[an error occurred while processing this directive]
1260/KYA, San Francisco Featuring Bwana Johnny and Pete McNeal
Friday, May 29, 1970
Brad Messer in 1969
the Friday morning before the big Memorial Day weekend. Ronald Reagan is
governor of California, American Indians have taken over control of
Alcatraz from the Federal authorities, and 1260/KYA is a vibrant Top 40
station, battling valiantly to unseat top teen station KFRC ("The Big
610") and a gaggle of upstart FM stations.
This one-hour recording begins at 9:30 a.m. with the
final thirty minutes of Bwana Johnny's morning show, with a brief
time-out for a news update from Brad Messer on the nearly
six-month-long occupation of Alcatraz by a determined band of American
Indians, including KYA newsman Larry Brownell's interview with a
spokesman for the group. At 10 o'clock, midday DJ Pete McNeal
takes over for the first half-hour of his four-hour shift.
In addition to future President Reagan's "No On
Proposition 8" political pitch, the hour features promos for the
upcoming funny car races at Fremont Drag Strip and a closed-circuit,
pay-per-view broadcast of the Indianapolis 500 at local theaters. A spot
for Mike Bloomfield and Blues Image at legendary promoter Bill
Graham's Fillmore West is included, along with promotions for
"Woodstock - The Movie" and "Norwood," a motion
picture comedy starring Glen Campbell, Joe Namath and Kim
Between the ads are a panoply of records that show the
sometimes odd diversity of Top 40 radio at the close of the 1960s: Elvis
Presley has just entered the charts with "The Wonder Of
You," recorded live in Las Vegas; Paul McCartney, no longer
a Beatle, finds his "Maybe I'm Amazed" getting significant
airplay despite being released only on his new solo LP; Queens, N.Y.,
native Melanie (née Melanie Safka) — one of the more obscure
performers at the Woodstock festival nearly a year earlier — pays
aural homage to her experiences there with "Lay Down (Candles in
the Rain)," backed by the Edwin Hawkins Singers on the
biggest hit of her career.
As a true
paean to pre-feminist women everywhere, however, no song may ever
compare to Brooklyn-born Bobbi Martin's "For The Love Of Him," a
record that includes the memorable refrain "When he opens the door,
says 'I’m home'/Be aware of the look in his eyes/They tell you the
mood he's in/What kind of day it's been" -- lyrics already
beginning to sound dated at the dawn of the Women's Lib era. The song
spent two weeks at #1 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary chart during the
Spring of 1970.
KYA's morning disc jockey at this time, "Beautiful
Bwana" Johnny (nom de radieux of Rick Johnson), came to San
Francisco in 1969 by way of KLOO and KFLY/Corvallis, Ore., KLOG/Kelso,
Wash., WUBE/Cincinnati and KJR/Seattle. He subsequently moved on to the
late, lamented WWDJ/New York as music director and afternoon-drive jock
(1971-1973) before returning to his hometown, Portland, Ore., as "Crazy
Dick Simms" on KISN.
He moved on to WFUN/Miami in the mid-Seventies, then
Bwana became "Bronco Johnny," spinning country records at KUUY/Cheyenne,
Wyo., in 1983. He went back to being Bwana at KSND/Eugene, Ore., in
1985. In 2000, he worked mornings at KKBR/Billings, Mont., after which
he worked in production for
the Seattle branch of Jones Radio Networks before declining health led
to his retirement. He passed away on October 28, 2005, at the age of 59.
Messer, heard anchoring the Alcatraz invasion news
update (about ten minutes into the broadcast), began his radio career at
KILE/Galveston in his native Texas, and later moved on to Gordon
McLendon's KILT/Houston and KLIF/Dallas before arriving at KYA as
news director. Following successful stints at KGB/San Diego and KMET/Los
Angeles — along with writing a column in the influential industry paper
Radio & Records — he returned to Texas as a talk host at
KTSA/San Antonio. Named one of radio's "Heavy Hundred" by Talkers
magazine for seven consecutive years, Messer was inducted into the Texas
Radio Hall of Fame in 2002 as part of the first group to receive
this high honor.
Bay Area listeners will instantly recognize the voice of
newsman Larry Brownell (née Larry Buller), who conducts the interview with the
spokesman for the Alcatraz Indians. Brownell, who died in 2004 at age
76, came to KYA from WKBW/Buffalo along with Gene Nelson, Tommy
Saunders and Russ "The Moose" Syracuse to form the
core of the station's lineup in the mid-Sixties. He remained as a news
anchor at the
merged KSFO/KYA-FM through the 1980s.
Not much is known about KYA mid-day voice Pete McNeal
(sometimes billed by the station as "The Real Pete McNeal").
Following a hitch in the Army, he worked his way up to KYA from
WFLB/Fayetteville, N.C., and later went behind the mike at KHJ/Los
Angeles. He reportedly left radio to work in the computer industry.