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.


9 thoughts on “John Chappell, 71 – Mourning The Passing of The Museum’s President”

  1. Well, what can you say about John. “Mr. Cordial” ..Easy Going..It’s unfortunate, that we have lost, yet, another local Radio Icon this year. I didn’t know John, until his time in radio was over and joined the ranks of the Audio-Visual Department at MJC. There for many years, he taught Radio Communications,”breaking-in” students interested in pursuing a career in broadcasting. First met John, many years ago, through former KFIV personality, Don Shannon. Many nights were spent in the wee early morning hours at Brawley’s (former restaurant in Modesto). In general, John would grace his presence every now and then, talking Radio and everyday topics, not to say.. enduring the zany antics that only people in the “business” would understand. After years of working as head of the MJC Audio-Visual department, John was introduced to early retirement and made the most of it. Dirt Biking, Cruises, Piloting his plane to various locations and stepping into luncheon dates with myself and on occasion with former KFIV personality, Kenny Roberts. John always felt that his time would be “short” and did what he could with what he had. John will be sorely missed, especially his association with the CVBA , who he had part in establishing. The memories are instilled and will alway be cherished! Thanks John!

  2. I was introduced to John through Kevin Manna. It was 1972 when most of the KFIV staff bailed out because of $$ (We all know how frugal Bob Fenton was) And shifts had to be filled. (I was at KYOS and took a cut in pay going to KFIV) John was an interesting guy who loved trying out new technology and adventures. When he was learning to fly, he took me up one evening to practice touch and go landings between Modesto and Sacramento. Somewhere over Lodi he let me fly for 10 minutes, reminding me not to go by looking out the windshield, but watching the artificial horizon meter. With me at the wheel, we’re lucky we didn’t end up like Amelia Earhart. John will indeed be missed.

  3. It is with deep sorrow that I heard today of John Chappell’s passing. My heartfelt condolences to his family and friends. John was, and will remain in many of the hearts who knew him to be a kind, caring and very special individual. While John and I worked at MJC in the Media Services Department, I could always count on him to extend a friendly hand. Truly a remarkable person!

    I will miss him dearly.

  4. My life with John Chappell. A statement filled with truth, memories and positive impact. John and I grew up living across the street from each other. While 2-years my senior, we clicked from day one. I was either at his home or he at mine. My mom usually had a dinner plate for John, as more times than not he would stay for dinner. My dad was sort of his dad, as John’s parents were divorced. This connection grew over the years and became life changing.

    John and I played with voice recorders all the time. He knew far more than I did about electronics. As his love of broadcasting grew, he opened that door to me as well. Many times, I would join him at KSRT, Tracy after sign-off and play ‘radio’. John taught me ‘the board’, mic technics, etc. He went to Ogdens to get his First Class license. So the next year, so did I. John led me into the broadcasting classes at MJC. He helped hire me at KCEY, Turlock after I received my ‘ticket’. Things just fell into place after that. I owe my 51 year career to him.

    John was a friend, a mentor and a life coach. He taught me to cook. Encouraged me to join the Boy Scouts and attend his church. In later years, he took me flying many times. John would stop by and check on my parents as they grew older. John was the brother I never had. Loved him more than he even knew.

    My friend, you are missed. I know I will see you again, however until that time, thank you for sharing a life together.

  5. My friendship with John goes back many, many years to our days as kids at Modesto Junior College (MJC ). John watched my children and grandchildren grow up. He helped on school projects for them making sure that they weren’t just good but that they were goooood! I answered request lines for John when he worked at KCEY in Turlock before I got into radio. He helped me get my first job at KSRT. We worked together at KFIV. We worked together for many years at MJC. John was a part of my life much longer than he was not and for that I am so grateful. He was a pillar for me while I battled prostate cancer. He fought the battle before me and was determined to share with me everything that he possibly could to make things easier for me, he was that kind of person. He was dealing with some serious health issues his last few years. His attitude was, make the best of the time you have left, do the things you’ve always wanted to do, leave this world with no regrets. Thank you for everything you gave to me John. I will miss you.

  6. John was one of the kindness people I’ve ever met in my life. John and I In 1968 attended Ogden’s radio operational engineer in school in Huntington Beach California. I was having a tough time learning the math and rules and regulations of the FCC at that school and John took me under his wing and assisted me so I was able to pass the test and get my First Class FCC License. After that ,Bob Neutzling hired me at KYOS in Merced. Over the years John and I stayed in touch. At the National Association of Broadcasters in Las Vegas John squared me around the city like royalty. He showed me places in that city that I have never seen before. I remember one night we went over to Wes Page‘s room to listen to the audio portion of Neil Ross‘s book as he described his experiences as a student at Ogden‘s radio school.
    The last time that I saw John. We went to see Quentin Tarantino‘s new film Once upon a time in Hollywood. It was such a Fun night. I will always remember John and how kind he was to me and saw how kind he was to others. God Bless him.

  7. John was my Uncle, but he didn’t discover our family until later in life, thanks to FB. He went on several vacations with us, and was always a joy to be around. He was a soft-hearted and kind soul.

    I have fond memories of staying up late with him (he was quite the night owl) and talking about his life and him growing up. I wish I had more time to get to know him better before his life ended so abruptly.

    John, you will be dearly missed!

  8. I am sorry to hear of the passing of John Chappelle. He was one of my instructors at MJC, and a great one he was. For those of us who were hanging around the KRJC studios even when we weren’t on the air or in class, he was one of our favorite people to talk to and learn from. I will always fondly remember the going away party that John and my KRJC colleagues organized for me in the fall of 1988 when I went away to BYU to continue my studies. John was always one of those people who goes far above and beyond the call of duty. He will be missed. May he Rest In Peace.

  9. I am sorry to hear about John’s passing. He was my favorite radio personality and had a great voice; he played my requests on KCEY.
    I met John when I was 14 at a Career Fair for school kids in Turlock.
    I did have a good voice for radio and he was very nice to me. I came from a troubled home and the John Chappell Show made me forget about my problems.
    Steve Nicholas

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