generation of KFRC's "Big 610 Men" — the Class of 1966 — striking a
From left: Royce Johnson, Mike Phillips, Bobby Dale, Steve O'Shea,
Howard Clark, Ed Mitchell and Glenn Adams.
The text for this exhibit is
currently in process. Until it's ready, we hope you'll enjoy this look
at the Big 610 from one of its most legendary voices...
were good times — even though we bitched from dusk to dawn, telling
management the opposite was true. Of course, then, we did not know
how good we really had it. Wasn't it William Bell who said you don't
miss your water until your well runs dry?
The times? They were good, great, fantastic — at
times — even orgasmic! We did not have IPods, MP3s, DVDs, DVRs,
PVRs, PDAs, PCs, SatRad, online radio, cell phone radio, TiVo,
Satellite TVs, 500+ channels, or other New Media marvels. KFRC was
top banana! The head-on competition was great: KYA, KSOL, KSFX,
K101, KDIA, KLOK, LIVE 105, KMEL (with the two humps).
The talent was of the Top Gun-variety, including,
but not limited to Rick Shaw, Sue Hall, Chuck Buell, Bobby Ocean,
Mucho Morales, Dr. Don Rose, Dave
Sholin, John Mack Flanagan, Beverly Foxx, Jack Armstrong, Bill Lee,
Big Tom Parker, Mark McKay and numerous others.
KFRC management would seek out the talent; they
would — in the words of Bush 2 — hunt you down, offer the job to
those who fit the mold, those who had kept their noses clean, those
who had that RKO sound (whatever that was), while most other
stations would wait for the DJ to approach them for a job. Also,
there was bias towards hiring former program directors, talent that
knew the inner-workings of the radio business, talent that often
times did not require heavy maintenance; however, there were a few
exceptions — those rebels who made the General Manager sweat
of us cut our teeth — doin' the PD thing — in small-to-medium
markets. Personally, the PD bug bit me in St. Louis (KWK Radio) and
San Diego (Rock 95), where I worked before coming in for the landing
at The Big 6-10.
The pay was top-shelf dollars, with actual
performance bonuses, phat talent fees and contracts to boot. The
company took an affront to talent leaving, as was the case when I
threatened to bail, after an L.A. station pursued me for the second
time within a year. The company's top brass moved in to squelch that
notion, bringing mo money, and I quickly came to my senses — that's
right, green money is spoken here! BTW, while working (playing) at
6-10, we were given the company-preferred discount when purchasing
General Tires (the station was owned by RKO-General). Wow!
The KFRC building at 415 Bush
San Francisco as it looked in the mid-1960s
Thought I'd never be able to admit it, however, the
time does seem appropriate and the statute of limitations had surely
been exhausted by now. I, Don Sainte-Johnn, once made an on-air
"boo-boo" while working at RKO's KFRC in San Francisco! During the
mid-70's — when the incomparable
Doctor Don still ruled the airwaves — there was a Bay Area
sponsor called Shirtique [Pronounced: (1)
shirt-ah-Q, (2) shirt-teek]. The name isn't terribly
important, but it is connective to the story.
The closing line for the spot was "get your shirt together!"
— which proved to be nightmarish for me one late Saturday
night and early Sunday morning at approximately 1:50-ish.
After doing two shifts in the same day — an event that was
unheard of at the time — I managed to give in to
over-exhaustion and replace the "shirt" in the tag line with
"sh*t." It was the most embarrassing moment in my career, up
until that moment.
As fate would have it, I did have an ENGINEER-board
operator who was America's #1 prankster, Sir Kent Hedberg, and who
somehow managed to incidentally, and quite innocently, I should add,
roll tape of the show as I announced to North America: "GET YOUR SH*T
TOGETHER!" The tape has surfaced at many Christmas parties and
proved to be a thorn in my side for years.
(Doctor: Now that I have done this on-the-couch
thing, I feel much better.)
Brief History Of KFRC Program Directors
With special thanks to
Michael Hagerty, Chris Sharp
and Marc Schoenitzer
launched its Big 610 era in February 1966 with Tom
Rounds (photo, right) as program director. Tom left
in October 1967 after a disagreement with Bill Drake
(RKO General's national program director) about the
unique musical tastes of San Francisco listeners. Tom
believed they had some, and his resignation made the
front page of the first issue of Rolling Stone
(which was published in San Francisco in those days).
Les Turpin had the gig until
February or March of 1969, when Ted Atkins was
brought in from CKLW/Detroit (Windsor, Ont.). During his
tenure, Atkins imported Charlie Van Dyke from CKLW in
July 1969, then brought in Marc Elliott (Ed Mitchell) to
replace Chuck Browning in March 1970.
Atkins remained at KFRC until the Spring
of 1970, when he went to KHJ/Los Angeles and was
replaced by Paul Drew. Drew stayed until '71,
when Sebastian Stone came in from WOR-FM/New
In the summer of '73, the longest streak
for a KFRC PD began. Michael Spears lasted almost
four years, to May 1977, when he left for KHJ. Les
Garland from WRKO/Boston took over until leaving to
be MTV's first PD in July 1980. Marvelous Mark McKay,
KFRC's afternoon man, filled in as interim program
director until Gerry Cagle took over the position
in September 1980.
Cagle stayed until early '84, when
Mike Phillips came in for a year or so. The baton
passed to Dave Sholin for the final year as a Top
40 (until August 1986), but he was dealing with
consultant Walt Sabo and a desperate "try-anything"
attitude from RKO.
A capsulized audio overview of KFRC from the radio trade
magazine known as "Fred." These recordings, issued on a pair
of 45 r.p.m. discs, featured rapid-fire clips of KFRC's
stellar air staff — including Dr. Don Rose, Tom Parker, Bob
Anthony, John Mack Flanagan, Robin Bailey, Don Sainte-Johnn,
Rick Shaw and Harry Nelson, plus brief snippets of news
reports from Paul Fredericks, Jo Interrante, Connie Gordon,
John Winters, Mike Colgan and Robert McCormick — on the
first disc, while the second highlighted the production
side, leading off with the Clio Award-winning, Paul
Frees-voiced "Close Encounters" promo which found KFRC
offering eight seconds of radio silence to allow
extra-terrestrial beings to use the 610 frequency to contact
Earth. You may also listen to Aircheck #1
A bit more than an hour of Bill Lee, with the rhymes flowing
to perfection, beginning just before 8 p.m. This broadcast,
which takes place a day before John Lennon's final interview
debuts on KFRC, includes a Beatles song ("Back In The USSR")
and a Lennon song ("Imagine"), as well as a promo for the
interview by Dave Sholin. In addition, Connie Gordon
presents a community-service report on family life in the
1980s. (A few audio level drops occur near the start of the
recording, but don't mar the overall listening experience.)
The tail end of the Jim Bridges show,
followed Big Tom Parker and Bill Rafferty as the Million
Dollar Thanksgiving Weekend gets underway. This broadcast,
presented in magnificent AM Stereo, also includes newscasts
anchored by Abby Goldman and cutaways to Vince Garcia in the
Mobile Sturgeon Studio.
The history of The Big 610 is presented in a
one-hour audio documentary, which first aired on Valentine's
Day weekend in February 1986, just six months before The
Amazing AM's demise. Click the link above to hear the entire
presentation in sequence, or listen to Part 1, Part 2, Part
3, Part 4 or Part 5 individually.
A magnificent audio documentary created in honor of
The Big 610's 25th anniversary celebration and reunion.
"Legacy," which features the voices of each KFRC program
director and audio clips of virtually every jock to crack a
mike on the station, was written by Bobby Ocean and
Elizabeth Salazar, and produced and engineered by Ron
Hummel, with former PDs Gerry Cagle and Dave Sholin serving
as executive producers. The retrospective closes with "The
KFRC Song (I Won't Forget You)," performed by
Chapin, who was known as Scott Simon during his days as
one of the Big 610 Men.
Having been acquired by Bedford Broadcasting in 1991 — as
the last broadcast property to be spun off by RKO General —
610/KFRC returns to its roots, playing the Top 40 hits of
Infinity Radio trades 610/KFRC to Family Stations for 106.9
FM in order to acquire a television station in Sacramento.
The 610/KFRC Class Of 1986 (Final Edition)
Exhibit includes text and audio.
— Exhibit includes audio.
Edited version (scoped aircheck).
Poor to fair audio quality.
* — Included in the
** — Included in the Dr. Don
— Courtesy of Barry Salberg.
CA — Courtesy of George Junak
California Aircheck. CBS
— Courtesy of Carter B. Smith.
DJ — Courtesy of David Jackson.
DP — Courtesy of David Palmer.
JB — Courtesy of James Baker.
JL — Courtesy of Jeffrey
MS — Courtesy of Mike
PS — Courtesy of Paul Shinn.
TR — Courtesy of Tom Richard.