The Modesto Area Music Association super MAMA 2011 lifetime achievement award was presented to former Modesto DJ, musician and Modesto Radio Museum board member Bob De Leon. The presentation was made at ceremonies held at the DoubleTree hotel ballroom on October 13, 2011.
The award was presented by KFIV’s Rick Myers. Among his remarks he said De Leon could have been one of the characters in the American Graffiti film created by Modesto native George Lucas in 1962. The film was inspired by groups of young people, like De Leon and Lucas, who cruised 10th and 11th streets in downtown Modesto in the fifties and sixties.
De Leon began his career in 1959 playing keyboard with the Kent Whitt and the Downbeats band, all fellow students at Modesto high school. The band a stopped performing in 1963, but not until they had performed in a USO tour for troops in Alaska and Asia. The band spent 3 1/2 months touring Vietnam, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, and the Philippines before the breakup started with De Leon and other members of the band being drafted into military service.
De Leon, in his remarks, said he made numerous friends while playing with the band, one in particular, a young lady named Roni, who eventually became his wife.
De Leon fondly remembers the fifties and sixties and enjoying cruising up and down 10 and 11th streets in downtown Modesto with his friends. After finishing his military commitment, De Leon became interested in the broadcasting business.
After obtaining a broadcast/operator license in Los Angeles, he returned to Modesto in 1963 and started working at KLOC radio station in Ceres, which had just been put on the air by country musician and media mogul Chester Smith. A few months later, he landed a position at KFIV as an on-the-air personality staying until 1972.
De Leon moved on to KTRB before eventually making his way into the real estate business working his way up to Vice President of sales and training for Century 21 M&M and Associates Realty in Modesto.
In 2004 De Leon, and several other veteran radio personalities in the Modesto area, formed the Modesto Radio Museum group dedicated to preserving the history of local radio broadcasting.
Editor’s Note: Bob lived in Modesto his entire life. He and wife Roni were one day shy of their 55th wedding anniversary when she lost the love of her life and we lost our dear friend and Modesto Radio Museum member. Bob De Leon died on December 19, 2020 from complications of COVID-19. He is in our hearts.