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Recorded with a small table mic in front of a radio speaker, this may not sound broadcast quality, but fans of the last great AM Top 40 station in L.A. will immediately recognize a friendly voice who was seemingly beloved by all… The Real Don Steele!

As usual, there are some quite knowledgeable visitors out there who know lots more than I about the history of KTNQ. Ten-Q’s main competitors in the late 70s were KHJ and KFI, both on the AM dial.

The Real Don Steele first became wildly popular at KHJ as part of the first generation of the station which Consultant Bill Drake dubbed, “Boss Radio” in 1965. He was wildly popular on Ten-Q, and worked at other Los Angeles area stations, including Oldies KRTH “K-Earth 101”. The Real Don Steele passed away on August 5, 1997 of lung cancer.

Listen to the excitement on this tape! The callers are seemingly in a frenzy, all for winning “WAM!”… Walking around Money. Listen as Steele gives away a hundred dollars on the air a few times. The aircheck is tightly scoped, or perhaps I’d say, CHOPPED. But the mastering makes this sound as good as what you hear, because straight off the tape, the recording is difficult to listen to. Hopefully, your ears won’t bleed trying to enjoy this ear candy.

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By Steve West

Steve West is a 41 year veteran of broadcasting. His air work as a Jock and News Anchor includes six radio markets and over two-dozen radio stations. Steve is the founder of and - All the BIG Hits!

12 thoughts on “The Real Don Steele, 1020 KTNQ Los Angeles | 1978”
  1. KTNQ’s launch was December 26, 1976, not September 27th. This is not 1978, unless they took a year to bury Freddie Prinze, who died on January 29, 1977 (and they didn’t). Google tells us Freddie was buried February 1, 1977, which means this aircheck is from the first five weeks of TenQ. Did you listen far enough to hear that about midway, this stops being a Real Don Steele aircheck and we get Rich Brother Robbin?

    As for The Real Don’s popularity, Steele was a star, but KTNQ spent most of its time trailing the competition. In the fall of ’77, Steele was tied for 17th in afternoons. Machine Gun Kelly on KHJ was 7th. By the fall ’78 Arbitron, the Real Don had quit both TenQ and radio. He wouldn’t be on the air in Los Angeles again for seven years, and he’d come back doing oldies. KTNQ was his last Top 40 gig.

    1. I mentioned that it had to be 1977 myself, in a posting below. I well remember Freddie Prinze’s death (I was 13 then), also Claudine Longet was imprisoned around that time for shooting Spider Savitch.

  2. This aircheck was from early 1977, as, among other things, it mentioned Freddie Prinze’s burial and Claudine Longet’s imprisonment. Also, most of the songs charted in early ’77. 1020 in Los Angeles was KFVD from its start on March 13, 1925 till 1955. From August 1, 1955 to 1960 it was KPOP, and it was KGBS from June 29, 1960 till ’76, when it became 10Q. Also, when expressing gratitude, the staff said “TenQ” which does sound close enough to “Thank you”.

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    Advantage Toyota Scion says:

    Don’t know about KHJ, but KJLH stood for Kindness, Joy, Love, and Happiness.

    1. Well, that’s what Stevie Wonder (who bought the KJLH in 1979) says it stands for. Actually, John Lamar Hill put the station on the air in 1965. He applied for call letters to match his initials.

  4. Gary: The KHJ calls were issued sequentially (right after KHH and KHI), but the owner of the station at the time wanted them to mean something and so he said they stood for “Kindness, Happiness and Joy”.

    1. I never knew there were KHH and KHI. A couple of other examples of call letters being given meaning (albeit in a humorous way), was Detroit’s WDEE (a country station) which was said to mean “We’ve Done Everything Else” and Cincinnati’s WLW (which some said stood for “World’s Lowest Wages”). Incidentally, WLW at one time was 500,000 (yes 500,000) watts. I really enjoy this site, as I learn something new each time I visit.

  5. I don’t doubt that at least some call letters were assigned sequentially. However, a good many refer to a person or place. I live in Fairmont, West Virginia, a small town in the north-central part of the state, and one of the stations is WMMN. The “W” was assigned owing to the station’s being east of the Mississippi River, and the MMN stands for Matthew Mansfield Neely, who was US Senator from West Virginia many decades ago. That is but one example. Also, I read that Nashville’s WSM stands for “We Shield Millions”, as an insurance company originally owned them and WSB (Atlanta) meant “Welcome South Brother). Begging your indulgence if this is too long, but one other thing. I learned that KIIS stood for 115, owing to its 1150 AM dial spot. Really glad to have a forum for talking about radio. Happy Thanksgiving to one and all.

    1. There were other examples as well. WLS was put on the air by the Sears Roebuck Company, whose advertising slogan was “World’s Largest Store”. A much later example occurred in Framingham, Mass., where the old WKOX-FM was purchased by Richard Fairbanks. He requested and was approved for WVBF, which stood for his wife’s initials – Virginia Brown Fairbanks. Lots of big talent went through that portal in a giant Ten year period, including Dale Dorman, JoJo Kincaid and even Album Rocker Harvey Wharfield.

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