Sunday, July 8, 2018

The 1970's and KFRC; 'Dr Don' Ruled AM Radio DJ Landscape; Bay Area Pop Culture Scene; 'The Big 610' Personality Galore; 'Your Duke, Dave Sholin'; Bobby Ocean; 'Marvalous Mark McKay'; Days on Green at Coliseum; Bill Graham Influence; 415 Media Retro Sunday

Image result for The old KFRC Radio San Francisco 1976 THE SUMMER OF '76; Growing up in the Bay Area a ripe, wide-eyed 14 year-old listening to KFRC; AM Radio with personalities galore; Dr. Don Rose in the morning drive; 6-10 AM. It was mandatory listening and appointment radio. Who could forget, "Sacra-tomato!" and …"San-RAQUEL!" --to this day, there is NO ONE, no one, who can even come close to Donald B. Rose (real name, Donald Rosenberg)

Dr. Don was corny funny. He had great timing and great corny jokes, an AM staple. He was unique; he was original; he was hysterical. It wasn't an acquired taste because everyone loved the Doctor. In this case, sound drops worked because Rose played off them and developed a distinct cohesion between listener and host. It was, like I said, corny funny.

But insatiably original.

It's a good thing I was too young to drive back then because I may have driven off the road laughing my ass off. Rose had that aura with me and everyone else. It was a constant.

Image result for Dr. Don Rose KFRC
Dr. Don Rose
I remember something distinct back in the time. Rose was broadcasting from his home in Danville; actually from his bed. He was battling issues with his leg. He was so important to KFRC and listeners loved the Doctor so much that KFRC built a makeshift studio in his bedroom that allowed him to broadcast his show; try doing that today; would never happen; maybe for a Howard Stern but nobody else. It spoke volumes to the popularity and power that was one Dr. Don Rose.

I thought he would live forever but he battled several health issues and hard to believe Rose passed away over a decade ago.

Image result for KFRC 1976 Studios San FranciscoHow BIG was Dr. Don? He was one of the most highly-paid DJs in the country making over $400,000. That's big today but even bigger back in the 1970's. Only "Aku" (Hal Lewis) earned in the vicinity what Rose was making.

Image result for Bill Graham Day on the Green 1976 Beach BoysKFRC, like the old KGO, was a gigantic part of the Bay Area culture scene. It was the pop music equivalent of the old KGO; more than just a radio station and purveyor of bubblegum music, 70's hits--KFRC had a distinct line-up of individual personalities and was constantly on the social Bay Area radar, particularly music and teen culture. In association with Bill Graham, KFRC produced many "Days on the Green" at the Oakland Coliseum Stadium; its contests gave away tickets to lucky listeners trying to score freebies to see the Grateful Dead and Beach Boys (what a combo, eh?)

Friday nights in Summer; listening to Bill Lee on KFRC. Don't forget, "Marvelous" Mark McKay and the always hilarious, Bobby Ocean. Your "Duke", Dave Sholin, was too good to be true. A funny, thought-provoking AM DJ with a gigantic personality and vibe to boot. Sholin would later in life be an editor of the influential industry newsletter, "Gavin Report."

Related imageThey were all great.

And as crazy as this sounds, the whole 70's/KFRC experience defined an era in Bay Area pop culture. It was distinct and brilliant. Cozy and authentic. It was emblematic of the times and chicken soup for those of us wanting an escape away from some not so cool things taking place in the 1970's miles from the music and culture scene.

We needed it. I needed it. And I loved it too.

It's a special part of Bay Area radio history that made for entertaining, nostalgic days and nights. It broke up boredom and created magical moments. Those of you that were fans of that era and like myself had an affinity for KFRC can relate to my enthusiasm.

Image result for Days on the Green Oakland Peter Frampton
Peter Frampton at a "Day on the Green" at Oakland Coliseum, 1976
It's an enthusiasm that is lacking today in the vanilla mainstream abyss known as millennial culture, whatever that is.




*At 415 Media, I am passionate about vintage radio and TV and will occasionally venture back into a time when the appreciation of the electronic media meant something.

If you like coming here and enjoy reading about current and past TV/Radio culture, then please CONTRIBUTE to this independent, edgy (sometimes) media blog that relies solely on reader contributions and donations; to donate, go to the "donate" button on the right side of the blog --just click on the "Pay Pal" button and make your contribution. It takes only a minute and will help keep 415 Media sustainable and at your service, 24/7.

#This column is dedicated to the life and memory of my mom, Anne Landau: 1922-2018.


32 comments:

  1. Wow, we had a great discussion with friends on the 4th about growing up and listening to KFRC and what it meant to all of us. This is very cool, thanks!

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  2. Give a listen to WLNG Sag Harbor, New York, wlng.com. Close your eyes and you'd swear you were hearing KFRC. Same format retained to this day.

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    1. Thanks for the tip—WLNG!!
      Just gave it a listen—outstanding!!

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  3. Does anyone remember when KFRC use to run its Battle of the Hits weekends? (I think it was called that.) They would put up two songs and have the listeners call in and vote on which song they wanted to hear again. I remember "Hey Jude" by the Beatles was always a big winner each year.

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  4. "The don't get my show in San Rafeal....oh the receive it, they just don't GET it."
    An announcer would be fired if they said one enth of what The Good Doctor said.
    Roscoe...Jane Dornacker. Ahhhh
    RP

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    1. It was a shame that Jane Dornacker died on the job. She was funny on the air.

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  5. 2:35 PM WLNG! What! I'm from Bridgehampton / Sagaponack. You?

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  6. KNBR was a Hokey Dokey station sort of a corny KGO with some sports. now KNBR is K--N--B--R. the main topic of media talk.

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  7. That photo of Dave Sholin, kinda has a Kaepernick look to it

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  8. The two morning idiots on KNBR only wish they could be as creative, original and genuinely funny as Dr. Don

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    1. Because they ARE NOT funny. Bert and Ernie aren't radio men. Dr. Don was funny and knew how to do radio.

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  9. I grew up in the Bay Area at the same time, as I recall most of us had moved on from AM radio to FM, which was way better, by the early 70's...I rarely listened to Don Rose.

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    1. I moved to San Francisco in 1975, when I was 30. I listened to AM for baseball and weather reports. Music was all about FM, almost exclusively KSAN, the Jive 95.Perhaps I would have found Dr. Don funny when I was 14, but KSAN had more to my taste personalities like Scoop Nisker. I remember days when I could walk down the street and listen to KSAN through a succession of open windows without missing a beat. When I remember I will listen to Bonnie Simmons, Thursday night on KPFA, to return to those days of gone by.

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    2. PR in Larkspur - I wrote the post above you and agree 100% - in the late 60's/early/mid 70's, I listened only to KSAN and KMPX, I almost never listened to "Top-40" AM radio and no one I knew did...if you were "cool" and wanted to hear the best music, you only listened to FM, never AM Top 40...

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  10. Can't believe Dr. Don has been gone for 13 years. He helped Ken Bastida launch his pre-PIX career.
    Duke was one of the last broadcasters to speak with John Lennon, by a few hours. Since most people found out about that terrible December night through ABC's Monday Night Football, we eventually saw Duke with no sleep at all being interviewed by founding GMA Anchor and one-time actor David Hartman. Thankfully, Mr. Sholin's career was topped only by Dr. Don among KFRC alumni. I miss that station.

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  11. I'll defend top 40 in the 70s to anyone. Rock, Pop, R&B, Country even some light jazz (Chuck Mangione) and bastardized classical (5th of Beethoven).

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  12. Don Sherwood. KSFO. Best DJ in the history of radio.

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  13. I'm also Rich's age, 56, and was a huge KFRC fan back in the day. Dr. Don was a gas to listen to. I remember a big contest the station had in the early 70's. They would give clues daily on where the keys are hidden (somewhere in the bay area) to Mick Jagger's car, which I think was a Jaguar. If you find the keys, you win the car. I forget where they were hidden. Somewhere in Marin think. If anyone has more details on this, please chime in. Nothing online about it

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  14. Gene Nelson, Don Sherwood, Frank and Mike—-

    Dr. Don......a few of the best. These guys today can’t hold a candle in comparison.

    Who was Sherwood’s side kick—can’t think of his name.

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  15. "...because everyone loved the Doctor."

    Well, almost everyone. I knew a few hardcore hard rock stoner types who looked down their (petulant, packed) noses at Rose's zaniness. Those burnouts, however, were definitely in the minority.

    Dr. Don was a character, a good character, and his positive high-energy presence was a treasure. He put a lot of smiles on a lot of faces, consistently!

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  16. In those days, every radio station had a distinct and creative sound. Unlike today's cookie cutter, bore you to tears, broadcast for zombies sound.

    Air personalities were unique. The guys at KFRC; KSFO with Gene Nelson, Jim Lange and so on; KCBS and KGO too. Let's not forget KLOK in the South Bay. And what about the FM stations like K-101 (Jim Gabbert days).

    Sadly, radio just sucks now. It's great for idiots and people without brains. Pity.

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  17. Those were the days. I grew up listening to him before heading to school. Great man. Also remember most MW car radios had 5 buttons to preset your favourite stations, and most cars I rode in had them set to KFRC 610 - KNEW 910 - KLOK 1170 - KYA 1260 - KLIV 1590.

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    1. KLOK! O'Shea and Ronnie!

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    2. Oops, my mistake (40+/- years ago). KLOK with O'Day and Ronnie--Dan O'Day and Ronnie Richards. My bad!

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  18. Thank you for this post!!! I too, grew up with Dr. Don and KFRC; eventually leading me to choose radio BCST. as a major.

    Another reader echoes my sentiments that Dr. Don was a positive force for certain!

    For a spaz of a kid who didn't fit into any clique...when I tuned in, I felt like I belonged, like I was in on the joke. That's part of his fandom, I think...that he radiated that positivity and you didn't feel left out of the fun.

    I remember him doing a remote from the Quick Stop market in Pacifica. He was like a ray of sunshine in a Hawaiian shirt :)

    Nothing like him.

    Thanks again, Rich.

    My condolences to you and family. May your Mother rest in peace.

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  19. now we are "infested" with the ryan scott, chip franklin, and joe fortinbaughs of the world, loudmouths and clueless people who shouldnt be on the public airwaves

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  20. Ahh, back in the day, 40+ years ago, where people idolized disc jockeys. Those were the days...and couldn't say enough about the progress in this country over the last 40 years (thank god).

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  21. Youv'e just said what's wrong with Bay Area radio. Too many talk shows, too many clueless people who don't know the local audience, too much automated dreck, and no variety whatsoever. We need a station like KFRC back on the air. We could also stand a good MOR station (KSFO in it's prime)along with a good C&W station. I know that someone will argue in favor of the status quo. But why do we need all these talk shows clogging the airwaves?

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  22. Sherwood's sidekick was Aaron Edwards. One of the nicest people I've ever known. Worked in television news for awhile at circle 7.

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  23. Drivin' to work, listening to DDR. I met him a few times. Just as nice in person. I miss Jane's humor. Officer Vic used to pay homage to Jane by talking of his Tim in Trafficology school. Dr. Don actually appeared on Lee Rodgers occasionally. It was good radio.

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  24. Radio then compared to radio now. In the late 1950's, Sherwood challenged Jim Lange, the afternoon anchor, to a race. From Stinson Beach to the Ferry Building, walking. It took them all day and thousands, then tens of thousands, lined the route, closing off the Embaradero to all traffic. Sherwood won. It was one, and still may be, one of the biggest non-political, events in Bay Area history. More than 100K of KSFO listeners signed up and carried cards as members of the "Sherwood-Harper Expeditionary Force of the Greater Bay Area". Hap Harper was the first aerial traffic reporter. The "army" invaded Modesto one weekend day and the roads were packed. Sherwood had a 50! or more share, even when he didn't show up which was quite often. The rest of the stations had to do with leftovers. KFRC, at that time, was programming against Sherwood and hired Chicago DJ Dan Sorkin, later of Synanon infamy, to anchor the same morning drive hours. Sherwood wasn't fazed and called him live on the air to welcome him to SF. Tired of puny ratings, RKO General, which owned KFRC, threw in the towel and hired Drake & Chenault to move to "rock and roll. "The Big 610" was born, copied from the same format in Fresno and LA(KHJ) and the rest, as they say, is history. The jazz and easy listening jocks were fired and a new crew was brought in to spin the platters. BTW, the KFRC sports department, before the turnover, had Bill King and Roy Story.

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