as “Jerry Bennett”
A classic photograph of Bennett G. Schwarzmann, perhaps recently graduated from Drake High School, working in the studio of San Rafael’s KTIM (1510 AM) around 1960.
Young Ben would grow up to become a radio legend, working at KILT in Houston (originally as James Bond, replete with faux British accent, and later, for the first time, as Alex Bennett, replete with a decided lean to the right), and at WMCA and WPLJ in New York before returning home to huge success at KMEL, The Quake (KQAK) and Live 105 (KITS).
While at KTIM, Alex worked as Jerry Bennett (“Your Leader”), hosting the Saturday afternoon “Teen-Time” program, and also hosted dances at clubs and restaurants around Marin County, including the Cloud 8 and the Ranch Wagon.
He took his original nom de radieaux by pairing his own first name with the first name of his favorite comedian, Jerry Lewis.
His first radio job outside of his home turf was at KDOT in Reno, followed by gigs at KLAD in Klamath Falls, Ore., and at KFIV in Modesto, Calif.
After enlisting in the Navy, which included duty with the Armed Forces Radio & Television Service in Hollywood, Alex toiled at KGMS in Sacramento — “The Good Music Station” — before heading in 1966 to KILT/Houston in his Bond persona, a gig he snagged by faking a British accent on his audition tape.
In February 1967, James Bond ceased to exist at KILT; in his place was the new (and quite Americanized) Alex Bennett, making his debut as an acerbic, conservative talk-show host — introduced as “Alexander Bennett, The Talk Man … The Man You Love To Hate.”
In 2004, Alex took his show to satellite, hosting a daily program on Sirius (Channel 146, known as “Sirius Left”). He was elected to the Bay Area Radio Hall of Fame in 2008.
Jerry Bennett and Roy Trumbull
Live from the Cloud 8 Club
San Rafael, California
A rare and remarkable recording of Jerry Bennett (a/k/a Alex Bennett, BARHOF 2008) and Roy Trumbull (BARHOF 2013) broadcasting “live” (on tape) at the Cloud 8 teen club in San Rafael, dating perhaps from 1958 or 1959. This may have been an audition (not broadcast) for Jerry’s later “Teen Time” program on KTIM.
The recording here was found at Urban Ore in Berkeley and masterfully digitized by Andrew Welburn for CHRS/Bay Area Radio Museum.
SOURCES: KTIM photograph courtesy of Roy Trumbull. KTIM business card, Sirius photo and photo with John and Yoko courtesy of Alex Bennett.
I seem to recall he was on KITS (“Live 105”) in SF in the 80’s with his morning show. Usually a mix of local comedians & other guest, often musical. It was an odd contrast to the rest of the station (“modern rock”) at the time, but apparently worked.
I remember him on KQAK 98.5 modern rock. Morning shows with guests like Bobby Slayton. “Letters, oh we get letters every day…”. Good stuff.
When I moved to SF, Alex was the guy that let me know what was going on, especially in the comedy world. He introduced me to everyone from Bob Rubin to Bob Goldthwait, Bobby Slayton, and Michael Prichard. He was a total asshole, and insecure as hell, but he made the pop culture in SF accessible. There were guys that worked on his show I still love, like Sal Castenada. The Quake became KITS, which was a Clear Channel corporate move, meaning death, but Alex hung in there for as long as he could. I will always be grateful for Alex and know that he created the archetype that made so much possible, including dudes like Howard Stern who highjacked his shock radio approach.
The Quake didn’t become KITS. They were two separate stations. And Entercom (not Clear Channel) owned KITS in the 80s and 90s.