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

Turn the dial back half a century 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 and co-produced 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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Gossemer 18 days ago
Ah Yes wolfman Jack was awesome, he was everywhere on TV and so on. " Clap for the Wolfman"!
Beta6 18 days ago
Oh man, Wolfman Jack! My fave. Alan Freed in the late 50's too, until he was caught up in the Payola scandal. Don't know if I spelled his last name right.
bagandwallyfan52 19 days ago
WOLFMAN JACK was my favorite.
I also enjoyed listening to
Ron Gregory on WOWO
1190 on the AM Dial.
Back in 1977 The Hollywierd
Report with Rick Marr was
Heard on The Ron Gregory
Show on WOWO on Fort
Wayne Indiana .
Are there. Still 50,000 watt
AM radio stations that radio listeners can receive
At NIGHT TIME ONLY?
Is WOWO still a 50,000
Watt clear channel AM
Station? Besides WOWO
On 1190 AM are there any
Other 50,000 watt stations
In the 50 States?
Are there any AM stations
With 50,000 watts clear
Channel on 1190 On the
AM dial besides WOWO?
wdb6357 19 days ago
What about Jerry Blavat? The Philly dj is still rocking!
jholton30062 19 days ago
For a network that's based in Chicago, I'm surprised Larry Lujack didn't make it. Or Ron Riley, Clark Weber, Ron Britain, Barney Pip...
vikkr 19 days ago
Wolfman Jack while sitting next to my bed on the floor by my stereo with my lava lamp on so my parents would not hear me being up so late, oh what great memories thank you!
Moverfan 20 days ago
Heard of Cousin Brucie (granted, it's been in the past 15, 20 years) and I think we've all heard of Murray the K--but if you grew up in the seventies, you definitely knew the Wolfman!
StrayCat 20 days ago
I recall in the mid 60’s when FM was beginning to make inroads against the AM radio stations. One of the most memorable was Alison Steele aka: the Nightbird. She spun her records on WNEW FM. There are so many notable DJ’s from the 50’s-70’s it’s impossible to name them all. Scot Muni and Gus Gossert are a couple more.

Trivia: Bruce Morrow for a time used to broadcast his “Coke Show” from a studio in Palisades Amusement park in the late 60’s. You could walk by and see him in the studio through the plate glass window.
DominicMarks 22 days ago
Grew up in Philly listening to Hy Lit, Joe Niagra n Jerry Blavatt. IMO the best DJ's on radio. I can hear them now as I write this post, but in all fairness wherever u grew up the DJ's u listened to were the best. So here's to the voices on the radio that were the part of our youth.
StrayCat DominicMarks 17 days ago
Did you forget Frank X Feller?
musicman37 22 days ago
Let's not forget that the Wolfman had a gig as the co-host of "Midnight Special", as well as being heard on three top 40 hits: "Hit the Road Jack" by the Stampeders, "Did You Boogie (With Your Baby)" by Flash Cadillac & the Continental Kids, and the Guess Who's tribute to him " Clap for the Wolfman".
hughdepayns 26 days ago
Cousin Brucie is still doing his job. Now, at 85 years old, he has his Saturday Night Rock 'n' Roll Party from 6-10 on 77ABC radio.
justjeff hughdepayns 22 days ago
He was the actual cousin of my friend's late wife!
griffmurray 6 months ago
Why did they leave out The Real Don Steele?
musicman37 griffmurray 22 days ago
Don Steele was in the original article - this is like the Part 2.
greyhawk 17 months ago
Just like Yankee vs Dodgers there was always big competition between 1010 WINS - Murray the K with the Swinging Soiree and 77 WABC -The Seven Good Guys The 77 weekday regular DJ were: Dan Ingram, Herb Oscar Anderson, Charlie Greer, Scott Muni, Bob "Bobaloo" Lewis, Harry Harrison, Ron Lundy, and "Cousin Brucie" who is still on Sirius in the afternoon on 60's.
StrayCat greyhawk 20 days ago
WMCA was a competitor as well back in the 50's and into the 60's and originally coined the term "good guys". Harry Harrison came over from MCA to ABC.
pellinigroup 18 months ago
Biondi on WLS/WCFL/WJMK/WLS-FM all Chicago. Morgan on WIND Chicago. Add Superjock Larry Lujack to this. Started in Chicago in 1967.
Andy pellinigroup 22 days ago
Good Ol' Uncle Larr and Little Snot-Nosed Tommy!
RadioPete 18 months ago
This list is incomplete without 2 others:

Where is Joey Reynolds?
If you're talking about pre-FM "Top-40" days, Joey on WKBW was the funniest and most relevant smart-ass on the airwaves. He was the only one bold enough to make fun of the Beatles (and get away with it). "Royal Order of the Night People", unite!

Where is Dick Summer?
After midnight, Dick's cerebral approach to music and life over WBZ was perfect; a laid back persona who was ahead of the FM radio curve to come.
justjeff RadioPete 22 days ago
Make it *three* others... Rick Shaw had a 40+year career in the Miami, Florida market... starting with WCKR (WIOD), then a long stint at WQAM. Following that, he was at WAXY in Fort Lauderdale and put his final tenure in at Majic 102.7.
MadMadMadWorld justjeff 20 days ago
Ah, you said the magic word: WQAM --> TIGER RADIO! A major webpage (and sub pages) are available * for those who grew up in the Miami (and Hollywood) Florida metro area, anytime from 1963-75, when Ricky-ticky ("R-I-C-K, R-I-C-K, R-I-C-K, aw, Shaw!" --radio ad for him) dominated South Florida's pop music scene. In 1964, he once got earned whopping 52 share (52%) of the audience: meaning he had more listeners than all the other competitors at the time he was on, combined! He once visited my junior high, and I got to talk to him. Don't remember anything he or I said that day, in late-'64 or early-'65, but I did get his autograph. He started as a teen in 1956 in St. Louis (birth name: James Hummel), then moving to Omaha, NE then Denver, before moving to Miami in 1960 at WIOD worked at WAXY (106.9 FM) from 1976-90, then 1990-2007 at Majic (WMXJ 102.7 FM). Sadly, he died at 78 on Sep. 22, in 2017 at home in Cooper City, FL. Born on Oct. 24, 1938 in East St. Louis, IL.
His favorite song is Ray Peterson, "Goodnight, My Love" (1959), played when he ended his radio shift: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Spb_ju4enaA



* http://560.com/wqam.html
Miami Herald article on Rick Shaw, exact date unknown.
justjeff MadMadMadWorld 20 days ago
You've covered all the bases! Rick's friend and co-worker (and someone I was friendly with as well) was the late Roby Yonge. A great guy, but a bit self-destructive (work-wise and otherwise)... Roby landed himself a great job at WABC in New York... and got himself in trouble by starting the "Paul is Dead" rumor...
Doncmd 18 months ago
CORRECTION:
It was NOT Dick Biondi in Chicago who first played the Beatles as you claim in this story.
It was Carroll James of WWDC in Washington, DC, who was the first DJ in North America to play a Beatles record on the air. He was universally recognized as such -- including by The Beatles themselves.
This is why Washington was the opening stop on the band's first American tour.
RadioPete Doncmd 18 months ago
I heard "Please Please Me" in early autumn 1963 over WDRC, Hartford and a couple of other stations along the eastern seaboard. It didn't catch-on. Then at the end of 1963, the world changed.
Russ 18 months ago
You're being crystallized by the Mojo Man
MarikaMorelLewis 18 months ago
remember some kid from Philadelphia named Dick Clark
Yeah, I remember him--always thought he was kind of cute. Wonder whatever happened to him...
BradleyGrover 18 months ago
I remember Robert W. Morgan as the first announcer on the 1980s TV music show "Solid Gold".
HachikoTelly 21 months ago
I never lived in Southern California, but live in next door Arizona. Therefore, I did not hear of Dave Hull until KFI (AM 640 Los Angeles CA) hired him. KFI's 50,000 watt signal got into quite a few western states at night, so a lot of people probably heard the show, along with the Dodger radio broadcasts with Vin Scully calling play by play. So, I heard one out of eight, plus I bought Dave Hull's autobiography. I knew OF the other jocks pictured since I am a radio and TV history junkie, but never heard them first hand. Thanks for the chance to relive this area of time.
justjeff HachikoTelly 22 days ago
There was an LP put out on Vee-Jay Records in 1964 entitled "Hear the Beatles Tell All" with interviews by Jim Steck and Dave Hull...
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