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Friday, September 6, 2002


B. C. Stangl



If you remember waking to Terry McGovern and Scoop Nisker. If Bonnie Simmons got you through midday and Bobby Cole - never without his trademark shades - drove you home. If whacked-out Richard Gossett stepped up as the dreamweaver of your paisley evenings. You weren’t alone. You harken back to those long ago days when KSAN was a rock station like few others in the world..

You dug Ben Fong-Torres, who was at the time contributing to Rolling Stone. San Francisco Giants media maven Kenny Wardell handled on-air promotions as well as on-air shifts. Then there was the Big Daddy who pioneered 94.9 FM’s groundbreaking format… the late Tom Donahue. Tom’s young and beautiful wife Rachel was a rising star and so was Big Daddy’s protégé, Tom O’Hair. O’Hair was thought by many to be the off-the-wall glue that led KSAN to great success for Metromedia Broadcasting. The nationally lauded and respected Met boasted a like-minded flagship station in L.A. billed as "A little bit of heaven, ninety-four point seven, KMET, the Mighty Met."

KMEL met KSAN head to head. "The Beast of the Bay" came to San Francisco and quickly dried up that unique oasis that was KSAN. Century Broadcasting out of St. Louis dangled enough dollars in front of O’Hair (he would become KMEL’s program director), Bobby Cole (afternoons and music director), and Wardell (weekends and promotions) and it robbed Tawn Mastery from us at KSJO.

"KAMEL IS A DRY HUMP!" So read the graffiti above KSJO’s on-air studio. And so it seemed when "Formula Rock" came to the Bay Area. KMEL’s music when it debuted that 4th of July weekend twenty-five years ago - we called it canned - would seem today as far out as what Robin Williams’ antics in "Good Morning Vietnam" sounded like to his commanding officer.

But when KMEL launched its desert sands approach, they brought ammo Schwartzkopf would be proud of - thirty days of commercial-free canned rock. Their overwhelming success would in time bring old friends together. Tony Kilbert and I, who some said were joined at the hip, would soon be reunited at the Hump. But not before TK left KSAN too, to dabble in the very experimental rock that newcomer KSFX was attempting.

I was to stay at KSJO a while longer, long enough to relish KSAN’s demise and witness a few other changes to the musical chairs that is still today the essence of a life on-air.

The station you know today as Radio Alice, at one time, believe it or not, was known by an even stranger name. Billboards grew out of the Bay Area landscape like poppies in Afghanistan. "Monster Radio" growled to life. Even if its CBS owners lacked radio savvy, they always boasted the strongest ad budgets of any rock competitor.

They used even more cash to brand TK - who would go on to host nightly movies for Jim Gabbert’s TV20 - a bona fide Bay Area star. In their infinite wisdom, CBS put together a fine line-up to headline the Monster. What they never quite did, however, was educate the audience that the Monster referred to their behemoth signal, all 69,000 watts of it. That monster would in almost no time shrink to Shrek size and be re-dubbed yet again as KRQR, the "Bay Area Rocker."

There were many more significant experiences headed my way in my waning months at KSJO. Next week: Sting’s Star Status, Steve Perry’s U-Haul, and Fee Waybill of The Tubes looks like he put his finger in a hot socket.