From Rock To Jock
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The secret of the Oneders was to get the school to recruit as many teachers as they could to play. The kids loved to see their teachers in that different light: playing against us. That was the success behind the early games in Cleveland and New York because the faculty would be as big a drawing card as the disc jockeys. As far as competition on the court, we didn’t have to worry much about the regular faculty. But I soon found that most of the faculty coaches were passionate to show their student body what they could do against us.
When we started getting professional athletes like Sal Bando, Joe Theismann, and Rick Barry on board, the basketball coach wanted to show that he could shut down Rick Barry. The football coach wanted to show the student body that he could handle Joe Theismann. The baseball coach was determined to shut out Sal Bando. Added pressure on the faculty came from their students. The kids would knock them all week with predictions that they were going to get killed by the Oneders come game time. The students would light the competitive fire. This made for some very rough games.
Classic case: The Oneders were playing the Palo Alto High School faculty. Standing room only. One of the coaches kept repeatedly undercutting Barry as he drove to the hoop. Enough was enough, and Rick pulled him aside and said, “Look, I’m here helping you raise money. My career is in the professionals. I don’t have to be here. And I know that you are trying to impress your students that you can play basketball. But the next time you undercut me, I am going to take your ass and throw it in the tenth row.” That took care of that.
Another time, Sal Bando was with the Oneders and we played the Redwood High faculty from Marin County, north of San Francisco. We had a 20-game winning streak going, but Redwood loaded up on us by bringing in some outside people. Bando fouled out and some heated words were exchanged, falling just short of thrown punches.
By 1969, KYA began to slip in the ratings. I could feel that we were not going to be the number one station much longer. Deciding to bail, I applied for a job as sports anchor on KTVU Channel Two’s 10 O’clock News and was hired. This seemed at the time to be a good career move. I could keep the Oakland Raiders announcing job and work on television.
The first problem arose when I tried to keep control of the Oneders. After all, this was my baby. Howard Kester insisted the team stay with KYA, so we got into a pissing match, and I lost.
When I got to KTVU and began my evening sports reports, it took about two weeks to realize I had made a big mistake. I found myself bored waiting all day just to do six minutes on the nightly news. Sometimes I’d get bumped. When city or world news broke, the first ones they took a camera crew away from were the sports. I really missed radio.
I called Kester and told him that I wanted to come back to KYA. I wasn’t surprised when he said, “Sorry, all staff positions are filled.” I knew I had burned my bridge with him. Kester did promise to contact AVCO on my behalf and tell them I was looking for another radio job. AVCO owned WWDC in Washington, D. C.
Up until I quit KYA, I felt like either I had done everything right or that my good luck had handed me winning directions. Now, however, I knew I had made my own career decision and it was a bad one. Doing the nightly sports report was a drag and no fun. I had to get back into radio.
Kester came through for me. The next thing I knew I was off to the nation’s capital.
The Bay Area Radio Museum extends its thanks Johnny Holliday and Stephen Moore for granting permission to reprint this excerpt from Johnny’s autobiography, “From Rock To Jock.” From his earliest days behind the microphone in Georgia to his 30-year run as voice of the University of Maryland Terrapins, “From Rock To Jock” is filled with great memories of Top 40 radio, sports stars and celebrities from throughout the entertainment world.
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Copyright © 2002-2011 by Johnny Holliday and Stephen Moore. All rights reserved.
Reprinted with the permission of the authors.