Musical Chairs Between KROY and KXOA (1960s)
by Alex Cosper
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see also KZAP, KROY, KSFM, KWOD, KRXQ, KNDE, K108, index
Musical chairs between KROY and KXOA
In the fifties 1470 KXOA flipped from its original MOR/block programming to top 40 hits. The other two teen stations at the time playing a similar format were KGMS (1380) and Stockton-based KGDM (1140). The rest of the AM dial - which was KFBK, KROY and KCRA - played MOR for adult listeners.
As KXOA emerged as the hit music leader, in the early sixties both top 40 competitors flipped to MOR. With KGMS taking the lead in MOR programming, KGDM flipped again during that period, this time to KRAK as a country station. KXOA's main rival became KROY (1240), which flipped to top 40 in February 1960.
KXOA and KROY battled for double-digit market shares throughout the sixties. This period featured KROY night jock Mike Larsen, who went on to write a book called Three Score and More about California radio. A future TV star who did mornings at KROY during this era was Gary Owens, who went on to be a comedy act on the television series Laugh In. Owens left town in 1961 and went on to work at KFWB then KMPC in Los Angeles. Owens worked at KMPC from 1962 to 1981 before moving on to a series of other L.A. radio gigs.
In 1962 KROY's Program Director was Mark Ford. The on-air line-up that year was:
Dick "Buffalo" Burch (6a-9a)
Sam Danos (9a-12n)
Mark Ford (12n-3p)
Tony Bigg (3p-7p)
Hap Hopkins (7p-12m)
Mike Larsen (12m-6a)
It was Dick Burch who lined Robert W. Morgan up with a gig at KROY. Burch says, "I knew him from the Monterey Bay Area. I drove down to Fresno to tell him of the upcoming job. He was at KMAK with Ron Jacobs at the time." Burch left KROY in 1963 to be number one in the mornings at KXOA. Burch says, "Morgan and I exchanged tapes many times over the years. I sent him a tape of my 'Good Morning Karate Chop' which he changed and made it his own thing ...'Good Morganization.' We joked about it when we met in L.A. for drinks."
Buck Herring took the programming reins of KROY in 1963 but left that same year to program crosstown competitor KXOA. Robert W. Morgan was then briefly KROY's PD through 1964 then left for Los Angeles. During his brief tenure, Morgan hired Johnny Hyde a month before Hyde moved on to work for Herring at KXOA. Hyde went on to have a progressive rock feature called "The Gear Hour."
KROY's on-air line-up in 1963 included Don Mac Kinnon in mornings, Hap Hopkins in middays, Tony Bigg in afternoons and Mark Ford at nights. Tony Bigg, who later became Tony Pigg, moved on to San Francisco radio at freeform rocker KSAN before moving on to the bigger New York market at WPLJ and WNEW in the seventies. From there he became the announcer for the TV show Live with Regis and Kathie Lee and then Live with Regis and Kelly. Robert W. Morgan, who would eventually become a big time Los Angeles jock until his death in 1998, briefly worked on the air at KROY in the early sixties as "Bob Morgan."
After Morgan left Sacramento for bigger success in Los Angeles, Don MacKinnon took the KROY morning slot. MacKinnon had come from KWEB in Oakland. MacKinnon moved on to L.A. radio at KFWB (KEWB's sister station), but was killed in a car accident in 1965. He was considered a very innovative and energetic entertainer of his time.
In 1964 KROY went through a series of musical chairs with PDs. Ron Lyons, who had done top 40 radio at KEWB in Oakland and on-air at KROY before that, became KROY's PD in October 1964, but took the reins of San Francisco station KNBR the following January. Hap Hopkins was his successor then Bill Keffury, who went on to program KYA San Francisco and KRLA Los Angeles in a two year period. Keffury later programmed oldies KCBS-FM and news/talk KPIX in San Francisco. Buck Herring shook up the Sacramento radio market again in 1965 when he returned to KROY as PD.
Lynn Anderson was the receptionist at KROY in the mid-sixties before she went on to become a famous country singer. First she was signed to a small label and then became a national TV star doing regular singing appearances on the Lawrence Welk Show. After Columbia Records picked her up and she moved to Nashville, she had a long string of country hits, including the 1971 pop smash "Rose Garden," written by Joe South. Her mother Liz Anderson was a country singer/songwriter as well. Lynn Anderson died at the age of 67 on July 30, 2015.
History of KROY
KROY's Early Years
Musical chairs between KROY and KXOA
KROY Spends 6 Years at the Top
Analysis: Inside the KROY Machine
70s mark the end of the AM top 40 giants
Tony Cox tells how FM took over
Whatever happened to KANDIE and KROY?
KROY veterans advance nationally
The return of KROY
Late 80s: KROY Shifts, FM 102 Drifts
The Eagle takes off
"KROY Story" Video Interview Series with Johnny Hyde
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