8 boss disc jockeys of the 1960s. Did you listen to any of them?

Turn the dial back and dig these pioneers and promoters of rock & roll.

In today's world, with streaming services and digital music, an ocean of music is at your fingertips. Everyone is a DJ. Half a century ago, the transistor radio was a teenager's lifeline to pop music. Disc jockeys were the tastemakers, the gatekeepers of cool, rock & roll stars in their own right. Every major city had its star DJ, and record spinners in Cleveland, Philly, L.A. and beyond become idols.

Dick Clark and Casey Kasem are still household names. Others, though massive at the time, remain a bit more obscure. Here are some of our favorite DJs of the 1960s. Which disc jockey did you listen to?

Top image: American Graffiti / Universal

1. Dick Biondi

 

You know that whole "I was into them before everyone else" thing? This Chicago legend has the ultimate bragging right. The loud, knock-knock-joke-telling jock was the first American to play the Beatles, in February of 1963. He would later relocate to Los Angeles and introduce the Fab Four at their Hollywood Bowl gig. Why the move to California? The urban legend was that he told an obscene joke, but the likely reason was a dispute over the advertising on his show. 

Image: Discogs

2. Johnny Holliday

 

Holliday was the king of the Bay Area scene. While at KYA in 1965, he was named America's number one disc jockey. No wonder he was rubbing shoulders with the likes of Leonard Nimoy. He too would introduce a Beatles gig, at Candlestick. Holliday — oddly not the next entry on our list — was also the announcer on the TV show Hullabaloo. Later, Holliday would move into sports broadcasting and become the voice of the University of Maryland. 

Image: SF Gate / Bay Area Radio

3. Dave Hull

 

Hull also had ties to the Beatles — sensing a theme here? As he was quite chummy with the British quartet, he often interviewed the band, and recordings of these chats were released as records. For this, he is yet another to have earned the title "fifth Beatle." Dubbed "The Hullabalooer," Hull hit it big on KRLA in L.A., and he opened a teen club called Hullabaloo on Sunset.

Image: Amazon

4. Hy Lit

 

With a name like "highlight," Hyman "Hy" Lit was born to be a radio personality. His Hall of Fame show on WIBG dominated the Philadelphia / New Jersey area with a whopping 71% market share. "The Jet Jockey on Flight 99" put out two compilations of early-'60s pop.

Image: Discogs

5. Robert W. Morgan

 

Of all the boss DJs of the 1960s, Morgan was arguably the bossiest. He lead the team of "Boss Jocks" at KHJ-AM in L.A. and would kick off each broadcast with a cry of, "Good morning, Boss Angeles!" Morgan nabbed Billboard's award for Air Personality of the Year in 1967, and two years later co-produced and narrated the first ever rock & roll documentary, History of Rock and Roll.

Image: DJ Master Control

6. Bruce "Cousin Brucie" Morrow

 

One of the kings of the East Coast, Brucie held down the primetime 6:15PM to 10:30PM slot at WABC in NYC. He was adept at blending a variety of genres, and his notoriety led him to onscreen roles in 1978's Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and Dirty Dancing. He played the magician in the latter.

Image: Discogs

7. Murray the K

 

Okay, there had to have been at least ten "fifth Beatles." To be fair to Murray, who became Brucie's main competition in New York, he had close ties to John, Paul, George and Ringo. The story goes (according to Murray) that George himself bestowed the title on the disc jockey. He was there when the Fab Four first arrived in America, broadcasting his show from the band's Plaza Hotel suite at the invite of Brian Epstein. Murray also earns major cred points for defending and championing Dylan after the folk singer turned electric in the face of stiff criticism.

Image: Discogs

8. Wolfman Jack

 

Robert Weston Smith created such an out-of-this-world persona in Wolfman Jack that he was practically a superhero of rock & roll. No wonder the raspy-voiced howler showed up in Wonder Woman — not to mention American Graffiti, The Odd Couple and more. He also narrated The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang cartoon. Revisiting American Graffiti today, his on-air performances sound like a new art form, a strange new language invented for Boomer teens.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

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121 Comments

BenDejo 1 month ago
Coming to you LIVE from the land of where the girls are girls the men are men and the sheep are nervous. Living on the West Coast I grew up with the BOSS Jocks Sam Riddle, Robert W. Morgan, Humble Harvey, Casey Casem, But as I grew I found Wolfman Jack, Art LaBoe, Huggie Boy J.J. Jackson, Brad Edwards from KGFJ & XPRS. Later my mornings were filled with Dr. Don Rose out of KFRC San Francisco.
FloridaTopCat 15 months ago
Dan Ingram, WABC, later WCBC-FM. Scott Muni and Rosco, WNEW-FM. And NO LIST can be complete without WABC's Ron Lundy; Ron was immortalized in the movie "Midnight Cowboy" when Joe Buck (Jon Voight) is holding his Mini-transistor-Boom-Box (its 1969) riding on the bus as it is approaching New York City, and he tunes to WABC just in time for Ron Lundy's top of the hour intro - "Hello, Love—this is Ron Lundy from the Greatest City in the World, New York!"
McGillahooala 22 months ago
I know Wolfman Jack and that’s about it.
nightshade 22 months ago
you forgot the "real" don Steele who was on wkrth aka k-earth 101 in LA for years who appeared in so many movies....
carmellabella 23 months ago
I loved him.Awesome voice ♥️♥️♥️👏🏻
sierra127 23 months ago
Robert w morgan

Was by far the best i follow him.all over the radio ..his christmas show amazing he had one call "God" at Christmas that was so touching . Still make me feel good inside remembering it he was on kmpc and
Kearth 101 and even a short time with magic Johnson own radio show .. besides 93 khj
When you listen to him it was like listing to a family member always had class
BigE 23 months ago
I used to listen to Dick Biondi and Larry Lujack.
Ajax 23 months ago
Porky Chedwick (R & R Hall of Fame) and Clark Race ruled The Burgh !
ncadams27 23 months ago
I collected the weekly record surveys the Top 40 stations put out.
tootsieg 23 months ago
Growing up on the East Coast in the 60’s, the DJ’s on WABC and WMCA were superstars. I had the radio on all the time or the transistor radio pressed up against my ear. Magic days. Loved the article.
mdit21 23 months ago
I watched Bruce Morrow on an ABC special called; "A Mod Mod World."

rayma 23 months ago
I listened to Dr. Donlond D. Rosenberg on KFRC and I went to School with one of his daughter s
ncadams27 rayma 23 months ago
Don Rose - I remember him on WFIL in the early 70s.
Big3Fan 23 months ago
Growing up on the Northern Plains, we were able to listen to KOMA OK City and WLS Chicago at night. I can't remember any of the KOMA DJs but I do remember John Records Landecker on WLS 890. Unfortunately I can't remember any of the jocks from our daytime Rock station WDGY, WeeGee, out of Minneapolis.
Coldnorth Big3Fan 23 months ago
I remember Chris Eric Stevens at night on WLS CHICAGO
Lacey 23 months ago
I heard Wolfman Jack and Johnny Holladay was my first "morning DJ" when I got an AM radio for Christmas on WWDC in Washington DC. I loved that station ( "1260 and 101 WWDC") and knew all the DJs. I was even allowed to go to their public events. (A big deal for a tween girl back then).
retro6 23 months ago
Grew up in Chicago, so I remember Dick Biondi. Wolfman Jack I remember from shoes he did on tv.
texasluva 23 months ago
Growing up in So Cal (San Diego) Wolfman Jack came in loud and clear on his XERF radio station 250,000W from Mexico. It could reach parts of all 50 states and Canada. Later taking his wares to L.A. and other places. What a character he was. I really liked the times he would take calls during his radio program and incorporate it into his awesome program.
Kenner 23 months ago
Of course Dick Biondi! The BIG 89 WLS Chicago…50,000 watt blow torch playing all the hits! I had that transistor stuck in my ear listening to the Beatles, The Doors, Aretha Franklin, Matchstick Men and a hundred other bands. Aww The Seekers lead singer passed away the other day I see. So sad.
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