Brad Messer, retired radio talk host and news director, So-Called Career


   
 BRAD MESSER 
 
     

life and   so-called radio career   1960-2007

Talk host and news director for 47 years in Houston, Dallas, San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles and San Antonio.
The entire list, in chronological order, is KILE Galveston (1960), KNUZ Houston, KTOK Oklahoma City, KNOW Austin, KFJZ Ft. Worth, KILT Houston, KLIF Dallas, KYA/KOIT San Francisco, KGB San Diego, KMET Los Angeles, KNUS Dallas then KLIF again, KTSA San Antonio, KFYI Phoenix, WMFX Columbia SC, and finally KTSA San Antonio again.

     

Radio newsman Brad Messer Police Press passes including San Diego, Los Angeles, Dallas, Texas DPS and San Antonio

After as much highschool asBrad Messer 1957 I could stand in Harlingen, Texas, I joined the US Army and spent a year at what's now the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California. I became an interpreter and translator for the Army Security Agency in the Far East (Chinese language).

     

Returned to Texas after Army service and got into radio in late 1960 at KILE/Galveston writing and scheduling commercials. One afternoon the newsman showed up “incapacitated" and
....................................................THE PILOT HAS PASSED OUT !
....................................................ANYONE WHO KNOWS HOW TO
....................................................FLY THIS PLANE COME TO THE COCKPIT !

I was called on to go into the air studio and do a newscast.
My entire radio career is based on good ol’ Larry getting drunk.

     

After I had been anchoring news for a few months, Bill Jay, the News Director of KNUZ/Houston called and said he'd heard me on the radio and stated he was looking for a newsman. He asked whether I had much experience. Yes, a LOT of experience doing news, I blatantly lied. He hired me.

I was so green in radio that I didn't know Galveston was a tiny market, and having my second radio job be in a Top 10 market was a wonderful miracle. And, prestige aside, bigger markets pay more bucks.

     

 


 
GEMINI VIII - Neil Armstrong, David Scott
16-17 March 1966

Gemini 8 accomplished the first space docking (to an Agena stage). While docked, a thruster malfunction caused near-fatal tumbling of the craft, which, after undocking, Armstrong was able to overcome. The crew made the first emergency landing of a manned U.S. space mission.
  VIKING-1 MARS LANDER
July 20, 1976
Viking 1 was the first of two spacecraft sent to Mars. I was at Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, Ca. for the landing and the reception of the first photographs from the surface. I still have my handout copy of the first color picture from the surface of Mars (transmitted the next day).

 

 

 

       
 
  In my 20s news director of Gordon McLendon's dominant station in Houston
 

KILT was rated #1 in Houston ... my colleagues included Bill Weaver, Dickie Rosenfeld, Bill Young, Alex Bennett, Chuck Dunaway, Catfish, Mac Hudson, Robert B McEntire, Jim Pruett, Richard Dobbyn, Johnny Shannon, Mark Stevens, Beau Weaver, Jim Carola, Rob McLeod and more
KILT Concert handbill: The Byrds, Bobby Vinton, Tommy Roe
KILT Staff circa 1967

 
    Brad Messer KILT Houston 1960s
 
 
 
Brad Messer covering Hurricane Carla near Freeport, Texas for KNUZ / Houston 1961
At age 21, covering Hurricane Carla for KNUZ / Houston in 1961 in the vicinity of Freeport. It was the strongest hurricane to ever hit Texas.

  Brad Messer and rattlesnakes after Hurricane Carla near Freeport, Texas in 1961

As Carla's storm surge rose, small animals kept heading for higher ground, until just about the only places left were the tops of levees and raised roadbeds.

 

Rattlesnakes were so concentrated on this levee that there might be, oh, 3 per square yard. Great nightmare material. I needed to get to the end of the levee to survey damage on the coast, so I had to get past the snakes. The way to do that was to shoot 'em dead. I got so I could make a head shot from eight feet away. I was very young and very stupid to be where I was.

That's my KNUZ "Big Mike" mobile unit on a damaged roadbed after the storm.

     
 
   

9/10/61 On a Freeport road paralleling the beach -Houston Chronicle
 
         
         
  and still in my 20s news director at McLendon's blowtorch KLIF/Dallas, which achieved a 62 Share in the ratings, meaning 62% of people listening to radio were tuned to KLIF. That has never been matched anywhere. Programmers now may be satisfied with a 1 or 2 Share.
 

KLIF #1 in Dallas ... with Don Keyes, Ken Dowe, Al Lurie, Bill Stewart, Jim O'Brian, Deano Day, Jimmy Rabbitt, Russ "Weird Beard" Knight, Edd Routt, Charlie Van Dyke (Steinle), Michael O'Shea, Dave Ambrose, Dick Mock, Don Barrett, Ron McAlister (Jenkins), Mike Hiott, Bob Knowlton, Bruce Hughes, Barry Kaye, Jack Woods, Mike Selden, Hal Martin (Michael Spears), Cousin Lenny, Paxton Mills, Frank Haley, Dick Glancey...

I feel bad about what happened to my friend and news colleague Ron Jenkins. One day, out of the blue, he was told by management (me) that his name would henceforth be Ron McAllister, with the Mc intended to play on McLendon. In an instant, Ron lost his name and all the history of his career as Ron Jenkins. It wasn't fair. I'm sorry it happened. (KLIF was famous for mobile news coverage. One promo line was "Sam Pate knows EVERY street in Dallas! Ron McAllister knows every alley!")
     
 
     
  in my 30s news director of leading stations in all three major California markets
 

KYA #1 (per Hooper) in San Francisco ... with Manager Howard Kester, PD Dick Starr, Bwana Johnny, Tom Campbell, Tony Tremayne, Bill Holley, Bob Knowlton, Chris Edwards, Gary Schaffer, Pete McNeal

 
       
    San Francisco view
Bay Area Radio Museum audio link:
KYA Radio 1260
The Top 40 Collection
TEXT & AUDIO

 
           
    Brad Messer, news director of KYA in San Francisco, in a helicopter on Alcatraz during Native American takeover in 1969

In a chopper on Alcatraz during the Native American occupation of the island in 1969. KYA donated food and supplies which we ran out to the island at night by boat to support the American Indian Movement's demonstration.

 
   
Brad Messer, news director of KYA in San Francisco, with KYA's Gary Schaffer on Alcatraz during Native American takeover in 1969
KYA's Gary Schaffer looked Indian, so we quietly planted him on Alcatraz to feed us inside info...
[Gary died 2/13/2013]

 
 
Brad Messer, news director of KYA in San Francisco, in a boat approaching Alcatraz Island with donated food and supplies for Native American demonstrators during the island takeover in 1969
 

Our KYA-sponsored boat on an Alcatraz run with donated food and supplies for the Native American demonstrators during the island takeover in 1969

 
 
 


The daily
KYA Entertainment Billboard feature usually included a review of last night's concert or other music performance, from the small blues clubs of North Beach and Berkeley, to the Fillmore and Family Dog, to the high-end venues such as the Fairmont hotel. How I could stay up 'til 1 or 2 in the morning listening to music and putting together a review, and then anchor morning shift news, I have no idea.

Here's a non-review Entertainment Billboard from 1970:

 
   

Brad Messer, news director of KYA radio in San Francisco, disguised as a black man in 1970Someday I may get around to writing up a report on the time I spent in San Francisco disguised as a black person, expecting to learn about life from another point of view. Hard to explain: I instead ended up learning a lot about my own preconceptions.

Some incomplete notes on my Black experience, with a few photos, here

 

 

 

Brad and Carole Messer in San Diego

One terrific thing that happened in San Francisco was meeting the wonderful woman who, a few years later, became my wife. Yay Carole! ( The photo is "later" in San Diego )
   
   
   
  still in my 30s news director of the SoCal station which became a legend in our business
         
   

KGB in San Diego ... with Ron Jacobs, Brent Seltzer, Jesse Bullet (Richard Bullen), Bob Coburn, George Wilson, Bill Hergonson, Wizard Lou Rogers, Jim McInnes, Shotgun Tom Kelly, Kevin McKeown, Bobby Ocean

KGB was the home of the world's first Charity Ball, first Homegrown album of local music, and birthplace of the KGB Chicken (Ted Giannoulis)KGB Chicken-- now known as the San Diego Chicken (his website). The creative force at KGB was the legendary Ron Jacobs, co-creator of American Top 40— the programming and promotion genius who had taken KHJ to #1 in L.A. with his Boss Jocks. Jacobs wrote the book Obamaland in 2009.

   


On occasion, the mid-day "Brad & Brent News and Comment" was the highest rated slot in San Diego radio

My pal Brent Seltzer and I migrated up Interstate 5 to Los Angeles, partly for the money and partly because our egos had raised the question of whether we were “good enough” to make it in L.A.

All the songs on the KGB Homegrown albums are HERE

Hello Hollywood ticket, an invitation to a San Diego beach party as a sendoff for Brad Messer and Brent Seltzer, leaving KGB Radio and moving to new radio jobs Los Angeles

     
 
 
   

 

1972
This little section is for my fellow radio junkies...
An exerpt from Ron Jacobs' story of how an in-the-gutter rock station was transformed into a legendary AOR winner (the whole article is HERE at reelradio.com)


"Environmental consciousness had begun to stir by then as people were becoming aware of such things, so I got the idea to "recycle" the entire radio station. All over town we posted notices made to look official and cold, which read:

PUBLIC NOTICE:
Radio Station K.G.B. will be recycled
on April 2, 1972.

We ran these as small ads in the newspaper legal announcements. And on KGB's air, we ran a track with only that same wording between every few records. We spent very little money, but most people in town knew by April 2 that something would be happening at 1360 on the AM dial.


...and for two days and nights, nonstop, the Recycle Documentary ran endlessly, the ending blending into the beginning. Talk about a station creating a buzz...

There's a link HERE to an MP3 of the legendary 1972 KGB Recycle Documentary courtesy of Ron Jacobs, and "Uncle Ricky" Irwin of reelradio.com.

   
 
 
         
         
  still in my 30s news director of "a little bit of Heaven" high above the Hollywood Freeway
         
 

KMET in Los Angeles ... with my bud Brent Seltzer, “the Beamer” B. Mitchel *Reed, Raechel “Miz Rae” Donahue, Billy Juggs, “the Burner” Mary Turner, L. David Moorhead, Sam Bellamy, Jim Ladd, Ace Young, Jeff Gonzer, and Michael Harrison, who pioneered the news-based Talk format on his weekend show on KMET. Dr. Demento had a weekend show on the Mighty Met.

*with one L. That is how the Beamer spelled it.

KMET was across the street from the La Brea Tar Pits on Wilshire Boulevard until summer of 1976, when we moved to the Metromedia complex "high above the Hollywood Freeway" (and we were, much of the time)

Wikipedia KMET

Los Angeles area satellite view

   

Carole and I lived in Studio City on a fine hillside street named Sunshine Terrace. I rode to work thru the Hollywood Hills on my 750 Triumph.

On the day Carole and I were married, in the mountains above Palm Springs at Idylwild, snow fell in bright sunlight!

 

 

 
in my 40s, 50s and 60s it was Texas radio again, plus syndicated radio, writing a weekly journalism column and 16 years of News Talk hosting in San Antonio.
 
 
 

Along the way I wrote a journalism column for the industry bible Radio & Records for 13 years.

 
Carole and I published the daily PREP sheet for radio people from 1988 thru 2000, featuring basics such as trivia questions, celebrity birthdays, today in history and such.

 

We returned to Texas

My House

I was with KTSA / San Antonio on and off from 1980 to 2007.

 

One of the offs was when Carole and I moved to the Blue Ridge mountains and lived on a play farm for several years while I was doing syndicated radio for Westwood One. At its peak, the daily "Brad Messer's Daybook" show was carried by 600+ stations.

 

KTSA made me a talk host in 1991. I entered retirement in July of 2007, wrapping up 16 years of Talk and 47 years in radio.

Brad Messer, talk host at KTSA radio in San Antonio, Texas

   
  Texas Radio Hall of Fame logo designed by inductee Brad Messer

 

I was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame of Texas in 2002 (in the first group of inductees) in the News category, with Eddie Barker, Alex Burton, Walter Cronkite, Joe Holstead, Robert B. McEntire, Porter Randall and Bob Schieffer.

  Brad Messer and Herb Humphries at Texas Radio Hall of Fame induction ceremony in 2002Radio Hall of Fame dinner in 2002. Left to right, Herb Humphries, his escort, me, and wife Carole. Herb was inducted in 2004. He was the newsman who most influenced me. He was my boss at KNOW/Austin in 1963 at the time President Kennedy was assassinated. He starred at all-news WINS/New York City, then went to Los Angeles in 1968 to format KFWB as an all-news station ("You give us 20 minutes, we'll give you the world!") Herb died Aug. 24, 2003.
   
 
 
         
 

TALKERS magazine listed me among "the Heavy Hundred" for seven consecutive years. The proper designation is The 100 most important radio talk hosts in America. I withdrew my name from consideration in 2003, to make room for some new folks.

That said, it should be noted that, in the manner of the Scarecrow who received a Certificate of Achievement from the Wizard of Oz himself, I do have validation in writing!

 

Brad Messer

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