Sound of the Season Returns
One of the treats of the holidays is Sounds of the Season, which will once again be heard on Ken Borgers’ internet tribute to the original KNOB (now KLAX, 97.9 FM). You can find it — as usual — at www.JazzKnob.org.
A separate, though very similar, version — also produced by Borgers — will air concurrently on KSDS/San Diego (88.3 FM).
The program is a 36-hour program that starts at noon Christmas Eve and runs continuously through midnight on Christmas day. It features some excellent jazz instrumental and vocal interpretations of holiday music favorites; along with what many consider a highlight of the season: a reading of the classic “Twas the Night Before Christmas” by the late, great LA Jazz DJ Chuck Niles. This reading will be heard six times throughout the program: 12 noon and 6 p.m. December 24th; and at 12 midnight, 6 a.m., 12 noon, and 6 p.m. on December 25th.
Niles was on heard on a variety of jazz-formatted stations including KLON (now KKJZ, 88.1 FM), KBCA (now KKGO, 105.1 FM), KFOX (now KFRN, 1280 AM), and of course KNOB.
JazzKnob.org harkens back to Sleepy Stein’s KNOB/Long Beach, which played mainstream jazz. Stein was the owner of the station in 1957 when he launched the jazz format with just 320 watts at its original frequency of 103.1 FM. One year later, he was able to increase power to 79,000 watts by moving to a new frequency, 97.9 FM.
Stein sold the station in 1966 and the new owners changed the format to MOR (Middle of the Road) music … think standards and lighter fare … then Beautiful Music and eventually soft rock. Today the station is known as La Raza, playing Regional Mexican music, which it has been playing since 1988.
Now at JazzKnob.org, you can tune in any time 24/7 and hear mainstream jazz from artists both past and present. As I write this the internet station is playing Bright Moments by The Ken Peplowski Quintet
There’s actually some interesting history about the old KNOB, which originally launched as the Long Beach-area’s first FM station in 1949 and broadcast programs daily from 3-9 p.m. The original studio was found at the transmitter site on Signal Hill, not far from the Long Beach airport. I am told that the building and tower still exist at that location, though I am not certain.
The first high-power transmitter used by KNOB after the approval of the power increase/frequency switch came out of KNX-FM (now KCBS-FM, 93.1) which had recently updated its equipment.
After a time, the studios and offices were moved to Anaheim. Nowadays the station can be found with studios on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles; the transmitter is on Flint Peak near Glendale.
The Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters, also known as the Hollywood Media Professionals, is embarking on a new project – a West Coast Radio Hall of Fame.
This is a case of a great idea that I never noticed we didn’t have. Considering the talent we have had both in front of and behind the microphone in the area, why the heck didn’t we have such a thing before?
Anyway, while they didn’t ask me, I am going to ask you: if you could nominate someone for the Hall of Fame, who would it be and why? It doesn’t have to be someone famous, or someone recent, or even someone considered a “pioneer.” I’m open to any nominees … and I will forward the names to the group for them to use or ignore as they wish.
Speaking of the PPB/HMP
Popular DJ and all-around great guy “Shotgun” Tom Kelly resigned his position as President of the Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters, leaving about six months prior to his term ending date in July. Replacing Kelly in the interim until his own term begins is former record promoter Ron Alexenburg.
Kelly — who can currently be heard on SiriusXM’s “60s on 6” every afternoon — is among my all-time favorite radio personalities. I was able to pick up San Diego radio quite well from my home in San Pedro growing up, so I’ve listened to him on such stations as KCBQ (1070 AM) and others since I first got a transistor radio.
When he moved to KRTH (101.1 FM) in 1997, I was finally able to meet him in person, and we have been friends ever since. I wish him well with his extra free time.