1260 KYA, San Francisco
Friday, December 15, 1961
On a cold, damp Friday evening in mid-December, we’re listening in to the Bobby Mitchell show from KYA, Channel 1260, in San Francisco. “The Mighty Mitchell” is part of a stellar staff of KYA Men — including Bill Drake, Peter Tripp, “Big Daddy” Tom Donahue, Norman Davis and Emperor Bob Hudson — a veritable Who’s Who of radio stars helping to keep “The Boss Of The Bay” up high in the Hooperatings.
A native of Oakland, N.J., Mitchell (born Michael Guerra, Jr.) is one of the great “lost voices” of Top 40 radio. A talented team player wherever he worked, he was blessed with perfect tone and a style tailor-made for the format. He came up through the ranks of radio with stops in Atlantic City, N.J., and Raleigh, N.C., before making it big in Philadelphia at WPEN and WIBG (“Wibbage”).
At WIBG, he was one of several disc jockeys to bear the Mitchell moniker over the years; station management was reportedly too cheap to have new jingles recorded for newly-arrived jocks, choosing instead to hand the handle down to the latest DJ to fill the chair.
Seeking new horizons, the Mike Guerra version of Bobby Mitchell came west to KYA as one of the “East Coast Payola Refugees” in 1961, brought in by program director Les Crane along with Peter Tripp (from WMGM/New York) and — on Mitchell’s recommendation — Tom Donahue, who had also been at WIBG.
Mitchell and Donahue, in addition to their parallel broadcast careers, became business partners as well, starting out by staging dance hops through their co-owned Tempo Productions, which eventually grew to promote rock concerts, culminating with the final Beatles concert ever, on August 29, 1966, at Candlestick Park.
In addition, Mitchell and Donahue ran a record company, Autumn Records, which released such national hits as “C’mon and Swim” by Bobby Freeman, and “Laugh, Laugh” and “Just A Little” by The Beau Brummels. Coincidentally, each of these records was produced by another popular local disc jockey, Sly Stone of KSOL, working his way up the industry ladder to stardom as leader of Sly & The Family Stone.
A few years later, Mitchell would work once again for Bill Drake, who was serving as both program director and morning man at KYA at the time of this broadcast. When Drake took over as the programming chief for the entire RKO-General chain of stations, Mitchell — now working as Bobby Tripp — was brought aboard at the flagship “Boss Radio” station in Los Angeles, 93/KHJ.
Michael Guerra, Jr., died on July 19, 1968, at UCLA Medical Center after a lengthy and courageous battle against Hodgkin’s Disease. He was 48 years old. Upon his passing, the nonpareil program director of KHJ, Ron Jacobs, proclaimed, “Radio has been around for about fifty years, and there never was a better disc jockey than Bobby Tripp.”
In addition to the latest hit records, the recording heard here includes a detailed newscast anchored by Terry Sullivan.
Bob Mitchell on KYA
December 15, 1961