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Airwaves: April 23, 2010

A Quarter Century of Mark and Brian

KLOS (95.5 FM) morning hosts Mark (Thompson) and Brian (Phelps) celebrated 25 years together -- 23 on KLOS -- on April 16th with an on-air trip down memory lane.

Syndicated throughout the Western United States, the duo paired up in 1985 on WAPI/Birmingham, Alabama. Two years later they made the trip West to KLOS, where they have been talking about Elvis ever since ... and earning damn good ratings doing so.

In celebration of their quarter century together, KLOS is designing a new Mark and Brian logo to be used on stickers and advertisements. On May 15th they’ll celebrate the milestone with Blue Oyster Cult at Morongo Resort and Casino’s “Bongo at Morongo.”

Podcasts of the on-air memory trip are available for free on the iTunes store.


Former KFI (640 AM) talk host Daryl Gates passed away April 16th due to bladder cancer; he was 83.

Gates was the interim afternoon host on KFI for a short time in 1992, replacing Tom Leykis for a few months while station programmer David G. Hall figured out a way to bring John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou out from New Jersey.

Gates was absolutely interim, though at the time Hall insisted he was not, because the young programmer wanted to deflect the hatred from Leykis fans away from John and Ken. At the time, Hall claimed he “never heard of John and Ken,” even though industry insiders and John and Ken themselves had announced their move to Los Angeles. It was at that moment I knew never to trust anything Hall said, and to this day I still do not. But I digress.

After John and Ken made their KFI debut, Gates was moved to evenings, 7 to 9 PM. Against all odds -- the show was awful yet entertaining, though show producer Marc Germain said Gates was a nice guy -- he managed to stay at the station for 18 months before being set free. Prior to his KFI gig, Gates apparently did some work for the Los Angeles Police Department ...

Tom Dixon, called by some “the voice of classical music” for over 50 years in Los Angeles, passed away March 13th from age-related issues at the age of 94.

Dixon spent over 40 years at KFAC (first at 1330 AM and later 92.3 FM) until an ownership change in 1987 brought an end to the format and call letters. He moved to KUSC (91.5 FM) for two years, followed by KKGO (105.1 FM), where he stayed until he retired in 1998 at the age of 82.

Not that he wanted to retire: “I feel like I’ve been beached,” he told the Los Angeles Times upon his retirement. He said at the time that he couldn’t accept an offer to continue with his program because of a penalty with Social Security.

Dixon moved to Los Angeles from Canada with his family in 1922 when he was seven. He originally wanted a career in theater and studied acting and drama at Los Angeles City College, graduating in 1935. But health issues convinced him to change course, and he landed a job at KHJ (930 AM) in 1939, working first as a transcription file clerk as well as helping with the sound department. A short time later he became one of the station’s staff announcers, announcing newscasts, shows and live remotes. He joined KFAC to host a classical program in 1946.

Dixon is survived by his wife of 44 years, Catherine, as well as a granddaughter.


Copyright © 2010 Richard Wagoner and Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

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