Studying Radio


You have arrived at the online companion to KHJ Los Angeles: Boss Radio Forever by Woody Goulart exclusively available now from in print as a paperback book and also as a Kindle eBook. Find out more.

Introduction of Woody Goulart

I first met Woody Goulart in 1975 when I was a young assistant professor at Humboldt State University in Arcata, California. Woody walked into my office with an idea that he thought would never work — a serious study of the radio programming efforts in the mid sixties in Los Angeles known as “Boss Radio.”

His proposal, which developed into his master’s thesis, was exciting to me, as I had worked as talent in radio back East, and I ultimately served as his thesis director throughout the project.

Woody managed to convince an impressive group of radio industry heavyweights (who had never before — or since — been interviewed together for one publication) to share their thoughts and insights with him. His thesis preserved and analyzed their comments, which now are an important part of radio history.

Through Woody’s efforts, those of us who lived through the era can relive and remember those “boss times.” Just as importantly, a new generation can read and learn from “the pros” Woody interviewed back then.

I believe that this kind of social research enables future generations to know and understand events from that era, and the people who made them happen. I fear that without a record like this, researchers as well “radio enthusiasts” could lose a link to an exciting period of popular culture.

Which brings me to this website. I have used Boss Radio Forever as a “required resource” for my broadcast history class. My students have found it to be a thorough and accurate narrative and analysis of one of the most creative and exciting times in radio’s history.

I’ve managed to stay in touch with Woody all these years. Distance and years separate Woody and me from those days at Humboldt when he first talked of this project. But, thanks to the Internet — a medium we couldn’t conceive in 1975 — anybody can relive the fun, examine the radio programming, and meet the people who talked with Woody back then.

I’m extremely proud of Woody Goulart, his work, and this website. I invite you to enter the world of Boss Radio!

Written by James E. Seward, Ph.D., professor emeritus, St. John Fisher College, Rochester, NY.


A Very Unique Perspective

I was just a 24-year-old kid fresh out of college when I found myself working for the legendary Bill Drake and Gene Chenault at KIQQ-FM (known as “K-100”) in Los Angeles in 1973-74, who took over managerial control of the station where I was the director of production and public affairs programming. As an employee at K-100—although I was certainly near the very lowest on the proverbial totem pole at 6430 Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood—I was afforded an opportunity to be a “participant observer” within the Drake-Chenault team. This has given me a very unique perspective that I share with you here at this website.

I was an “outsider” who worked on the “inside” and that kind of perspective can be a very powerful one, indeed. Realizing this, I used my access to the people on the Drake-Chenault team to conduct primary research concerning the radio programming that led to Boss Radio in 1965 and K-100 in 1973. I published The Mystique and The Mass Persuasion: A Rhetorical Analysis of the Drake-Chenault Radio Programming 1965-1976—available for you to download and read at the bottom of this page at no cost to you. In 1976 it was the first book-length analysis and evaluation that had ever been done about Boss Radio and the derivative radio programming formats that followed.

In order to analyze the radio programming endeavors started by Drake and Chenault, I conducted primary research because in the mid-1970s there was no in-depth information available anywhere on this subject. Trade magazines of that era—most notably Claude Hall’s Billboard magazine column—covered Boss Radio, Bill Drake, Ron Jacobs and others. Periodicals such as Time and Newsweek had also run stories on Boss Radio and Bill Drake. But, none of these sources provided information of much length or depth.

Claude Hall wrote This business of radio programming : a comprehensive look at modern programming techniques used throughout the radio world. However, his book—an industry insider’s perspective on the radio and music business—came out the year after I completed my primary research into the Drake-Chenault radio programming efforts and published my masters thesis. This means that in the 1970s I was the first person to release a definitive study of Boss Radio KHJ.

My primary research was built upon many face-to-face interviews and examined a broad range of topics and people. This work provided me the foundation upon which to write analyses and evaluations of the efforts of Bill Drake, Ron Jacobs, and others associated with Boss Radio at KHJ in Los Angeles, later with the RKO Radio chain of radio stations, and finally with K-100 in the early 1970s. Since I have never held any allegiances or biases towards any particular person involved, I believe that you can rely upon my observations as straightforward and without any hidden agendas.




Primary Research

Most of the writing about this subject has come from secondary research, but I am one of the few who has conducted primary research concerning the Bill Drake and Gene Chenault team’s radio programming that started in the 1960s while these gentlemen were living. In Los Angeles, I interacted with them as an employee of theirs, so they trusted me to sit down with me and talk on the record about their work in rock and roll radio programming.

I am giving you free access to my master’s thesis from Humboldt State University entitled The Mystique and The Mass Persuasion: A Rhetorical Analysis of the Drake-Chenault Radio Programming 1965 – 1976. What you get is every typewritten page of my primary research findings and conclusions concerning this unforgettable 1960s to 1970s rock and roll radio programming.

Download the pdf (10 MB) free by clicking on the title below:

Summary of Findings:

Several radio broadcasting professionals, independent of each other, all are in agreement about the fact that Bill Drake should not have been credited by the radio industry trade press as the person most responsible for the success of Boss Radio.

Bill Drake and Gene Chenault angered and alienated several of their key management people working on Boss Radio by taking radio programming components that were tested and perfected by Boss Radio and using those components to program radio stations in San Francisco, Boston, and other major markets.

The failure of Bill Drake and Gene Chenault to hold together a successful team while programming the RKO Radio chain of rock and roll radio stations was caused by the deterioration of mental efficiency, the lack of proper reality testing, and the suppression of dissenting viewpoints—symptoms which are critically destructive to successful group behavior and decision-making—today commonly referred to as groupthink.

After being ousted from RKO Radio, Bill Drake and Gene Chenault unsuccessfully attempted to recapture their national prominence as successful radio programmers at a Los Angeles FM station called “K100.” That venture failed in the late 1970s.

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