KYA, San Francisco
Tom Campbell's "Last Show"

Monday, September 9, 1968

His fans knew him as Tall Tom Campbell, but he could have been called Telephone Tom Campbell, as no Bay Area disc jockey ever used Alexander Graham Bell's invention to better advantage.

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Tall Tom Campbell

Tall Tom Campbell
(KYA Publicity Photo, 1969)

To illustrate this point, you would only need to pick up the local Yellow Pages or have a look at KYA's Official San Francisco Music Survey during this period, either of which would provide with multiple ways to get in touch with him — in his car (354-3556), at home in San Francisco (547-0000), via his secretary (478-3240) or even ship-to-shore (XY5-2602), any time, day or night. You could even reach him on the air at the radio station, if that was your preference.

But on this particular early September evening, something is amiss. As we tune in, the upbeat, confident Tom Campbell that listeners have come to expect is missing in action, replaced by a fellow who is busy trying to book his one-way ticket out of the Cool Gray City of Love, for tonight is Tom Campbell's last night on Avco Broadcasting of California's popular KYA — at least, it could be his last night, depending upon what the listeners have to say.

Less than 24 hours earlier, on KYA's late Sunday night phone-in program, "Action Line," hosted by Bill Holley, a caller took exception with Campbell's modus operandi of loaning out his personal phonograph and record collection — and sometimes even his car — to his listeners. The only catch: you had to return them. The caller considered Campbell a phony, and lambasted him for so foolishly trusting his listeners, who were mostly teenagers and hippies.

So tonight, Tall Tom has booked his flight out of town to New York, where he had been offered a job at WMCA. (He also mentions that Chicago's WIND had let him know that they had a shift available if he wanted it.) Pending the tally of the cards, letters, telegrams and petitions of listeners, either pro-Tom or against, we might hear Tommy Saunders in Campbell's customary 6 to 10 p.m. slot come tomorrow.

Tonight's show features a newscast with Larry Brownell (neι Larry Buller) and includes an interesting look (and listen) at the music heard on KYA as the Summer of 1968 came to a close. You'll hear Don Fardon's version of "Indian Reservation" (which became a bigger hit in 1971 for Mark Lindsay and The Raiders); the full-length version of "Fire" (including the freaky spoken intro) by the Crazy World of Arthur Brown, currently atop KYA's music survey; "Don't Bogart Me" by the Fraternity of Man (you know the chorus: "Don't bogart that joint, my friend/Pass it over to me..."); and the peculiar "Mom, Can I Talk To You" by Jan Rhodes ("Mom, I'm in trouble..."), plus more normal fare such as "Hey Jude" by the Beatles and "Harper Valley P.T.A." by Jeannie C. Riley.

Tom Campbell had arrived at KYA after stops in Shreveport, La. (where he was hired, fresh out of the Air Force, at KEEL by future Bay Area Radio Hall of Famer Al Hart), Minneapolis and at WONE in Dayton, Ohio, and became best known for the wide variety of live remote advertising spots he announced for Matthew's TV & Stereo ("Top of the hill, Daly City"), and the Comfort Zone water beds, among countless others. He later worked at KLOK, KNEW and K-101 in the Bay Area before relocating to Southern California, where his ubiquitous voice could still be heard well into the new century pitching furniture stores and big-screen television dealers.

...And we'll have the results of the listener voting shortly!

 

RELATED EXHIBITS:

The Bay Area Radio Museum gratefully thanks Mike Schweizer
for providing the broadcast recordings included with this exhibit.

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