1260 KYA, San Francisco
Official Swingin’ 60 Survey
Week Of December 18, 1961
Elvis Presley bumps The Tokens out of the top spot on KYA’s Swingin’ 60 survey with his two-sided hit record, “Can’t Help Falling In Love,” backed with “Rock-A-Hula Baby.” As we move closer to Christmas, the men of KYA are spinning only a handful of holiday hits, including “Jingle Bell Rock” (#42) and “Santa and the Touchables” (#45), while variations on The Twist take up no less than five slots in the survey, led by Chubby Checker‘s flagship rendition at #4.
The morning man at KYA at this time is Bill Drake (nom de radieux of Phil Yarborough), who also toils as the station’s program director. The 6’3″ tall Drake (photo, right) arrived in San Francisco in October 1961 from co-owned WAKE/Atlanta, and would shortly begin his career as a programming consultant with KYNO/Fresno (owned by Gene Chenault) and KSTN/Stockton (owned by Knox Larue). His work for Chenault would lead to their long term business partnership as the powerhouse programming monolith known as Drake/Chenault.
These stepping stones led to Drake’s greatest success, as the guiding force behind 93/KHJ in Los Angeles in 1965 and, shortly thereafter, as programming guru for the RKO-General chain of Top 40 stations — which included the conversion of KFRC into “The Big 610.” He later consulted the automated Golden Oldies programming on KFRC-FM (106.1), including the station’s transformation into KFMS in the early 1970s, and co-owned the late period KMPX (“Big Band 99”).
Drake passed away from lung cancer on November 29, 2008, at the age of 71.
Also behind the microphone at KYA are Peter Tripp (9 a.m.-noon), “Big Daddy” Tom Donahue (noon-4 p.m.), the mighty Bobby Mitchell (4-8 p.m.), Norman Davis (8 p.m.-midnight) and Bob Hudson (midnight-6 a.m.), with Terry Sullivan and Tony Tremayne — better remembered as a KYA newsman — covering weekends.
Peter Tripp (1926-2000) came to KYA from previous stops at WHB/Kansas City and WMGM/New York. Tom Donahue (1928-1975) arrived at KYA after a decade at WIBG/Philadelphia, and would go on to spearhead radio’s underground rock revolution at KMPX here in 1967; he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996. Bobby Mitchell (born Michael Guerra) also came to KYA from WIBG/Philadelphia; as Bobby Tripp, he would later work at both KFRC and KHJ under Drake before passing away from a chronic blood disorder in 1968.
Norman Davis had been KYA’s morning man prior to Drake’s arrival, working under the name “Lucky Logan“; he would accompany Donahue to KSAN in its “Jive 95” incarnation. Radio veteran “Emperor” Bob Hudson — predecessor to Emperor Gene Nelson at KYA — would move on to Southern California in the following year, reaching new heights at KRLA, KFWB and KFI (among others); he died in 1997 at age 66.