Bwana Johnny, 1260 KYA San Francisco | 1969

1260 San Francisco KYA

No serious discussion of the history of San Francisco Top 40 radio would be complete without acknowledging the contributions of 5,000 watt 1260 KYA.

Nobody will dispute that 610 KFRC was the reigning king of Top 40. Its powerful signal, with the longer 610 khz wavelength travelled much further and penetrated buildings better. It had the promotion budget of a broadcasting monolith, comparable in size with today’s WalMart. RKO General had its fingers in Tires, movies and of course, broadcasting. And most important, KFRC had Bill Drake.

KYA had none of that. But it did have a consistent format, fun and uptempo jocks and the hits of the day.

Bwana Johnny was one such jock. Listen and be pleasantly surprised at how good Johnny sounds, and how streamlined KYA is. KYA, as demonstrated here, plays ALL the hits. Some of the highlights of this aircheck are:

Lots of recurrents (oldies, in 1969), as this is a “Golden Weekend”.
A 20/20 Triple Play (wow, three songs back to back?!)
Jingles in most places, but at about 5:30 into the recording, a song is played out of a commercial break (presumably at the :52 slot in the hour), then into a Top of the Hour jingle/jock patter at 10:00 pm. This was the night show, after all.

Since this is scoped, you don’t notice the seven minute live “Suspicious Minds” by Elvis Presley. Seven minutes! Bill Drake consulting KFRC would have died of heart failure!

The recording ends with a song by Ray Charles. As you’ll notice, KYA had a clean, well processed audio chain. No reverb, crisp audio, and its important to note that I did not have to do any audio restoration. What you hear is right off the tape.

1260 San Francisco KYA

Aircheck #1,260 (note the irony!) since May 2, 2002!


  1. HI, Steve… just listening to the KYA piece from 1969 (Johnny Bwana) and it reminded me of KYA’s early jingles which I heard clearly when cruisin’ Glendale’s (CA) original Bobs Big Boy on Colorado Blvd.. can’t find it anywhere but it had completely different sound with emphasis as follows: “kya RADIO, 12sixteee… SAN fraaanCIScooooo”. Heard it thru-out the summer in ’64 or so from our ‘stall’ on the lot, waiting for skating car hop girls. Another bay area station we’d hear was KNBR. It went like so (with emphasis like this: “Radio 68 by the Golden Gate…KNBR, SAN franCISco”. Crazy but guess I’m just an old JINGLES guy. I insert many into my car show playlists to help (re) create sounds as if we’re really ON the radio… Got any idea where those two early San Fran jingles can be found… not on any website I’ve found, including the ‘Bay Area Radio Museum”..
    Well, you’ve done it again… another cool set of Airchexx pkgs to listen to wilst doing my prod work. Thnx for all the time and energy you put into this.. your next Bob’s Big Boy burger’s on me! :)) jS

  2. Terry Moore

    Thanks so much for posting this recording.Back in 1972 I worked at KYA part time when I was 18 then I was hired part time at KFRC. I ended up getting a full time job and actually filled in as the board op for Banana Johnny at KFRC. What a fun guy. I came to his house and he opened up his hidden wine cellar and we had a fun time sipping on wine together. As I am writing this I am listening to the IDs and commercials bring back fun memories. Thanks.

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