Just a little shout out to an amazing radio station: KKBT, 92.3 The Beat – Los Angeles.
As a passionate student of radio in the early 90’s The Beat was one of my favorite stations to follow. In hindsight, I realize I was listening to one of the most dynamic and special radio stations on the planet.
The music, the branding, the imaging and the promotions were all top-notch. But maybe it was The Beat’s incredible talent lineup that really had me in awe, then and now.
The Beat’s all-star lineup included John London and The House Party (mornings), Diana Steele (middays), Theo (Afternoons), and Lisa Canning (Evenings). My favorite Quiet Storm personality of all-time, Kevin “Slow Jammin'” James did weekends at The Beat…I’ll give you a quick story about Kevin in a second.
There was also PJ Butta, Evan Luck, Julio G, even Cypress Hill and Eazy-E had radio shows on The Beat. I never worked there myself, so please do remind me of the names I am missing, I know there are probably a ton more.
One of my favorite radio stories ever took place in the summer of 1994. I was just 17 years old and had already managed to break into the business, working my way up to be the late night Slow Jams DJ at a tiny A.M. radio station in Tucson, Arizona, called Power 1490. I was so new in the business; so young and energized, and all I wanted to do was learn more. Stations in bigger markets, like The Beat in Los Angeles, would be of particular fascination to me: They were the “big time” radio stations I felt I could learn so much from. They sounded so much “bigger” than anything in my hometown and I dreamed to have a chance to work at such high profile radio stations such as WGCI in Chicago, 102 Jamz in Orlando and of course 92.3 The Beat in Los Angeles. All of these stations sounded so amazing and just larger than life.
So here I was, a young kid on the radio in Tucson; I would visit my dear grandmother in Los Angeles each year. Now that I was officially “in the business,” I was really interested in getting a peek at some of the bigger radio stations, and well, since I would be going to California to see “Grammy” soon, I thought it would be an awesome opportunity to try and visit some of the radio stations in Los Angeles.
For months on end, I called and left messages for the program directors of all my favorite Los Angeles radio stations, introducing myself as a young DJ from Tucson, and asking for a tour. I wasn’t asking for a job; I just wanted to stop in and say hello, and see the station. When no one returned my call, I resorted to hand-written letters (email really wasn’t a thing in 1994.) From KJLH, to Power 106, to 92.3 The Beat, I wrote every program director with the unbridled enthusiasm of a kid who just wanted to learn more about the business. But no one responded. It was very disheartening. Why was I being ignored? It was depressing and puzzling.
So I went to see Grammy, and enjoyed listening to that amazing Los Angeles radio landscape, though I wouldn’t get to see any of it in person. But it was then when I discovered my favorite Slow Jam personality of all time, Kevin “Slow Jammin” James, who was filling in for Lisa Canning on The Beat. He was amazing. Not just the greatest voice I’ve ever heard, but a man with a great smile and an extremely warm personality. “KSJJ” was like no one I’ve ever heard on the air. And his playlist was magical. I called the request line to say hello and to my surprise he answered…and even shouted me out over the air. I was in heaven.
When I returned to Tucson I wrote Kevin a thank you note. I was blown away when he called me at home to thank me! Wow! He even invited me by the station to watch him do his show the next time I was in town…incredible! A couple months later, I was driving Grammy’s maroon LeBaron to The Beat’s Yucca Street studios to watch Kevin do his show live. It was incredible; such a thrill! That would mark the beginning of a three-decade friendship with Kevin. Fast forward, 12 years later, and now I was the program director of 92.3 in Los Angeles, calling Kevin to hire him and bring him back to the Los Angeles airways. Amazing how things work out, isn’t it?
Anyway, that’s my 92.3 The Beat story. The Beat was one of the best and most unique radio stations in the world. Aside from the great music they played and their stellar lineup of talent, they did wonderful things in the community.
I’ll add more stuff to this page soon. If you have any ideas, please leave them below in the comments, or reach out to me. Let me publish your 92.3 The Beat story. I’d love to help preserve a little bit of “Beat History” on this page. Maybe we’ll make a photo album, a calendar of events and history (sign on, sign off, etc.)…maybe we’ll build out an entire 92.3 The Beat website…let’s keep 92.3 The Beat alive!
Let’s start with an interview from John London…
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Keywords: Keith Naftaly, Harold Austin, Mike Stradford, John Monds, Art Morrison, Kevin Ross, Theo Mizuhara, Tavis Smiley, Micheal Mixxin Moore, Tre Black, and Captain G, No Colorlines, No Color Lines, Radio, FM, rap, hip-hop, R&B