If you were a teenager anywhere in America in the 1960s, radio was your confidant, confessor, best friend and go-to buddy; it was the one place you found solace when things got strange. And the world was getting strange, no doubt about it. Music was changing. But then, so was the country. Folk Music was getting really popular – seemed like everybody had a guitar, everybody had at least one Folk music album; whether it was The Kingston Trio, Theodore Bikel or The Limeliters. But Rock n’ Roll was still your life’s blood, and you had your dial glued to KYA where Bobby Mitchell, Tom Donahue and Bill Drake held court – and you depended on them, and so did just about every other kid in the Bay Area in 1961.
And San Francisco, just like any other city in America in 1961 had their most popular station – the place you heard what was new, what was going on and what got you nostalgic. And in the Bay Area, it was KYA – 1260 on the AM dial. Maybe not streaming and in blazing stereo by todays standards, and maybe a little crackly and distant, depending on where you lived, but this was where it all made sense – became your soundtrack; the music that embossed itself on your brain and stayed there forever. And as you got older, and music changed and went in directions you never imagined, what you heard when you were a teenager – those years in Junior High and High School – those songs became the imprints – just as they do with every generation – and just as every generation that came before and came after, listens to what you listened to and loved and were moved by and just don’t get it.
If you were a teenager in 1961, your parents listened to what you were listening to and were convinced life on Planet Earth was coming to an end. Just as teenagers in 2016 listen to what you listened to in 1961 and don’t get it, think you were odd and quaint and a relic and “how could anybody listen to that stuff” – it’s the same with every generation at every time.
You are in good company and there is nothing wrong with you . . .or them.
So as a reminder, or an introduction to the source of solace of other generations – here is a one-hour snapshot of KYA in San Francisco; between 5 and 6 pm on December 15, 1961.