San Francisco Celebrates KYA Top 40 Day with DJs Norman Davis, Tommy Saunders, Gary Mora
Legends in Broadcasting is a fine organization that celebrates its own radio personalities in the San Francisco Bay Area. It meets each quarter for a luncheon to honor a personality or radio station . June 23, 2016 was KYA Day, featuring DJs NORMAN DAVIS (known as Lucky Logan when he first came aboard in 1959), TOMMY SAUNDERS from 1962-1965 and GARY MORA from the late 60s and 1970s with noted DJ and media mogul BEN FONG-TORREZ as moderator. MORA continues to keep KYA alive with an internet version of the station with lots of memorabilia, concentrating on his era of the late 60s
From 1958 to 1963, KYA was the biggest radio thing in San Francisco with popular DJs including those pictured above including ‘all night’ JOHNNY HAYES, PETER TRIPP, BOB MITCHELL, LUCKY LOGAN (Norman Davis) and TONY TREMAIN. GENE NELSON. TOMMY SAUNDERS and RUSS (The Moose) SYRACUSE joined the staff in 1962 coming from noted broadcasting school in Syracuse. KYA was so popular several albums were produced with songs from the era and DJs pictured (partial) on cover (as at left)
VIDEO:Tommy Saunders and Norman Davis talk about the ‘happy days’ at KYA, circa 1959-1965.
They describe how the station’s popularity was driven by the new ‘TOP 40’ format, which was sweeping the nation, thanks to Bill Drake and Bartell family. Top 40 was the rock and roll of the day but would hardly be considered rock and roll by today’s standards , what with the wide variety of music as shown on the survey below…everything from Frank Sinatra to instrumentals with backing vocals by Anita Kerr Singers and novelty songs. Everything was fast-paced so as to cram as much as possible around a fast-talking DJ…jingles, weather, newscast along with the great (in our opinion) music (even if Saunders and Davis weren’t big fans of it at the time). Sorry, time restraints don’t allow us to include the entire lunch presentation. In another segment the guys talk about one of the real ‘characters,’ one DJ named Harry Stevens (1959–1963) and his stories including one about a playmate bunny.
We’ll try to put up some radio airchecks, too, if possible… the great Russ ‘the Moose’ and others
Top 40 (or Top 60 for awhile) was the rage in the 1950s and 1960s thanks to Bill Drake, Bartels family and others who introduced the format that combined a wide variety of the music of the day still called ‘rock and roll’ though it was a stretch (Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett were played along side Elvis, Bobby Darin and the like. DJs generally talked fast so as to squeeze in as much ‘patter’ along with the ‘platters,’ jingles, weather reports and news as possible. DJs of the time included Tony Tremayne and Jolly Rogers. See if you can’t make out some of those memorable songs from the day, above, by enlarging this official ‘Hit Parade’ survey from July 10, 1959.
Visable from left are NORMAN DAVIS (Lucky Logan), TOMMY SAUNDERS and Ben Fong-Torres (back)
Held at the Basque Cultural Center in So. San Francisco, the event featured a nice display of KYA memorabilia (see more on accompanying videos and photos . A few hundred radio contemporaries joined the KYA folks to honor them and the legendary station 6-23-16
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SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – One of San Francisco’s official anthems was recorded 50 years ago this week and the person who brought the song to life is returning for a special Valentine’s Day benefit concert.
It was in December of 1961 when Tony Bennett first publicly sang “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” at the Venetian Room at the Fairmont Hotel.
A few weeks later, he went into the studio and recorded it. The song was not expected to be a hit as it was the B side of the single.
KCBS’ Susan Leigh Taylor Reports:
San Francisco Anthem Celebrates 50 Year Anniversary
In the months that followed, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” won Grammys for Record of the Year as well as Bennett winning for Best Male Vocal Performance.
The song has been an anthem for the city and is played after every San Francisco Giants home victory.
50 years later, Bennett will be performing the song as part of a sold-out concert at the Venetian Room to raise money for heart research at UCSF.
City leaders are trying to get the now 85-year-old singer to add a second show at City Hall that afternoon, but that has not been confirmed by Bennett’s agent.
San Francisco Surf City? You don’t think of SF as a surf mecca, with its cold weather and lack of surf. But wait! San Francisco DOES have surf and it actually has some nice weather in September and October . There’s Ocean Beach, the Clift House, the Beach Chalet… and even some real surfers. Chris (sometimes surfer ) calls the SF Avenues near the beach his home along with a number of other surf groups with Pollo Del Mar and its leader Ferenc probably the leading promoter of San Francisco as a legit surf town. … And right where the ‘ Ocean meets Western Civilization’ at 45th Av and Taraval is a little hidden gem of a night spot calleld the Riptide. Not only is the name apropo but the place makes for a great little music venue. As the Zagat guide describes it’s part Tahoe ski lodge with its dark wood and part funky quaint bar tucked away in a cute little neighborhood at land’s end. Never had been there before and glad I went. Golden State
San Francisco Surf City, Movie Mecca? Vintage Venues Live!
Sorry, an interior photo of Riptide just can’t capture the feel of the place. You’d need a wideangle to capture the double bar, fireplace in back , moosehead on the wall, etc… Surf meccas Huntington Beach and Santa Curz may not have any original haunts like this. And Riptide is the real thing, having its beginnings in 1941 with little changed over the years, it would appear. Now, nostalgic pictures line the walls. The split, or double bar is very unusal and adds to the character , much like Trad’r Sam’s round tiki bar (1937) not far down the avenues. And Polo Del Mar really brought it all together with its latest surf sounds. Whoever thought this one out for a surf venue was right on. Hope the boys come back soon, or some other surf groups, though it would be tough to top Ferenc and the boys.. maybe their friends the Meshugga Beach Party would come closest for a local Bay Area band…. check out Pollo Del Mar here… Nokie Edwards of the Ventures sits in with Pollo del Mar in Tokyo, Japan, a hotbed for surf music.
Even older than the Riptide is the Balboa Theater (1926). We tired to cram it all in this Sat. nite 11/12/11 , running from Riptide 5 minutes up the road to here but Sutro had just finished its last run of the night
so can’t really highlight the interior of the classic pre – deco theater nor the new documentary about the famed Sutro Baths, once another highlight of San Francisco’s Lands End, with its huge heated pools and colorful spectacles, just up the road from another Ocean Beach gen, Playland at the Beach, Sutro burned down years ago and Playland closed in the early 70s but the memories live on. In fact, a woman , now in her 80s, who worked at Sutro for years was able to collect so much memorabilia the producers of a previous movie about Playland came to her recently to ask her to take part in the new film about the Sutro baths. We’ll have to give it another try before it closes. And what better venue than the Balboa, not more than a mile from where it all happened…