It’s Summer 1966 – You Live In L.A. – You Bought Your First Car – It Has An FM Radio – You Notice Smog – And Not All The Stations Are Cool.

Smog in L.A. - 1966
Smog and strange radio – You are not having a culturally enlightening experience.
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Life in L.A. had a few drawbacks in the 1960s. A: being the first kid on your block to buy a foreign car with an FM radio in 1966 and B: driving around L.A. with the top down during the Summer.

Contrary to what you might have heard, FM radio wasn’t instant nirvana when the 60s hit; not for a while, not for most of the decade. There were a few cool stations just getting started, but most of the stations on the FM dial nobody really thought about, including this one; a very short-lived and somewhat bizarre experiment called K-ADS. K-ADS was a format where you would call in with something you had to sell and pitch it on the air. It was long before the days of E-Bay, Craigslist, The Recycler, The Penny Saver – the phenomenon of the Garage sale or the Swap Meet as we know it today or even stalking. And as is evidenced by this half-hour snippet, it even bored the announcers silly. Clearly, it was not a format destined to last and eventually would give way to “beautiful music” and then to Rock, eventually morphing into KOST-FM in the early 1970s. But on this particular day in 1966, it was people calling in and trying to sell stuff, hoping anyone within the sound of their voice would be interested and eager to buy. Also, as a historic note – people still had prefixes on their dial telephones: Webster, Hollywood, Axminster, Crestview and a pile of others. But even those were quickly becoming a thing of the past as you’ll notice by some of the calls.

The other drawback to life in L.A. in the 60s was smog. We don’t think about it all that much in 2019, but in 1966 it was terrible – you would joke about “breathing optional days”, but in the Summer it was deadly. In suburbs like Pasadena, where the smog was notoriously bad, reports of not being able to see more than two blocks down Colorado Boulevard were commonplace. Burning eyes, hacking cough and headaches that lasted for days were just part of the day to day of living in Los Angeles, or anywhere in Southern California at the time. So as much as people tend to look back with a certain dewey-eyed nostalgia for L.A., there are the parts most people would like to forget; the air in L.A. – and not everything you heard on the radio was memorable, to name a few.

And here is at least one case in point – a half hour of K-ADS, 103.5 FM in Los Angeles, summer 1966.

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One comment

  1. Gordon—Fascinating stuff as always. This is actually fragments of four programs from the first week of September, 1967, just before the end of the all-advertising format and the switch to a music format (beautiful music is what it turned out to be) on Sunday, September 9, which the young caller and Louie Barrington reference near the end. The format change is no doubt why the announcer whose name we don’t hear has just been fired.

    A couple of the commercials have dates in them that support it being September, and the call letters KADS and the all-advertising format didn’t launch until November of ’66. In March of ’68, Gordon McClendon, who owned the station along with XTRA, Tijuana, changed the call letters from KADS to KOST, which the station still has today.

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