Aircheck Control Panel

As a kid growing up in the 1960's and 1970's in Pasadena, California, I was heavily influenced by "Boss Radio" and the Los Angeles personalities that made the Drake format work, especially Humble Harve and Machine Gun Kelly. After graduating at John Muir High in Pasadena, I attended Pasadena City College and received my First Class Phone. While pursuing my education in radio, I was on a parallel track pursuing acting, taking lessons from a veteran character actor named Harrison Lewis who lived in Hollywood in an old bungalo, complete Jeff McNeal's original head shot, sent to agents in pursuit of acting in 1978, just before embarking on his radio career.with a mini stage. Harrison was an old man and had a neat old Rolls Royce Silver Shadow. Never saw it in person, just a photo.

About the same time my head shot (see picture at right) was being rejected by talent agents because the "Blue-eyed Blonde look" was "in", I bailed out of acting class when Harrison wanted me to rehearse a romantic scene in which I played the man and he would be "playing the woman." Who did he think I was? James Spader? I suddenly remembered that I had to be somewhere else -- and I was late. I may have been young, but I wasn't stupid. 

Realizing that film and television acting at least, wasn't going to be my bag, and neither was drumming (which I had been practicing since I was 9-years-old), I took off to become a radio personality... My flair for the dramatic lived on, however, and was instrumental in the celebrity impressions and original character voices I would eventually create for my "theater of the mind" approach to radio. My characters could be anything I wanted them to be. Blonde, brunette, white, black, rich, poor, educated or dullards. And they were all of those things... and more..

While attending P.C.C. I met Chuck Van Horne, a.k.a. "The Flying Dutchman" in one of my classes. Chuck had already been a success in radio, working in San Bernardino at KMEN, among many other stations. I was in awe of having a guy in class who had actually been "on the air" somewhere. Chuck had just come back to finish up his degree. Chuck was also teaching at Don Martin School of Communications in Hollywood and introduced me to school director Steve "Boogie Down" Brown. Both of these guys sensed my genuine ambition and helped me create a decent aircheck after a few months of intensive instruction at Don Martin's, which had developed a great reputation over the decades as one of the few, legitimate, broadcasting schools that actually carried some clout in the business.

Both Steve and Chuck played a major role in helping me avoid spending years "in the bush" and I credit them with my quick ascent to the major markets, which took place a scant 9 months after starting my professional broadcast career in Monterey in 1978 at the age of 18. Here's the rest of the career, along with a few airchecks and anecdotes about each station I worked for as I remember them...

MAY 1978 to JUL 1978: Music Research and Promotions Assistant: KRLA AM — Los Angeles, CA

A fellow student at Pasadena City College, Victor Hyde, was a board op at KRLA and helped me get a job screening listener calls, which was code for deciding who spoke English fluently enough to be put on the air with their requests. At the time, KRLA was a big hit with the Latino community in L.A., playing a lot of low rider faves and doing listener "dedications". I last spoke to Victor around 1993, I think. He'd been a roadie for The Pretenders and up to that point at least, had an interesting career map over the years. Art LaBoe was consulting the station at the time and his son called one evening, looking for his father, presumably. For whatever reason he called on the request line and in the ensuing moments struck me as being one of the most unusually arrogant jackasses I'd ever had the displeasure of speaking with. When I asked "Who's calling, please?" he shot back with "I'm Art LaBoe's SON. Who the f___ are YOU?!". Hey, whatever. Still, the overall experience of working at KRLA was fun. Johnny Hayes was on the air, and Sherman Cohen and Guy Zapolean were working in programming at the time.

I remember being awestruck one evening, leaning over the railing up stairs and looking down on the linoleum tile flooring below, picturing the Beatles walking through the station some 15 years before, when Bob Eubanks was glad-handing and back slapping the Fab Four on their tour of America as they were getting ready to play the Hollywood Bowl. Very cool. There was kind of a quiet magical feeling about the place when it was night time, the lights were off, and the place was quiet except for the control room monitors.

About this same time (while still working the phones at KRLA), I started doing automation voice tracks for a guy named Ron Lewis (no relation to my former acting coach Harrison Lewis).  Ron was running a radio syndication company called "The Innovation Organization" out of his garage in Simi Valley and had a very impressive client list. He was also operating a local cable-only radio station from that same garage called Q-96. I remember thinking that was pretty darned cool. To be running your own radio station from the garage that other people could actually tune in to. Who cares if you only have four listeners? To download the full jingle package, click the calls above. Ron was a quirky guy, but I liked him. He had the first Sony Betamax I had ever seen, and was amassing quite a collection of "provocactive" titles, if you know what I mean. I was saddened to learn from mutual radio acquaintance and fellow jock Larry McKay that Ron Lewis passed away in 1992 or 1993 following a stroke while still in his 40's.

JUL 1978 to JAN 1979: Air Personality & Production Director: KIDD AM — Monterey, CA

Jeff McNeal at 63 Kidd circa 1978 - photo by Billy Moore

Fresh out of broadcasting school, Billy Moore was the first PD who ever hired me for an on-air position. Billy's kindness, talent and guidance, along with the aforementioned efforts of Steve Brown and Chuck Van Horne, shaped my future in broadcasting tremendously. I had a great time in Monterey, living on my own for the first time and learning my trade. Billy was an excellent guide to high quality production values -- and remained so until his death on August 4th, 2005 at the age of 62. Billy's voice can be heard on the aircheck. The cocking gun sound is authentic. Billy sent me on an errand to a gun store in Monterey with a tape recorder and the instructions to record the sound of a Winchester rifle being cocked, when he couldn't come up with the right "pushbutton" sound effect from an actual car radio. It's a cool sweeper and a great memory of "guerilla production" in terms of how it was created. Can't find the right sound effect? Roll your own!

After losing contact with Billy for about 11 years, I tracked him down in 1989 and after renewing our friendship, hired him to do promo tracks for KIST in Santa Barbara when I was Ops Manager there . Billy and I stayed in regular contact until he passed away. I sure miss my friend... Billy was a kind, gentle soul who touched the lives of many. He was one of the closest friends I've ever had. Phillip Morris and the tobacco industry hooked him early and killed him dead, just like they killed my grandfather, father, and another very close friend of mine in the business, Steve Irwin (no relation to the Croc hunter) on March 25th, 2003. Like Billy, Steve was just 62 years old. Please stop smoking -- or better yet, don't ever start.

Billy Moore, circa 1990

My portion of the aircheck is painful to listen to, but take note the tight board work, which was really pretty good in retrospect. When compared to my later air work, this makes for an interesting contrast in terms of my voice. It should also provide hope to anyone just starting out. Met a few neat old radio guys up there on the Monterey peninsula. Mike Moyse was one of them. As I recall, he was losing his sight progressivley after being hit in the face with fire extinguishing chemicals in an auto racing accident some years earlier. He was one of those guys that knew everything about everyone on the radio. In August, 2005 I received an e-mail out of the blue from Mike's adoptive daughter. She told me her Dad died in 1986 at the age of 37. If anyone has any old Mike Moyse airchecks, please let me know so I can forward the info to his daughter.

Best memories:

Worst memories:

JAN 1979 to JUN 1979: Air Personality & Public Affairs Director: KACY AM — Oxnard/Ventura, CA

Jeff McNeal on the air, 6-10 PM, at KACY 152, circa Spring, 1979.

KACY 152 -- "The Music People". My second full-time radio gig was a good stepping stone to L.A. I was hired by a PD named Don Sinclair. On my way down the coast to take the job, GM Don Davis fired Sinclair and replaced him with an over-fed, long-haired, leaping gnome named Jim Barker. Sinclair told me that Barker, formerly Music Director, had "stabbed him in the back" to get his programming gig. Oh, that's just terrific. I wondered if I even still had a job!!

I remember meeting with Barker for the first time. I was hired for the all-night shift, which I wasn't crazy about just coming off of afternoon drive -- but I was pleased with the market size jump, so I went for it. Anyway, Barker looks at me and says "Get used to your new name. We're going to call you Jason Daniels". When I asked why, he said that he wanted to give me "a name with more punch to it". I told him that I thought it sounded like a name for a hair dresser and that if I was going to do the all night shift, I was going to keep my name that I'd already been using, because I had already been successful with it up the coast. He sort of winced and smiled at the same time and said "well, if you feel that strongly about it..." I told him "yes, I do" and spent about four months there -- as Jeff McNeal.

I was quickly promoted to evenings, when the evening jock by the name of Don Johnston was tragically killed on his motorcycle while fleeing the police at high speed. He whacked into a chain link fence. The poor guy just eeked out a living for himself and lived out of his old black VW van much of the time. He had been excited about doing some work in L.A. dubbing English voice overs over foreign films. Poor guy. He'd just bought that motorcycle and wasn't even wearing a helmet. No wife or kids, at least. I received a strange e-mail a few years ago from a friend of Don's who was espousing some sort of conspiracy in which Don was being chased by some bad guys and the police were actually trying to help him when he was killed. I guess we'll never really know.

Tom Lynch was an old-timer doing afternoons and I liked him tremendously. He'd been with the station for many years and was one of those guys who are content to stay in the smaller markets and be the big fish. Tom mooned me once from the transmitter room on the other side of the glass while I was on the air, and I've never seen an uglier ass before or since, thank goodness.

Some strange guy from England named "Lord Tim" did a brief gig or two there. He claimed to be the "real" fifth Beatle and a friend of the Rolling Stones or something. We used to make fun of Lord Tim behind his back. We liked him though. He was such an eccentric, and had the genuine British accent and all that.

Barker hired some woman whose name I can't remember to do the all night shift, Donna something, maybe. But she had red hair and a temper to match and really wasn't very pleasant to be around. In fact, she was so disagreeable that we barely acknowledged each other when the shifts were changing. I didn't want to hear about her problems and just wanted to get off the air and go home. I thought she was a little weird. Little did I realize...

One night, after I got off the air at Midnight, I went to the FM side to make a phone call to a friend when the whole station went dark. The FM automation went down, the lights, everything. Even the phones. Just then, Donna let out this bloodcurdling scream and came running back saying that I had to "protect" her. she then began a wild rant about how our PD, Jim Barker, was coming to kill her, out of revenge apparently, because she had "spurned his advances" and she had told his wife about it, etc. Shades of Diabolique. The Barkers, who had a child they named Aubrey after the song by Bread, rented a room to Donna or something. I didn't really believe her story, but SHE seemed to believe it. I didn't understand at the time that she was psychotic, but I would soon find out.

After nervously watching the parking lot for any signs of a crazed Jim Barker for about 20 minutes, I got the heck out of the building and went home, adreinalin still pumping, slightly shaken by the strange event. The next day, Don Davis called us all into his office and wanted to know what the hell was going on. I relayed the story as I was told it by Donna as Jim Barker nervously twitched in the corner of the room and I left soon thereafter.

Donna never made it back for her next shift. I found out later that she was involuntarily committed to Camarillo State Mental Hospital for observation for a few days after making death threats against Barker, Davis and yours truly. Don't ask me why she wanted to kill me. Nice little station -- especially when Donna was canned and never returned, with a knife or a gun or whatever. Funny when you think that it was owned by Children's Television Workshop. There was a big ugly mural of Sesame Street characters in the front lobby. Just the thing you want to see when you come in to work every day. A giant mural of Big Bird, Ernie, Burt and alphabet blocks...

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KUTE 102 logo JUN 1979 to APR 1980: Air Personality, Promotion & Production Director: KUTE FM — Los Angeles, CA

Jeff McNeal, L.A.'s only full time teen-aged radio personality.  Summer, 1979

Bill Stevens was the PD that gave me my first break in Los Angeles radio. I used to drive to Pasadena from Ventura each weekend to visit my folks and old friends and I'd drop off a new aircheck at the station in Glendale almost every week for a critique from Bill, who was kind enough to offer his advice. After several weeks of these sessions, he hired me to do 6pm to midnight at the disco station. This was a huge break for me. I was actually on the air in Los Angeles!! When I was 15, I had figured it might take me ten years to break into the L.A. market as a personality. I had achieved my goal six years ahead of schedule and just nine months after starting radio. The second aircheck that is included here is from my very first night on the air in Los Angeles. I was doing Midnight to 5 AM to get used to the board and the formatics. The aircheck is a scoped hour between 2-3 AM. This was a very challenging gig, in that we had to synchronize the beats of the songs and fade from one to the next -- just like they were doing in the Disco's at the time. So we had to do our best to find matching BPMs during the segues. That part time gig at Bassackwards prepped me well for this, but looking back on it, the whole concept was pretty strange, but cutting edge for the time. Note the dated reference to winning "LP's". This was a good 4 years before the first compact discs were introduced and vinyl was still king. There's an interesting contrast in terms of smoothness of delivery and confidence between my first night on the air and when the air check at the top of this section was created. The next several months would mark a real change (for the better) in my delivery.

Shortly after I came on board, Inner City Broadcasting brought out their New York star, the infamous (think "payola") Frankie Crocker, to make KUTE 102 number one in L.A. Just like he did at WKTU. What management and Frankie apparently didn't realize was that L.A. isn't New York. He immediately alienated the full-time air staff by demanding that they stay an hour or two after their shifts to do production. He quickly fired Promotion Director "Lucky" Pierre, put former PD and morning man Bill Stevens on the all night shift, took Lon Thomas from afternoon drive and turned him into a morning show BOARD OP (how demeaning) and Frankie did the morning show himself, flanked by two attractive young women that some on the staff jokingy referred to as "hookers with day jobs". The relationship that Frankie had with them at times seemed downright pimp-like - bordering on the abusive. He'd scream at them all the time. I remember standing in the lobby one morning while Crocker was on the air and hearing him blurt loudly: "Rochelle!!! Where in the HELL is my NAT KING COLE!!" Apparently, he wanted to throw a little 50's smooth jazz vocals into the otherwise disco/urban playlist.

At one point, Frankie decided that he needed a Production Director and being a lowly weekender, I threw my hat in the ring. He hired me for the gig. I was elated, since it was an AFTRA station, which meant I would be receiving full-time scale, which was about $36k a year at the time -- a far cry from that $650 a month I'd been earning just a year earlier in Monterey. Well, that lasted about two weeks. I went from a four hour production shift at union scale to just dubbing spots for nine hours a day at minimum wage, once accounting got wind of what the job entailed. So... I quit and went to work for Mike Wagner at KIIS FM, doing weekends and fill (more on that below).

A few months later, Frankie fired long-time midday personality Chris Roberts, who had threatened to punch Crocker in his surgically straightened nose and Crocker had his assistant call to ask me to come back to the station and work full-time on the air. Being my first opportunity to work full-time in Los Angeles at that luscious union scale I had been tantalized with earlier, I accepted the offer and thus became the "only full time teen-aged disk jockey" in Los Angeles. I was nineteen at the time. I started out doing 8-midnight, followed on the air at midnight by Bill Stevens, the PD who originally hired me for weekends (the irony was not lost on either of us) and was quickly promoted to Noon to 4 and additionally, Promotions Director after "Lucky Pierre" had also been given the boot.

Meanwhile, a mutiny was brewing. The old staffers that still remained conspired to have Frankie Crocker fired and eventually did -- but not before three of them were fired in a most dramatic fashion -- in an airstaff meeting with everyone else present. The day of that meeting, a memo circulated by management requested a meeting regarding "An important announcement about the PD of KUTE". Thinking that Crocker was being fired and shipped back to New York, the original staffers gathered, giggled, high-fived and carried on -- even buying Kentucky Fried chicken to celebrate in a little informal lunch "party" before the meeting. That is, until Crocker walked into the room. Franklie gave off a Darth Vader-like vibe and when he walked into a room, it seemed like the breath just got sucked right out of your lungs and the air temperature dropped by at least ten degrees. No matter what else can be said about the man, he really did have incredible presence.

Months later, after Bill Stevens had regained his authority in a second, successful coup attempt, he brought back "Lucky Pierre" and limited my role on the air significantly when he hired my former idol-turned-rival Humble Harve Miller for my shift. Not wanting to take a step backward, I left for "greener" pastures. Before leaving, I helped Chuck Van Horne get his first gig in Los Angeles -- doing mornings at KUTE 102. I was very proud to help someone who had helped me so much in my early stages of development as a personality.

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Worst Memories:

APR 1980 to SEP 1980: Air Personality: KHTZ FM — Los Angeles, CA

Jeff McNeal in a publicity shot outside the original Ten-Q and KHTZ studios on Western Avenue, a former mortuary.

San Diego radio staple Gene Knight was up in L.A. working with his buddy and PD, Bobby Rich. Gene would listen to me on his way to work and after he noticed I was no longer on the air full time at KUTE 102, he called, introduced himself, told me he liked my work, and asked if I'd be interested in talking to Bobby about an opening at KHTZ. To this day, I think that was one of the nicest things that a perfect stranger has ever done for me. Bobby took a liking to me and hired me for the 6-10pm shift and I left KUTE. A few months later, Bobby was fired by GM Tim Smith and after several weeks, I could read the handwriting on the wall. I quit before I could be fired and went back to KIIS FM. I was grateful to have the chance to meet and work with another long-time radio legend that I'd grown up listening to -- Charlie Tuna. He completely ignored me for the first few weeks I worked there whenever we'd pass in the halls. Then all of a sudden one day, he smiled and said "Hi guy!" The sudden friendliness was almost startling. I enjoyed a few long chats in the production room with Charlie about the "old days" of L.A. radio. Ten-Q had just been sold off, but the orange shag carpeting on the walls of the studio remained. The building itself was creepy, having been a former mortuary. The station moved while I was there into state of the art facilities on Wilshire Blvd behind the Red Onion restaurant. Or was it Purple Onion? Eh, I can't remember. I experienced my first and last "lost weekend" that involved copious amounts of alcohol, loud music and Hollywood hot spots on the Sunset strip while working at KHTZ. I was too young to know any better and too stupid to care. Call it an "indiscretion of youth". I was just 19-years-old and out to have a good time. A really good time. I think John Lennon's "Lost Weekend" lasted a couple of years. Mine was literally just the weekend. Heh.

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KIISFM logoSEP 1980 to SEP 1982: Air Personality: KIIS FM — Los Angeles, CA

Jeff and future wife Kim on a date, getting ready to visit the Santa Monica pier with prizes for KIIS FM listeners.

KIIS FM PD Mike Wagner had worked with Steve Brown at KDES in Palm Springs, among other places. I used the connection to make my introduction to Mike, who was kind, supportive and very helpful in shaping my talents. I worked off and on at KIIS FM for two years, with brief gigs at KUTE 102 and KHTZ in between. I think I worked under six PD's and four or five different formats while I was there. I was there when Rick Dees was first hired by that good 'ol Atlanta boy Don Benson, and I still worked there while doing mornings in San Bernardino. It wouldn't be uncommon for me to do the morning shift at KGGI and drive to L.A. to do afternoon fill in at KIIS FM. I also worked Sunday nights at KIIS FM and would have to drive to San Bernardino to do my morning show at KGGI. I fell asleep at the wheel more than once and awoke one time, whizzing down an offramp at high speed, not knowing where the heck I was. I was very lucky that someone put that off-ramp there for me to drive on as I drifted off the freeway. Lots of good memories from KIIS FM. The funniest is the recollection of fellow part-timer Joe Daniels waiving a gigantic dildo at me while I was attempting to read a live :60 spot. Someone gave the 2-foot whopper to to newswoman Liz Fulton at the station Christmas party as a "gag" gift. Sure made me laugh. Years later, Liz would sue the station for sexual harassment after Dees dubbed her Liz "Rug-burn" Fulton on-air. Hope she remembered to tell her attorney about the dildo.

We had some weird groupies at KIIS FM. One of them turned into a stalker. Her name was Norma, and Joe Daniels would always try to reason with her and tell her not to keep calling the station. Whenever she'd call me, I wouldn't say a word. I'd simply hang up. Not much satisfaction for her in that. Joe, on the other hand, would argue with her and of course, this just fanned the flames. I tried to warn Joe that he should stop trying to get through to her, but he wouldn't listen, and kept getting drawn into these pointless arguments about why she kept calling. Eventually, Norma tried to run Joe off the road one evening after his shift while he was driving home, and Norma showed up at a KIIS FM event somewhere and punched out Liz Fulton when she tried to come to Joe's aid when Norma started harrassing him. It was out of control. I think the station eventually got a restraining order against Norma.

There was also a really weird program that PD David Moorehead instituted, in which the management staff would critique new song releases live over the air. Sort of a public "music meeting". Some guy (Moorehead, I think) was always complaining about the "hand claps" in every song. Of all the PD's, Mike Wagner was my personal favorite, but I had a lot of respect for Gerry DeFrancisco. He was a very bright guy.

Best Memories

Worst Memories

NOV 1981 to SEP 1982: AM Drive Air Personality: KGGI FM — San Bernardino, CA

Former KUTE 102 Los Angeles middayer Chris Roberts hired me to do mornings at 99-1FM, which proved to be the real turning point in my career. It was here that I was allowed to experiment and really spread my wings as a personality. "Earl" the security guard, which turned out to be a popular and controversial character throughout my career, was created here. I always had "Earl" say the things that were really on my mind, but I was too afraid to say myself for fear of being canned. I always thought that as long as I got to say what I want, it didn't matter if it came from my alter-ego, as long as it was said. That way, if I crossed over the line, management could just suspend or fire "Earl", and I could just go about my business. How naive was THAT thinking!

I'm proud that in the ten months that I was at KGGI, the morning show numbers shot up two full shares in all the desired demos. But despite the performance, my request for a raise was denied, spurring me to start sending out airchecks. I was hired for the afternoon gig at KYUU San Francisco, based on the show I was doing here. One of my favorite memories from 99-1 was being forced to turn in my station jacket in exchange for my final paycheck so they could remove my embroidered name and let the next jock use the jacket. Unbelievable.

Best Memories:

Worst Memories

SEP 1982 to JUL 1988: PM Drive Air Personality: KYUU FM — San Francisco, CA

What KFRC was to San Francisco in the 70's, KYUU was in the 80's. You know, where jocks would die and go to heaven. I was 22 when I replaced "Big" Tom Parker at this NBC O&O. I was hired to do "a morning show in afternoon drive" and for six years, that's exactly what we did. NBC still owned radio stations and everything was lush and lavish. Every jock had an engineer -- there were around 15 NABET engineers employed by the station for awhile. The promotional budget was huge and I have never before or since, worked with such a talented group of jocks that had absolutely no pretention or ego problems. Everyone here was a real pro and I loved every year but the last.

I never would have thought to send an aircheck to KYUU, if it hadn't been for my sister, Donna, who worked downstairs in the same building at an art gallery. She had become friendly with Bruce Black, one of the engineers, who would stop in every now and then to pick up something for his wife. "My brother's a DJ", Donna said. Bruce responded "Oh, well, he'd never get a job working here."

Jeff McNeal - 1st KYUU publicity photo, circa 9/82

I was there for the rise and fall of the first FM station to topple the once-mighty 610 KFRC. Because of San Francisco's hilly terrain, KFRC lasted longer than most AM's as the predominant music powerhouse. If I wrote all that I'd want to say about this station and the people who worked there, I could write a book. I guess you'll have to settle for The Unplugged KYUU Archive Page instead. One amusing anecdote. I was hired by John P. Hayes Jr., a.k.a. "the incubus" who fired Howard Stern from WNBC and thus earned himself several scathing pages of attention in Stern's book "Private Parts". If John Hayes thought that I was hard to handle doing PM drive in San Francisco, Howard Stern must have hit him like a load of bricks in NYC. And he did.

I have two cherished momentos from KYUU. A mike clip that was salvaged for me after EMMIS changed the calls and format - and the original black anodized metal sign with the brushed steel KYUU lettering and color NBC peacock logo that adorned the lobby. Emmis was throwing that out, too, and it sat in the basement of a former staffers home for a few years before I was contacted and told that "out of anyone there", they wanted me to have it. Sweet gesture and much appreciated. I also have the original KYUU RCA stereo control board from the 1700 Montgomery Street facilities with the round bakelite pots. Like the original KCBQ RCA transmitter control console, this relic sat on the floor of my garage for several years until I finally sold them both off. Come to think of it, when I was at KIIS FM, they had the same board, with the baby blue side panels. I bought mine for a hundred bucks from an engineer at the old transmitter building on San Bruno mountain.

Once the earnings flagship of the once-proud 75-year NBC radio dynasty, KYUU lives on in the hearts and minds of those who listened and those like me who were fortunate enough to be there. It was one hell of a ride. I just wish it could have lasted longer. Like until I was ready to retire.


Jeff McNeal stands before his own billboard, San Francisco, December, 1986

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Jeff McNeal throws out first pitch at San Francisco Giants Game.  Mike Krukow is on the mound.

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SEP 1988 to JUN 1989: AM Drive Air Personality: KKIS FM Concord, CA

After getting the boot at KYUU in July, I quickly discovered that I wasn't going to easily land another prime gig in The City, so I accepted an offer to do morning drive at this little Class A teapot of a radio station in Concord, CA, for about half the salary I had been earning at KYUU. Jim Chabin owned and managed the station, and he was immensely likeable. Sean McMahon, who had been furiously vying for my job at KYUU, was the PD, and he surprised me with the offer. Sean had always drove me nuts at KYUU, openly gunning for my job and bragging about his airplane, which none of the rest of us could care diddly squat about, except for perhaps Rick Shaw, who also owned an airplane. But Sean had gotten married to a wonderful gal who helped him to straighten out and fly right, apparently. Not only had he matured a great deal in the several months or whatever it had been since he left KYUU, but he was a genuinely nice guy. I actually enjoyed socializing with Sean, and we would go out and play racquetball once in awhile.

KKIS FM was a low budget operation, and after I had been there for a few weeks, decided that I really needed to get on the ball and start developing other income streams. My friend from KYUU, Frank Kelly (RIP 8/6/2003) convinced me that I should start my own production company, producing commercials and on hold messages. At the time, I had no idea what on hold marketing was, and Frank patiently explained the whole shebang to me. By this time, Jim Chabin had sold the station to a new owner, and they brought in Dick Shepherd, who had been a big muckity muck at Arbitron, to run the place. Dick was an interesting guy. He supported my idea of forming a production company to offer KKIS clients major market production at cheap rates. He also gave me a $10,000 raise, effective immediately, because he wanted to keep me around. The morning numbers were on the rise, and this little teapot was gaining ground with advertisers. Shepherd no doubt didn't want to rock the boat. At least, not initially. Shepherd brought in Dan Acree as a promotions manager, and Acree, who was very talented with computer graphics, set out to create a new logo identity for the station. He also created and gifted me with the On-Hold Marketing Systems logo that I still use to this day. Jon Bristow was handling my news in the morning and he was a stand up guy. Very serious about his work, but a good sense of humor, too.

We had a good working arrangement for several months. I came in, did my shift, took care of any production requests that were waiting for me after my shift, produced the spots, carted them up and was on my way. One of the only (but terrific) perks of working at the station were the marvelous vacations the air staff got to take under the guise of "remotes". We were giving away vacations to our listeners, in conjunction with American Express Travel, and part of the deal included advance trips by air staff members to places like Hawaii, Jamaica and England, so we could talk up the vacations to our listeners. To keep my marriage intact, I skipped the singles, clothing optional resorts in Jamaica, but took in Honolulu for a weekend and London, England for a full week.

Jeff McNeal visiting Abbey Road Studios, London England.  November, 1988

Things were cool until our new GM "Dick", decided that he wanted me to start hanging around the station more to "be available" in case something needed to be done. Like, drive the prize van, change light bulbs, teach the new talent coming into the station everything I knew, for instance. I wanted no part of it. I was willing to do a stack of production work so long as it was there when I got off the air. I wasn't being paid enough to get there at 4:30 AM and stick around until 2:00 or 3:00 or whatever. My ratings were terrific and after all, that is what I had been hired to do -- bring up the numbers in morning drive. Nothing more, nothing less.

Jeff McNeal interviews Mike Love at a KKIS station remote at Fitzpatrick Chevrolet in Concord.  That's where love bought all his Corvettes...

Tension started mounting as Sean began feeling the heat and started insisting that I remain at the station for at least two hours after my airshift, to handle any new production requests that might come in. I refused. Dick reminded me how supportive he had been of my starting my own production company, but I explained that unless I had some time to devote to it, his support would be moot. At that juncture, I chose to resign from the station rather than give in to their increasing demands on my time. I had come too far, and worked too hard -- to start being treated like a minor-leaguer. Little did I realize it was just the beginning of more disappointments in radio. For me, the golden era had come and gone with KYUU. Update: Sean is now a commercial pilot for a major airline and we got together for a "reunion" of sorts in late 2005 during one of his stopovers in San Diego. It was great re-establishing contact and seeing Sean again. Also, in August, 2006, I uncovered entire Jeff McNeal shows comprising my first two weeks of doing mornings at KKIS. These were recorded digitally in high resolution stereo and contain full, unscoped morning shows from the first two weeks of August, 1988. Ronald Reagan was still in office. Talk about a strange feeling to hear these again, sounding as clear and "live" as they did when they first aired.

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JUN 1990 to JAN 1991: PM/AM Drive Air Personality: KKYY FM — San Diego, CA

Jeff McNeal's KKYY Business CardThe station that brought me to San Diego from Northern California to do the same kind of show that I had done on KYUU. I had been hired with a one-year, no cut contract, but the station was put on the block shortly after I got there and I was let go (along with about 50 other staffers) after about six months. There was, however, a GREAT accounting of what went down in the San Diego Reader newspaper. This was, without a doubt, one of the strangest, most twisted tales of radio -- ever. This should be no reflection on the PD who hired me, Robert John. He did a great job with the hand that he was dealt and was one of my favorite PD's to ever work with. I also had the opportunity to work with, and become friends with, Ron Stevens & Joy Grdnc, two off-beat people with a quirky sense of humor and two of the biggest hearts of anyone I know from radio. I still don't know how Joy can have a last name with no vowels. The aircheck is from my last week at the station, when I was doing mornings with Jimmy Baron, who had been hired as Stevens & Grdncs' producer. We were flying by the seats of our pants and having a ball. I actually looked forward to waking up at 3:30 each morning - until the boom fell.


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Magic 106/KIST logoMAY 1991 to SEP 1991: AM Personality/Operations Manager: KMGQ FM/KIST AM, — Santa Barbara, CA

This is where I hooked up with Jack Woods ("Charlie" of Charlie and Harrigan). Paul Menard (Harrigan) had liked my work doing afternoons at Y95 and we met in a box at Jack Murphy stadium one year while the Niners were playing the Chargers. After leaving Y-95, Paul intrduced me to Jack, who was running an AM/FM combo in receivership. My production business had not yet grown to the point where I could support our new home in San Diego and Paul knew that I needed help. Jack was considering a purchase offer of the Santa Barbara stations and we worked out a "sweat equity" deal in which I would receive a small salary, augmented by an ownership share of the stations if he decided to purchase them. I rented a small hovel across the street from the station and commuted to San Diego to be with my family on the weekends. I was working 14 hour days and trying to keep my business alive while I was running the radio stations for less money than I had made in the previous ten years. It was a very humbling experience. "Building character", they call it. I was so cash poor, trying to keep my household in San Diego afloat, that I borrowed a bed and a dresser from my mother and didn't even have a color TV. It was so bad that I wouldn't even spend the extra $15 a month for cable. Over the next few months, it became clear that Jack would not be buying the stations, but during that summer, Jack and I helped each other retain our sanity while dealing with the problems of the stations. I did mornings and was PD on the FM and was quickly promoted to Operations Manager of both.

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KRTH logoJUN 1991 to SEP 1991: Air Personality: KRTH FM — Los Angeles, CA

As a kid growing up in L.A., I had always dreamed of working at K-EARTH 101. I finally got my chance, albeit briefly, when Mike Phillips lent a hand to an old radio veteran going through some difficult times. I was trying to support my family living in San Diego, visiting on the weekends, working full time in Santa Barbara, and doing weekends in Los Angeles. You see why I started my own business? Hmmm? While the circumstances surrounding the work at KRTH were less than ideal, I still loved the handful of shifts that I did before being hired for the morning gig in San Diego at KCBQ. And I'm still using the headphones that long-time RKO Chief Engineer Lynn Duke gifted me with when he was showing me how to take the meter readings. Love those Sony MDR-V6's!

The aircheck is indicative of the Drake sound I grew up with. Fun. Be sure to look for the 20 year KHJ jingle retrospective on this page! Lynn Put it together and it's really something to hear. From '66 to '86, you'll hear the jingles that helped make Boss Radio the legend that it's become. If you ever stop by KRTH, check out the motorized toilet seat covers. Incredible. While I was there, I finally met Danny Martinez, who promised to play a song I requested in 1973 at KKDJ when I was 13 years old. Well, he never did play that song and I waited until his shift ended at 1am because I was trying to record it. I relayed the story to him and told him that as a result, I made a vow never to promise a song unless I knew I could deliver on it. His reply? "Aw, f*** you, man." Then, we both had a good laugh. The circle was complete.

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KCBQ logoSEP 1991 to MAY 1992: AM Drive Air Personality: KCBQ FM — San Diego, CA

Hired by Jim Seemiller for the now-defunct Adams Communications, I was pleased to return to San Diego and take the helm of the morning show. The management was a strange mix of chain smoking, hip swinging yes-men (and women) that enjoyed hallway ass-grabbing and mandatory booze and schmooze fests. To me, that place was a sexual harrassment suit just waiting to happen. The sleaze of that place hung in the air as thick as the cigarette smoke of Seemiller's incessant habit of sucking down those menthols like there was no tomorrow. Seemingly fidgety and restless, Seemiller decided to turn the old AM facility and transmitter area in the basement into new offices and gave me the original KCBQ RCA transmitter control console that he was going to throw out. It has a place of honor on the floor of my garage at the moment. After a quick assessment of the situation and knowing that I wasn't compatible with the kind of people I was working for, I gave myself six months at the station. I lasted eight and got paid for ten. KCBQ business cardBeautiful. I brought together two of my good friends, Jack Woods and Paul Menard -- known to San Diego radio fans as the legendary "Charlie and Harrigan" for a reunion show to fill in for me while I took my first week of vacation. A brilliant move! A month later, I was fired and replaced by -- Charlie and Harrigan. Their legend lives on, but their show was cancelled ten months after they took over from me. You may not believe this, but I wasn't upset that Charlie and Harrigan got the gig. They way I figured it, I wasn't going to last under management that had values so far apart from my own. I felt that I'd rather have two good friends get the job, rather than someone I'd never heard of. I've not spoken to Jack Woods ("Charlie") since Jim Seemiller was fired two months after he hired them. Paul Menard ("Harrigan") and I have stayed in touch and he even tried to steer me toward the KGB morning gig mentioned above. I still love 'em both. The aircheck here features a call to Andy Rooney, in which the 60 Minutes star was convinced I and my side-kick were Sam Donaldson and Joan Rivers, respectively.

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OCT 93 to FEB 1994: Air Personality: KFMB AM — San Diego, CA
What was believed to be my last engagement in radio. Bill Stairs was the program director and asked if I'd be interested in helping out with some fill and weekend stuff. Bill knew my work from KYUU and had even tried to bring me back to the station as morning man after Emmis took over. That never happened, but I'd always appreciated his efforts.

When Bill came to San Diego, I called to say hi and congratulate him on his new job. Bill kept after me about coming to do some part-time and fill-in work for him, and I finally gave in. After being off the air for a year and a half, I wanted to see if I still had enough gas to do a decent show. Happily, I did, but I didn't bother to save any airchecks. I wasn't looking for any more gigs and quite frankly, got tired of listening to myself. Hey, after 16 years, I'd heard it all before, right?

Two major events played a factor in my leaving KFMB. First, my mother was killed when her car slammed into a tree on January 13, 1994 -- the day after my 34th birthday. As you can imagine, I was devastated at the sudden, violent loss of my mom. Ironically, the station liked my work and they were scheduling me for more fill and weekend shifts, which meant less time with my family. Shortly thereafter, Bill Stairs was fired as PD/Ops Mgr. I quickly learned that Bill had at least as many detractors at KFMB as he had supporters, but he always treated me with respect and kindness.

Since I had decided to only return to radio on my terms and to help Bill in the first place, I decided to quit rather than deal with the posturing and politics inherent in management turnovers. The decision was a good one. Tracy Johnson came in to run the station and seemed as disinterested in me as I was in him. A week or two after I left, long-time GM Paul Palmer was axed and most of the staffers lost their jobs. Since that time, I turned down an offer to work at KKBH (The Beach) and was interviewed for the morning show at KGB.

Jack Silver, who had wanted to hire me at The Beach, was fired from that station and ended up with the morning gig at KGB along with Brian Whitman. Within a month, The Beach changed formats and I'm still sleeping late. KGB has since been sold, and of course, a year after all this nonsense, Whitman and Silver were shown the door. Crazy business.

FEB 1997 to MAY 1997: Air Personality: KXGL FM San Diego, CA

After a 3-year self-imposed exile from radio, I briefly returned to do some weekend/fill stuff at Nationwide's The Eagle 94-1. (which was sold to Jacor in late '97 and was dismantled and disappeared in Summer '98) Why did I go back? For the kicks, I suppose. I really liked the music and it sounded like they were going to take the station in a personality direction. Formerly San Diego's only classical music outlet, The Eagle, led by GM Paul Palmer (formerly of KFMB) and PD Larry Bruce (KGB) was an ambitious format that blended 60's rock with 70's classic rock. Lots of segues and "image" promos.

This is the first employer that subjected me to a mandatory drug test before I could be hired. They sent my urine specimen to Kansas for analysis. Though my pee was regrettably not eligible for frequent flyer mileage, it was deemed pure and pristine by a crack team of scientists that spent hours analyzing my urine under an atomic microscope while discussing the most recent episode of Seinfeld -- no doubt to the great expense of Nationwide Communications.

I had a great time, despite the fact that I wasn't paid for the first seven weeks I worked there. Great bookkeeper. I've never seen such gross incompetence in management before -- and that's really saying something. When I finally did get paid, it was for half the hourly rate that I had negotiated after literally laughing out loud at Bruce's initial offer when I was hired. To think I used to make a livable wage doing this stuff!?! The pay fiasco was finally resolved the week I decided to walk away from it all.

After filling in for the "temporary" morning guy for two weeks, and having so much fun doing it, I realized that I could never be satisfied pulling a weekend shift. I wanted to be a major player again. This was my last venture into radio. At the age of 37, I'm officially "retired". I re-discovered just how precious my weekend time with my family is to me. It felt good to pull the plug and walk when I realized management had no serious plans for me at The Eagle.

Even though I was a bit disappointed to not have the opportunity to do more, I feel blessed to have had the option of leaving when things didn't feel right anymore. Gives me more time to push my kids on the swing. Ah, the freedom of being an entreprenuer. Although I'm grateful for the experience of being on the air again, this bird has flown.

My youngest son, Mac, age 5, in 1997.

So what am I doing now?

Oh! So nice of you to ask! I've re-invented myself a few times over the last several years. I started a DVD review website called The BIG Picture in April, 1998, that grew into a respected source for DVD news, reviews, and home theater discussion. I've used writing to channel the creativity I could no longer express in radio. In 2000, the site was generating 3.5 million page views per month.

In June of 2003, I began a search in earnest for a voiceover agent to represent me in Los Angeles. And I've landed one of the very best and brightest. As a result, you may be hearing me on a theatrical trailer, DVD promo, national commercial, TV station, infomercial or network promo and not even know it... More details of what I'm doing (and sounding like) these days can be found on You can even log in to my live StudioCam and make like a fly on the wall and see and hear what I'm doing in real time...

Jeff McNeal studio self portrait.  Taken July, 2005

Thanks for reading about my strange and interesting journey through radio...

Jeff McNeal surprised by visit from Bettle Midler, circa 1984.RELATED INFORMATION: Fluent in foreign accents, accomplished celebrity impressionist. Hosted dozens of on-air celebrity interviews, including Jay Leno, Bette Midler, Janet Jackson, David Copperfield, Hall & Oates, Huey Lewis, Mike Love, Andy Rooney, Bob Denver, Larry Storch, Charro, Anthony Quinn, Dan Quayle, Tiny Tim, Bob Denver, Tommy Provost, Jose Feliciano and many others too numerous (and/or boring) to mention here. Made San Diego radio history as first DJ to broadcast submerged underwater in the bat ray tank at Sea World in December, 1990. Froze my ass off down there... Consistent top rankings in San Francisco Arbitron in AM/PM drive for 18-49 adults. Hosted Bay Area’s M2V, a local rock video program similar to MTV in format and content. Own and operate independent audio advertising agency and recording facility. Was the only member of the San Diego press invited to personally interview U.S. VP Dan Quayle over breakfast during his March 1992 visit. He ate corn flakes. Lengthy and documented ability to generate both local and national press in newspapers and television. Original “Gong Show” contestant in 1977.

EDUCATION:Pasadena City College: Mass Communications, Voice & Diction, Public Speaking, Basic and Intermediate Radio Fundamentals, FCC First Class License. Don Martin School of Communications: Radio Theatre, Production, Promotion, Programming, Sales, Management, Commercial Writing, Subliminal Theory.




Jeff's Tribute to Boss Radio

Psychodelic Jeff McNeal rendering with beard and shades in an homage to Humble Harve

As a kid growing up in the Los Angeles suburb of Pasadena, California, I was influenced dramatically by the sounds coming over my AM radio in the 60's and 70's. The stations, the formats, and most of all... the personalities. I listened to Johnny Hayes on KRLA in Pasadena and "Cool Cat Radio KFWB". I also remember hearing Wolfman Jack on KDAY and of course, Boss Radio, 93 KHJ was the big fish in the L.A. radio market for many years. Robert W. Morgan, Sam Riddle, Charlie Tuna, Humble Harve, The Real Don Steele, Johnny Williams. The list goes on and on. This photo represents my "psychodelic, time-trippin'" homage to Humble Harve. I no longer have the beard. Too itchy.

I never got the chance to work at KHJ, but I sure have some wonderful memories anyway. But to those who still remember, and those who would like to experience the highest rated music station in the nation during the 60's, the following sound clip will take you on a journey spanning 20 years. From 1966 to 1986. The KHJ jingles -- those Johnny Mann singers -- are here for one more show.

Assembled by long-time RKO Chief engineer Lynn Duke, and gifted to me by San Diego Chief Engineer Lee McGowan, here is the 93 KHJ Time Machine.[5.7MB]

In the summer of 1978, I ran a simultaneous aircheck of a classic Los Angeles PM drive shootout between The Real Don Steele on Ten-Q and Eric Chase on KFI. L.A. Duel [6.5MB] I always dug Steele and was deeply saddened to hear of his passing on August 5, 1997. In personality radio, he was a giant. Larger than life. The Real Don Steele was to radio what Mick Jagger is to rock music. An original. An innovator. An electrical charge. An entertainer. The Reel Don Steele is on.

I hope you enjoy the memories as much as I do.

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