Boss Radio


Boss Radio

Boss Radio was the name chosen to promote two new radio programming formats which were both launched in May 1965 on both KHJ-AM broadcasting from Los Angeles and on Swinging Radio England broadcasting from the motor vessel "Laissez Faire" anchored three and a half miles off the Frinton-on-Sea, Essex coast of Britain in international waters. Although the name of the format was the same, its application on both stations was quite different and while the KHJ version actually came on the air that month, the SRE version which was born in May of that year would take several months more to actually hit the airwaves.

Boss Radio in two versions

KHJ, Los Angeles

Although actually developed earlier at other stations, the California "Boss Radio" format is most closely associated with KHJ, at 930 on the AM dial.

KHJ, one of the original radio stations in Los Angeles, was owned by RKO, a legendary U.S. corporation that has produced movies, television and radio programming over its own stations. In May 1965 KHJ was under-performing in the local ratings. The unsuccessful programming on KHJ consisted of block segments of drama, mystery, soap opera, news, and music, both live and recorded.

Block programming gave way to top 40 formula radio during the 1950s. Two California radio programming pioneers, Bill Drake and Gene Chenault, took this formula one stage further and gave it a brand name called "Boss Radio". The word "boss" had come to mean something hip, new, exciting and the top of its class. Drake and Chenault had introduced and developed this format at KYNO in Fresno, KSTN in Stockton, and KGB AM in San Diego. In April 1965 they brought it to KHJ's signal.

Within a few months the "Boss Radio" format, had taken the once failing station to the top of the Los Angeles market. It also firmly established the careers of several "boss jocks" such as "The Real Don Steele" and Robert W. Morgan who helped to put "Boss Radio" on the air in Los Angeles, under the guidance of program director Ron Jacobs.

As a result of the station's success several other stations adopted the format, notably KFRC in trendy San Francisco, and eventually reaching as far north as Canadian 'border blaster' CKLW in Windsor, Ontario, which, as a result of its massive clear channel transmitter and overnight signal propagation, was able to garner an international audience- even as far as Soviet Russia, making it almost certainly (though unprovably) the biggest of the 'Boss Radios'.

Swinging Radio England

Swinging Radio England or SRE was the "home of the boss jocks and much more music". It began life just as KHJ retuned to its new "boss format" and arrived off the coast of Britain in the spring of 1966 on board the former military landing craft MV Olga Patricia, now renamed the Laisez Faire. SRE was not so much a format as a hybrid of formats. It was totally unlike any other radio station that had previously been heard in Europe or probably anywhere else in the world at that time. While the PAMS jingles were the resung version of those heard on WABC in New York City, the high-power "bannerline" news presentation had been lifted from WFUN in Miami, Florida and the DJs were using the heavy echo and the forced approach of stations such as KBOX in Dallas, Texas.

The U.S. "boss jocks" who came over with the ship trained the few English air personnel how to develop this same style of presentation. Everything was "over the top" when it came to the 50kW watts transmissions of SRE. While some loved it most remained tuned to the more relaxed top 40 formats of its competitors such as Wonderful Radio London and Radio Caroline South.

Swinging Radio England shared the ship from which it broadcast with another 50 kW station named Britain Radio, a beautiful music format station which called itself the "Hallmark of Quality". These two 50 kW stations attempted to broadcast at full power by using caged antennas slung from a central broadcasting mast, which caused constant headaches for the radio engineers. Because of the difficulty in getting the two stations to stay on the air a lot of early investment money was squandered. Other problems also arose when the British government announced that it would introduce legislation to close all of the offshore stations down.

Because of the technical difficulties and the slow start, compounded by a lack of advertising, SRE was forced to sign off the air during November 1966 in a cloud of adverse publicity surrounding its London based advertising sales arm which went out of business in a hailstorm of debt.

Popular Culture

*Comedian George Carlin once joked about "Boss Radio" in his "Son of Wino" skit on his album FM & AM; "Hi gang. Scott Lame here. The Boss jock with the Boss sound from the Boss list of the Boss 30 that my Boss told me to play."

References

* Mass Media Moments in the United Kingdom, the USSR and the USA, by Gilder, Eric. - "Lucian Blaga" University of Sibiu Press, Romania. 2003 ISBN 973-651-596-6
* The Beat Fleet: The story behind the 60's 'pirate' radio stations - Leonard, Mike - Forest Press (Heswall), UK. 2004 ISBN 0 9527684 1 0
* Radio Revolution: The rise and fall of The Big 8. TV Documentary by Eric McNamara (Winner - 2004 Gemini Award Best History Documentary), & DVD - Markham St. Films 2005

External links

* [http://www.bossradioforever.com "Boss Radio" on KHJ] as explained by Woody Goulart.
* [http://www.northernstar.no/sre.htm "Boss Radio" on SRE] as explained by Svenn Martinson in Norway
* "1965 Boss Jock" Ron O'Quinn is a hall of fame radio disc jockey
* [http://www.ct30.com/kgb/history.html History of KGB Boss Radio] by David Leonard


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