You have arrived at the online companion to KHJ Los Angeles: Boss Radio Forever — 1960s Rock and Roll Radio History written by Woody Goulart (updated January 2023) available exclusively from Amazon in digital format as a Kindle eBook.
Why My Writing Radio History Has CredibilityI wrote the very first book-length analysis and evaluation that had ever been done about Boss Radio and the derivative radio programming formats that followed. Others who were inside or outside that industry certainly can claim to “know” what really happened at Boss Radio KHJ and at K-100. But think about this: Would you rather read the actual spoken words from a variety of people who were there (in person), or, read just one or two people’s opinion who weren’t there in person to observe how the radio professional behaved and how they thought so many years ago?
Keep in mind that most of the people who were actual in-person participants back then are no longer living today. I preserved what people said who now are dead. So I ask you: What good are claims that are made about rock and roll radio history without primary research (one-to-one interviews) to back up the claims?
What good is one person’s own subjective memories about what happened? Why trust them? It is much better to get multiple perspectives so that all the fact emerge.
I conducted primary research (one-to-one interviews) because during the mid-1970s there was no in-depth information available anywhere on this subject. Trade magazines of that era—most notably Claude Hall’s Billboard magazine column—covered Boss Radio, Bill Drake, Ron Jacobs and others. Periodicals such as Time and Newsweek had also run stories on Boss Radio and Bill Drake. But, none of these sources provided information of much length or depth.
Discover more about Bill Drake (1937 – 2008.).
Claude Hall (1932 – 2017) wrote This business of radio programming : a comprehensive look at modern programming techniques used throughout the radio world. However, his book—an industry insider’s perspective on the radio and music business—came out the year after I completed my primary research into the Drake-Chenault radio programming efforts and published my masters thesis. I was there first. I scooped Claude Hall. I became the first person to release a well-documented study of Boss Radio KHJ.
My writing can be considered credible compared to what others have written about this same subject. Why? My work is well-documented because what I wrote was built upon many face-to-face, in-person, one-to-one interviews with actual participants who were there in person and spoke about what they saw with their own eyes while they were there in person. My interviewing of people who are no longer living provided me the foundation upon which to write analyses and evaluations of the efforts of Bill Drake, Ron Jacobs, and others associated with Boss Radio at KHJ in Los Angeles, later with the RKO Radio chain of radio stations, and finally with K-100 in the early 1970s.
No Kissing UpSince I have never held any allegiances or biases towards any particular person involved, I believe that you can rely upon my observations as straightforward and without any hidden agendas. I also chose not to kiss up in my writing to win favor from any of the famous people I wrote about.
I welcome you to write and post an online review of what I wrote about Los Angeles rock and roll radio here online and in my companion eBook. Get in touch with me at email@example.com and request a free review copy today if you have not already read my companion eBook.
Not Written by an InsiderI am not someone who has a long track record of employment inside the radio broadcasting industry. If you compare me to others who do have decades of insider employment experience in that industry, you will find many others with many years of on-the-job history. The fact that I am outsider gives me a very strong advantage over insiders who tend to look at the industry through rose-colored glasses. Insiders within that industry tend to come across with positive rather than realistic perceptions about their industry’s efforts. Insiders often remember what happen as being better than it actually was.
I deliberately brought a perspective that looks at that industry realistically and without glossing over anything. I show people who are no longer alive for how they actually behaved and thought so long ago.
I also do not idealize working in that industry. Yes, I happen to believe it is fun and worthwhile to remember radio stations such as KHJ Los Angeles Boss Radio. However, I urge everyone who is considering attempting a career on the radio or television as an announcer or air personality to seek other lines of work. This is because the profession of announcer or air personality disappeared over a decade ago even though most people did not notice what was happening. Technology today (such as AI) makes it possible for the owners of radio and television broadcasting stations to save a lot on money that they otherwise would have had to spend on labor costs to employ human beings. You can get an excellent feel for yourself what this legendary radio station was like for people who were alive in the sixties if you watch Quentin Tarantino’s 2019 movie Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
- Listen to a 2023 podcast in which Woody Goulart answers questions about writing the history of the start of Boss Radio KHJ during the sixties: The Peter Boyles Show (Denver)
- Also worth hearing is a 2021 podcast hosted by Ira David Sternberg featuring Woody Goulart talking about KHJ Boss Radio.
Is Hollywood Real?
Hollywood is a state of mind more than anything else. But, yes, Hollywood also happens to be a specific region within the city limits of Los Angeles, California. On the map below, you can easily find Paramount Studios in the bottom right. When the Boss Radio format was launched in 1965 on the air at KHJ, Los Angeles, the offices and studios were located on Melrose Avenue adjacent to that famous motion picture and television production facility.
This is a present-day photograph of mine showing you what once was the actual physical location so long ago of the KHJ radio studios on Melrose Avenue in Hollywood.
Listen to a two minute audio history of KHJ, Los Angeles that I produced so you can experience the radio station from a listener’s perspective starting in the 1920s up through the turn of the 21st century:
The rock and roll music of the era was the main focus of how the station sounded to the listeners. But one of the most popular things to do here at this website is to spend time enjoying the on-air promotional materials that were designed and created for Boss Radio on KHJ, Los Angeles. This core element of Boss Radio KHJ can be especially addictive because of the unique style and sound of the promotions. Here you also will find other related promotional recordings that each have historical significance stemming from Boss Radio on KHJ and spanning many years since the 1960s.
|Jingles: Arguably the most unforgettable audio element of Boss Radio on KHJ were the musical jingles that were heard daily in and around the music, news, and announcers on the radio station:
Listen to the famous “…and NOW, ladies and gentlemen…” jingle featuring Bill Drake as the voiceover announcer:
The exceptional music for the jingles without any singers or voiceover announcing are worth being heard:
If I had to select only one “most distinctive aspect” of Boss Radio, it certainly would be the Friday afternoon sign-offs by The Real Don Steele. Never before had such a unique radio sign-off been done. Steele would shout his relevant rhymes in the “Neon Fun Jungle that is Los Angeles,” and assure us that “Tina Delgado is alive, alive!” But, you have to hear these for yourself on ReelRadio.com since mere words on a screen cannot accurately describe how he sounded.
“You Can’t Sit Down” by the Phil Upchurch Combo (1961) was the song used by The Real Don Steele as his music bed. When Steele arrived at K100, he naturally wanted a stereo music bed since he was now on FM and in stereo. Under his direction and guidance, I worked with him in the K100 production room and did physical edits (the old-fashioned way using a razor blade and white splicing tape!) to blend both sides of the 45 rpm stereo single into a remix that matched exactly the original KHJ version he had used for many years. Listen to a very rare 1973 stereo remix that I produced for him.
After The Real Don Steele reappeared on Los Angeles radio in the early 1970s on K100, Drake-Chenault produced the “The Real Don Steele Top 20/20” syndicated show for him. Hear the lively and upbeat 1973 demo:
Taped Syndication of Radio Programming
Because there were yet no orbiting satellites around this planet to help distribute syndicated radio programming in the 1960s and 1970s, Drake-Chenault radio programming was produced and recorded for open reel audio tapes that were physically shipped to hundreds of radio stations.
In the picture you see a vintage Shafer Automation System hardware which was used in that era by syndicated radio programming services such as Drake-Chenault.
How Did This Sound on the Air?
Listen to a demo narrated by Bill Drake for “Hit Parade ’68” which was one of the first Drake-Chenault radio syndication services delivered on open reel tape. Initially, KHJ-FM, Los Angeles and KFRC-FM, San Francisco (owned at the time by RKO Radio) carried the “Hit Parade ’68” sound before changing call letters and formats:
“The History of Rock and Roll” is one of the most famous and beloved taped syndicated radio programming efforts from Drake-Chenault. This hours-long documentary was first broadcast in the year 1969 on KHJ, Los Angeles. It was later revised and updated for syndication in the United States and Canada. Read an excerpt about this important radio documentary which was reprinted from my book KHJ, Los Angeles: Boss Radio Forever: 1960s Rock and Roll Radio History. Enjoy the opening minutes here from a 1980s updated version narrated by none other than Bill Drake, himself:
Roger Christian: He was one of the original seven Boss Jocks and was on the air at K100. He narrated a music documentary about The Beatles in 1973 that I wrote and produced. This recording contains the famous “turn me on, dead man” line from the White Album and some of the most memorable music ever played backwards:
John Lennon on KHJ: After the Drake-Chenault team was ousted by RKO management from KHJ in 1973, for a dozen or so subsequent years, countless consultants kept changing both the sound and style of the station. In 1974, for example, superstars of rock and roll were invited on the air to do their own thing live on the air.
On September 20, 1974, the morning drive slot for one day only was held by John Lennon. His famous personality and wit are preserved in these rare recordings, where you also get to hear much of the late-1970s KHJ imagery and promos:
The 25th Anniversary of Boss Radio: Hear rare recordings of remarks from the Century City, California festivities held on May 9, 1990:
Robert W. Morgan:
The Real Don Steele:
Another benefit of my research is a unique collection of pictures you can study to see how some of the participants looked in context. Visit the gallery of photographs to expand your enjoyment of reading KHJ, Los Angeles: Boss Radio Forever by Woody Goulart.
About the Author
I am the author of this website and KHJ, Los Angeles: Boss Radio Forever a companion eBook that is available exclusively on Amazon as an eBook.
My name is Elwood (“Woody”) Goulart. I have unique qualifications to write about this rock and roll radio station compared to everyone else who has written about this subject.
I got my start in the radio business in a very small market, San Luis Obispo, CA.
But, the most important story behind KHJ, Los Angeles: Boss Radio Forever is not me. What’s important is that radio station in Hollywood. I believe Boss Radio KHJ deserves to be remembered forever.
Why Remember Boss Radio KHJ?
Is the business of radio programming the same or similar as it was 50 years ago? No, not at all.
American popular culture, the radio business, and Los Angeles all have changed in major ways over the span of half a century. Such changes need to be thought of as normal due to the passage of so many decades.
This one Los Angeles radio station deserves to be remembered especially because today it is very unlikely that there could be big business or popular culture successes with just one radio station like Boss Radio KHJ made happen half a century ago in Southern California. Or anywhere else for that matter. Knowing why this is the truth will help you better understand today’s media landscape and popular culture in the United States.
Boss Radio Links:
Boss Radio Forever (main page)
Archives of Boss Radio Forever
College Radio KCPR
Gallery of Photographs
Hollywood Rock and Roll Radio
My Work in the Radio Industry
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