Boss Radio Phase One: Getting Started
Drake and Chenault were developing a new format that, by 1964, was put into play at stations they were programming at KYNO Fresno, KSTN Stockton, and now, KGB San Diego. KHJ Los Angeles was added in April 1965 and KSTN was dropped. KFRC was added in February 1966. KHJ was considered the flagship of this program network, which had nothing to do with station ownerships. The three Big Boss radio stations were KFRC, KHJ, and KGB.
The focus of the format was MORE MUSIC with the following elements:
14 songs were to be played per hour
DJ chatter was limited to 15 seconds between songs
DJs were to introduce one song as the prior song faded out
Station jingles were limited to 90 seconds
Advertising spots were limited to 13 minutes per hour
News reports occurred 20 minutes past the hour rather than at the hour
Songs were played back to back to void listener dial switching
The entire staff was overhauled during 1964, leaving only Bill Wade to remain of the DJs. Dave Wrath was General Manager. Fred Lewis did the news aided by Ted Marvelle who was news editor and helped on promotions. Among the promotions was the Big Kahuna, (a Samoan who danced at Mission Beach resorts with his family and the big woody that traveled long area beaches handing out promotions for the station).
The market plan featured a central 'Boss' theme. There was Boss Radio, Boss Jocks, Boss 30 surveys, and Boss contests.
Talent had to match the investment and KGB was loaded:
- Tom Maule (6-9AM) led off the day, coming from KMAK in Fresno, and would remain with the station until 1967, when he moved to 93 KHJ in Los Angeles and KFRC in San Francisco. Standing at 5 ft. 6 inches, Tom was noted for his mix of humor cynicism and for being caustic at times, but always a great talent. He was actually a competitor to Chenault's KYNO at Fresno. He is only one of seven who did service at the three major Boss Radio stations in California. Tom died in 1993.
- Les Turpin (9-Noon) arrived from Chenault’s KYNO in Fresno and did a mid-morning show he called ‘Turpin Time’. He did his morning shift and served as Program Director until 1967 when he went to KFRC.
- Bill Wade (Noon-4PM) impressed the Chenault-Drake team and retained his afternoon slot.
- Steve Jay (Steve Janovick) (4-8PM) used the name of Jay Stevens to distinguish him from Steve O’Shea at station KFRC in San Francisco. He also went to 93 KHJ to become only one of seven to be at all big Boss Radio stations. He arrived in April from KMAK Fresno and rotated with Johnny Hayes between afternoons and graveyard each week. This arrangement was short-lived as Johnny Hayes hated the concept and soon left. He is still going strong, (with Johnny Hayes) at KRTH Los Angeles.
- Chuck Cooper (8-Midnight) also came from KMAK in Fresno and did the evening shift. He left in 1966. He was on staff at KCBQ in 1976. Chuck is still in the business at radio KSDO in San Diego.
- Johnny Hayes (Midnight-6AM) came from KYA in San Francisco to do graveyard duty and afternoon shifts on a weekly rotation with Steve Jay. Management was also pressing him over ‘housekeeping’ of the DJ booth during his shifts and considered making his overnight shift permanent. He disliked that arrangement immensely and left for KRLA Los Angeles as soon as the opportunity arose. Had he not quit, he was to be transferred to 93 KHJ as the overnight DJ in their original lineup. He remains on the air with Jay Stephens at KRTH.
The KGBeach Boy format continued into 1965.
Ray Morgan was on staff by May 1965 replacing Johnny Hayes, who went to KRLA in Los Angeles, on the graveyard shift.
Boss Radio Phase Two: 1965- September1966
By Fall 1965, KGB was No. 1 in San Diego under the Chenault-Drake format. The weekly survey showed the transition underway by being retitled the KGBeach Boys ‘Boss 30’ with all the Boss Jocks on the front.
- Gary Mitchell joined the staff briefly at the 9-noon shift replacing Les Turpin by November 1965.
- Les returned to the 6-9AM shift by April 1966 when Tom Maule took the 8-12 PM evening shift replacing Chuck Cooper.
- Bob Elliott arrived in February 1966 from KXOA Sacramento (as Bob Early) to replace Gary Mitchell in the 9-Noon shift. The 6’3” Elliott had been on the staff of KYNO Fresno under Chenault before moving on to KXOA. Bob remained through October 1967 when he left for an east coast job. Bob would resurface at KFRC in 1968, then at rival 1170 KCBQ in 1970 under the name of K.O. Bayley. He returned to KGB in 1971 as K.O. Bayley. Prior to becoming a DJ, Elliott had been a professional baseball player and a professional boxer suffering a broken his nose in the ring.
The only other staff change saw Stan Walker replace Ray Morgan on the graveyard shift in Spring 1966.
By September, the Beach Boys format was eliminated from the station marketing plan.
The station published the Top 100 hits of 1965 that featured a drawing of the KGB studio on the cover.
Boss Radio Phase Three: October 1966-June 1971
The Chenault-Drake format continued to develop during 1966. A revamped Boss 30 survey was begun on October 26, 1966 with Official Issue No. 1. This format was pocket size and tracked the weeks a song was on the list in addition to current and past week positions. A photo of one disc jockey or contest prize was featured each week.
- Mark Denis (Denis Melbourne) joined the staff by October 1966 in the 6-9AM shift from KMEN in San Bernardino. Mark would remain until 1969 and was well known for his work at KFI in Los Angeles over decades. His coined the phrase ‘Denis Anyone?’ He died of a heart attack in 2000.
- Les Turpin moved to the 9-12 AM shift and Bob Elliott took the 4-8 PM shift when Steve Jay left to KFRC in San Francisco.
- Bill Brown arrived later that year from the Far East Network based in Japan to fill the graveyard shift, replacing Stan Walker who went to WOR in New York City. Ironically, Brown followed him to WOR in 1967. He has been with WCBS New York since 1969 and hosts the popular “Brown Bag Special” during his mid day show on Oldies Radio WCBS. Bill has also provided English dubbing for Japanese films.
- Jim Scott was said to be with the station briefly in 1967 before going to WKBW Buffalo. This has not been confirmed. He is now at WLW Cincinnati.
The station produced the Top 100 hits of 1966 at the end of the year.
The station increased their live concert promotions with top talents of the day during 1967. The station produced its first album of 21 Boss Goldens Volume 1 in June. The album cover featured a cartoon of a geologic KGB formation rising from a crowd of hip people on the front, and drawings of the Boss jocks on the back. These same drawings were used on weekly surveys. The year also saw a substantial amount of changes in the staff as talent was developed and moved on to larger markets. The lineup had changed radically since the original 1964 Drake team and now featured the following by the end of 1967:
Jim Carson (Jim Gruppie) (12-6AM) first arrived in June from KBLA in Los Angeles where he was known as Vic Gee. However, with military service looming in the summer, Les Turpin did not want to start him on the air then hire a replacement for a short time. So his on-air debut was set for September 1.
When he arrived, Les Turpin had moved on to Drake network duties and Mark Denis was the new Program Director. He assumed the overnight shift vacated by Bill Brown when he went to WOR New York. He moved to the 8-12 PM shift in October when Dick Saint assumed the 4-8 PM shift when Bob Elliot left. Jim brought a new image of informality to the station. Prior to his arrival, jocks usually appeared in formal coat and tie. Carson sported t-shirts that all his (new) colleagues would adopt in 1969. He remained with the station through April 1970 when he left to KFRC in San Francisco. Jim was a fill in host at KHJ for one week in 1973 that made him one of only seven to serve at the three big Boss Radio stations of KFRC, KHJ, and KGB. He is still on the air at oldies KRTH doing the morning program.
Mark Denis (6-9-AM) moved into the 6-9AM shift and became Program Director in July when
Les Turpin left for KFRC in San Francisco.
Bill Wade (Noon-4PM), the only original Boss jock was completing his last year with the station before moving on to KFRC in San Francisco. He too would be only one of seven to serve at the three big Boss Radio stations. When Bill went to KFRC, Program Director Tom Rounds wanted to rename him Wade Williams. Bill refused to go along with the name change because his ultimate goal was to get to KHJ Los Angeles and a DJ named Johnny Williams was already there. So he did go to San Francisco for a very short time using not Wade Williams but Bill Wade. He arrived at KHJ before the end of the year.
Bob Elliott (4-8 PM) held the late afternoon shift until he left in October.
Dick Saint (Dick Middleton) (8-12 PM) arrived in June from KISN (Portland, OR) to take the night shift vacated by Tom Maule when he went to 93 KHJ Los Angeles. Dick had worked with The Real Don Steele in Oregon, who took credit for christening him Saint during that time. He was known as a high energy exciting radio personality that required his talents be applied during the 4-8 PM shift when Bob Elliott left in October.
Johnnie Darin (John Christian Miller) (9-Noon) arrived from KMEN San Bernardino in July when Les Turpin went to KFRC San Francisco. John dropped his last name early in his career, but encountered a Chuck Christian when he arrived at KMEN. Seeing a flyer posted on the studio wall advertising a James Darren concert, he quickly adopted a modified version as Johnnie Darin. Darin hoped to eventually end up at 93 KHJ via the Drake network. He now does business news at KNX radio.
Dave Stone (12-6 AM) came in October when Jim Carson moved to the 8-12 PM shift.
Ironically, by the end of the year, former KGB staff Les Turpin, Jay Stephens, and Tom Maule were all at KFRC in San Francisco, along with former KCBQ jock Johnny Holiday (under the name of Sabastian Stone). Dick Saint and K. O. Bayley joined the staff the following year. Turpin was Program Director at KFRC.
The station produced the Top 100 hits of 1967 at the end of the year that featured the autographs of the DJs on the back.
The staff additions this year provided strong radio personalities who would remain popular in the San Diego market and very prominent in the Top 40 radio industry. The Boss 30 was redesigned in April from the Drake network format to a design unique to station KGB. The shifts were realigned a follows:
Jim Carson (6-9 AM) took this shift when Mark Denis moved to the 9-12 AM shift. Mark Denis (9-Noon) took this shift when Dick Saint went to KFRC San Francisco, and also served as Program Director during the year. Mark enjoyed radio production aspects the most and was a perfectionist at it..
Johnnie Darin (Noon-3 PM) took this shift when Bill Wade went to KHJ Los Angeles in May. He would leave in December for KRLA in Los Angeles, working initially behind the scenes in production, then taking the market by storm as DJ and Program Director.
Gene West (Noon-3) was the rock of stability for KGB through many staff and format changes. He arrived in December when Johnnie Darin concluded that KGB was not his ticket to KHJ and went to help resurrect KRLA.
Dick Saint (3-7 PM) remained until August when he went to KFRC San Francisco. Later, he was with KHJ Los Angeles making him one of seven who were on the air at all three Big Boss Radio stations. He followed Johnnie Darin as Program Director of KRLA in 1971.
Bwana Johnny (3-7PM) arrived from WUBE in late 1968 to take the afternoon shift. He did not like the area and stayed only two months before leaving to KJR in Seattle. He was at KYA San Francisco in 1969 and now resides in Seattle.
Bobby Ocean (Ernest Raymond Lenhart) (7-12PM) arrived in May 1968 from KYNO Fresno (as Johnny Scott) and was renamed Bobby Ocean by Bill Drake. He filled the shift Jim Carson occupied prior to moving to the 6-9 AM shift. He would become the signature voice for whatever station he was at. He often repeated the Shakespearian line ‘The love you take is equal to the love you make’ as more recently recorded in a Beatles song. In addition to offering wit and innovation to the airwaves, he became a respected industry leader and still performs voice overs through his firm in San Rafael. (bobbyocean.com). He also is a cartoon artist and designed many covers and art for contests in the weekly Boss 30. Bobby Ocean is the only person to have worked for all four Boss Radio stations.
Dave Stone (6-12 AM). Held the shift through the year.
Don Dale (Don Eller) (Weekends) arrived in July to do weekends.
San Diego had the luxury of having two great top 40 stations with great staffs. KGB continued to develop its format to appeal to its target market by increasing the number of shifts to add more personalities. The following line-up emerged by mid year:
Jim Carson (6-9 AM) was now senior among the staff. He served as interim Program Director after Mark Denis left.
Christopher Cane (Noon-3PM) arrived in February to fill the shift vacated by Gene West, who was doing the 9-Noon shift following the departure of Mark Denis to KFI in Los Angeles. Chris and Gene would switch shifts by August. Chris could often be found on the roof of the studio working on his tan.
Gene West (Noon-3 PM)
Bobby Ocean (3-8 PM) moved to this shift following the departure of Bwana Johnny.
Bobby was an advocate of the book The Power of the Subconscious Mind by Dr. Joseph Murphy and has attempted to practice and preach the elements advanced by Dr. Murphy.
Boss Radio Phase Four: May 1969 – September 1970
Until this time, program director duties went to the most senior disc jockey at the station. Since the Drake years began, Les Turpin, Mark Denis, and briefly Jim Carson had programmed the station under the close supervision of the Drake consultancy. That was now going to change.
Buzz Bennett was named national Program Director of the Year for 1968 after turning WTIX New Orleans around. Given the opportunity to bring him to San Diego, the Browns broke with tradition and hired a non disc jockey to program their station. The immediate result was a return to the top of the market ratings under his programming. In addition to tight formats, he championed aggressive contests. Having fallen behind KCBQ the previous year when they offered larger cash jackpots, the Browns authorized Bennett to double the amounts KCBQ was offering as their Double Cash Jackpot.
Bennett also had an ear for music and with the right song, he would program around it, independently of the control the Drake network normally asserted over music selection. He was always thinking about what, if anything, could be done better, and was shrewed enough not to tinker with successes. The metaphor applied to Buzz is “the price of a clean window is tireless wiping”. Buzz hyped I'm OK, You're OK by Dr. Thomas Murphy, Godfather by Mario Puzzo, and Future Shock by Alvin Toffler.
Rich Brother Robbin (Richard Werges) (8-12PM) worked early in his career under names such as Rock Robbin, Rich Robbin, and Richard W. Robbin. By the time Rich arrived from KRUX Phoenix in May, he was using the nickname of Rich "Mutha" Robbin (after Gary "Mutha" Widdom of Union Gap). Buzz Bennett loved the nickname, but Drake said it was 'too coarse'. The night before he started, May 30, 1969, they went out to dinner at Chinaland Restaurant. Through the haze of saki and reefer Buzz said 'well Ritchie, what're we gonna do about your name?' Out of nowhere Rich replied 'well hell, why don't I just be Rich BROTHER Robbin and be everybody's brother?' The dinner party erupted into applause as Buzz Bennett tapped Rich once on each shoulder with chopsticks and said 'I christen you Rich Brother Robbin. The shift had opened up when Bobby Ocean took the 3-8 PM shift.
Don Dale (Don Eller) (Midnight-6AM) took the overnight shift in August when Dave Stone left. He now works in production for KCBQ.
Bob Foster (9-12 PM) arrived from WIBG in Philadelphia in August to take a new shift. Foss, as he was known, was a huge man with a booming voice that some of his colleagues considered a bully. He developed the Midnight Cowboy slogan at the time the movie was so popular.
Tony Richland (Record Promoter) was known to everyone in radio. As an independent record promoter, he would appear at the station with an arm full of records at least twice a month. As a friend of Buzz, he warrants recognition for having his photo spliced into several surveys in the late 1969- early 1970 period.
Boss Radio was big and so was KGB as the ratings leader in 1970. Only a few staff changes occurred as staff moved on to larger markets. The station published the Top 100 of the 60s at the beginning of the year that featured photos of the DJs on the cover within a Bobby Ocean drawing of a hand forming a peace symbol.
Jessie Bullett arrived to do weekend shifts and stayed through the end of the Top 40 run in 1972.
- Harry Scarborough (9-12pm) arrived from KYNO Fresno in June to replace Bob Foster when he went to KIMN in Denver. Harry would soon move to the 6-9AM shift after Jim Carson went to KFRC. Harry was well suited for this slot, encouraging his listeners to ‘rise and rejoice’ to open the new day. Harry went over to KCBQ in 1971, and now works for the gas company in Orange County.
- Peter Huntington May (9-12PM) arrived in August, probably from KIKX in Tucson where he was on staff in 1968, to take the shift Harry Scarborough had vacated. His career extended back to 1961 when he was at WDGY in Minneapolis
- Barry Kaye (6-9PM) arrived in September after Rich Brother Robbin left. Barry used a signature "aaoogha" (like a Model T horn) to distinguish himself to listeners, but his greatest distinction was in performing as a singer and dancer on stage. During his tenure with KGB, he had a hit, 'On My Way' in November 1971, that charted nationally. Despite his San Diego stint, his base has been in Houston TX since the beginning of his career. He has been with oldies station KLDE in Houston since 1994.
The station continued to publish special editions of surveys. In September, a Hall of Fame survey was published of top hits from 1955 to 1970. Photos of the DJs were on the back. A Bobby Ocean/Vick drawing of the DJs clustered within Roman columns is on the front. The Top 100 of 1970 was published at the end of the year that had a collage of station staff and activities on the front and a group photo of the DJs on the back, similar to the Hall of Fame format.
KGB was nearing an end of an era. Buzz Bennett was totally dominant using his considerable skills to perfect the Drake format. His performance merited the PD position when it opened up at KHJ, but RKO management dropped him from consideration when they saw his long hair, tee-shirt, and spurs. For revenge, he accepted the program director position at rival KCBQ and started recruiting Drake staff. Always a favorite among the disc jockeys, many followed him to KCBQ.