Sam Riddle passes
And then there were two …
It’s almost seems surreal to those of us old enough to remember at least a little. I was quite young when Boss Radio launched in 1965 on KHJ (930 AM) — two years old to be exact — but I’ve had a connection to the station and the format long enough to understand the significance of the era. KHJ literally changed Los Angeles top-40 radio forever.
But it was still over 56 years ago when the format debuted in town, and the air staff was young yet experienced from other stations. So while it should not be that surprising, it is still sad when an original Boss Jock passes away.
It happened this past week, though, when the news came out that Sam Riddle passed away at the age of 85 on September 27th after battling Lewy body dementia. Riddle’s passing leaves only two remaining original Boss Jocks still living: Gary Mack and Johnny Williams.
KHJ was not Riddle’s first local station. He actually came to Los Angeles from the former KDEO (now KECR, 910 AM) in San Diego to work at the original KRLA (now KRDC, 1110 AM) in 1960, after KRLA changed formats and call letters to take on former top-40 leader KFWB (980 AM). Riddle stayed at KRLA a few years, leaving in 1963 for a spot on KFWB, and then in 1965 for KHJ, where he stayed until 1965.
It was during those Boss Radio years that Riddle’s broadcasting career truly took off. In addition to his work on air at KHJ, he became a television star via the programs 9th Street West and Boss City, both airing on then-KHJ sister television station, KHJ-TV Channel 9. Other television shows included Hollywood A Go Go, Sounds of Now, and perhaps his most famous work, the syndicated Star Search, which he produced throughout its run.
But radio was his first love and he stayed with it for quite some time. After leaving KHJ in 1970, he found himself up the dial at KDAY (now KBLA, 1580 AM), the top-40 version of KROQ (1500 AM, no longer on the air) in 1972, and once more on KHJ in 1974. His famous opening line to his shows was “Hello music lovers,” a line he used for many years.
Friends of Riddle were posting remembrances of him on Facebook recently, with one in particular from Beach Rogers (KNX 1070 AM Newsradio fame) that stood out and described Riddle succinctly: “Got to know Sam during his two years at KFWB, and it was one of the best of times. Such a good guy to be around and not surprising he went on to be a success at whatever he tried. A Good Man now lost.”
I was supposed to do a career-spanning interview with Riddle on the podcast series I do with Mike Stark, but due to the pandemic and Riddle’s health issues, it never happened. That is a shame, but Riddle will be remembered as one of radio (and television’s) best. Alas, another good one gone. He is survived by his wife Adrienne, children Scott and Courtney, and grandchildren Miracle and Garin.
The emails started arriving almost immediately after the column hit the street … what do you like in the morning, and why. Please keep the emails and letters coming; here are a few of the initial responses:
“I am very old school and still enjoy radio. I grew up in New York City listening to lots of AM stations. I even got to see the Beatles live in concert twice!
“In the morning I listen to KOST 103.5 the Ellen K Morning Show. I enjoy the banter and the contests. However I don’t agree with Christmas music starting in November. In fact the station loses me as a listener until right before Christmas.” — Phyllis Metzger, Long Beach
Don’t get me started on that Christmas music … apparently you and I are the only ones who feel that way, since KOST dominates the ratings when they do it. But Ellen is fabulous as the morning host on KOST, exhibiting a great talent that solidified when she got out on her own after playing second fiddle on the KIIS-FM (102.7) morning show for many years.
“My favorite morning show is Poorman’s Morning Rush on KOCI (101.5 FM) out of Newport Beach. You probably remember him from the 80s KROQ. He does what you have been preaching … he has no playlist. He has a musical theme every day (for example “fun”) and the listeners call in with their song requests that contain the theme in the name of the song, in the lyrics or in the artist. He plays any era, any genre of music. He fields as many calls on air as possible. He also has segments from local businesses. It’s so much fun; you get to know the regular fans and you feel like part of a family in no time. — Cindy Curti (Cee Cee)
I need to check this out. Poorman is a local legend, for better or worse. Thanks for the tip.
“I too listen to The Woody Show and have been since their LA debut.
“I like the easy flow of Woody’s conversations and really enjoy all of the team.
I really like the getting to know….segments when we get a deep dive of each person’s likes and dislikes. Woody and Greg Gory are probably my favorite; Ravey is hilarious – I love her fondness for Harry Potter and all the nerdy stuff. The best part of the show is when Woody and team are recapping their regular life shenanigans and when Menace is trying to pronounce something.
“Sometimes I can do without the raunch talk. As sensible as Greg seems, once he starts talking his gibberish about ‘your mom’ jokes, I feel like maybe we really don’t know him as well as he appears to be.” — Lynn Romero
I agree … it’s kind of funny, as the show in general is pretty clean. But every once in a while they get stuck on a subject that you have to tune out… luckily it’s not too often.
“I love the Klein and Ally show on KROQ (106.7 FM). After listening to Kevin and Bean for 30 years and before that the Raymondo and Evans show … I go to Woody during the commercials, and from 5-6 a.m. since Klein doesn’t start until 6:00.” — Daniel Klatte
That’s a lot of dedication to KROQ! All of them great shows indeed.