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Wednesday, March 2, 2016

KRLA 1110 radio and Wolfman Jack - what a history

Wolfman Jack KRLA 1110 am Radio

What a voice!  The energy! What do you remember about driving around the valley listening to Wolfman Jack?

Disc Jockey, Actor, Entertainer. Born Robert Weston Smith in Brooklyn, New York. He was first on the airwaves as "Daddy Jules" on Newport News, Virginia station WYOU-AM.

He made his mark as a disc jockey from 1958 to 1966, on radio station XERF (1570 AM) in Ciudad Acuña, Coahuila, Mexico, just across the river from Del Rio, Texas. The Wolfman's name came from a trend of the 1950's when disc jockeys took nicknames such as Moondog or Hound dog. He enjoyed horror movies, so he took the name Wolfman. His trademark was his Wolfman howl and gravelly voice.

He married Lucy Lamb on July 1, 1960 and they were married until his death. They had 2 children together.

Johnny Hayes brought us The Big 11 Countdown every week. Dave Diamond was another KRLA notable, having worked at KHJ and KFRC as well. Dave Hull was the real name of the legendary "Hullaballooer". KRLA was privileged to have two other nationally-known jocks: The irrepressible Real Don Steele (featured in Grand Theft Auto), and cultural icon Wolfman Jack (featured in American Graffiti and the subject of The Guess Who's 1974 hit Clap For The Wolfman.) Many other "legends" got behind the KRLA mike at various points in history: Humble Harve, Machine Gun Kelly, Casey Kasem, Mike Ambrose, Dick Biondi, Roger Christian, Bob Eubanks, Al Lohman, Gary Mack, Charlie Tuna, B. Mitchel Reed, Wink Martindale and Johnny Williams, to name just a few.

In 1970, he began an association with Armed Forces Radio that would last until 1986. He had a hit on the Billboard Singles Charts in 1972 titled "I Ain't Never Seen."

He was in numerous TV shows and movies. He was in the movie "American Graffiti" in 1973 as a Disc Jockey. He also appeared in part II of "American Graffiti" titled "More American Graffiti."

He appeared on the TV series "What's Happening" in 1976 and was also the host of his own show titled "The Wolfman Jack Show" that same year. In 1978 Wolfman appeared in the movie "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." He also played host on a weekly TV show called The Midnight Special for eight years, leaving in 1982. He appeared as himself in the TV series "Wolf Rock TV" in 1984. Wolfman appeared in the movie "Mortuary Academy" in 1988. He was in the made for TV movie "Deadman's Curve" and he did several episodes of the TV series "Emergency." The last movie he appeared in was titled "Midnight" in 1989.

He wrote his autobiography titled, "Have Mercy!: Confessions of the Original Rock 'N' Roll Animal" in 1995. He made his final syndicated radio broadcast from a Planet Hollywood restaurant in Washington D.C. on Friday Night June 30, 1995.

He died in Belvedere, North Carolina from a heart attack. He was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1996.

Source: Jane Stacy Eubanks and SoCal Radio History

More KRLA radio history:

In the early '70s, the station was guided by Shadoe Stevens, later to become TV's wacky pitchman Fred Rated. Studios were at the Huntington Hotel for many years.

During a brief stint with Country, KRLA's Corky Mayberry was awarded the Academy Of Country Music's Personality Of The Year award.

Dick Hugg, affectionately known to his listeners as "Huggie Boy", brought us the best in oldies and soul. For a time, he even hosted his own dance program, The Huggie Boy Show, which aired weekly on KWHY channel 22 for many years. His popularity continued to increase long after the show went off.

And how could there be a KRLA page without mentioning Mr. Rock 'N' Roll, Art Laboe? This man's name is synonymous with the station itself; under his guidance as Vice President, KRLA was the success it became. Art Laboe's Rock 'N' Roll School was the source for many a question on KRLA's Hitrivia, which was often featured on the back of their weekly playlists until 1979. When you think of KRLA, the name Art Laboe should be the first one that comes to mind.

Over the years, the station became synonymous with oldies, but kept current hits mixed in with the gold. Midway into the seventies, billboards promoted KRLA as the "Elvis-to-Elton" station. (In 1978, a second Elvis would have a hit single on the KRLA charts.)

A few years afterward, John "Bowzer" Baumann (of Sha-Na-Na fame) did a television ad for the station which went something like this: "Hey! This is Bowzer -- and I'm beside myself with excitement -- because I just found a great new radio station - KRLA. They play today's hits, and the WONDERFUL tunes of the late '50s and early '60s."

In late 1984, KRLA made a slight format adjustment and went all-oldies, eliminating most of their '70s (and all the '80s) music. Top 40 on AM was slowly disappearing: KFI was leaning toward talk; KHJ (which had returned as Car Radio) played a few new tunes but wasn't strictly top-40; down in San Diego, The Mighty 690 was becoming 69 Extra Gold. The only southland station bucking the trend was upstart KWNK 670 in Simi Valley, which had just signed on and could barely be heard in downtown Los Angeles. But they, too, soon went talk.

In the middle of the 1980s, KRLA came under the same ownership as 97.1 KBZT (which changed to KLSX), with both studios located in the mid-Wilshire district. With KLSX's Classic Rock ("AOR gold", perhaps?) and KRLA, oldies were pretty much covered for the rest of the decade.

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