Bill Ballance — KFWB Los Angeles

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Here’s a classic slice of broadcasting history a long  way from Puget Sound. But maybe not so far as you think. The ground-breaking influence of KFWB-Los Angeles  in  the late 1950s influenced nearly every GM and PD who ever hoped to reach top-40 radio success. (That includes the Seattle market.)

From various accounts, Channel 98 Color Radio KFWB recorded some of the highest audience ratings LA — or any other market — would ever attain. Program director Chuck Blore worked for both Gordon McLendon and Todd Storz, the two early pop radio wizards. Blore knew big success meant more than just playing rock and roll records. At KFWB, he programed a solid jingle package and some of the top jocks in the business — the “Seven Swinging Gentlemen.”

Here’s scoped audio of Bill Ballance from Dec. 12, 1959, featuring  an all-hands jockshout, as well as Charley  Arlington — one of  LA’s long-time news greats. It’s a clip from my personal collection, not found on the internet. (Apologies for any waning quality and drop-outs from the original tape.)

> Audio Running time 5:32

Clockwise from the top: Bruce Hayes, Joe Yocam, Ted Quillin, Elliot Field, B. Mitchel Reed, Bill Ballance, Red Blanchard, Al Jarvis (center)

Critics say  Ballance’s  greatest  fame  came during  his  many  years  as a  controversial talk  radio  host, during the later  years  of his  50-year career. Time  Magazine  once said  he  had many imitators,  but no rivals. Ballance  died at age 85 in 2004.

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Ronald DeHart

Author: Ronald DeHart

Ron DeHart is a former newspaper and broadcast journalist and a retired Public Affairs Officer from both the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Navy/Naval Reserve. His historical accounts of Pacific Northwest broadcasting are published by Puget Sound Media.  

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