Radio Waves: January 5, 2024

Reader tributes to Jim Ladd

Happy new year! We ended the year on a down note with the passing of “The Last DJ” Jim Ladd, and I wanted to share some of your thoughts.

“It is with sadness that I write to you now, after learning of the passing of Jim Ladd on television news,and then in this newspaper’s obituaries. Listening to him back in the day when FM radio was king, he was the voice at KLOS (95.5 FM) and the Mighty Met, KMET (now KTWV, 94.7 FM). I remembered, vaguely how he refused to play the Bee Gees on his show, calling it Disco, not Rock and Roll. In any case, a great voice will be missed. Rest in peace, God Bless his family” — Robert Cruz, LA Puente

“Ladd’s voice was a rock and roll magic carpet ride” — Bryan Versyp

“ I will never forget the night Jim was doing one of his wonderful theme night shows. He invited listeners to call in requests for songs with the word America in the song; I called in my request. It was ‘One Time One Night’ by Los Lobos. Jim shared with me that he loved this song and it was a great request. That night I felt like I just told Picasso how to paint.

“We lost a true legend.” — Ralph Antunez

“Jim Ladd was a treasure for all of us. Three or four times I had the pleasure of speaking with him on the air; once in particular he was having David Crosby in the studio for an interview. I realized it was the anniversary of the Kent State Massacre and since the song ‘Four Dead In Ohio’ was getting a lot of air time, I thought I would try and let Jim know that. He answered the phone himself, which was his practice, and I reminded him of the anniversary. He didn’t remember that himself but he sure was grateful that I had reminded him. 

“He asked if I could call back and speak with him and David during the interview portion of the show. Unfortunately, I could not because I played in a softball league and we had a game that night.

“I had many talks with Jim over the years, but that was the best one. Would have been cool to talk with the two of them! — Hobie Burgess, Menifee

“I was a West Hollywood and then a valley teenager during those years and the only one who played the real current ’60s and ’70s sounds was Jim Ladd. Thank you for this memory and may he rest in peace. What a loss.” — Iris Malsman

“I’m not a native Californian and wasn’t introduced to Jim Ladd until the mid-late 90s when he was at KLSX (now KNX-FM, 97.1). I had just finished up a long day at Pt. Hueneme, hopped on my motorcycle and was heading home to Orange County. It was Friday night, approaching 10pm. I was on the 405 transitioning to the 105 over the flyover. Dusty Street was just about to finish her show, when Jim, who was early for his 10pm to 2am show, popped into the studio and greeted her with ‘How are you Dusty?’ 

“She responded ‘I’m tiny, I’m toonie, and just a little loonie!’ from a cartoon show and she proceeded to crack up. Jim, who’s never short for words, was stunned speechless. It was all I could do to maintain control of the bike I was laughing so hard. That scary ride made me a Jim Ladd and Dusty Street fan. Different styles, but great to listen to. RIP Lonesome L.A. Cowboy! You are missed by millions.” — Alan Voorhees

“Where does the future of radio go now with Jim gone, being the last herald and torch carrier, and no one out there to carry that flame? Is this the end of free-form rock radio, as Jim presented it or will someone step up and carry Jim’s legacy to the next generation of rock music lovers? I sure hope there is that person to do so. Either way, Jim will be dearly missed, coming from this boy from NYC. R.I.P. Jim Ladd” — Fred Nattboy

“I was a Long Beach high school student and was part of a pretty decent LB rock band called Poor Brotherhood that had just recorded our first single. We were so naive to the ways of the music business, had a couple of boxes of 45s,  and were very stoked!  

“A couple of us decided to take it down to KNAC (now KBUE, 105.5 FM) one day and see if someone would listen to it and make us famous! We went to the old Pacific Coast Club building near downtown Long Beach, took the elevator up towards the top floors, found the studio … and from the entrance you could see into the booth where a cool looking guy with longish hair was talking and spinning a record. 

He walked out to us and asked who we were and little about the  band, and took it back in the studio and listened for a few seconds on another player. Of course, he’s doing all of this while a record is playing! When that finished, he went back on air and said something like, ‘Hi, I’m  here with a couple of members of a hot local band named Poor Brotherhood and here’s their new single.’ 

“Then he played it! Even though that was the only airplay that band ever got, we were blown away and each time I heard him do his show over the decades, I was always reminded of how he took the time to encourage some local teenage musicians to keep at it!  What a cool cat, Jim Ladd! “ — Chuck Erdahl

That is definitely the essence of early freeform rock and roll radio! What a great story!

Here’s a memory not directly of Ladd, but a good story nonetheless:

“I did not know Jim Ladd, nor did I ever hear to one of his radio shows, but I was well acquainted with his father, Obie Ladd, a very decent and well-liked savings and loan executive, back in the days when savings and loan companies existed. Jim came from Vacaville, CA, and as a Vacan and rock fan (I had Rush’s 11-minute guitar intro to Rush’s ‘Spirit of Radio’ queued up when I read your piece) I knew he made it big in LA.

I didn’t realize how big! Thanks for your great retrospective on Jim Ladd’s career.  What a talent. He will be greatly missed. — Stephen Power, Vacaville