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 October 2021) available exclusively from Amazon in digital format as a Kindle eBook. If you would like to write and post a review of this Los Angeles rock and roll radio history book, download a review copy here at no cost to you.
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 2021 podcast in which Woody Goulart answers questions writing the history of the start of Boss Radio KHJ during the sixties.
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.
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. Pictured here is the vintage Shafer Automation System hardware used in that era by syndicated radio programming services such as Drake-Chenault.
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:
Visit the gallery of photographs to expand your enjoyment of reading KHJ, Los Angeles: Boss Radio Forever by Woody Goulart.
Hello, I am the author of KHJ, Los Angeles: Boss Radio Forever. My name is Woody Goulart. I have unique qualifications to write about this rock and roll radio station. 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