The 2022 BARHOF Legendary Station
KMEL FM 106 “The Camel”
The California Historical Radio Society and its Bay Area Radio Museum and Hall of Fame are proud to announce the recipient of this year’s Legendary Station Award – KMEL 106 FM – The Camel!
The year 2022 marks the 45th anniversary of The Camel’s birth, when St. Louis-based Century Broadcasting took over the station that had previously been KFRC-FM (106.1 FM). Century’s owners, Howard and Shelly Grafman, threw the switch on July 2, 1977, launching KMEL into its place in Bay Area radio history.
KMEL 106 is a heritage Bay Area FM radio station that had its beginning in 1946 in San Francisco and has had multiple owners, along with multiple call letter and format switches throughout its legendary history.
On July 2, 1977, Century Broadcasting from St. Louis – brothers Howard and Shelly Grafman – came into the city by the Bay and threw the switch on their new station, which had been KFRC 106.1 FM.
The Grafman brothers changed the station’s call letters to KMEL 106, delivering an album-oriented rock format (AOR). The station used the KMEL call letters to name itself “Camel 106.”
Their master plan was very successful in ratings and radio business for close to ten years.
From right out of gate, KMEL 106 was one of the top-rated Northern California radio stations delivering big numbers of 18-34 and 25-54 adults for both men and women!
It was the beginning of the 1980s and they had a gold mine of great music to go through – Bruce Springsteen, U2, Van Halen, AC/DC, and Metallica – with an incredible lineup of talented radio personalities, DJs, and news people to entertain and inform the audience. GRAND SLAM!
The General Manager of KMEL 106 at the beginning was Rick Lee who was sent to California from St. Louis by Century Broadcasting to run the show and put their new station on the map.
The first morning team Lee hired at KMEL 106 was a duo known as Proctor and Ward who held down the early morning shift for a couple of years.
Then in 1980, KMEL signed the popular New York radio personality and San Francisco native Alex Bennett (BARHOF 2008), who teamed with news reporter/sidekick Joe Regelski and helped build an even larger audience than before.
Bennett and Regelski were followed by well-liked veteran Tony Kilbert covering mid-day; music director Paul Vincent covering the afternoon; then Mary Holloway and Michael St. John in the evening.
Some of the other popular media personalities that got their careers started at KMEL 106 were Howard Hoffman, Rick Chase, Renel Brooks-Moon (BARHOF ’08), and J. Paul Emerson.
Special thanks to Kenny Wardell Sr. for providing photos and historical details on KMEL.