Bill Ballance, KFWB Los Angeles | August 19, 1959

Here’s one that barely needs any introduction. Bill Ballance was a legendary Deejay from the dawning days of AM Top 40 radio. The format hadn’t been around that long in 1959, but KFWB was on top of the ratings in those days. KFWB began doing Top 40 a year earlier, in 1958. Programmed by Chuck Blore, The station was known on the air as “Color Radio, Channel 98” and at that point in time, the format was relatively loose, with the Deejays pretty much picking the music to play themselves.

KFWB might actually have been the first radio station in the U.S. to employ Disc Jockeys. History records that as early as 1946, Maruice Hart and Martin Bloch were brought in from New York City by KFWB as Deejays. With no established Top 40 format, these two gentlemen picked their own records to play and generally played whatever the popular hits of the day were. Bloch would go on to New York’s WNEW and become a fixture there. He was the one who began the program “The Make-Believe Ballroom”.

Here on this aircheck, we hear a rather poor-quality recording of Bill Ballance playing the hits of the day on Channel 98. The All-News incarnation of KFWB was 10 years away, and it would take six years for a guy by the name of Bill Drake to launch “Boss Radio” 93/KHJ in a city which was as much a hotbed of pioneering Top 40 radio stations as New York City was. In many ways, THIS is where it all began…