Boss Of The Bay KYA Gets Its Day With The Legends

KYA Personality Montage (Photos)

You’re invited to take a trip back in time to when radio was boss as the Broadcast Legends celebrate “The Boss of the Bay” — 1260 KYA — which is being honored on Thursday, June 23, with the Legendary Station Award for 2016.

The KYA reunion and celebration will be held at the Basque Cultural Center in South San Francisco, from 11:30 AM to 2 PM.

The Emperor himself: Gene Nelson at 1260 KYA (1965)

The Emperor himself: Gene Nelson at 1260 KYA (1965)

KYA becomes the latest station to be honored with designation as a Legendary Station by the Bay Area Radio Hall of Fame (BARHOF), a program of the California Historical Radio Society. KYA joins the first-ever station to have received the award, KCBS, along with KGO, KNBR, KSFO, KFRC, KSAN and KPEN.

Even though KYA has been gone from the Bay Area’s airwaves since 1983, it can rightfully claim its heritage as the Bay Area’s longest-running Top 40 station, having begun its 25-year tenure in 1958. (By contrast, KYA’s chief competitor, the original Big 610, KFRC, had a twenty year run, from 1966 through 1986.)

Despite the high hopes of its owners when it went on the air ninety years ago – the station made its debut on Saturday, December 18, 1926 – KYA endured many difficulties early in its life, owing mostly to the economic conditions of the Depression era. KYA was rescued in 1934 by none other than newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, who aligned the station with his San Francisco Examiner.

KYA Survey April 13, 1968

Tom Saunders on an April 1968 KYA music survey

A popular local favorite through the 1930s and 1940s, KYA entered its own “golden age” in May 1958 when it adopted a Top 40 music format, which skyrocketed the station’s popularity as the self-proclaimed “Boss of the Bay.”

Over the next quarter-century, KYA listeners were treated to a parade of hall of fame-caliber disc jockeys, including Tom Donahue (inducted into the Bay Area Radio Hall of Fame in 2006), Emperor Gene Nelson (BARHOF ’06), Russ “The Moose” Syracuse (BARHOF ’08), Norman Davis (BARHOF ’14), Mike Cleary (BARHOF ’07) and Tom Saunders (BARHOF ’10), as well as Les Crane, Chris Edwards, Johnny Holliday, Tom Campbell, Peter Tripp and “Boss Radio” innovator Bill Drake.

KYA can also claim another significant link to pop culture history: fifty years ago, in August 1966, the station promoted and hosted the last live concert performance by The Beatles, at wind-swept Candlestick Park.

Although the original KYA faded from the Bay Area’s airwaves at the end of 1983, the station continues to hold a place of affection for those who grew up listening to the legendary “Boss of the Bay.”

More From The Boss Of The Bay:

Listen to Classic 1260 KYA — Golden Gate Great Oldies starring Gary Mora

The 1260 KYA Aircheck Collection in the Bay Area Radio Museum


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