September 10, 1955 – L.A. Celebrates A Radio Station – KNX At 35 – Past Daily Weekend Pop Chronicles
September 10, 1955 – That was the day and the month KNX (now KNX 1070 Newsradio) got started in a small building (later to become KMPC and even later to become The Spaghetti Factory) on Sunset Boulevard in 1920. Thirty-years later, in 1955 they celebrated for 18 straight hours, getting most all of L.A. involved in the hoopla.
Consider this, if you will – that same radio station, KNX, which is still on the air, just celebrated 97 years on the air. Hard to imagine but yes, it’s true.
No celebrations this time, not even so much as a mumbled Happy Birthday. But in 1955, it was a big deal. Because L.A. had become a big deal – and KNX, as one of the broadcasting institutions in Southern California, was pretty much synonymous with that growth over the years.
But as Southern California likes to do, and has a nasty habit of doing it almost constantly, history gets torn down, displaced, burned down, abandoned, relegated to eye-sore status and generally forgotten about in deference to the new bright shiny object; itself destined to be torn down, displaced, burned down, abandoned and otherwise relegate to eye-sore status years from now.
Much of the L.A. mentioned in this 1955 broadcast is unrecognizable today, if you were around at the time. Having gone through a very long period of being referred to as the Suburb In Search Of A City, there is a movement afoot to reclaim downtown L.A. as the cultural and aesthetic center of sorts. The result has been a “good idea on paper, but practicality seems to be missing” – L.A. is going through the roof in rents, costs, and purchases. The lousy baggage that goes with the desire to “Urbanize like the big East Coast kids” makes the notion of L.A. being the “sun-kissed playground of the rugged individual” a little quaint and ill-fitting. L.A., like most cities, is rapidly losing its moral center – it’s no longer “the nice place to hang out” but rather the “nice approximation to what people perceived of what it USED to be like to hang out”. Yes, there are more people living in L.A. and more coming every day. But deep-down, L.A. is still that series of suburbs looking for a city – and the sooner the city planners realize that L.A. sits on a labyrinth of earthquake faults and that the city is ringed with hillsides that periodically burn down every few years, the better off the city will be.
But that’s the future – and here we are in the present, looking at a celebration from 1955 of an event which took place in 1920.
L.A. has changed considerably since KNX was a dim sounding 5-watt radio station – the city and its people have withstood all manner of traumas and successes, but it’s L.A. nevertheless, and we need to be reminded this place has a history; a fun, glamorous and frustrating one.
You’ll recognize several voices in this broadcast distillation of 18 hours. Starting with Ralph Story, himself an institution of Los Angeles and Southern California – and some places you may recognize – but many you won’t. It’s all part of our history and all part of our culture – screwy though it may be at times, we’re all stuck here.
Here is that broadcast from KNX AM and FM, as it began at 6:00 in the morning on September 10, 1955.