In 1957 I drove my brand new ’57 Ford convertible to Hollywood. I was exactly twenty when I first visited “Tinseltown” but 1958 proved to be a more rewarding visit. I was greatly impressed by the sounds of KFWB during the Summer of 1958. Arnold Passman in his most colorful book “The Deejays” describes the sounds of that station at this particular time:
“The day after New Year’s Day, 1958, people were awakened to the widely publicized sound of ‘Color Radio’. In three months KFWB had a 45 per cent share of the market. The runner-up had 9 per cent. The guiding genius behind ‘Channel 98’ was a facile young Gordon McLendon protege from El Paso, Chuck Blore.
‘I was 28’, said Blore, ‘The jocks heard I was twenty-three, and I looked seventeen.’ Program Director Blore brought with him Texas jocks Bruce Hayes, KLIF, Dallas; Elliott Field, KILT, Houston; and Ted Quillan, KELP, El Paso. Retained from the old staff were Al Jarvis, Joe Yocam, B. Mitchel Reed and Bill Ballance. For close to five years, KFWB kept things lively in the highly competitive Los Angeles market. Radio Pulse for October 1959 reported that fourteen of the nineteen top-rated deejay shows were on KFWB.
The techno-sensible Blore said his sole purpose was to entertain. And KFWB jocks didn’t just ad lib, although they certainly did their share of that. Their routines were ultimately scripted, and they were trained to a razor-sharp fineness to make every split second count effectively.”
My visit to Los Angeles changed my attitude about radio. I looked up old friend Gil Henry, who had been an inspiration to me when he worked for KING in Seattle. He was working at KNX, doing a CBS radio network show. Gil sounded as good as ever, but rock’n’roll radio had beaten him. He never regained his position of greatness in the business. When I could compare Gil’s radio program first hand with the likes of Bill Ballance, I knew that a drastic change had come and I had to change too.
For more on Chuck Blore‘s amazing career, I recommend “Okay, Okay, I Wrote The Book”, which I’ve conveniently linked below.
Coming up: my L.A. trip continues with a visit to Capitol Records to meet Gene Vincent.