136 (1360 AM) filling the morning air, there were also two cars riding in front of it.  On the cars we (KFIV DJ’s) sat on the hoods of the vehicles throwing or  handing out “45’s” to the hometown crowds.

KFIV Firsts

During the mid 70’s, KFIV had some firsts:  FM station KITA (the first station for the Spanish speaking residents)  “Flight To Soul” with Marcus Williams (Mel Williams’s son) the first program that catered to Soul/R&B enthusiasts.  “Flight To Soul” came on Sunday nights eventually replacing Steve Sprunger’s Public Service program.  The first female DJ (weekender)…Dorian McKenzie, who later departed for Sacramento radio…only to be replaced by Diane Cartwright!

Who Are You…Who?…Who?

The Radio Personalities at KFIV had unique nicknames during the 70’s. Notables such as Kevin Manna (“Your Manna In The Morning), “Skinny” Kenny Roberts, J. Michael “Bird” Stevens, “Radio” Rick Myers, “Captain” Fred James, “The Unreal” Don Shannon, “Rock’n” Ron Richards (me), John “Dyno” (Dynomite) Michaels, and A.J. “Koala Bear” Roberts.  A bunch of great guys to work with, some of us would get together during our time off the air by attending concerts (most notably a handful of us had dinner with the group Ambrosia (“Holdin’ On To Yesterday”) The group was on the same bill with The Kinks, Sutherland Brothers & Quiver and appeared at the Stockton Civic Auditorium that evening.

Other times there were the all-night “hangouts” at the now defunct Brawley’s Restaurant on McHenry, where Don Shannon and I were once pulled over in the parking lot by Modesto Policeman, Luther Williams, only because the ’69 Triumph Spitfire I was driving, resembled  one that had been stolen.  We became buddies after that and found out that Luther was from Detroit, where I have family roots.  Occasionally we would have other guests sit with us unto the wee hours of the morning..Air personalities like John Chappell, Ted “Cookie Man” Garrett (formerly of KFIV and working at KJOY), Dave Bowling (formerly of KFIV and working at KJOY too!), John “Dyno” Michaels (working weekends at KFIV at the time) and Mike Green (KFIV weekender who became the “afternoon drive” guy [4p-8p], when Fred James left for Sacramento radio).  There were also appearances on occasion at The Roller King, “spinning” records.

Eventually everyone went their separate ways, some of us keeping in contact over the years, some of us worked together again at other stations.  As of January of 1977, I left KFIV to do “Morning Drive” at KYOS in Merced.

PHOTOS

We will have to dig for them. Some may still be in the library.

 

By “Rockin Ron” Richards

“Rockin Ron” in KFIV’s master control room in 1975.

“Rockin Ron” in KFIV production room.

“Rockin Ron” with back to school promotions.

“Rockin Ron” 1969 Triumph spitfire.

“Rockin Ron” with helpful friend.

Former KFIV deejays L-R Kenny Roberts, “Rockin Ron ” and  Ron Posey in 2011 photo.

KFIV’s  master control room in the seventies.

KMOD was the original call sign of the station when it came on the air in 1950.  It was  later changed to KFIV.  The building and transmitting towers sat in a peach orchard on the north side of Orangeburg avenue a quarter of a mile east of  Old Oakdale Rd.  (as it was known then).

“Rockin Ron” in the KFIV music room.

KDHS, Modesto’s First High School Radio Station

Historical records tell us that the first high school radio stations made their appearance in the United States in the 1920s.  The stations at that time were designed to be information conduits for school faculty and administration with little if any student involvement. High school stations all but disappeared in the 1930s as a result of the Great Depression and restrictions imposed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).  It wasn’t until the late 1940s that high school stations began showing up again on the  FM band.

It’s believed that the oldest FM high school stations were KPBS (1947) in Portland Oregon and WNAS (1949) in Indiana which was still on the air as of May 2019. Brian Sullivan who managed the station and taught high school radio at the New Albany, Indiana High School says that in the 1950s, the formative years of  the station, many listened to WNAS to hear the student broadcasts of the Hoosier’s basketball games.  Sullivan says of high school radio, “It’s not just about the technical stuff. Soft skills, like working on a deadline and critical thinking are easy to come by.”  Sullivan explains that even if a student doesn’t go in in the field of radio or television these are qualities that can apply to any job or field of study.

In the 1970s there were over 150 licensed high school radio stations in the United States. Many of these stations were using low power FM (LPFM). The number stations declined in the 1980s and 1990s but began to grow again with the renewed availability of LPFM bands. Many of these stations operate as community radio stations when not being used by high school students. Students create ideas for broadcasts and produce programs ranging from coverage of community events to coverage of the news and local sporting events. Many students choose to deliver programs  presenting specific musical formats such as jazz, classical, rock, country etc.

In the late ’60s in Modesto, CA there were no high school radio stations. None that is until a group of students at Thomas Downey High School and a teacher decided that it was time.

It was not easy bringing the project to fruition but this was no ordinary group of students, and this was no ordinary teacher.  Together they were a winning team. They secured equipment and programing materials by getting donations from electronics manufacturers and record companies. They raised money by putting on creative and successful community events. The high school’s staff and students chipped in and radio magic started happening.  On September 5, 1969 KDHS (90.5MHz) began broadcasting.  The  station was licensed by the FCC to the Associated Students of Thomas Downey High School.

Studio Seven the nerve center of KDHS

The Modesto Radio Museum has decided that rather than us telling you their story we will have them tell you. We’ve reached out to the teacher who guided them and to the students who helped create and program Modesto’s first high school radio station,  KDHS.

 

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

If you have a memory of KDHS please feel free to share in the comment section below.

SOURCES
–  WIKIPEDIA
– Radio Survivor, Jennifer Watts April 22, 2015
– WPFL.org, Henry Zimmerman

 

 

 

 

Robert Chituras, 73

 

Robert Gary Chituras, born October 19, 1943, at Robertson Hospital in Modesto. He was the son of George and Aline Chituras. A long time Modesto native; Bob attended Enslen Elementary, Roosevelt Junior High, and Thomas Downey High School. He graduated from high school in 1961 and then attended Modesto Junior College, where he received a degree in communications.

Bob enlisted in the United States Navy during the Vietnam War and served aboard the USS Princeton, as a Yeoman Third Class. He served his country from 1965 to 1967. After returning from Vietnam, he utilized his communications degree to become a disc jockey at radio stations; KYOS in Merced, and KYNO in Fresno. Fellow DJ and friend Bob Neutzling (Johnny Walker) says of Bob, “What a great guy.  Known on the air as Chip Roberts, he actually interviewed me for

Bob Neutzling (Johnny Walker)

a job at KYOS in 1968.  At the time there were no openings.  A short time later I received a call from Doc Hill, the owner of KYOS, and he offered me a job replacing Bob Chituras on the air.  I kept in touch with Bob and would visit him at KYNO in Fresno , while he was doing midnight to 6:00 AM.  I will always remember him as a very nice person.  He is one from my early days in radio that I will never forget.”

Bob worked at Hosking’s Food Products; later named Major Hosking’s, and then Major-Sysco. He served in these capacities as a driver, dry and frozen goods salesman, and transportation manager. He established RG Chituras and Son Yard and Home Maintenance Services as an interim way to survive. Later  he went on to work for Westurf Nursery, Inc. He culminated his working career working at Foster Farms as a driver, and most notably retiring as a vehicle safety manager.

Bob was a part of the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) association as a valued member, starting in 1961. He progressed to NASCAR, serving as flagman, announcer and later a track promoter at Merced Speedway, ending his racing affiliation in 1985. Bob officiated high school football sports with the NCOA, achieving the Rich Bernasconi Award for the “Ultimate Consummate Official.” He was a devoted trap shooter with Valley Trap League and ATA member for 25 years. Bob was an avid fisherman and loved spending time with friends and family. He also loved taking frivolous trips to numerous bingo halls and casinos.

Bob died June 12, 2017. He is survived by his son, Johnathan; grandsons Zachary and Graysen; and nephews Steve and Jeff Harkrader. Bob was preceded in death by his parents George and Aline Chituras, and sister Georgia Chituras.

.

Glenn Fox, 73

Glenn in the KTRB on-air studio

Glenn Wayne Fox formerly of Oakdale, California, last of Sallisaw, Oklahoma, died on June 15, 2020, at St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He suffered a brain hemorrhage from which he did not recover. He was 73 years old, divorced, and had no children. Glenn was born in Modesto, CA and grew up in Oakdale, CA.

Glenn graduated from Oakdale High School in 1965. He attended radio announcer school and had a long local career with radio stations KTRB and KHOP in Modesto, CA. He was also a talk show host for station KWHN in Fort Smith, Arkansas.  Glenn was known as the “Silver Fox” in part due to his great broadcast voice. Derek Waring who worked with Glenn at KTRB during those early days recalls, “Glenn was a gentle man with a great sense of humor. He loved his job and put everything he had into it”

Here’s an audio clip of Glenn from November 27, 1974. It was Derek Waring’s last show on KTRB and Glenn stopped by the KTRB studios to wish him well.  You can hear more of Glenn’s on-air work by visiting his Aircheck Page (see link at the end of this tribute).

KWHN Studios and Glenn’s business card (Photos courtesy of Michael Ward)

In 1993 Glenn’s parents, Allen and Marie Fox, who had originally migrated to California from Sallisaw during the Great Depression, decided to move back to their home area in Sallisaw. Glenn moved with them. In the late 1990s his parents’ health declined and they moved back to Oakdale while he remained in Sallisaw. Glenn had a variety of jobs and finally purchased a local bar, The Finish Line, which he operated until about 2010. He advertised the bar as “Coldest Beer in Downtown Sallisaw.”

Pretty Boy Floyd Display in The Finish Line Bar (Photo courtesy of Michael Ward)

When he was young Glenn raced dirt bikes and became a huge fan of NASCAR. He became a great source of local and national history in both Oakdale and Sallisaw, in particular country and rock and roll songs and performers, NASCAR drivers, classic cars, and especially the life and times of Pretty Boy Floyd, a local Depression outlaw. He dedicated a portion of his bar to an historical display about him. He often returned to Oakdale to visit family and friends, especially for class reunions.

 

Glenn was cremated and his ashes returned to the home of his sister, Pauline Fox Ward and her husband Michael Ward. No other members of his immediate family, mother, father, brother Robert and sister Mary Lou have survived. He is survived by nieces Torri Bergstrom and Stephanie Bjorge, grand nephew Jeremiah Lobaugh (Hailey, son Noah) and grand niece Tiffany Byrd as well as his sister in law Susan Fox and her children nephew Michael (Martia, daughters Catherine, Elizabeth) and niece Patricia (Joel, son Milo).

Glenn attended Oakdale High School, Oakdale, CA  (Photo courtesy of Michael Ward)

Family and friends will gather for a remembrance as soon as pandemic conditions allow. If you’d like to receive details on Glenn’s Memorial Service please contact the family at (209) 499- 0012.

 

 

 

 

 

John Chappell Obituary

 

From Modesto Bee Obituaries:
JOHN FRANKLIN CHAPPELL

John Franklin Chappell, 71, died unexpectedly in his sleep June 20 of natural causes. He was born July 10, 1948, in Oakdale, Calif., the only child of George Franklin Chappell, born in Harrisville, Miss. and Helen Mae Wormington, born in Mo. They were married in 1937 in Yuma, Ariz.

John, a two-time cancer survivor, enjoyed life to the fullest, traveling and riding his GoldWing motorcycle. John attended both Thomas Downey and Modesto High Schools. He graduated from Modesto Junior College and Ogden’s Radio Operational Engineering School and earned a Bachelor’s Degree at San Francisco State University.

John’s radio career began at KSRT in Tracy. He then worked at KCEY in Turlock and was Program Director at KFIV in Modesto. John had a 36-year career at Modesto Junior College as Telecommunications Systems Manager and was a part-time radio instructor. He was instrumental in launching the radio careers for a number of radio personalities.

John loved all forms of transportation. He was an airplane pilot and owned a Grumman Tiger aircraft. John was one of the first in the United States to own a Mercedes Benz Smart car. In more recent years, he became an avid drone pilot and motorcycle enthusiast.

John enjoyed going on cruises and traveling with friends. He was a charter member and current president of the non-profit Modesto Radio Museum. John’s dream was to build a physical museum within the proposed Graffiti USA Classic Car Museum.

John was a caring individual who would do anything he could to help a friend in need, and everyone John met was a friend. John was preceded in death by his parents. He is survived by a nephew, Jerome Chappelle and his wife, Jeri of Granbury, Texas; cousin Charlene Green of Emeryville, Calif.; and cousin Phyllis Barnes of Albuquerque, N.M.

A Celebration of Life will was held at the State Theater on July 10, 2021.

Those wishing to donate to the Modesto Radio Museum in John’s memory may send checks to: Modesto Radio Museum, P.O. Box 580452, Modesto, CA 95358.

John Chappell, 71 – Mourning The Passing of The Museum’s President

It is with much sadness that we announce the passing of our dear friend John Chappell. John died  June 20, 2020 at his home in Modesto, CA. He was the current President of the Modesto Radio Museum.

John attended Thomas Downey High School but transferred and graduated from Modesto High School in 1966. John is also a graduate of Modesto Junior College (MJC) and Ogdens Radio Operational Engineering School, Huntington Beach, CA. His radio career began at KSRT in Tracy, Ca. He worked at KCEY in Turlock, CA and was Program Director at KFIV in Modesto, CA.
Here’s a link to a brief aircheck of John from a show in 1971 at KFIV:

The major portion of John’s career (36 years) was spent working in Media Services at MJC. He retired from that position nearly ten years ago and devoted his life to travel and the Modesto Radio Museum. He was also an avid drone pilot and motorcycle enthusiast.

John Chappell, President
John Chappell, President

John was instrumental in kick starting a number of local radio personalities careers. He was a caring individual who would do anything he could to help a friend in need, and everyone John met was a friend. Our sincere condolences to   John’s friends and family. He will most certainly be missed.

John’s friends and family would love to hear your thoughts, memories, and stories about John.   Please share your comments below.

 

Tim St. Martin, remembered by friends.

This is Rick Myers.   Tim St. Martin (1945-2020) was our friend.  It was my pleasure to compile these tributes.  My comments appear in regular-face type.   The rest of Tim’s friends’ comments are in bold-face type.   Let us begin.

Tim hired me 52 years ago.   I was crazy young, but so was Tim.    I was 19; he was 23.   Already he was Program Director of KFIV, a fun Top-40 radio station.  We were both left handed, both born on September 1st, both had sisters named Jill.   Those were good enough omens for Tim; I got the job.   I wasn’t his best hire, but I was a good hire; I stayed 45 years. . . . 

K-5 Gang
1968, Tim and the K-5 Gang

Another first-meeting memory comes from Greg Edwards:     

The first time I met Tim he dragged me to Scenic Drive-in  explaining I couldn’t be “A Modesto Person” until I ate at least one Knockout Burger including fries and a shake.  A Knockout Burger is about the size of a manhole cover.   It’s not “lunch for four,” it’s “lunch for four days!”  It gave Tim time to tutor me about Modesto’s past. I learned that day about Graffiti Days, Cruising, and what it was like to grow up around here.   If you’re on the air talking to the locals, you better sound local.

 I belong to the Central Valley Broadcasters, and got to see Tim at our get togethers.  In fact, I saw Tim for the last time just a couple of months ago at lunch. It had been years but some KFIV/KJSN staff got together with our old General Manager, Gary Halladay and his wife, Sharon.  Yes, we all told the same stories for the hundredth time, and we agreed to get together and to do it again…..but for Tim, it was our last time. RIP, Tim.


Tim in his office at KFIV

There was a gentle helpfulness about Tim.   Decades in radio produced a veteran’s perspective, and he had a sense about the right moments  to share these well-learned insights to broadcasting.    Kara Franklyn shared some of those insights: 

Tim was my co worker, my mentor. 15 plus years. We weren’t social outside of work, but I spent many a day with him. I have so many great memories.  I can still hear his laugh.  When I got a genuine belly laugh, not the polite one, I felt like I won the lottery.  Loud and infectious, it was like a warm blanket. When I was first hired at Sunny-102, I did overnights. I would run Tim’s board for his first newscast at 5:30. There were many a conversation with Tim guiding me on what to say, how to say it. He was very particular about not dropping your G’s when speaking.   It stuck with me and even to this day when I hear someone do it on or off air, I think of him. He was grumpy in the best way—never at me—and he’d make me laugh when he talked about what was getting to him that day. Not once did I encounter an ego with Tim. He was solid, kind and willing to help me as I started my news career. A good guy does not seem to encompass Tim. Tim was fair: if you messed up, own it and then move along. Every office should have a Tim St Martin. He made me laugh, think, and I treasure the time spent with him and the knowledge I learned from him.

Tim loved telling stories full of warmth and with funny conclusions.  We have a few “Timmy Stories”  of our own.   We’ll start with his close friend Dave Nelson:

Ron Posey and Dave Nelson, Graffiti Night, ’78. Al Golub Photography.

Tim was a good friend of mine for over 40 years.  We scuba dived together…did a radio show together…I lived with him and his late wife Kathy for over a year….rode motorcycles together…went to Mexico with some other guys and had one of the best times EVER…I doubt that Tim and I could have laughed or partied any harder …and for years Tim and I golfed with Gary Halladay and Mike Hogan just about every weekend …every Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner you could find Tim seated with my family…Tim was probably the easiest person to spend time with…he expected nothing and liked to just chill…pretentiousness was an unappealing trait he found annoying…I have a lot of stories but one that I still laugh about concerned the Oakdale Rodeo…I had won the DJ calf-tying competition in La Grange…still have the belt buckle…now it was Oakdale’s turn.  I was living with Tim and Kathy at the time and Tim decided I needed a hat…not just any hat but his $100+ straw cowboy hat…nice…that was a lot of money back in the late 70s.  So with an admonishment not to wreck it, off I went…it went terribly wrong..FAST…as I was wrestling my calf to the ground a Rodeo Clown stole Tim’s very nice hat…walked over a few feet, put a cherry bomb under it and BLEW IT UP!!  Never cared for clowns….It was a sad sad day when I gave THE BRIM OF THE HAT back to Tim!  Damn, it sure was funny as I look back.  RIP MY FRIEND, I’ll check in with Cari once in a while to see how that grandson is doing.

 

Bob Lang was Tim’s broadcast partner at KTRB.  Bob and Tim had years of On-Air magic:
Bob Lang early into his radio days.

I spent the happiest professional years of my life as a member of the broadcast industry, especially those first years fresh out of college.   I joined  KTRB radio in Modesto as a fledgling disc jockey.  A few months later in the fall of 1969, Tim, then employed by our competitor KFIV, was hired from “across the street” and became our News Director.

Tim St. Martin and I were in our early twenties and were teamed as on-air partners during what was called “morning drive.”  One of the nice things about KTRB is that, as young out-of-the-box radio guys, we were allowed to make mistakes, and we made plenty.  But we each had a lot of enthusiasm and always an abundance of creative energy.  Our General Manager, Sam Horrel, would greet us each as “Tiger.”  Tim and I took to calling each other “Timmy Tiger” and “Bobby Tiger.”

A Museum treat:   A Tim St. Martin newscast from 1973:

The announce booth where I broadcast my shows was situated in the center of the building among large studios once used for live broadcasts.  These studios had lots of dual-paned windows.  My room was perhaps eight-feet square and equipped with the audio board, two turntables, a couple of Sparta cartridge machines, a reel-to-reel tape deck, a clock, a temperature gauge, and a Playboy calendar with a naked lady.  At the other end of an oblong hallway was Tim’s news booth, next to his office and the AP machine teletype room.  Tim was a self-described rip-and-read news guy and every morning on the half hour, he’d deliver the news.  He was also in charge of a segment called Community Calendar which allowed us to banter back and forth about various timely topics.

Bob Lang at KTRB

In the pre-dawn hours, especially during winter months, the only illumination was from the two small rooms one or the other of us occupied.  The rest of the building, including that hallway, was dark.  One morning, Tim and I were in a casual on-air exchange and I happened to look down at my program log.  It was at that moment when Tim bolted from his news booth and raced toward me through the darkened hallway.  When I looked up to see what the commotion was about, all I saw was the light in his empty booth at the other end of the hall.  Where was Tim??  Suddenly my studio door was thrown open and there was Tim all excited and in full ear-shot of our listening audience.  He threw a cigar at me and just as quickly ran back in the other direction.  His daughter, Amy, had been born the day before!

Tim at KTRB

Tim and I shared a similar sense of humor—more important, we had an innate ability to amuse ourselves!  We each had a knack for writing.    I was the Production Manager and the two of us wrote commercials for local advertisers, many times creating spots that were two-voicers and in character.  The ones that were most fun were those we attempted to ad lib—we’d decide on what the scene would be and would run through the important dialogue.  One was for Fargo Distributing, a tire store that received co-op funding from Cooper Tires.  Tim hit on the idea that we’d play the parts of a couple of old sod-busting cow pokes.  He’d be Farley and I was Eugene—where the names came from, I’m not certain.  We referred to the staff as the Fargo Boys—Dangerous Del, Steel-Eyed Stan, Bronco Bruce, and others—and said they were wanted for shootin’ down tire prices.

To replicate the horses’ hooves, we each took a pair of plastic coffee cup inserts and “galloped” across the desk in front of us toward the microphone.  If the take wasn’t what we anticipated, we’d gallop away from the mic, regroup, and try it again!  We’d add other sound effects like gunshots or the sound of spurs.  But as much as these old cowboys thought the fictitious Fargo Boys offered great deals on Cooper Tires, Farley and Eugene themselves had no idea what tires were intended for.  At one point, they tried putting a set of tires on a stagecoach.  Farley got a tire close enough to install on the axle and told Eugene to hold up the stage.  Eugene yelled, “Reach for the sky, you sidewinder!”  They even tied a rope around a tire, hung it from a tree branch, and created the first tire swing!

Bob Lang 2008
Bob Lang in 2008

Tim and I also played a couple of dogs named Spotty and Prince advertising a pet store.  We were Fred and Bernie, two Christmas turkeys who hadn’t seen their pal Murray since Thanksgiving.  We did a take-off on Edward G. Robinson and a bunch of thugs for Little Caesar’s Deli.  We were Kirk and Spock, Dino and Jerry, and two Germans named Hans und Feetz.

In December 1970, Tim and I provided live color commentary from the Third Annual Riverbank Christmas parade—no doubt one of the last such broadcasts echoing a bygone era of radio.  We described everything from the gown and tiara worn by Miss Riverbank to the dalmatian on top of the Riverbank hook and ladder and all marching bands in between.  When I was in college, I drove a Model A, so I described the vintage cars in the parade while Tim described the horses.

Four radio legends from KTRB: Bob Lang, Bob DeLeon, Tim St. Martin, and Derek Waring

After five years, I left KTRB just as it was moving from a music format to talk radio and I took another radio position in Sacramento.  By now Tim was hosting a talk show and one afternoon it was Talent Day on his program where listeners would call in and display a particular expertise.  So, I pranked him!

Tim and I had shared particularly filthy limericks in our various fits of juvenile diversion.  On this day, I called the studio and told him I was “Fred” and that I wrote poetry.  I asked if I could recite one of my recent creations and he said that I could.  I began, “There was an old hermit named Dave…” and he quickly said, “You’re not gonna do that!”  But he still hadn’t grasped the fact that I, not Fred, was on the other end of the line.  When Tim finally got it, he collapsed in a fit of laughter on the air and yelled, “I’ve been had!”

Tim wrote letters to me while I was in the Air Force.      He addressed my letters: 

Major General Rick C. Myers

Commandant, Minot Air Force Base

General Delivery (What else for a General?)

Minot AFB, North Dakota 58701

I was a sergeant.   I was not impersonating a General.  Honest.  Somehow the letters always arrived.   Is this a great country, or what?   

After the military I returned to KFIV.   Tim, in his office, instead of listening to my show would listen to Dan Sorkin on KSFO, San Francisco. He loved Sorkin who would ask listeners to phone in any question, and he would give a funny, instant reply (try doing that sometime).    Tim called in a lot to “Ask Mr. Answer Person.”  After a while, Sorkin started using Tim to set up questions.  He’d say, “Hang on the line, and when the commercials end, ask THIS QUESTION…”    Tim would hang on, then play the straight man.    This merriment went on until management started noticing the long-distance phone bills.               

Our last comments come from one of Tim’s closest friends, Ken McCall:

Great friends for decades, Tim and Ken McCall.

For the last 35 years, and probably more, Timmy and I talked on the phone at least every other day.  Once a week he came to have dinner with Dina and me.  There are a flood of memories and I can’t get him off my mind.  Most recently he was helping me on a building project at the beach house.  Finishing it without him will be emotionally difficult. He loved sitting and watching the waves roll in.  Now he is gone.  I don’t feel badly for him because he died peacefully in his sleep.  It was his time to go………..and life for us goes on.

Each time he came to the house for dinner, we would go to the pool house and have a beer.  As we would walk out the back door, I would always say “Timmy, walk this way” and he would always reply “if I could walk that way I wouldn’t need the talcum powder, I would still be a dance instructor” His health faded over the last year, but his sense of humor was always sharp.  The night he died, he was talking on the phone to Warren Groschell, we were planning a golf trip for whenever Covid 19 ended.  As Warren was talking to him, Timmy feel asleep and started snoring…..he never woke up.

“Ride that microphone, Mr. Rodeo Announcer!”

In 1978 when Tim returned from Reno (and the rodeo circuit) to KFIV, he moved in with me for a while.  As we have learned, when Dave Nelson needed a place to stay he moved in with Tim.   Tim then spent the Holidays with the Nelsons, always welcomed.    Over the last few years, he enjoyed  weekly dinners with the McCalls.   With Tim, social graces were automatic.  Of course he could move in with you; of course he opened up his house to you; of course he was as welcomed  as the closest relative.

Many radio reunions!

Radio Reunion

Three weeks before he passed away, twelve of us radio guys had lunch.   All retired, we hadn’t been together as a group in years.   The memories were immediate, the stories non-stop.   Tim, a master story teller, kept us in stitches.    Reunions are like that; in an instant we were young again.  Tim and I walked out together and had a manly goodbye hug.  Maybe the clinch went a second or two too long, maybe not.    We didn’t care; it was a 50-year hug.   And then, he was gone.

Tim, with Rick Myers and Bob Mohr. Combined, 130 years of broadcasting, all sharing the same birthday

These tributes and memories came in quickly after Tim’s passing.    They were wonderful to read, genuine fondness was the resonance.   It’s like we were  nominating him to be canonized.  No need for that; his name tells us he was a saint.

 

KFIV and KTRB Personality, Derek Waring

I suppose I first became interested in radio back in the late 50’s when I would visit KTRB and sing on the Tots ‘N Teens program with my cousins John and Cheryl Wylie. I recall how friendly Cal Purviance was and also remember Glenn Staley who played the piano. But most of all, I remember how much the studio intrigued me. This was show business! I often wish that I would have had the chance to be involved during radio’s heydays when major productions were done in the studios.

My desire to pursue radio also got a boost from the visits that I made to Bob Pinheiro’s home as a child. Bob who is now the Modesto Radio Museum Webmaster lived near me. He was, and still is, very much into Ham Radio and he happily shared his knowledge with me. Little did he know that he was lighting a fire that would lead me into broadcasting. I also recall riding the bus to school while attending La Loma Junior High School and listening to Bobby Barnett, Gary Culver, and Fred Green on KFIV. I thought, man this stinks; I have to go to school and these guys are having a blast talking and playing music on the radio.

I became seriously interested in the field of broadcasting as a profession while a student at Modesto Junior College (MJC). Originally I had planned to major in Journalism but happened to visit the MJC radio station one day.  I was hooked! My professors during those early days had a big influence on me, Bill Hill, Sid Woodward, Max Sayre, Harley Lee, and Donald Rowe. They really laid down a good foundation for me.

College radio station KRJC, 1968

While I was attending MJC I obtained my Radio Telephone Third Class license and worked at KSRT, Stereo 101, a small station in Tracy, CA. There was an older fellow at KSRT, Ken Hill, who took me under his wing and mentored me. I’ve always been thankful for the direction that Ken gave to me at a time that I was pretty green and didn’t really have a clue. After our stints on the air Ken and I would go fishing in the Delta Mendota canal and he would answer all my questions about radio. Ken, wherever you are, thanks. I don’t really know how many listeners I had while at KSRT. I do know that my mom loved my show!

After spending some time at KSRT I realized that if I wanted to have a career in radio, I needed to get my Radio Telephone First Class license. I traveled to Long Beach with Mike Novak another local guy who went into broadcasting. We attended William B. Ogden’s Radio Operational Engineering School in the summer of 1969. I watched the First Man on The Moon telecast from Ogden’s classroom. I have lots of good memories from my time at Ogden’s. I made some friends with whom I still have contact, Bob Lang and Mark Holste (Taylor).

After returning from Ogden’s in 1969 Bob De Leon, who was program director at KFIV (K5), hired me.

Derek with Bob DeLeon, lifetime friends.

I started on the all night shift but eventually worked all of the time slots. I had some great times at K5 at a time that the station was the only Top 40 rocker in the area. Some of the individuals with whom I had the privilege of working were Bob De Leon, Johnny Walker (Bob Neutzling), Tony Townsend (Tony Flores), Roy Williams, John Huey, Mark Taylor (Mark Holste), Mike Shannon, and John Chappell. Bob Fenton was the owner of K5 at that time and when he spoke to us we were always referred to as “Kid.”

My favorite times at K5 were when I got to count down the weekly top 40. There are also some funny stories that I could never share in public. Bob De Leon and I left K5 at about the same time and went to KTRB. I think this happened around 1972. KTRB was an adult contemporary format which allowed us to insert more of our personalities into our programs. Bob Lang was doing mid mornings at KTRB, Tim St. Martin was doing the news, Cal Purviance was doing early mornings, Bob De Leon did the afternoons, and I had the evening shift. Don Schneider was doing mobile news from his car we called the “porcupine” because of all of the antennas. We even had an occasional report from the air. These were really good times in radio. I felt that the station was part of the community and we were part of a broadcasting team. Sam Horrell was the program director at the time. Sam’s influence created an atmosphere of camaraderie at KTRB.

There are also many stories from my days at KTRB. One of the things that I remember well is that from the production booth across the hall from the on-air studio one could talk into the earphones of the person on the air and it wouldn’t go out over the air. I was not aware of this as I was reading the news one day when Bob Lang and Tim St. Martin, in the middle of a news story, hit me with a string of expletives that would have made a sailor blush. I was quite flustered but as professional DJs often do I handled it in a mature fashion. I started laughing and could not stop.

Down through the decades, the voice stays young

I have fond memories of Bob Lang interviewing my daughter Kristy on the air. She was a toddler at the time. Not only were the on-air personalities close, there was a special relationship with the sales staff and the front office personnel. We were a family. Around this time I also worked weekends at KJOY in Stockton. I remember getting off the air at KTRB at 11:00 p.m. driving to Stockton and going on the air at 12:00 midnight at KJOY working until 7:00 in the morning. My drives home after getting off were quite interesting. I’m happy to still be here.

In the mid ’70s KTRB was sold and the program changes that were made had a “not so positive” impact on the image and the morale of those working at KTRB. The on-air personalities were made to change their names. Bob Lang became Big Ben Boulder, Bob De Leon became Johnny Gunn, and my new name was the Godfather. Radio had changed; it was becoming impersonal and moving further away from its local audience. I can’t say that these developments single-handedly pointed me in a different direction as far as my career was concerned but they played a major role. I went back to college and followed a path that eventually led to being a college administrator. Along that path I did work as a part time disc jockey for top 40, country, and talk radio because radio was in my blood, and it still is after these many years.

On The Air:

Derek Waring – Aircheck