KLAC-AM – Jill Schary Program – 1-5 am – April 14, 1968 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
One of the things you really don’t get to hear much of is all-night radio from the past. Some radio stations used to blast through the hours of midnight to six pretending there was no difference between night and day. While some offered a cure for insomnia. And still others offered a place to talk; about all kinds of things and a lot didn’t make sense. Some of the callers were people working all-night jobs who felt the need to connect to another human being somewhere in the ozone. And some were just loaded; stumbling back from parties, draining the night’s raid of the liquor store and bordering on oblivion. Some were jacked-up on speed and babbling was a virtue. And some were knee-deep in liquid courage who just had to fight with somebody, even if it was on the radio for all the world, or at least the people of the night, to hear.
Relatively speaking, Talk Radio was probably the newest kid on our mass communication block, starting in the 1950’s. All night radio probably did it earlier, since those people who claimed the night as theirs were scattered all over. And the disc-jockey was most likely sitting alone in the studio and could probably have used the company.
By the 60s it became a forum for people for all kinds of things. During the day it was about indignation and proclamation and most of it was akin to watching two neighbors have a fist fight next door. By nightfall it was baying at the moon, throwing a pity party or making a confession to the disc-jockey holding court.
This aircheck, recorded on April 14, 1968 from KLAC in Los Angeles was just 10 days after the death of Dr. Martin Luther King jr. Most of the callers are talking about race, prejudice, racism and violence. Some certainly wanted to fight, but the prevailing feeling was one of sadness and isolation. And the person behind the microphone, keeping the whole thing from boiling over was Jill Schary, who is the object of both scorn and admiration from this parade of callers over the five hour period of her shift.
Jill is still very active, though (thankfully for her sake) not on the radio. She has no idea this recording ever existed and its further evidence just how deeply complicated the world of 1968 was. There was still a lot left of the year to go. Bobby Kennedy was running for President and the significance of Los Angeles would be on display for the world less than eight weeks later. The Vietnam War was escalating rapidly as were protests to it taking over the streets and campuses all over the country. The year has been characterized with a goodly degree of wistful nostalgia – but truths to tell, it was scary.
Here is an hour taken from the five hour program as it was broadcast between 1 and 5 am on April 14, 1968 with Jill Schary over KLAC in Los Angeles. Sound is a bit rough and it may require some careful listening, but the sentiment and the loneliness are on full display.
Los Angeles is just another complicated city at night.
More from Jill:
And further proof about Los Angeles: