a/k/a K.O. Beachin (KEWB)
a/k/a K.O. Bayley (KFRC)
a/k/a Bob Early (KXOA)
Bob Elliott was a big man, standing 6-foot-3, with a voice to match the physique that won him a Golden Gloves title and made him heavyweight boxing champion of the United States Marine Corps. With these qualifications, where else would he end up but in radio, and with what other name but “K.O.”?
A P.O.W. during the Korean War, after leaving the military Elliott began his radio career at flea-powered KTEE in Carmel as part of a two-man classical music program on the 500-watt station in 1959. His partner on the show was none other than the legendary Robert W. Morgan, then just out of the Army and known simply as “Bob Morgan”; they would meet up again later along the radio road, at rival stations in Fresno and as teammates at Oakland’s KEWB.
In 1961, Elliott advanced to KYNO (“Channel 130”) in Fresno, owned by Gene Chenault and programmed by Bill Drake, during the station’s bitter battle with cross-town KMAK (“K-make 134”), with Morgan in the morning and Ron Jacobs pulling the programming strings. Drake and Jacobs would later work together and revolutionize Top 40 radio, with Elliott and Morgan playing key roles.
He worked as Bob Early at Sacramento’s KXOA in 1964, then departed in January 1965 for a year at KEWB as K.O. Beachin. (His nom de radieux at KEWB is occasionally and incorrectly referenced as “Beecham.”)
He moved to Drake-programmed KGB/San Diego in 1966, then crossed the country in 1967 to New York City’s WOR-FM — yet another Drake station — once again as Bob Elliott at both stations.
In July 1968, he returned to the Bay Area at RKO’s KFRC/610 — also programmed by Drake — working for the first time as K.O. Bayley; the name would stay with him on the air for the rest of his radio career.
He departed KFRC for afternoons at Detroit’s WJBK in March 1969, then returned to San Diego at KCBQ in 1970 and KGB (programmed now by Ron Jacobs) in 1971, and moved on to KILT/Houston in 1972. In 1974, he appeared at KSEA/San Diego.
Bob Elliott was killed in an early-morning automobile accident near Mount Vernon, Illinois, in June 1978. He was 42 years old.
— Text by David Ferrell Jackson
Notes On A Man Named K.O.
By Marc Schoenitzer
Just a few comments on the late great K.O. Incidentally, he was a Korean War P.O.W., a Golden Gloves champ and was killed in Illinois by a drunk driver in 1978 where he worked for the railroad.
Here’s a loose timeline based on my recollections, surveys and airchecks:
Bob Elliott (his real name) — KYNO/Fresno (1961-64)
Bob Early — KXOA/Sacramento (1964 – Jan. 1965)
K.O. Beachin — KEWB/Oakland (Jan. 1965 – 66)
Bob Elliott — KGB/San Diego (1966-67)
Bob Elliott — WOR-FM/NYC (1967, after Drake took over, until July 1968)
K.O. Bayley — KFRC/S.F. (Late July 1968, replacing Dale Dorman 9 PM – Midnight, until March 1969)
K.O. Bayley — WJBK/Detroit, following Mike Scott, also from KFRC (March 1969 -?)
K.O. Bayley — KGB again, with Ron Jacobs as P.D. (1971-72)
K.O. Bayley — KILT/Houston (Late 1972-?)
That’s where my trail ends. I understand he was supposed to do the KHJ thing in the early ’70s but it never happened for some reason.
I found him to be a nice guy who always had time for his fans. His Motown sound and style was similar to Harvey Miller’s.
P.S. — Tom Hanks (the actor) grew up on Bayley at KFRC and I believe he even had a K.O. Bayley fan club. He even used K.O. Bayley as the DJ’s name in his movie “That Thing You Do!”