KTKT DJ Hall OF Fame
1967 started out quietly enough for KTKT. The big news at the start of 1967 for KTKT was the building of new offices and studios off of Grant Road near the transmitter site. Construction would be complete towards the middle of the year. The first air shift change occurs during the spring when Lee Poole leaves the DJ line up for a short time. Tom Wright moves over to do midnights. Ron Knight joins KTKT to take over the 9 to midnight program. Shortly afterwards Tom Wright leaves KTKT. After a few months Tom will show up at KTKT sister station KRUX in Phoenix. Tom did return to Tucson during the 70’s as PD and DJ at KHOS. Mike Kelly takes over the midnight shift at KTKT after Tom Wright leaves.
6 am – Jerry Stowe
9 am – Dan Gates
Noon – Bob Holiday
3 pm - Frank Kalil
6pm – Joe Bailey
9 pm – Ron Knight
Midnight - 6 am – Mike Kelly
Over next few months – the remainder of 1967 – there would be some major changes and challenges facing KTKT. The major challenge was the June 1967 sign on of KIKX. For the first time since May of 1960 KTKT will face serious full time competition for the top 40 crown in Tucson. Knowing a day time only operation will never topple KTKT Texan John Walton – the owner of 50,000 watt AM 1550 KFIF - a day time station – devised a plan to take on KTKT head on. Walton works out a deal to purchase adult music station KTAN from Tucsonan Harry Chambers during April of 1967. KTAN - AM 580 with a big 5000 watt daytime signal and most importantly 24 hour operations - gives Walton the means to challenge KTKT. In order to purchase KTAN Walton donates KFIF to the U of A. Walton works quickly and takes KTAN off the air April 29 - going dark to rebuild and remodel the studios and offices – then located at the Sands Hotel. Walton also assembles a first class staff with lots of talent including Tucsonan Gary Palant as PD. One of the new KIKX opening day DJ’s includes Jefferson K who in later years goes on to be known as Shadoe Stevens – a radio and TV star with national recognition. Walton also gave KIKX a big contest and promotions budget. KTAN returned to the air as KIKX with the top 40 format at 3 pm June 10 1967. Using a fresh and fast paced Drake like format – and also owing to the heavy spot load at KTKT – KIKX is able to make serious inroads with the younger demographic in Tucson with a “much more music “ presentation.
The second half of 1967 was also full of staff changes for KTKT. One of the first on the air DJ changes for the second half of 1967 was once again on overnights as Mike Kelly left KTKT August 1 1967 – after only a two month stay. He was replaced by Jim Arnold. Jim had previously worked with John Wasley at KOLD AM 1450 doing top 40 evenings and weekends. Arnold would leave KTKT after only a few months and join KIKX doing overnights. At first Arnold was temporarily replaced in the overnight slot at KTKT by Tucson newcomer Bob Townsend. Bob - who was hired to do evenings – would only be overnights for a short time. Ron Knight also left KTKT late in 1967. He was replaced – at least for now - by Lee Poole who had developed a credible and convincing Wolfman Jack imitation. Lee adapted the name Johnny Rabbit for this persona. More night time changes included long time and very popular evening DJ Joe Bailey leaving KTKT near the end of 1967 to fulfill a military reserve obligation. Joe was initially replaced by Eric Michael who ironically enough had just completed a military obligation and returned to civilian life. Prior to his military service Eric was heard in Tucson during 1965 on AM 1550 KFIF as Eric Mitchell.
Even bigger changes occur near the end of 1967 as KTKT program director Dan Gates leaves his 9 am shift at KTKT to do the same shift at competitor KIKX. Noon to 3 pm DJ Bob Holiday takes over Dan’s PD duties at KTKT. With the opening of the 9 am to noon slot vacated by Dan Gates morning man Jerry Stowe - who has been doing early mornings since 1963 takes the opportunity to sleep in a little and moves over to do 9 am to noon. While many Tucsonans were jarred at Jerry’s move (Jerry had a large legion of early morning fans and listeners) they were soon treated to KTKT new comer Don Hinson with his own unique brand of humor and gags. In later years Don Hinson would enjoy a long run as the morning man at KLAC the country music king in Los Angeles. Don held that post for nearly 18 years.
The blockbuster on the air change for KTKT late 1967 was the departure of after noon drive DJ Frank Kalil. Easily the most recognized voice (and face) of KTKT for the last ten years it was Frank Kalil who took over as PD of KTKT spring of 1957 putting in place an exciting new “Color Radio” top 40 format. Kalil - who learned the concept of top 40 radio programming while he worked in Texas with radio legends Chuck Blore and Gordon McLendon – with only a couple brief absences - has held down the afternoon shift for more than ten years. By far the most popular personality at KTKT Frank was seen all over Tucson during the late fifties and early sixties doing hundreds of live remote broadcasts for many different sponsors. In addition Frank – during the sixties often with Jerry Stowe – hosted and emceed many concerts and record hops and other promotions for KTKT.
Frank Kalil was also seen often on Tucson TV - having his own noontime talk / variety program broadcast from the top of the Tucson Land and Title Building’s very tony Sky Room Restaurant. It should be noted that KTKT’s studios were located in the basement of this same building from the fall of 1957 to the spring of 1967. Frank was also the television and radio advertising face and voice for Ted Flash’s TV and Appliance Store for many years. Kalil also enjoyed success doing stand up comedy with Tucson advertising executive Jay Taylor. The duo appeared on national TV, toured nationally with other leading entertainers and recorded a comedy LP for Capitol Records. Frank’s reluctance to leave Tucson for long periods of time after being offered an opportunity to host a summer replacement show on NBC TV ended the run of Kalil and Taylor. During 1967 Kalil along with Tucson television executive Ed Richter formed a partnership to purchase AM 1490 KAIR. With the late 1967 departure of Frank Kalil KTKT lost not only an afternoon DJ but also a great programming talent. Kalil - who held the post of program manager - had the final say and was responsible for everything that went over the air at KTKT. Frank’s attention to detail and his constant strive for perfection played a big part in KTKT’s success over the previous 10 years. Replacing Kalil in the afternoon slot at KTKT was one Mike Nardone.
By the end of 1967 six out of seven of the full time KTKT DJ shifts had changed from what they had been earlier in the year. While the changes in the day time DJ line up (6am to 6 pm) were considered long term – somewhat permanent – the changes for the over night hours (6 pm to 6 am) were only temporary fixes. PD Bob Holiday and GM Phil Richardson were working full time towards the end of 1967 and at start of 1968 in an effort to refresh KTKT’s programming and strengthen the night time DJ line ups to prevent more audience erosion to KIKX. To read more about KTKT’s efforts to battle KIKX be sure to read the1968 KTKT DJ Hall Of Fame.
6 am – Don Hinson
9 am – Jerry Stowe
Noon – Bob Holiday
3 pm – Mike Nardone
6 pm – Eric Michael
9 pm – Lee Poole as Johnny Rabbit
Midnight to 6 – Bob Townsend
Weekends & fill in – Frank Casanova
From the KTKT Newsroom
The KTKT newsroom also underwent change during 1967. Longtime news director (since 1960) Lloyd Couch left KTKT during the spring of 1967. Jerry Chambers took over the news director duties. Other new members of the KTKT news staff during 1967 included Bob Wagner who had been a long time voice at KCUB and John C Scott from KAFY in Bakersfield California.
From the cover of the February 21 1967 KTKT chart. Pictured in front of the KTKT mobile news unit second from the left is Lloyd Couch. Third from the left is Bob Wagner.
For a real in depth first person account of the Tucson radio and music scene of the late sixties please take time to read The Frank Casanova Story elsewhere at this site.