Ackerman’s radio career began in Sacramento, where he “got the radio bug” while attending Grant Union High School. In 1942, he landed a job at KQW. At the time, the station was still licensed to San Jose, requiring some programming to originate there. Ackerman spent time in the San Jose studios as well as KQW’s San Francisco studios.
He told the San Francisco Chronicle’s Carl Nolte in 2009 that he remembers doing live broadcasts of big bands — Muggsy Spanier at the Bush Garden, a jazz band at the Mocambo, Del Courtney, Desi Arnaz, Ray Noble or Bob Crosby and his Bobcats, “live and direct for your listening pleasure from the Rose Room at San Francisco’s famous Palace Hotel.” Some of those live broadcasts would be distributed nationwide.
San Jose’s venerable KLIV (1590 AM) has been honored with the 2017 Legendary Station Award by the Bay Area Radio Museum and Hall of Fame, in recognition of its seven decades of service to listeners in the South Bay Area, and will be celebrated at a special Broadcast Legends luncheon on Tuesday, June 20, at the Basque Cultural Center in South San Francisco.
Founded in late 1946 as KSJO, the station began its life as a thousand-watt, daytime-only outlet located in an orchard at the corner of Story Road and Lucretia Avenue in still-rural San Jose, then watched as the city grew up around it over the years.
In 1960, the station’s owners – seeing no real future in FM radio – sold off KSJO’s FM sister and changed the AM station’s call letters to KLIV, while continuing to broadcast from its home on Story Road.
During the 1960s, KLIV established itself as one of the most popular stations in the region, playing popular Top 40 music aimed at the growing number of baby boomers whose parents began settling in the area, catering to the surfer boys and girls who headed over the hill to Santa Cruz every summer weekend, and helping inspire dozens of garage bands across the South Bay.
Fifty years ago, in July 1967, Robert S. Kieve and a partner purchased KLIV for $974,000; to this day, Mr. Kieve continues to operate KLIV under the Empire Broadcasting banner as one of the dwindling few independent major-market radio station owners in the United States. He was inducted into the Bay Area Radio Hall of Fame (BARHOF) in 2007, and recently celebrated his 95th birthday with the station’s alumni and current staff.
Among the popular voices that have graced KLIV’s airwaves over the years are John McLeod (BARHOF 2010), Mikel Hunter Herrington (2008), Dave Sholin (2008), Bob Ray, Ross McGowan, George Sampson, John Lester, John Bettencourt, Larry Mitchell, Jack Hayes, Peter Boam and Mac McGregor.
KLIV joins previous Legendary Station honorees KCBS, KGO, KSFO, KNBR, KFRC, KSAN, KPEN and KYA.
The Bay Area Radio Museum and Hall of Fame, founded in 2005, is a program of the California Historical Radio Society (CHRS), and is dedicated to preserving and honoring the history of radio broadcasting in the San Francisco Bay Area.