Los Angeles in 1953. You may or may not remember it – maybe you weren’t born yet, maybe you were too young to remember – maybe you were old enough to be in school, but it’s all hazy. Whatever the case, this was what Los Angeles was all about, sixty five years ago. Small town with a big city attitude – a suburb in search of a City. City of the Angles. On A Clear Day You See L.A. – Days to burn trash and days not to burn trash. The butt of a million jokes and the place lovingly wondered about when the snowstorm where you lived closed schools.
L.A. was growing and it was flexing its suburban muscles – bedroom communities were springing up where orange groves were – slowly the farm land was vanishing, being replaced by the split-level ranch-style.
But like every city, radio was the gathering place. Although TV was growing and sales of TV sets were skyrocketing, radio was still the go-to medium and the thing that was on in most homes most days.
KMPC was one of the most popular stations in Los Angeles at the time. Upbeat Disc-jockeys and the latest records – this was what Pop Music was like in 1953. Long before the days of Rock n’ Roll, where blues was segregated to Black-Only stations. FM was mostly the simulcast of AM counterparts and Dramas and Soap Operas still dominated the daytime airwaves.
Listening to these samples now, it’s hard to imagine what teenagers in 1953 responded to at the time – and maybe explains why Rock n’ Roll wasn’t fully embraced when it made its debut – it was a strange new music, and it’s difficult to imagine what hearing it for the first time was like, much the same way that it’s difficult to imagine what it was like, listening to Pop Music of 1953.
To give you an idea, here’s a sampling of what KMPC sounded like between 9 am and 10 am on October 20, 1953, with Dick Whittinghill and Ira Cook – both personalities long associated with the station all through the 1960s and, in Whittinghill’s case, well into the 1970’s.
It might be impossible to imagine what this was like as your only source of Pop Music, but the ads are priceless.