Rick Shaw & John Mack Flanagan on 610 KFRC San Francisco | October 10, 1976

610 San Francisco, KFRC

John Mack Flanagan KFRC
Here are over 15 minutes of pure 1970s KFRC heaven!  If WABC New York is considered the greatest Top 40 station of all time (on the East Coast), then 610 KFRC has to be it for the West.

Actually, west coast Top 40 was significantly different than it’s east coast counterpart, so in this regard, there’s really no comparison – and no equal. KFRC was, in its own way, really THE very best Top 40 in America. There was no echo, but they didn’t need it. The station engineers must have been geniuses – KFRC‘s processing was so good that the music literally lept out of the speakers, but WITH NO DISTORTION!

Probably the best part of the KFRC sound was the jocks and incredible production. When you listen to this aircheck, remember, all this was done manually with no fancy computer toys. All the imaging was done with a reel of tape and a razor blade. These guys were the best in their trade – and it showed as KFRC was rewarded with the consistently highest ratings in San Francisco… a feat accomplished by an AM station running only FIVE THOUSAND WATTS!!!

The condition of the source tape was outstanding.  This required no processing for presentation and arguably sounds just as good here as it did when it came out of the receiver.

Image courtesy of John Mack Flanagan
Aircheck audio tape courtesy of Contributor Robyn Watts and California Aircheck
California Aircheck


  1. Matt Seinberg

    I remember reading an Arbitron book in the 70’s and KFRC had a FIFTY PERCENT SHARE 12+!! That was an amazing feat! The station has some great talent through the years, including Dr. Don Rose, Charlie Van Dyke, Bobby Ocean, John MacFlanagan, Marvelous Mark, Rick Shaw and others. What a great station!

  2. Steve West

    Yeah I believe you’re correct. When radio people tell me how great WABC or WLS was, I have to remind them that KFRC was probably pound-for-pound far better than either. And… KFRC did it without the fancy echo gimmicks, just by putting the best talent in the nation on and playing the hits.

    Now you know why my ham radio callsign is K1FRC!

  3. Mike Preston

    Steve…have to agree..KFRC was simply amazing and it’s the reason I’m in radio today. I had the good fortune of programming KWSS in San Jose from 86-89 when my midday guy was none other than my idol, John Mack Flanagan. John was in my opinion the best Top 40 afternoon guy ever! I hope you run across more KFRC and JMF airchecks!

  4. The name is actually John Mack Flanagan — he was named after the movie cowboy John Mack Brown.

  5. Ken Harrison

    After learning of Dr. Don Rose’s passing last yesterday, I was out looking around on the web for stuff KFRC related. Oh man! This aircheck brings back memories! I was a junior in high school in Santa Rosa (50 miles north of SF) at the time this one was made. I’m in awe. What a wonderful trip down memory lane. Thanks so much!

    73, (Yep, I’m a ham goober too!)
    Ken N6MHG

  6. John Van Camp

    Yep, I remember this VERY SHOW, driving to work at a Drive-in in Salinas, listening to my idol JMF with another Fantastic 610 promotion! In later years, my the my idol hooked up for visits at the big 610 and at KWSS in San “patyhose” Ay (trib to DDR). And glad to say both were a big influence in my radio career. Thanks for this memory!

  7. Michael Mistor

    Like every one above, I truely enjoyed the Big 610 KFRC. Living in Santa Cruz and in high school durring the time, I blasted the sounds that rocked the Montery Bay too and fro. I also had the time to listen to WLS and XROK-80 the next on my list of Top 10 radio. In any case, thank you all who had made KFRC what it was and will always be remembered to be. Sadly KFRC-610 am is no longer, but the memory lives on and on.
    As also a fell ham radio gobber, and to Steve, I like your call sign.
    Take care and keep the 610 in our thoughts
    Mike W6WLS

  8. kim

    I was 17 and remember winning a ski trip to Squaw Valley and sitting next to Rick Shaw on the bus. That was before the days of having to be 18 to do anything.(Long ass time ago. 24 years to be exAct.) holy mOly.

  9. kim

    Plus!!!! what the heck happened to KSJO???????? Cali radio has gone to the perros..(dogs)

  10. Matt Collier

    I can remember sitting in my HighSchool parking lot smoking a joint, listening to DDR….What a way to start a day…………..A Hooter and DDR

  11. Dick Sigurdson

    I was in the Navy in the late 60’s and was stationed aboard the USS Coral Sea, which was home based in the Bay Area. We spent the spring-summer of ’68 in SF. KFRC was constantly played on the ship’s entertainment speakers so this check brings back great memories of the Big 610. I miss the great Drake jingles of that time though. This check sounds fabulous, was it recorded off the board?

  12. Dave Tui

    Ah yes, Ive heard these formatics before.
    When KING “The BIG 11” in Seattle finally began to get some traction in the market, a fellow by the name of Andy Barber popped up on KING. Having heard KFRC while in San Fransisco, I wondered if ol’ Andy had done time there. KING was good, but the big 610 wrote the book. Too bad someone let the air out of the AM balloon before we could witness the next step. Now dont get me wrong, there’s not a thing wrong with FM stereo, but there is something about that fat AM signal, from far, far away. On a clear night, the skywave god would smile upon us.
    This is a great, great, (c’mon…one more…) GREAT check. Thanks so much.

  13. Dan

    A legendary radio station, an amazing signal, the hottest most professional talent, and unmatched production, jingles, and music. It all added up to the one Top 40 radio station that set the standard for the industry. I feel so lucky to have lived in the Bay Area & Sacramento during KFRC’s reign. While listening, you never took for granted the quality of this radio station … it is something that hasn’t been matched since.

  14. Jerry Masters

    Favorite KFR-SEE Air Personalities (don’t say DJs):

    Harry Nelson
    Dave Sholin
    Don Sainte-Johnn
    Chuck Buell
    Tom Maull (Sp)
    Tom Kennedy
    Rick Shaw***

  15. calradiopd

    Yep, the audio processing was a huge part of what made KFRC great (though excellence on every level was the goal, and usually achieved).

    Bob Kanner was KFRC’s chief engineer. In 1975, he devised a processing method that would eliminate distortion and pumping. No more having a loud bass note push every other sound down.

    He split the audio coming out of the board into 9 separate frequency bands, compressed and limited them separately, and then combined it back into one signal. The microphone was processed separately. No distortion, no ups and downs, just a clean, loud, consistent audio chain.

    Kanner was made Director of Engineering for the RKO chain and put in identical setups at KHJ, WHBQ and WRKO.

    It took them a year or two, but Dorrough and Orban developed and began marketing all-in-one multiband processors (Kanner’s system took up a whole rack)…but since no one at RKO talked in detail, the commercial stuff fell short…three bands, six bands…it was a good five years before they figured out how many bands and that the mic channel had to be processed separately.

    Even then, Kanner stayed ahead with refinements and the RKO AM stations used his systems until the late 80s.

    As for the “only 5,000 watts” reference, it helps to remember that not only was KFRC at 610 on the dial, but that their tower is in marshland in the San Francisco Bay. Phenomenal ground conductivity. KFRC could be heard clearly in the daytime for 200 miles in any direction. At night, 400.

    • RL

      4-bands left, 4-bands right, 1-band on the main mic. It just looked like 9. 🙂

  16. calradiopd

    By the way, the air staff at the time of this aircheck:

    6-9AM: Dr. Don Rose
    9AM-Noon: Big Tom Parker
    Noon-3PM: Rick Shaw
    3PM-6PM:John Mack Flanagan
    6PM-10PM: Marvelous Mark McKay
    10PM-2AM: Shana
    2AM-6AM: Don Sainte-Johnn
    Weekends/Fill-Ins: Dave Sholin
    PD: Michael Spears
    MD: Dave Sholin

  17. calradiopd

    Oh, and what Matt Seinberg read was wrong. KFRC had a 50 share in teens 12-17, but overall 12+ numbers ran between 6s and 8s…still good enough for #1 until KGO grabbed the top spot in 1978.

  18. Simply…the reason I got behind a mic 32 years ago and whenever I think about hangin’ up the headphones, all I have to do is listen to a KFRC aircheck and I’m fired up again. So blessed to grow up in the Bay Area and have the “Amazing AM” as inspiration. Even cooler to be on the air here, now with so many others who were too. Thanks, KFRC and thanks airchexx.com!

  19. This radio station was in the middle of a four station of the year award streak when this air check was made and had 12+ shares and number one rankings each book. I hope airchexx.com can continue to post KFRC airchecks this was truly the golden era of radio!

  20. calradiopd

    In fact, KFRC won Billboard’s Station of the Year seven out of 8 consecutive years.

  21. Really enjoyed hearing classic mid-70s KFRC. Just wanted to point out that the proper spelling is: John Mack Flanagan.

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