The orginal undergound rock radio station KMPX and KSAN 95.0 FM, San Francisco, because so many people have forgotten what radio used to sound like in San Francisco
Rebroadcast on May 21, 1995 on Jive Radio KUSF, this is a 45 minute excerpt of Tom Donahue in 1969 on KSAN. It is not complete and is somewhat pieced together from 2 cassette tapes recorded off the radio at KUSF in 1995. This show is hosted by Rachael Donahue
Live and in color…
Billboard at the central freeway in San Francisco
at the Record Plant in Sausalito
This is partly because of how bad radio has gotten in San Francisco over many years, with the latest being the Cummulus purge at KFOG. Rich Lieberman has been documenting much of this. KUSF was also sold recently and continues in two places now http://savekusf.org/ and http://www.kusf-archives.com/
San Francisco pioneered progressive undergound radio in the 60′s. from 1991-1996, KUSF hosted a Sunday show called Jive Radio, which had the original DJ’s from KSAN radio, the original underground radio station in the USA. These DJ’s and the radio station are now part of the Bay Area Radio Hall of Fame. These are the people that broke the San Francisco sound back in the 60′s and 70′s and put San Francisco on the international music scene
The Jive Radio website has a few clips but it’s almost impossible now to hear a complete show, or anything more than a few minutes, except for the Bay Area Radio Hall of Fame
Tom Donahue is one of the few DJ’s inducted into the Rock and Roll hall of Fame http://rockhall.com/inductees/tom-donahue/bio/
Tom “Big Daddy” Donahue has been called the father of progressive radio. As a deejay and executive at San Francisco radio stations KMPX and KSAN in the late Sixties and early Seventies, Donahue pioneered “free form” radio on the largely ignored FM band and revolutionized radio broadcasting in America. A Rolling Stone article that he wrote in 1967 bore the headline, “AM Radio Is Dead and Its Rotting Corpse Is Stinking Up the Airwaves.” As Rolling Stonenoted in 1969, “Donahue was the moving force behind the transition of KMPX-FM [in 1967] from a foreign-language outlet into the country’s first full-time album-cut, hip-sounding station.”
Donahue started out in 1949 as a deejay at WTIP in Charleston, South Carolina. He worked at WIBG in Philadelphia and WINX in Rockville, Maryland, before moving to San Francisco in 1961, where he began deejaying at Top Forty station KYA. Donahue took KYA to the top of the ratings, beginning each show with his trademark line, “Here to blow your mind and clean up your face.” He left radio in 1965 to run a record label and produce concerts, but by 1967 Donahue clearly saw the need for stations that would play non-commercial music by album-oriented bands like the Doors, Blue Cheer and the rising lights on the San Francisco scene. He convinced the owners of KMPX to beginning playing album-oriented rock without playlists 24 hours a day, and thus did the underground rock radio revolution begin. A large man, he had a deep voice “that rolled from his throat like thick oil pouring from the can,” according to journalist Joel Selvin. His commanding, no-nonsense delivery and anti-establishment mindset endeared him to the San Francisco counterculture. In 1968, he moved from KMPX to KSAN, where he encouraged deejays to program their own shows with music from different eras and genres and to build sets around themes, interspersed with political commentary.
Donahue and his wife Raechel – herself a popular and influential disk jockey – founded four of the first free-form stations on the West Coast: KMPX and KSAN in San Francisco and KMET and KPPC in Los Angeles. The progressive format that the Donahues pioneered spread around the country. In the words of fellow deejay Jim Ladd, “He was the first to strike the tribal drum.” In addition to his work in radio, Donahue and partner Bob Mitchell founded a San Francisco-based record label, Autumn records (whose roster included the Beau Brummels, Sly Stone, Bobby Freeman, and the Mojo Men); opened the first psychedelic nightclub, Mothers; and produced concerts, including the Beatles’ last live performance at San Francisco’s Candlestick Park in 1966.
In 1972, Donahue was made general manager of KSAN, where he remained until his death from a heart attack in 1975. Raechel Donahue remains active in radio and journalism to this day.
another tribute by a Sacramento DJ can be found here
The guy who made radio hip and cool and relevant has a birthday this Saturday, Big Daddy Tom Donahue was born May 21st, 1928 and died on April 28, 1975..he was 47. Tom brought the first alternative programming to the Bay Area and it was on the FM band which brought new life to the music, the sound quality was so good. It was in 1967 that Tom started playing album cuts, reintroducing live radio broadcasts and utilizing the airwaves as a true public service to it’s listeners, Donahue founded “underground radio”. The first station Tom worked at that allowed him this kind of freedom was KMPX. It soon became the first full time album station in the country. How great it was to hear the Doors, Frank Zappa and The Rolling Stones on one station! It was an inspiration to me, a young hipster growing up within the signal of this new sound. Donahue and his staff moved to KSAN-/fm on May 21st 1968. It was wildley popular and Tom became General Manager in 1972. Tom Donahue was a big man, clocking in at around 400 pounds. His large form could be seen all over San Francisco in the early days of the Revolution. In 1965 he opened one of the first psychedelic clubs in San Francisco, he called it Mother’s at 430 Broadway in North Beach. He formed Autumn records, hired Sly Stone as a producer, recorded one of the first Bay Area band to challenge the Beatles, they were the Beau Brummels. He also produced Grace Slick’s first band the Great Society, he produced rock concerts in the park years before Bill Graham would, he helped produce and promote the Beatles last public performance on August 29, 1966. It’s hard to believe one guy could be that busy and productive. Alas his life was cut short by his enormous weight and bad lifestyle. Tom was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of fame in 1996. Without Tom would Sacramento have had it’s KZAP? Would Boston have it’s WBCN? Philadelphia it’s WMMS?..FM underground radio is part of the Revoluton’s DNA. Thanks Tom, for giving us so much and for showing me a way to make a living that didn’t involve pulling a muscle. Peace Out