1590 KLIV, San Jose
Sunday, November 5, 1967
It’s the “Sunday Morning Sleep-In” with Gary Seger as the rain comes down on the Southbay, canceling the races over at Fremont Drag Strip and forcing the German shepherd club to move their event indoors to the Sheep and Swine Building at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds.
KLIV, which has been on the air from San Jose since September 1946 — it was originally KSJO, a 1000-watt daytime-only station — had changed hands on July 1, 1967 (four months before this broadcast), when it was acquired by two former Rochester, N.Y., radio executives, Robert S. Kieve and James M. Trayhern, Jr., who had incorporated as Empire Broadcasting. Four decades later, Bob Kieve remained as the owner of KLIV, one of the few independent radio station owners left in the region; he was inducted into the Bay Area Radio Hall of Fame in 2007.
Gary Seger, who hosted the top-rated morning show in the Southbay — which he referred to on occasion as “The Gary Seger Morning Disaster” or, simply, “The G.S. Mess” — was part of KLIV’s rock-solid corps of airmen that at the time included Grant Plummer, Ray Morris, Mac McGregor, Ray Morgan, Captain Mikey (Mikel Hunter Herrington) and Squeaky Martin.
Mr. Seger, currently a playwright residing in the San Diego area, picks up the narrative thread of his life in and out the broadcast booth:
My life and radio career began in Scottsbluff, Nebraska. I was 17 when KOLT, the local radio station, invited high school students to take over on-air jobs for a day. I did something (who can remember 1953?) that made them think I could be a disc jockey for fellow teens. I was in radio!
Growing up with radio drama and Stan Freberg records, I soon did voice characterizations and wrote and produced comic commercials (never suspecting that people were paid for such stuff). My hometown experience got me a part-time job at KTLN in Denver while I was attending the University of Denver. By 1958, with my BA in Radio-TV-Theatre (no one ever asked to see it), I became a full-time rock jock and Program Director at KTLN. I transferred from cold Colorado to sunny Arizona as DJ and PD at sister-station KRIZ in Phoenix … just in time for the Army to draft me for duty in the cold of Germany (where experience did NOT get me assigned to radio).
In 1961 I returned to sunshine, rock and roll and PD duties at KRIZ but was hired away in ’62 by KRDS where my promised pay raise became a pay cut (reason enough to go back to KRIZ). In 1963 I was again hired away from KRIZ to be an air personality for the then-very-classy, middle-of-the-road station, KUPD in Phoenix. (Four jobs in three years … yes, I really was back in radio!)
The green of California (dollars) lured me to San Jose in 1966 to be production guy and rock jock at KLIV where two memorable things happened (and I thought the Army was dangerous!):
1) Early one morning I was on mike when the hanging boom it hung from began swinging and the steno chair I sat in started rolling. At first I thought it was me getting dizzy … then I realized it was an earthquake! My first. (Welcome to California.) Fortunately, it was just a little one.
2) Another morning my news guy and I noticed a haze near the ceiling. We decided it was smoke but we weren’t smoking. After calling the fire department and putting a long-play record on the turntable to keep something on the air we checked around the otherwise-unoccupied building. I was about to unlock the back door when the blade of a fireman’s ax came crashing through it. (Now, that’s a fast response!) The ax missed me but that was all the incentive I needed to get out. It proved to be a small fire in a store room, but it still wasn’t out when the record on the air ran out. No way I was going back in that smoky building to change it, but a kid who hung around the station did. (Some people will do anything to get into radio.)
Sadly, Arizona ruined me for drizzly Bay Area weather so, in 1968, when a job offer came from sunny San Diego I jumped at it. In three years at KDEO, I gained a reputation among ad agencies for my commercial production (they were even willing to pay me for it!) so, in 1971, I bade a fond farewell to low radio wages and opened my own business, Spotmaker Studio. I wrote, produced and/or voiced hundreds (maybe thousands) of radio and TV commercials, some of which won awards. At the same time I commuted to Hollywood every week to make big bucks doing free-lance voice work there. Clients included most major agencies in Southern California. My greatest voice role was as a basset hound in a national Kibbles ‘n’ Bits TV commercial.
After twenty years (most of it spent driving on I-5), I closed Spotmaker, stopped commuting and retired to write plays for fun and very little profit. I’ve written dozens of plays (and thrown away even more than that). One of my plays, “Alas, Poor Yorick” (a prequel to “Hamlet”), has won awards, all have had public readings but none have yet been produced (backers welcome).
ADDITIONAL BROADCASTS FROM THE GARY SEGER COLLECTION:
— Audio presentation only.
The Bay Area Radio Museum thanks Gary Seger for his assistance in creating this exhibit. Special thanks to Mike Schweizer for providing the archival
November 5, 1967, audio included with this presentation.