If you grew up in or near the Southbay,
1590/KLIV was probably your station of choice for Top 40
music, great personalities — including John McLeod, Dave
Sholin, Bob Ray, Jack Hayes, Ross Macgowan, Ralph
Koal, Scott St. James, Ray Morgan, Mac McGregor and the
inimitable Captain Mikey (Mikel Hunter Herrington) — as well as for promoting
concerts at the San Jose Civic Auditorium and other local
got its start in September 1946 as a 1000-watt daytime-only station
known as KSJO. Its sister station, KSJO-FM (92.3), made its debut in
December 1946 from shared facilities in the Austin Field-designed
studios at the corner of Story Road and Lucretia Avenue in rural San
Jose. In 1947, KSJO-AM added nighttime service at 500 watts.
The original owners of KSJO sold the AM to Cal-Radio,
Inc., owned by Riley R. Gibson, on June 1, 1960, at which time it became
KLIV. (The FM retained the KSJO call letters.) In 1961, KLIV's daytime
power was boosted to 5,000 watts; nighttime power was raised to the same
level in 1969.
Mikel Hunter Herrington (Captain Mikey)
at KLIV, Circa 1966
On July 1, 1967, was sold for $974,000 by Cal-Radio to
Empire Broadcasting, owned by two former Rochester, N.Y., radio
executives, Robert S. (Bob) Kieve and James M. Trayhern, Jr.
The new owners inherited a program director who became a
legend: Mikel Hunter Herrington, who had converted staid KLIV from a
mere Top 40 also-ran to a solid contender against stalwarts KYA, KEWB
Positioning KLIV as a "surfer station" — emphasizing the
music of the Beach Boys, Jan & Dean, the Surfaris and other stars of the
genre — and tying in promotions (such as providing listeners with hot
dogs, buns and soft drinks for weekend caravans over Highway 17 to the
beach at Santa Cruz), Herrington, who took to the air as "Captain
Mikey," helped the station successfully compete for the ears of youthful
listeners and the dollars of prominent local advertisers, such as
Goodies Speed Shop and Courtesy Chevrolet.
One measure of success in the 1960s was the sheer number
of teenager-driven automobiles adorned with round KLIV decals depicting
the station's snooty surfer boy, Norman. Devised by Herrington as the
station's mascot, Norman was also the star of the KLIV 20/20 Music
Surveys, available at record shops and variety stores throughout the
Herrington's departure — he later pioneered album-oriented rock formats
at San Jose's KOME and Los Angeles' KMET — KLIV battled through the
1970s with variations on Top 40, Rock and even Disco-flavored formats,
then switched to the syndicated "Music Of Your Life" Adult
Standards format in May 1981. Early in 1991, KLIV moved to an all-news
format, mixing local coverage with network audio from CNN Headline News.
At a time when KYA,
much attention in the Bay Area, KLIV meanwhile attracted its
fair share of dedicated listeners. Join us for a look (and listen)
back at the remarkable station on Story Road.
A rare and interesting clip from
the first Saturday in the life of KLIV, which
had only days earlier come under new ownership,
sold by Patrick Peabody's Santa Clara
Broadcasting Company to Riley R. Gibson's
Cal-Radio, Inc., and changed call letters from
its original KSJO. The transaction, valued at
$350,000, had been completed on June 1. The
character of "Mad Mel" is obviously a broad
parody of a prototypical Top 40 disc jockey ...
but who from KLIV's staff was playing Mel?
A package of six "Capt. Mikey"
jingles (a few repeated) from KLIV, probably
dating from 1966 or 1967, from Mikel
Herrington's personal collection. A note written
on the tape label notes "(John) McLeod has
From a reel of tape belonging to
Mikel Hunter Herrington comes this
choppily-scoped recording, which runs the gamut
of audio quality from horrible to quite good.
Dating from the last week of December 1966
through the first week of January 1967, it
begins with a fragment of Grant Plummer,
followed by several chunks of KLIV program
director Herrington in his Captain Mikey guise.
tape box containing the reel included the
following text: "Mike Hunter KLIV '67. Grant
Plummer first, then my show (Captain Mikey) on
several different nights. San Jose 1967 KLIV."
(Based on audio clues, part of the recording
obviously dates from late December 1966.)
A twenty-year tradition of
playing rock'n'roll hits comes to an end as the
station reluctantly changes to Big Band music
and Adult Standards. Includes comments by John
McLeod and KLIV owner Bob Kieve.
— Exhibit includes text and
— Exhibit includes audio.
Courtesy of Dave Billeci.
— Courtesy of Gary Seger.
JH — Courtesy of
JZ — Courtesy of
KV — Courtesy of
— Courtesy of Mike Schweizer.
Special thanks to Steve Hilson
for his production assistance
on the audio exhibits included in these