Friday, July 17, 2020

The 93 KHJ-LA Complete Boss 30 - 1974 (End Of Series)

KHJ 1974

The decade from 1965 to 1974. Suburban LA white girl, ages 7 to 16. Now, looking back, still in Southern California. Sixty-two now, but also seven. Also sixteen. The years don’t change, they accumulate, like the leaves of my liquidamber tree, crumbling and softening and feeding the life on the surface.

My earliest AM radio memories were mingled with the smell of cut bermuda grass, the whir of the push lawnmower, the feel of sun on my skin: the voice of Vin Scully on my dad’s transistor radio, calling the Dodgers game and telling us about Farmer John bacon and sausage, “the easternmost in quality and the westernmost in flavor.” Not KHJ, of course. My parents loved music, but if there was music on their radio it was KPFK (folk) or KFAC (classical). They had disdained popular music since the big band of their youth went away in the fifties, and weren’t about to listen to it now. Snobs? Well, yes. Me too.

Prior to this, most of the pop music we had heard (aside from the somehow ubiquitous Beatles) had been from singles/45s played by our babysitter, a paragon of 1965 teenage girlhood, complete with sponge-curler knowhow, ski vacations, and cheerleader pom poms. (She went on to shrug off all that, married a Frenchman and became an economist for the Fed). But I heard the top 30 hits in her room, and at some point during the middle Beatles years, my techie dad got my older sister a transistor radio of her own. 

KHJ and the boss 30 became part of our reality.

At age 11, 1969, lying on a faded beach towel on the grass in the backyard, reading The Hobbit, trying to get a tan on my tall, skinny, girl-child’s body. The smell of Sea and Ski lotion, the feel of prickly zoyzia grass sticking up through the threadbare towel: listening to KHJ on my very own transistor radio, the sound tinny and interrupted by static, trying to get that tiny dial to stay on the sweet spot of best reception. Aware of “hippies,” the Vietnam War, discrimination against Negroes (as we called people then), hearing my folks discussing a cousin’s attempt to go to something called Woodstock. I was not out in the world yet, but in a few years I would be, thanks to junior high and high school and my parents’ increasing preoccupation with their own, adult, worlds.

At age 14, 1972, lying on a JC Penney’s mass-produced psychedelic beach towel, at the actual beach and without adult supervision. Gossiping with my current best friend, reading Ray Bradbury, and improving the tan, except for that portion of the tip of my nose that was a perpetual blister from June through September. The smell of mustard, the feel of the warm sand and drying saltwater that encrusted every surface of my taller, still-skinny, most-definitely-not-filling-out-the-bikini body: listening to KHJ on the radio, mostly because one MUST have music at the beach, and the FM stations didn’t always come through. I was starting to have definite musical tastes, though, and when a song came on that didn’t make the cut, I would ruthlessly switch over to KRLA. But KHJ was in that salt-laden air, and each of the songs in the Boss 30 for 1972 is one that I know.

1974. I was 16, still a Southern California girl. I no longer body-surfed much, and it had been some time since I had lusted after surfer boys. The culture of Laurel Canyon had captivated me, as well as the intellectual life of speculative fiction; and if I was outside listening to the radio, it was a fancier one that played KMET and KLOS FM. The smell of the apricot tree, the feel of the embroidery floss and macrame rope sliding through my fingers: the sound of “top hits,” still, but hits that had filtered back and forth across the AM/FM divide. On the lists, I see Steely Dan, Joni Mitchell, Elton John, Eric Clapton, but not the “good stuff.” More, the silly self-parodying stuff, the maudlin weepy stuff, the bounciest piece on the album. And yet, every single one is familiar to me, even now, 25 years later. KHJ was in the air. The DJ’s names, the ads, the station breaks - all somehow imprinted into my consciousness, a palimpsest faintly showing through all of the years, all of the music, all of the life that followed. 

KHJ. Southern California. That decade. It was in the air. 

It still is. Essay by Rebecca Roberts

1973 to 1974 YANDEX
1974 Part 1 (January-February) YANDEX
1974 Part 2 (March-April) YANDEX
1974 Part 3 (May-June) YANDEX
1974 Part 4 (July-August) YANDEX
1974 Part 5 (September-October) YANDEX
1974 Part 6 (November-December) YANDEX

It's been a long, and sometimes, a hard road to get this completed. And at last, it finally is. 1974 will feel quite different from the others but after listening to most of it, this seems like a fitting way to end the series. I'm not saying anything else about it. You gotta find out for yourself and be surprised! I think it turned out quite well. I hope it puts a smile on your face. So with this post and the others in the series, you will have EVERY LA Top-30 song, along with every US Top-10 (if it never made it onto the KHJ chart) nearly all (98%+) in the exact 45 single mixes (either mono or stereo) spanning from July 1965 through December 1974. Also included are actual station IDs, airchecks, and advertisements from each year featured in the series. I estimate 300+ have never seen a digital release. 3563 tracks. 137 hours long. This is the soundtrack for our lives. It documents the time when Los Angeles radio, particularly KHJ, was ever-present, like a passive participant in our lives. In Los Angeles, KRLA and for a while, KFWB were cooler stations but it was only KHJ that kept everyone in the family happy. So as youngsters, KHJ became the default station.

KHJ also spoke to the entire city and in a way united the city in a way that seems impossible today. Be it Lynwood, Compton, Covina, Tarzana, Anaheim, Bellflower, East LA, Canoga Park, Culver City, or Redondo Beach, it didn't matter if we had never met anyone or had never been to these areas. We were still united through KHJ.

There are a lot of people to thank officially for this. When I first started posting these last autumn, some AYBCS readers offered me upgrades and airchecks, so by my third post I understood how the series should be: all original single mixes and included as many airchecks as possible. Furthermore, I understood that I'd have to start all over again, go back to the first aircheck in 1965, completely overhaul my original posts, and add three additional years.

My friend Kwai Chang kept the flame burning and gave me the advice, support, and encouragement to see it all the way through. Without his support, I definitely would have petered out before completing it. It is his essays that you'll see in 1965-1973.

Rory has been my second set of eyes and has pointed out many of my errors and opened up both his vast collection and knowledge. He has been instrumental in bringing this series up to the next level.

Dave Rafter also helped me quite a bit by helping with his detective work, and I suspect, even bought a few items so we would have them here!

Kevin Johnson, Sitar Swami, Colin Push, Patti Rules, and Timmy have also made valuable contributions to this series.

I thank you all and I also thank AYBCS readers for sharing my enthusiasm for this project.

Finally, this will be my last post for a while, I'll be around to update links and make corrections. I need to recharge my batteries. I do invite you to look deeper into the blog, I try to keep all posts working properly.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

The 93 KHJ-LA Complete Boss 30 - 1973

KHJ 1973 - BOSS By Name(but, not by Nature)
Since radio was a very straight forward entity when KHJ began the BOSS Top 30 in is easy to see and hear that by 1973 the realm had changed dramatically. It is not so easy to explain in words but anyone listening should understand that things were not so simple anymore.

First of all, radio had already been laid to rest when television became the medium of choice with the fickle public consumer base. When KHJ created the BOSS campaign, radio had not yet realized how wide open the horizon actually was. Thus, from 1965 until the early 70's radio was still trying to figure out what it wanted to be.

Along the way, FM radio had also elbowed its way into the competition and had brought entirely new concepts to the realm. Many of the FM philosophies were giving AM radio a serious run on the claim for the high stakes that were piled up on the table. To say the ante had been upped into astronomical proportions would be a most conservative estimation of the situation.

Never before had KHJ had so much to keep abreast of. This may have even given birth to a God Complex whereby the station was adamant about its superiority and its inability to fail. This usually results in an overabundance of confidence that takes on the form of cockiness that has always been dangerous to apply to the typical practice.

 In this case, those practices were what had always been KHJ's bread and butter...its formula for success. Here's where things can go terribly wrong. What starts as confidence becomes an unwillingness to bend. From there, everything becomes self-parody. So, this is the rut that KHJ would have to navigate/negotiate if it was going to keep itself from falling completely into it.

Where FM had started to present more vanguard approaches to radio playlists, formalities, protocol and even the identity stamps of station jingles...KHJ had more and more format decisions to make. Would it not bend an inch? Would it make the DJs take on even more flamboyant personalities? Would it start and end every dialogue, every sentence with "93 KHJ" from the mouths of the Disc Jockeys? Would they play station jingles only at news breaks? Would they even cover news anymore? Should they do away with traffic and weather? Do they need to focus even more on contests that were no longer meaningful enough to pursue? Did they need to endorse the community at all? Perhaps they should play only music and do away with DJs and Station Jingles!

All of these things were non-decisions in 1965. Now, 1965 seemed so far behind 1973...and the BOSS was starting to seem archaic. First of all, there was much more music being made and therefore more diverse types of music/sub-genres. This was a logistical challenge all its own. How to support the music industry AND remain loyal to your own existence. Had KHJ BOSS Radio outlived its own usefulness? Did the industry even need creative commercialism? And, could music survive without them?

These are but a few of the reasons that NOTHING lasts forever. Gimmicks become gambits and overconfidence becomes an Achilles Heel that is not just an idiomatic reference...but something quite physical. BOSS Radio was so good at what they had seems impossible that it could actually end. And, somehow, it seems that KHJ would be the last to know!  Kwai Chang

1972 to 1972   Yandex    Zippy
1973 Part 1 (January-February)   Yandex     Zippy
1973 Part 2 (March-April)    Yandex    Zippy
1973 Part 3 (May-June)    Yandex    Zippy
1973 Part 4 (July-August)    Yandex    Zippy
1973 Part 5 (September-October)    Yandex    Zippy
1973 Part 6 (November-December)   Yandex   Zippy

You can see the Playlist getting tighter, and things are really changing for top-30 AM radio. Nevertheless,  some classics and a whole lotta rare single-only mixes. I wish the quality of the available airchecks were better. All in all, an interesting, entertaining, but possibly not essential year.

The final year in this series will be in about 2 weeks.