Jay Coffey has been Rockin’ n’ Rollin’ for decades. He began as a bass player in San Francisco Bay Area rock bands. His radio career began at KFIV, Modesto, California when he was hired by Program Director (PD) John Chappell on October 5, 1973. Jay says that John gave him a chance when no other PD would even speak to him. John guided the rookie Jay Coffey through the first few weeks and then made him his go to weekend dJ. Incidentally although he tweaked the spelling a bit, Jay’s last name came from Coffee Road in Modesto. Jay says, “I owe a debt of gratitude to John Chappell who set me on a wonderful career path that has lasted over 47 years.
Jay’s resume is quite impressive. He attended De Anza Community College in Cuppertino; after getting his start in radio at KFIV he quickly climbed the broadcasting industry ladder as on air talent and in management. In June of 1974 Jay went to KOBO, Yuba City where he spent three months. The owners then transferred him to KKIQ, Livermore and he was there until 1976. From KKIQ Jay went to KMBY in Monterey and in October of 1977 moved to a weekend slot at KIQQ, Los Angeles. One year later he went from weekends to being their full time afternoon guy. Jay worked at KIQQ until late 1985 when he went to KHJ, Los Angeles. He was then transferred to KHJ’s sister station KEARTH 101, Los Angeles where he was a fixture for the next 20 years as on air talent, music director, assistant program director and eventually, program director. Jay has also worked at KBSG, Seattle as program director, KFRC, San Francisco as afternoon talent and most recently is with Dial Global/West Wood One as mid day air talent . Jay is dedicated to making radio fun and informative for his listeners.
Aside from radio Jay is a lifelong lover of Golden Retrievers, he also acquired a soft spot for miniature Schnauzers thanks to his wife Janet who’s been a Schnauzer enthusiast since her childhood days in Long Island, New York.
KFRC, San Francisco – 2007 – Here’s a sample of Jay Coffey’s on air talent:
My younger brother Mike Veil and I grew up with radios, stereos and a portable cassette machine that had all the buttons on one end. We were isolated living on a ranch between Modesto and Salida back in the early ’70s, so we recorded a lot of music off of KFIV and KJOY. We also created our own radio plays. Mike was the witty one. He could come up with voices and scripts off the top of his head and I just went along for the ride. We would act out his radio scripts and record them. Oh how I wish I had those tapes today. When he followed me into high school in 1977, he recruited me to join him in taking Ron Underwood’s Radio Broadcasting class.
Radio Broadcasting never really entered my mind before 1977. I was enjoying my third year of Art classes with Wilda Thompson and Glenn Streeter. But Mike was my brother and family is everything, so I began my broadcasting career at KBHI, the low power high school FM radio station run by Mr. Underwood and his Radio class participants. Being an introverted country kid I chose not to take a position with the station other than an afternoon air shift right after my brother’s shift. I met some interesting people like classmates Dave Rose and Harry Mersmann. As well as some people who already had quite and understanding of radio. The family of Kathy and John Pappas were very much into the radio business in Modesto. I have some recollection of doing news stories with Kathy, producing and completing a radio special on Neil Diamond. The most memorable moment for me at KBHI was when the entire class took a bus to San Francisco to take the Third Class Federal Communication Commission License exam. We had a rousing good time seeing the city. Who would have thought that I would work and live in San Francisco 13 years later at KXXX FM, formerly KYUU. KBHI gave me a well grounded foundation on nomenclature, procedures and theory of radio broadcasting. I fell in love with the structure, creativity and satisfaction of producing things that a multitude of people could enjoy.
Ron Underwood saw something in me that I didn’t. He took me under his wing and did what he could to keep me focused. I disliked school even though I was pulling straight A’s; I just wanted out of there and to get on with life. My career guidance counselor pretty much threw in the towel when I told him I would not be attending college. However, my Art instructor Mr. Streeter helped me graduate in the mid term of my senior year by assigning me an extra art project so I could obtain the credits I needed to graduate. At the same time Mr. Underwood referred me to KTRB for a job interview. I was interviewed by Randy Hill, KTRB’s chief engineer and son of Doc Hill, owner of KYOS in Merced. Randy hired me at 17 years of age to assist KTRB’s Cal Purviance with the new KHOP FM automation machine. I fell in love with radio and left my mediocre artistic talents behind to pursue a career in Broadcasting.
Little did I know that my brother Mike, KBHI, Ron Underwood and Randy Hill would help me find my passion, kick off my career and give me the best memories of my younger adult years. I am grateful for all of them who saved this lost and wandering soul. And I am grateful to all of the great people at KTRB/KHOP who helped ‘raise me up’ to be a productive, law abiding young adult. Thank you.
You’re in for a treat. The Museum thanks Ken Levine for granting us permission to post these podcast interviews with the nation’s leading radio personalities. Their stories give great insight as to what it was like to be “that guy on the radio.”
We think you’ll learn a lot; we know you’l laugh a lot. After all, these are disc jockeys. . .
We begin with Shotgun Tom Kelly, a radio star who was given his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame:
Ken Levine is a creative giant with at least four huge careers: Comedy writer for MASH, CHEERS, FRASIER, AND WINGS, among others; Broadcaster of Major League Baseball for the Orioles, Mariners, and Padres; prolific writer of books, plays, movies, and one of America’s most-read daily blogs. His Career Number Four: Radio Personality! Yes, it all began with radio. His podcasts, Hollywood and Levine, focus on Entertainment, Pop Culture, and, of course, all things radio. Want more? Ken has over 200 podcasts, click the logo below:
Bob Lang has repeatedly said of his twenty-years in broadcasting, “the first five years at KTRB in Modesto were the happiest of my professional career and I never made less money!”
Bob attended high school in Sacramento and graduated from San Francisco State in 1968 just before getting his First Class Radiotelephone Operator’s License at Ogden’s in Huntington Beach.
Bob was a green kid when he joined the staff of KTRB in August 1969. He worked with Tom Romano, Andy Anderson, newsman Art Baker, and mobile news reporter Don Schneider. At his audition, Program Director Cal Purviance inadvertently snapped the leader off Bob’s audition tape. Bob always figured that’s why he got the job!
Tim St. Martin soon joined the staff as News Director from neighboring KFIV and he and Bob became on-air partners. Bob was Production Manager and the two produced several two-voice commercials, many of them ad lib. Soon Bob DeLeon also left rival KFIV and became KTRB’s Music Director. Derek Waring, who had attended Ogden’s radio school with Bob, also migrated from KFIV. This was the team that lasted until the mid-1970s—they remained friends for five decades.
Bob left KTRB in late 1974 and moved north to Sacramento where he joined KGMS radio. His career took a turn into television for ten years at KTXL, Channel 40 and KXTV, Channel 10 where he was a writer/producer of commercials and special events including two critically acclaimed documentaries. He also hosted the afternoon Jackpot Movie and various special events. From there he moved back into radio as the first morning host of KYMX, Mix-96 along with other freelance positions over the years.
Bob also taught community college media classes and eventually left the media industry for a career as an equipment and soft skills trainer. He retired from the California Department of Corrections in 2011 as a project manager where he also supervised the media center at Mule Creek State Prison in Ione.
Bob Lang has also written two books including a style guide for professional communicators called Now You’re Talkin’. Available on Amazon. A third book is on the way. And he was a guitarist and singer in the Sacramento classic rock horn band On Air for 35 years until the COVID pandemic put a halt to life as we all know it.
Bob gave listening audiences many years of excellent entertainment. The following airchecks are samples of his work . As you will hear Bob had a great sense of humor and wonderful timing.
1969-1974, KTRB: Bob burst onto the airwaves in August of 1969. He was a favorite of KTRB listeners in the Central Valley for over five years. His final show was in December of 1974. The show consisted of memorable moments from his time at KTRB. Here it is, brought to you in two episodes for your listening pleasure.
Bob Lang’s final show – Episode One:
Bob Lang’s final show – Episode Two:
1975 – 1990: Bob moved to Sacramento in 1975 where he worked for KGMS. After KGMS he spent ten years working in television but did some weekend air shifts for KGNR circa 1980. He worked at KZAP around 1987 and KYMX in 1990. Here is a compilation of clips from his time at these stations that we think you’ll enjoy.
2012 – KFIV Graffiti Gold Weekend. Modesto area DJs from the past were invited to a reunion which coincided with Modesto’s annual Graffiti Days Celebration. Bob Lang was kind enough to do a few hours on the air.
Bob Lang once said, “Tim St. Martin and I had an inherent ability to absolutely amuse ourselves!” They had the best time when they collaborated on various KTRB radio commercials, especially when they were interacting as characters other than themselves.
In the early-to-mid ‘70s, St. Martin and Lang, who worked together during the morning hours, portrayed Dino and Jerry, Rowen and Martin, Little Caesar and one of his thugs, a couple of dogs named Prince and Spotty, a couple of Germans named “Hans und Feetz,” a couple of Thanksgiving turkeys—you get the idea.
Bob and Tim, a compilation of their commercials from KTRB:
Most notably, Tim and Bob were Farley and Eugene, a couple of old sodbuster cowboys in a series of spots for Fargo Distributing. Fargo took out a newspaper print ad with pseudo wanted posters of The Fargo Boys. They were Fargo employees like Bronco Bruce, Dangerous Del, and Pop Farrell who were “shooting down prices” on Cooper Tires and other auto accessories. Fargo was interested in a similar radio campaign, one based on their newspaper ad, and Tim and Bob were assigned to create something. The result were their characters, Farley and Eugene, who wanted to cash in on the reward, but they didn’t know what tires were!
Tim came up with an idea for Farley and Eugene to be riding their horses. They used plastic coffee cup inserts on the studio counter to make the sound of the horses’ hooves as they galloped up to the mic. They didn’t use scripts and if one of them blew a line, rather than starting over, they’d each gallop away across the counter first, then gallop back! All they while saying, “whoa, boy—whoa, boy.”
The Fargo Boys, Eugene (Bob Lang) and Farley (Tim St. Martin):
Most of the story lines were Tim’s—he came up with the scenarios for most of the commercials and the two would ad lib their way through. If one of them came up with a good line, they’d record another take, but usually they’d have to try again because one of them cracked up.
Bob Lang introduces the KTRB Midday News with Tim St. Martin:
The year was 1974, Beyer High school’s radio station KBHI, 89.9 on the FM dial had just gotten underway. KBHI was the second high school station in Modesto following KDHS, at Downey High School which came on the scene in 1969. It took months of hard work by the staff and crew to raise the money necessary to get KBHI on the air. Continued funding of the station was in large part provided by the KBHI Booster Club which consisted of Modesto area merchants.
The man responsible for initially bringing high school radio to Modesto was also instrumental in getting KBHI up and running. Ron Underwood was the Faculty Advisor and on occasion would fill in as an on air personality. The KBHI studio was located in room D-13 on the Beyer campus. It broadcasted over a 10 Watt transmitter which on a good day would cover perhaps a 10-15 mile radius. On December 1, 1977 KBHI began broadcasting over Modesto Cable in addition to 89.9 FM.
The objectives of KBHI were to serve Beyer High School by promoting and broadcasting campus oriented events along with the music students liked to hear and to serve the community by providing special interest current event type programming. They provided remote broadcasts covering sporting events and live broadcasts of Youth Commission, Inter High Council and Board of Education meetings. There were talk shows covering topics of the day which included interviews with students and staff on campus. Listeners if so inclined could also enjoy oldies from the ’50s and ’60s on KBHI’s nostalgic broadcasts.
In 1961 Bill Drake was programming KYA in San Francisco. It soon became number one in the ratings. In 1962, after KYA had been sold, Drake was contacted by Gene Chenault, owner of KYNO in Fresno, California, who offered him a two station deal including KSTN in Stockton, which was owned by a friend of Chenault’s. Both stations quickly became number one, with KYNO getting an incredible average share of 52% of the audience from 6am to midnight. Drake and Chenault eventually formed Drake-Chenault Enterprises, Inc. By the late 60’s and early 70’s Drake-Chenault had become a massive organization offering Sales and Programming Consulting Services, including the famous Johnny Mann jingles.
These jingles are from KFRC the Big 610 which was programmed by Drake-Chenault and are well known to anyone who lived in the Central Valley of California at the time.
KFIV jingle from 1961. This was lifted from the G. Martin Avey (Gary Avey) show:
KFIV enlisted the talent of Shotgun Tom Kelly in 1970. He provided voice intros for the DJs. Shotgun is still a friend and in fact is a member of the Modesto Radio Museum. You can hear him on 60s on 6 on SiriusXM. Shotgun’s voice drop-in was added to a jingle from our jingle package and here is what we had:
KFIV contracted with Gold Star Studios in Los Angeles in 1970 to produce new jingles for the station. The studio musicians were The Lancers. What you will hear are some of the raw cuts of the jingles as they were recorded. They were later edited by the station. Jingles that contain only the DJ’s name were edited to include any of the other jingles such as “Plays More Music” or “Million Dollar Weekend.” Bob De Leon was Program Director at KFIV at the time and you may hear his voice at times as the producer asks for his input:
Superman had his Lois Lane and Wonder Woman had her Steve Trevor. Before the Wonder Woman movies, Wonder Woman, the TV Show, airing for 4 years, paired Lynda Carter with Lyle Waggoner. He was a good-looking, mighty fine Steve Trevor.
And, one day, Steve Trevor came to Modesto. . .
(Rick Myers wrote this back in 1975)
Last weekend, Modesto was invaded by celebrities in tennis shorts. Comic Fred Allen once said, “A celebrity is a person who works hard all his life to become famous, and then wears dark glasses to avoid being recognized.” Most of these celebrities did wear dark glasses, but they came to have fun, and help raise money.
The Lyle Waggoner-Best Chevrolet Pro/Celebrity Tennis Classicbenefited the Stanislaus Association for the Mentally Disadvantaged. Twenty-four“famous” people came to Modesto and played tennis over three days at the Sportsmen of Stanislaus (S.O.S.) Club. The locals paid five dollars per match to watch the stars come out—all in all, a pleasant way to donate to a charity.
Lyle Waggoner, a star of The Carol Burnett Show, organized these charity events around the country. It was Modesto’s turn. Lyle came to KFIV several days in advance to set up the promotion, and our first meeting began a wonderful friendship. When the others at the station were introduced to Lyle, they had the usual compliments: “It’s a pleasure to meet you,” and “I’ve been a fan of yours for a long time,” “Thanks for coming to Modesto; this is quite a thrill.” Me? I went for humor (it’s my disc jockey DNA). As Lyle approached, I stared awkwardly at his feet, looking confused. Then I said, “Wow, I thought Porter Wagoner always wore cowboy boots.” Lyle laughed and said he was the other Waggoner. (I had a similar remark about Leon Wagner, the baseball player, but that joke had run its course.) However, with that comment, Lyle Waggoner and I connected.
Lyle Waggoner was gracious and witty—so few of us have both these traits—and instinctively he knew he could have fun with me. When asked to record a station promo, he was ready, “This is Lyle Waggoner, and whenever I’m in Modesto, I never miss the Radio Rick Radio Show; I don’t listen to it, and I don’t miss it.” (The audience loved it, and I aired that promo off-and-on for years.) Later that day, on the air, I asked about his future endeavors, he said, “I plan to do a little screen work this summer; my kitchen door needs repair.” We were having fun. Lyle Waggoner conducts dozens of these tournaments but while in Modesto, I became his go-to guy.
Modesto was rocking with celebrities. Friday evening found these greats and us mere mortals congregated at a party and Lyle Waggoner, my new friend, saw me first, and–happily for me–it was “Hey, Rick, I want you to meet my wife!” His wife
was the lovely actress, Sharon Kennedy. I returned his friendly gesture by introducing my girlfriend who was five-foot-ten. Then came Lyle’s marvelous, awkward miscue. He shook her hand and commented on what a big girl she was. She apologized, explaining her plans were to lose some weight! Lyle gasped, caught off guard, foot in mouth, totally embarrassed. He stammered, searching for an apology, searching his brain for a funny comeback; his brain gave him nothing, and all he could do was utter that he meant “tall” and not “heavy.” I was enjoying this. Sharon rolled her eyes and gave Lyle one of those “What does Wonder Woman see in this schmuck?” looks.
Just then, the great actor Cornel Wilde came limping by and Lyle Waggoner seized the opportunity to change the subject, and introduced us. Nice save, Lyle. Mr. Wilde had pulled a muscle and was in no condition to run through the jungles as he had in The Naked Prey. He was supposed to play tennis the next day; maybe he’d use a stunt double.
As he gazed at us, Mr. Wilde pleasantly accused Lyle and me of starting a “height conspiracy,” and limped away. Wow that was nice; Cornel Wilde, an Academy Award Nominee, was looking up to us.
My eyes scanned the room and there was Ron Ely, a mammoth of a man, who portrayed Tarzan on TV for three years. As I was wondering if he ever tired of being referred to as Hollywood’s original swinger, I noticed a celebrity I practically grew up with: Ozzie & Harriet’soldest son, David!!
David Nelson is a good-looking young man, but extremely shy. According to Lyle, my great friend for the weekend, he and David had been neighbors for years before Lyle ever discovered his quiet neighbor’s existence. Lyle further noted this was David’s first attempt at celebrity tennis. Even surrounded by admirers, David Nelson appeared so uncomfortable I doubt he’ll attempt another.
Merv Griffen’s pudgy trumpet player, Jack Sheldon, supplied most of the humor. His jokes were non stop. And each joke was politically incorrect.
Ex-athletes play tennis, too, and they were there, returning us to the joys of our youth. Former football stars RC Owens and Bruce Gossett had put on a few pounds. They looked like they retired to the buffet table. However, Y.A. Tittle and Frankie Albert were tanned and fit. (Moral: When you retire, it’s best to retire as a quarterback.)
As our weekend with the stars came to a close, I told Lyle Waggoner I was impressed by what a sincerely nice person he was. (Yes, I could be serious for a change.) Jokingly, Lyle replied, “Well, you know, the bigger they are, the nicer they are.” I said, “Lyle, at six-foot-four, you should know. And I hope you’re right, because I’m six-foot-five.”
(Post Script: Following his acting career, Lyle created Star Waggons, providing customized location trailers used by the entertainment industry. He and Sharon were married for 59 years, until his passing at age 84.)