“Rockin'” Ron Kay, KOBO “K145” Yuba City, CA | 1975

You may never have heard of Ron Kay or KOBO, but this is FANTASTIC! Here’s an AM Top 40 station that plays everything from Led Zeppelin to Disco. Ron Kay is a GREAT personality, he’s funny and while he didn’t send in a description for this composite, perhaps we don’t really need one.

Apparently KOBO has been gone for quite a long time, we can’t find a logo or any information for this station from many decades ago. And Ron’s right when he writes that he thinks the audio quality is better than much of the material already online. It is. Listen. It’s good!


  1. Tony

    According to Wikipedia:

    “KOBO (1450 AM) is a radio station broadcasting a Spanish Catholic format. Licensed to Yuba City, California, USA.

    “It is leasted to MG Broadcasting Network of Marysville, California, which also owns KIQS in Willows.”

    Music on AM … what an innovation … and a variety of music at that.


  2. Sarah Stephenson-Kay

    This is my dad. I’m proud to be able to say that. He’s still funny and he still has a great personality. 🙂 Thank you for posting this! I love it!

  3. Bryan Simmons

    Yeah, no trace of KOBO in the Twin Cities of Marysville/Yuba City anymore, but at one time it was station to beat. I knew several jocks who came through KOBO on their way up. It was another stepping stone station in the days when you started in small towns and worked your way up. I pulled exactly one shift there in Dec of 1978. They needed a temporary weekend staff to fill-in because all of their regular employees would be out of town for the company Christmas party. It was fun, and got me a job offer, though I passed. I worked with quite a few Ron Kay fans when working in Sacramento, but this is the first time I’ve ever actually heard him. He was a pretty polished personality for such a tiny town. They were lucky to have him.

  4. Here’s an old KOBO survey from 1969:

    6 disc jockeys, 24 hours a day, much more music on the “Boss 30” of the day.

    One must remember that by 1975 these AM stations were barely holding their own.
    Every town had them too! The 1000 watt “peanut whistle” that dropped to 250 watts at night. Now the FM 100000 watt station was its new competition. The 100000 blowtorch vs the peanut whistle. The FMs were “in stereo” as so many promoted at the time. Even a few AMs migrated to FM, or the AM that signed off asked everyone to tune to the FM.

    This is a fantastic aircheck proving there was so much good talent out there. Uptempo jock, jingles, more music approach.

    This aircheck is a gem! Thoroughly enjoyed!

    • I wouldn’t say ‘barely holding their own’. Not in ’75. By ’78, perhaps and most definitely by 1980. In 1975, the FMs had come, to be sure, but the audience was still firmly on the AM band, at least the grown up audience. The advertisers stayed with the AM stations for a long time. If you asked a 30 year old business owner what FM meant, the answer would often be “FINE MUSIC”. The perception of FM depended upon who you asked. Teens thought it was where the action was. 30 somethings and older thought that only elevator or classical music was on FM, a perception held over from the 1960s and the stations that indeed DID play Beautiful music. There were quite a lot of them.

      Disco took over and was solidly an FM format by the end of the 1970s, and all perceptions melted away by 1980. But in 1975? That ‘peanut whistle 1kw hit music station was still in control.

  5. calradiopd

    Rockin’ Ron Kay was a Northern California legend, in that anyone who ever heard him never forgot him. It’s amazing how long he was in Yuba City.

    KOBO was part of a chain of three stations, including KUKI, Ukiah and KBLF, Red Bluff…Concerned Communications. They had plans to grow, but it never happened. Very solid stations that sounded way better than their small markets would have suggested.

  6. Blind Owl

    Actually KOBO operated with 500 watts day and 250 watts night at 1450…

  7. Gracias for the kudos…the tape is a composite presentation demo…selected amusing on air bits and segues…plus 3 production composites to show my “copy writing, voice acting, and production mixing and editing skills. The entire tape, edited old school with a magic marker, razor blade and splicing block.

    The sensational Liz Fulton was our “news chick”. New guys Jimmy Cole and Ted Langdel also did time at K145.

    I was PD, music director and afternoon drive. Fellow jocks during my tenure included The Morning Mouth Alan Stone (aka; steve lamont) Bill Burch, Larry Nielsen, Dick Diamond (aka Bob Hartzell), Rick Shannon (aka; Nick Manzi), and Kenny West (aka; Kenny McDavid, who was murdered decades later, by two old con women in southern california.

    Concerned Communications out of Depere Wisconsin owned it at the time. Todd Baker of the parent company Lawton Tool, Wisconsin, was the manager, and one hell of a great guy.

    It was a pure joy to work there with our gaggle o’ not-so-boss jocks and staff.

    Special thanks to Steve West for not letting “our favorite jocks” vanish into “dead air”.

    • B. Lawyer

      Wow! Many years ago I use to hang around KOBO (later renamed: K-145)while dreaming of the day when I would become a “jock”.. ha!
      Great people and many names that I remember from Rons note.
      I’ve been around the world and back and still remember you Mr. Rockin’ Ron Kay!
      How ironic that I was thinking about my old pal and to only find your post from a couple days back!


      • thankyouverymuch, Mr. L. and if you’re name is Brian, I remember you very well. Young fellow, big glasses, very gracious mom.

        I could have sworn it was Brian Lawler, with an L.

        I digress. Thank you. There were others playing radio with us, a name or 2 I’ve forgotten, but as I write this, Tony Cox, and Jim Batty (aka; becker) …just came to mind.

        Thanks for being a part of our K145 life.

        It was great fun while it lasted.


    • Steve

      This is Steve Lamont aka Alan Stone.

      A couple of corrections: Larry Nielsen and Kenny West did not work at KOBO to my knowledge. Larry and Kenny were with us at KATY in San Luis Obispo. I know because Larry hired me to AM drive there after I’d left KOBO in a huff over something or another that would probably embarrass me if I could remember it in detail. Larry also hired Kenny. As Ron mentions, Kenny’s story turned out bizarrely tragic, run down in an alleyway for an insurance scam.

      I don’t know about Nick Manzi, either. I think he might have also been a KATY alum but I’m not sure about that — I may be thinking of another Nick I knew in San Luis Obispo.

      I was music director at KOBO for a couple of years, working under Ron’s PDship, though it felt more like a partnership.

      In San Luis Obispo, we switched positions — after Larry decided he didn’t want to be PD there (for very good reasons involving Management), I took the job and Ron was my MD.

      Bill Burch (who usually used the air name Bill Shepherd) was an interesting character: a somewhat itinerant jock, drifting from town to town. I worked with him briefly at KSLY-AM in San Luis Obispo, then we crossed paths again at KOBO, where he was with us for literally only a couple of weeks. Then we missed one another at KATY, where he was departing as AM drive jock and I took his place. I noticed recently that he also worked at station I was at, WVMI-FM (now WQID, I believe) in Biloxi (heaven help me), Mississippi.

      Bill had a great voice and lot of talent but could never seem to quite find a place to settle down at for more than a few months, maximum. He was one of the most cheerful people I’d ever worked with. It always seemed as if he was looking for “the perfect wave” and could never quite find it.

      I believe Bill was from Fall River, Massachusetts, and I’m guessing he’d be in his 70s by now, if he’s still around. If any other readers have bumped into him, I’d appreciate knowing.

      Another note about KOBO: While I was there, from about 1972 to 1975, the station was 250 watts, day and night, one of the few remaining 250 watt day/night stations at the time. Most AMers on that channel were 1000 W day/250 W night, I believe, and there was some sort of FCC push to upgrade KOBO. I think Brian is probably right that it eventually got a power increase but that was after I was gone.

      At least that’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

      • Rockin Ron Kay

        I can almost hear “Our Morning Mouth” Alan Stone (aka; Steve Lamont), as I read his comments.

        for the record, Kenny West (Ken MacDavid), most certainly worked at K145/Kobo, he hailed from Sacramento, where his brother owned Sidewalk Pizza, and his mom resided. Tragic stuff happened years later to one of the nicest guys in the business.

        foggy record; Larry Hayes (aka; Larry Neilson left K145/Kobo for Katy, when new management took over ( Reg Streeter and Ross Forbes… Alan Stone) (Steve Lamont) departed shortly thereafter, and they canned me, right after Steve left.

        We love you Todd Fuddlebunk Baker, where ever you are. And who knows, maybe the Concerned Communication corporate hit man Ed Sparber got rid of us all.

        more record; Rick Shannon (aka; Nick Manzi) absolutely worked at K145/KOBO, because I hired him. From there he went to San Luis Obispo and got a gig with the KATY competition KSLY, the local big dog A.M. across the street. He was a roommate of another KSLY jock Jay Terry (aka; J. Paul Calitri).

        After that , he returned to Sacramento and played the hits for a while at the sacto legendary KROY, along with Liz Fulton who got her radio start with us in Yuba City.

        Rick spent many years as production manager in Sacto, for CBS Inifinity Radio Group, and for the past half dozen years as production manager for Entravision’s Sacramento radio group.

        And somewhere there, during the K145 years…DickyBob, graced our little YuBacity airwaves….Dick Diamond (aka Bob Hartzell…mad genius)…..Bob went on to WRKO Boston, among others.

        indeed…..what a long strange fun trip it was.

    • Jeff

      Hi Ron,
      Did you happen to be in the Army in the mid-sixties in California?

  8. al stidham

    Yuba City? Are you kidding me? This guy is major market material! I salute you, Ron Kay, and all the big fish who graced small ponds throughout America during the “golden age” of top forty radio.

    • You are too, kind, Al. We were lucky enough to have assembled a very talented group of folks who really loved “playing radio”, and a general young general manager/owner who loved it, too.

      Our air philosophy was; People are here for the music, and want to have fun, too.

      So, our objective was NOT….let’s be funny…it WAS …. “Let’s have fun”….let the music do the work….but let’s have fun along the way.

      Each of our people had natural talent and “enough silly” in them to let go, and have fun.

      In one way or another, we were each paying homage to our youthful radio heroes and pals.

  9. Mike Hamiel

    Wow, great memories, I too spent a short time there. KOBO or ‘Knock Out Body Odor’ was a great place for us sales guys to wet our chops on selling to local advertisers that saw folks coming in saying: ” heard on KOBO your having a sale”. Yep, Todd was a little green, but a heck of a nice guy. Wonder what happened to him.

    • ron kay

      Hello Mike…….Todd Baker, aka; FuddleBunk…..was the best. Green was right, but he understood that “the lattitude he gave to programming, and his genuine consideration for the air talent” was key to the stations “sound”….which after all….was what they were selling”. I ran into him in yuba city, years after the station had changed hands… he was living in YuBacity… managing a roofing company. Ed Sparber, the Corporate Hit Man, thought otherwise. The parent company Lawton Tool, out of Depere Wisconsin…..should have listened more to Todd, than to Ed. The decision to bring in Reg Streeter was a fatal one for the station. But it sure was a rocking’ little moneymaker while it lasted.

      best regards,
      ron kay……….

      p.s. ..I wonder whatever happened to Jim Dowd, among others.

      • Mike Hamiel

        Thanks Ron for catching this thread and jumping in, yep Jim Dowd and then the other sales guy, thin, western style mustache with the unusual name, matter of fact so unusual I can’t remember it. We hired him out of a local bar where he was working, he turned out to have a gift at radio sales. I’m back in the area (Elk Grove) after bouncing around Modesto for the past 30+ years, mostly working for the Pappas family.
        So, your turn,

        • ron kay

          …the sales guy you mentioned, was a pretty good guy…..I don’t remember his name, but I do remember that somehow, he ended up with the nickname of “Buttons”. I got out of the business in 78….did some freelance ad work…ended up building a gourmet potato chip company in Sacramento…”Buffalo Chips”…..had a 13 week tv show on KRBK ch 31, sacto….got back into the rep business in 85…packaged goods broker to the grocery/drug trade sacto area…took early retirement from that in 2008. My “radio days” were great fun…..too bad the “suits” and “owners” lost sight of the listeners, in their push for profits, that turned them all into “sound alike jukeboxes devoid of personalities and creativity”. Oddly….the “much more music” trends helped kill it, by teaching the listener to punch the button whenever the music came to a halt for a “stop set” to run spots. Self Defeating Corporate programming. Things Change. Of course, technology advances changed the “music dynamics”……from Walkmans to iPods…people were no longer dependent upon the “airwaves” to satisfy their Musical Needs. I’m proud to have been a small part of the peak of A.M. Radio’s Glory Years.

          • Mike Hamiel

            Yep, you pretty much nailed it Ron, the bean counters killed the radio star. I went on to sales with Continental Cable aka Comcast today, down in Stockton when the company offered 25% commission on local sales. TV ads were going for pennies on the dollar and they offered crazy cash bonus’s on top of that. I retired and reinvented myself as a writer for a regional golf magazine, enentually traveling around the world writing stories about golf. Retired again and living on Valley HI country club.
            I just remembered his name, Les Crook, what a great name for a radio sales guy.
            Stay healthy my friend.

          • Marie Brady

            YOur Disasterpiece Theatre was a highlight of my childhood. Nothing has compared since. And I am 46

  10. This reply is actually for Steve. I have a photo of me working the board at KOBO, which I have shared with some of my dj friends. I don’t know where it came from, but Rick Shannon suggested that it came from you. He said that you had many pictures from KOBO that I would like to see, but he died before he could share the link. I remember our time together fondly and hope that you are well.

    Bob Hogan

  11. Alan Stone…”THE STONER”…not sure if you will get this since the last post was in 2015. This is Bruce Blair, and I was an salesman with
    KSLY Radio AM in the late 70’s & 80’swhen you were there with Bill Burch, Bill Webb, Phil Acampora, Homer Odom…I hope you reach out to me.
    My email is bruce@blairproperties.net…805-441-1374

  12. Chris Baumgartner

    As Chris James at 1450 KOBO, I so enjoyed working weekends and weekday fill-in 1976-78. I pestered Ron Kay often for a gig in 1976 and finally got on board as he was leaving. Thank you, Ron. I was active duty Air Force at Beale AFB. Great station to be a part.

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