Composite: KYA San Francisco | March 1965

1260 San Francisco KYA

Date of Recording: 03.xx.1965 (Exact Date Unknown)
Station: 1260 KYA San Francisco, California, USA
Format: Top 40
Featured Air Personality: Various


Long dramatic jingles, disc jockeys who comment about everything with lots of talk between songs, outdated news sounders and reverb on demand all highlight this first San Francisco top 40 station. This is quite entertaining, however, because while the formatics shown here on KYA are loose, a reminder of the early 60s, the jocks are very talented and the format comes off very tight. Nobody skips a beat or misses a cue.

Its a history lesson for those who never heard what radio sounded like in 1965.

1260 KYA San Francisco

Thanks to visitor Paul Duca for reminding us that crosstown KFRC’s “Boss” sound was still a year away, and at the time of this recording, KYA was the only game in town. Your webmaster had a senior moment…


  1. Paul Duca

    At this time KYA was the only game in San Francisco for Top 40…RKO didn’t make KFRC over in the Drake style until the summer of 1966. In fact, KHJ was still about a month away from becoming Boss Radio.

    • Although I can’t get this webplayer to play the aircheck in Win7, I do have comments about the SF radio landscape.
      KYA did have competition in
      San Francisco: personality-based KEWB-910 in Oakland, which, incidentally, included Robert W. Morgan and The Real Don Steele as jocks before they left for KHJ.
      KEWB also adopted the phrase “Boss Radio” after KHJ popularized it, thus when KFRC began their slow evolution to Top 40 in early ’66, they called themselves “The Big 610” and their survey the Big 30.
      Unfortunately, there’s a facet of Top 40 radio in San Francisco that’s little-known and little-remembered.
      50,000-watt KNBR-680 was Top 40 16 hours a day (2 PM-6 AM) and weekends beginning in June 1965 under PD Mike Joseph.
      Unfortunately, a turnoff to the adult morning and midday listeners, and no Top 40 entertainment from 6 AM to 2 PM.
      The music and personalities were excellent during this period, but I suspect the dayparting approach turned off both audiences.
      If KNBR had fully committed, we might remember it fondly like we do KFRC.
      But it was not to be. I believe their last day of parttime Top 40 was October 12, 1965. I’ve heard (but can’t verify) that it was David Sarnoff himself who ordered the switch back to fulltime Easy Listening.

      • Small correction: I believe KNBR’s last Top 40 day was October 2, 1965, not October 12. Apologies for the error.

        • I’ll look into it. It’s possible this is a typo. Thanks for the heads up!

        • I do much of my research using tribute sites written by alumn wherever possible as they tend to be the most accurate. Where I am unable to find that, I often use Wikipedia. While pretty accurate, Wikipedia articles are written usually by people who were associated with the topic written about, but not always. That said, the wikipedia article written for KNBR refers to the station as “Middle of the Road” and “Straight-ahead Adult Contemporary” instead of Top 40. Adult Contemporary, as a format, really didn’t come into being until very late 1979 into early 1980 and was most definitely referred to in the trades as “Middle of the Road” up until that time. We’re picking nits here, obviously, as those of us radio people know the various formats as they were. Nonetheless, here’s what was written in wikipedia about KNBR:

          “KNBR evolved into a Middle of the road music format mixing in Adult Standards with Soft Rock cuts by the early 1960s. The station continued to be a news intensive format with personalities in the foreground and music in the background. Personalities included Frank Dill, Les Williams, Dave Niles, and Jack Hayes. Until January, 1975, KNBR carried NBC’s long-running weekend show, Monitor. By the mid-1970s, KNBR evolved musically into a straight ahead adult contemporary music format and continued as such into the 1980s.”

      • This should be labeled more accurately as a Gene Nelson aircheck. Only other jock is Jim Washburn, whose one set follows Gene Nelson.

  2. Cris

    “Hold the coffee, Bubbles.” Sounds an awful lot like Cincinnati dj Dusty Rhoades’ sign off “Put on the coffee, Bubbles, I’m coming home.”

    I wonder how many other disc jockeys around the country used a variation of this sign off?

  3. Vance

    Gene Nelson (the voice on this aircheck) took over the vacated morning drive slot at KYA from the legendary Bill Drake in 1964. Nelson kept that shift for the next several years. His sign off was “Turn on the coffee, Bubbles, I’m coming home.” He used it steadily for at least three years, probably a lot longer. Listeners thought that “Bubbles” was his wife.

  4. calradiopd

    Drake left KYA in late ’62. Nelson took over mornings then (Billboard magazine January 5, 1963), arriving from WSAI, Cincinnati.

  5. SFMark

    KOBY was the first Top 40 station in San Francisco. As far as all the talk, hey this is a morning show, if you’re just used to Drake stations or post Drake this might sound unusual, but Gene was a pretty strong personality.

    KFRC didn’t start until 1966, not 1965. Also, Tom Donahue & Bobby Mitchell were still on KYA, maybe the two best Top 40 jocks ever in San Francisco. For reference check out Mitchell or Donahue air checks from the early 60’s. too bad none exist from this time.

  6. Brian Allen

    There are a couple problems with the site- after listening to an aircheck and I hit the back button it goes back to page 1 instead of which page i was on eg. page 2. plus its slow to load but could just be my phone but you may want to look into it. please fix these asap.

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