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Airwaves: July 13, 2007

Rock and Roll History

In early 1969, KHJ (930 AM) programmer Ron Jacobs, L. A. Times pop music critic Pete Johnson, KHJ engineer Bill Mouzis and morning man Robert W. Morgan presented one of the best audio documentaries ever produced: The History of Rock and Roll.

Jacobs did production, Mouzis engineered, Johnson wrote the script, and Morgan narrated what Jacobs called the very first "rocumentary," a 48-hour special backed by hundreds and hundreds of prep hours including interviews and fact-finding on the development of rock and roll music.

The special began on KHJ on the afternoon of Friday February 21, 1969, running continuously through the weekend and ending on Sunday afternoon. It was quite an achievement, and was one of the most remarkable shows to ever air on the popular top-40 station.

Station owner RKO distributed the special a week later to other stations in the RKO chain; those versions were narrated with local talent using the script provided. Even later versions narrated by consultant Bill Drake were aired on stations both on and off the RKO ownership chain.

But the first version hosted by Morgan is considered the holy grail by many, and for years was totally unavailable. Now, you can hear a sample of it for yourself, through Uncle Ricky's Reel Top-40 Radio Repository at

Contributor Don Kent has made available four of the first hours that he recorded off the radio himself back in 1969. These hours alone are well worth the small $12 donation Uncle Ricky asks to access the recordings on the site. Find these recordings by scrolling to the bottom of the page at; they are labeled "Robert W. Morgan, KHJ Los Angeles, February 21, 1969."

Remembering Columbia Square

Unfortunately I received word too late for press time that KCRW (89.9 FM) was going to air a one-hour documentary on Columbia Square, the house of CBS Radio and television for many years that when built in 1938 was considered the most modern broadcasting facility in the world.

Fortunately, the station has made the program available for listening on its website, Do a search on "columbia," and you'll find the link to Remembering Columbia Square.

The program focusses primarily on the studios during the golden age of radio, and includes interviews with and reminiscences from radio and television personalities, writers, directors, producers and engineers who worked at the famous building.

CBS no longer uses the facility, but it appears the building will be preserved as part of a new development. Celebrate the history of this magical building by listening to the program. You won't regret it.


Emmis Communications had a slight (3 percent) revenue loss in its last quarter, due in large part to problems with its Los Angeles and New York radio stations. In Los Angeles Emmis owns KPWR (Power 106, 105.9 FM) and Movin' 93.9 FM; since Power is still doing well, it would appear the switch from country to Movin' on 93.9 has really hurt the company ... at least temporarily. Will Movin' be able to outlast Emmis?


Copyright © 2007 Richard Wagoner and Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

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