I arrived home one day this month to find a big package on the front stoop. Inside was a very handsome coffee table book that brought back all sorts of memories from my earliest days in radio.
Back then, me and my mates would pool our money to purchase editions of California Aircheck, a monthly cassette that featured telescoped recordings of the best radio announcers in the world. We studied these tapes over and over and over again, trying to learn the techniques and timings of such legends as Larry Lujack on WCFL in Chicago, Bobby Ocean at KFRC in San Francisco and Charlie Tuna at KHJ in Los Angeles. We played those tapes (and their copies) until they wore out.
I was immediately taken back to those tapes by Harvey Kubernik’s new book, Turn Up the Radio: Rock, Pop and Roll in Los Angeles 1956-1972. If you’re an old-time radio nerd and you perk up at the mention of call letters like KMET, KFWB, KRLA, XERB, KLOS and KHJ, you’re going to love it.
The book is part oral history, part photographic essay and part straight history detailing the history of radio in LA, a city that, to my mind, anyway, has taken radio more seriously than any other cit in North America–and maybe the world. LA has always recognized radio as genuine show business and a major cultural force.
There were so many big names. Art Laboe. Robert W. Morgan. The Real Don Steele. Jim Ladd (the inspiration for Tom Petty’s “The Last DJ” and the guy we hear on Roger Waters’ Radio KAOS album). Dick Clark (yes, him).
The book features old charts, playlists, studio layouts, concert posters, gig flyers and much, more.
Like I said, if you’re a radio nerd and still get misty over big-time Top 40 AM radio from the past, this is a book you need.