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Radio AM to FM: February 20, 2004

Jackson Update

Every week it seems I get an email or letter asking about either former KPLS host George Putnam or former KRLA host Michael Jackson.

Usually the answer is that there is nothing to report, other than rumors that Jackson may become part of the new liberal talk network that seems ready to buy time on whatever 1580 AM calls itself these days.

So I was quite excited to learn of Jackson's new web site,, where fans could log on and keep up to date with news, information and interviews from their favorite, popular-at-one-time host. The site doesn't launch until March 1st, but I figured I could just direct inquiries there.

Turns out it's the wrong Jackson. It's not the radio talk show host Jackson who was once the example of how to do a talk show, it's the other Jackson:, the pop-rock performer without a nose who used to make hit songs and albums some 20 years ago or so.

Maybe I'll send people that way anyway.

In any event, to answer the obvious question: there is nothing to report, save for a rumor of Jackson (the talk host) possibly having a show on the new liberal talk network if/when it launches on 1580 AM ... No word at all on Putnam.

Digital Update

Sirius Satellite Radio is getting serious about competing against rival XM, which has about a million more subscribers. The company just announced that it is going to be the exclusive satellite radio service to be sold by 7000 Radio Shack stores across the country.

That move, and one making Sirius the music service for EchoStar satellite television subscribers, increases Sirius' estimated subscriber number to one million by the end of the year, up from 860,000.

Where is ...

One of the early Los Angeles rock and roll radio pioneers was John Veliotes.

Born in Vallejo, California in late December 1921, Veliotes came to Los Angeles in the early 1940s in order to play drums in Harlan Leonard's Kansas City Rockets band at the Club Alabam. He led his own band by 1945, and in 1948 he helped to open The Barrelhouse, the first night club in Los Angeles to feature Rhythm and Blues exclusively.

In the years that followed he came out with a popular single, "Willie and the Handjive," hosted a local television show, wrote a few popular songs and produced early hits for Little Richard, among others.

His radio career began in 1958 on the old KFOX, although that gig lasted only one year. He took time off from radio to get into politics as Deputy Chief of Staff to Mervin Dymally, and write a book, "Listen to the Lambs," which discussed the 1965 race riots. He returned to radio on XERB (broadcasting from Mexico) in 1967; moved to KPPC in 1968-69, and finished out his local radio career at KPFK from 1975 to 1989. The most current information I have (from Don Barrett's excellent radio news site, is that he lives with his wife of over 50 years in the Northern California city of Sebastopol.

Never heard of Veliotes? Perhaps you might know him better by his stage name: Johnny Otis. Check out his web site:


Copyright © 2004 Richard Wagoner and The Copley Press.

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