Jimmy Darren (Hilliard), who went on to eventually own a group of radio stations, with a few funny moments from his KNEW radio program.
Hilliard owned the James Crystal Radio Group in Pompano Beach, but began his radio career in the 1950s as a DJ.
He walked into KJR one afternoon and introduced himself. He was Jim Hilliard, had just come up from Texas and hired to take over the programming of a station in Bellingham that was just about to go on the air. Upon arrival, he discovered that station was just the dream of some idiot who had led him on! Jim was somewhat desperate in that his wife Barbara was with him, he had left everything for this new job, and puff, it turned out to be just smoke and mirrors.
He had an aircheck, I listened to it, and hired him on the spot to be my KJR all night man. He wanted a new name for on the air, so quickly agreed to the tag, Jimmy Darren.
His talent was so abundant, it wasn’t long until we appointed him to our Spokane station, (then KNEW, eventually KJRB) as not only morning drive jock, but also Program Director. He was funny on the air, great pace, great feeling, simply great is the word. He was an outstanding PD as he had a superlative “shit detector” and was instantly respected by the air staff.
He also had ants in his pants!
Soon, I became aware of his looking for bigger opportunities. This manifested itself before long by his accepting a position with a station in Calgary. I was saddened to lose him. I was national PD for our company at that time and counted on him for big things but knew in the long run I would lose him. Winnipeg was his next stop as I recall, then on to Philadelphia as Program Director and eventually Indianapolis (WIBC, The Indy 500 Station.) His extraordinary talent was so visible, his climb up the ladder was quick.
I consider Jim Hilliard to be one of America’s 10 best PD and broadcasters of all time!
He was successful in several large markets including Seattle, Dallas and Indianapolis.Jimmy Darren KNEW (2:26)
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