1260 KYA, San Francisco
The Emperor Gene Nelson Show

April 1965

Gene Nelson (1990 Photo)
Gene Nelson at 560 KSFO/KYA-FM 93.3 (Circa 1990)

Emperor Gene Nelson, who came to KYA by way of WKBW in Buffalo, New York, was elected to the Bay Area Radio Hall of Fame in 2006 as part of the first class to be inducted. The Emperor is heard here in two broadcasts about a week apart in April 1965. 

Brought in to replace Bill Drake as KYA’s morning man so that Drake could concentrate on programming, Nelson soon gave his station a nice surprise — he beat KSFO strongman Don Sherwood in the ratings.

KSFO took notice and, when Nelson’s contract at KYA came up for renewal, the Emperor headed up the dial to join The World’s Greatest Radio Station’s mighty air force.

Strangely enough, through the sale of KSFO by Golden West Broadcasting to Seattle’s King Broadcasting in 1983 — a deal in which King also sold 1260/KYA to Bonneville International but retained ownership of 93.3 KYA-FM — Nelson found himself working at both stations at the same time.

He retired to Hawaii in 1994, but later returned to California, residing in the Napa area.

On The Air Sign (Image)

Gene Nelson on 1260 KYA
April 6, 1965

Gene Nelson on 1260 KYA
April 14, 1965



Gene Nelson KYA Money (Image)

Emperor Nelson’s portrait on “beautiful money” issued to his loyal subjects.
(Click here for the full story)



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Bill Barrett
Bill Barrett
11 February 2021 12:52 PM

Gene Nelson and Russ, “The Moose Syracuse”, Were two of my biggest inspirations. I started in radio in 1969 after graduating from Serra High School. I worked at KLOK in 1975-76. I didn’t care for the big city so I moved to Eugene, Oregon in August 1976. I retired in January of this year after 51 years on the air. I have loved radio and what it can mean to a community. I’m happy to say I was inducted into The Country Radio Hall of Fame in 2018 along with my morning partners.
I will be mentoring young broadcasters in the coming years.

Valerie Crawford
Valerie Crawford
Reply to  Bill Barrett
10 May 2021 4:27 PM

Congratulations, Bill Barrett! Radio personalities became an important part of listener’s lives. Becoming more rare these days.

Luke Kevin O’Brien
30 August 2021 7:42 PM

You are indeed a good and funny man Billy me bucko! I do believe that Eugene/Portland mornings are not quite a mirthful after your retirements. You would be doing a great service helping the young broadcasters as a mentor.

Kevin O’Brien

Snidely Whiplash
Snidely Whiplash
5 August 2022 3:35 PM

I remember when Gene did swingshift broadcasts on KSFO. I recorded some of those and at the end of his show he would say put on the coffee bubbles I’m coming home or something like that. I’ve got to find those cassettes and listen again.

2 January 2024 4:30 PM

His sign off was great. “Put on the coffee Bubbles, I’m coming home”

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