Radio legend Art Laboe, the initial oldie but goodie, is still on-air after nearly 80 years

Disc jockey Art Laboe sits behind microphone in his studio in Palm Springs on a recent afternoon, getting a get on a few dedications for an approaching broadcast of Art Laboe Connection on KDAY-FM/93.5.

” We’re going to play a song called ‘Gangsters Get Lonely Too,'” says Laboe, checking out off a dedication from a mom to her . “It goes out to ‘my kid Mathew in Buckeye, Arizona, from mama Liz over in Phoenix.’ Says, ‘Happy belated birthday, and I like you keep your direct. All for you, boy, from your mama Liz.'”

Laboe is 94 years old– he’ll be 95 on August 7– and a radio legend. He digs through his wallet to find his SAG-AFTRA union card and happily points out his membership dates back to 1943 when he talked his way into a task at KSAN-AM as an 18-year-old Navy hire stationed at Treasure Island.

These devotions he’s tape-recording? He’s believed to be the first DJ to take tune requests and send them out from one listener to another. His live shows that transmit from drive-in restaurants in Los Angeles in the ’50s were equally cutting-edge, as were the live rock-and-records shows he hosted for teens, a lot of notoriously at the El Monte Legion Stadium.

  • Radio legend Art LaBoe at his studio in Palm Springs, CA, on Thursday, Feb 6, 2020. Laboe, who has been on the air in Southern California since 1943, is credited with coining the phrase” oldies, but goodies”.

  • ( Image by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG ).


  • (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG).

  • Art Laboe is seen onstage with Jerry Lee Lewis at one of the many programs the radio character hosted at the El Monte Legion Arena in the ’50s and ’60s.

  • ( Photo courtesy of the Art Laboe Archives).


  • ( Picture by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG).

  •  In the 1950s, Los Angeles radio personality Art Laboe became famous for hosting live radio reveals from Scrivner’s Drive-In at the corner of Sunset and Cahuenga boulevards in Hollywood.

  • (Image courtesy of the Art Laboe Archives).

  • ( Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG ).

  • A mural illustrating Johnny Otis and Art Laboe is imagined at the LA City El Monte Transit Center in El Monte, Calif. on Wednesday August 8, 2018.

    (Photo by Raul Romero Jr, Contributing Professional Photographer ).

  • Radio legend Art LaBoe, left, records part of his show with his producer and executive assistant, Joanna Morones, at his studio in Palm Springs, CA, on Thursday, Feb 6, 2020. Laboe, who has actually been on the air in Southern California because 1943, is credited with creating the expression” oldies, however goodies”.

  • ( Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG).( Image by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG).

Given That the 1950s Art Laboe has hosted live programs with the oldies however goodies he champions. He’s seen here on stage at the Glen Helen Amphitheater in San Bernardino in 2014.( Photo thanks to the Art Laboe Archives ). Art Laboe’s links to the city of El Monte include this collection album of early Los Angeles-area rock and roll. Program Caption And when some of the hits he played had actually aged a few years, Laboe coined the phrase” oldies but goodies “– yep, he’s that man– and started a record business to issue compilation albums under that name and sold countless copies.

You can still hear Laboe on the air 6 days a week and he presents shows such as the upcoming Valentine’s Super Love Jam he’ll host at the Pechanga Arena San Diego on Saturday. Art Laboe doesn’t prepare to turn off his mic for great anytime quickly. The young boy and the box that talked When Laboe was born in 1925, AM radio broadcasts were only a couple of years of ages and even in his youth radios were still scarce, he says.” They had one next door, and a few of the kids I utilized to have fun with at that young age had a radio,” he says of his boyhood in Salt Lake City.”

They listened to’ Little Orphan Annie’ and ‘Buck Rogers’ and all those kinds of things.” So when his sis sent him a radio for his 8th birthday, well, it was a big offer.” I can’t tell you how ecstatic I was,” Laboe says. “I unwrapped it and plugged it in; it started talking and I was totally (impressed). I believe,’ Here’s this box that talks. It’s not a person, it simply talks.'” After moving from Utah to Los Angeles and graduating from George Washington High School in South L.A., Laboe entered the Navy and delivered north to Treasure Island in the San Francisco Bay. ”

The extremely first words I said on radio myself, I said, ‘This is K-S-A-N San Francisco,’ and it was in 1943,” says Laboe explaining how he finagled a task at the station in part because the war had emptied the station of professionals and he had a first-rate radiotelephone license.

” The radio stations were attempting to be extremely official in those days, they weren’t like they are now,” Laboe says of the mix of news and scripted dramas and comedies that dominated the airwaves at the time. But late during the night, prior to KSAN-AM signed off at midnight, he had free reign to spin records by big bands and jazz vocalists, and ultimately began asking listeners to employ if they wished to hear a specific tune.

” We began that– devotions– and they ended up being much bigger,” he states. “A growing number of individuals desired dedications. You’re carrying a psychological message because it’s in fact your liked one’s voice.

” Really exciting because sometimes hear things on there that they wouldn’t expect. They would hear their partner’s voice say, ‘Hey there, Peter, don’t forget, I enjoy you forever.’ And so on.”

After the war, he came home to Southern California, working at stations such as KCMJ in Palm Springs, and in the ’50s, L.A. stations including KRKD, KXLA, and KPOP in Los Angeles. A few years passed and after that one day, observing the number of kids were hanging out in their cars at drive-in restaurants in Hollywood, Laboe got another originality.

At the drive-in

” I did the very first drive-in show,” Laboe says decently of what ended up being an unique surprise in the early ’50s. “And individuals picked that idea and went with it.”

His most popular and long- show happened at Scrivner’s Drive-In on the corner of Sunset and Cahuenga boulevards– today it’s the Jack In Package across the street from Amoeba Records– where Laboe would haul his radio devices to do remote live broadcasts.

The program started as a late-night curiosity– Laboe, on the air, speaking with celebs and musicians who may stop by to state hello on the air. ” Matter of truth, some very big stars utilized to come to the drive-in,” he says.

Soon it ended up being so popular the program moved to afternoons so more kids might go to; there were hundreds sometimes who pertained to see teen idols or request tunes off a list of leading hits that Laboe would have the station play.

That music was R&B as the ’50s started– something both Laboe and young listeners enjoyed– and when rock and roll arrived he’s credited as one of the very first, if not the extremely first, Los Angeles DJ to play it on the air.

” The owner of Motown came near me at Scrivner’s in Hollywood one day and said, ‘My name is Berry Gordy, and I’m starting this record business, and I have actually got my very first record and I question if you ‘d play it,'” Laboe states of the influence that came with a popular program. “I said, ‘Sure, I’ll take it house and listen.’ And it was one of the Motown biggies he provided me, so I began playing a great deal of Motown.”

The drive-in shows got more and more insane, and with a Los Angeles regulation that forbid teen dances that weren’t approved by the school board, Laboe looked east to El Monte for the next chapter of his life and profession.

Memories of El Monte

” The kids, they had a lot of energy, and they wanted to dance,” Laboe states. “So we chose to put on some dance shows, and when we did the first one in El Monte Legion Stadium”– in a city that didn’t mind teen dances– “I think we had a couple thousand individuals, between what would be outside and attempting to get in and those that remain in.

” Everybody was delighted, specifically youths,” he states. “Since here was something for them, you understand? You ‘d have Chuck Berry or somebody like that who would come to our show. He utilized to come out to the drive-in, too. The most significant stars would come. They all understood me.”

Stars like Jerry Lee Lewis, Bo Diddly, Ricky Nelson and doo-wop groups like the Penguins all were on Laboe shows in El Monte or at the Hollywood drive-in back then, performing sets for fans in between records Laboe would bet them to dance to. (He’s still so beloved in El Monte that simply two years ago they stated it Art Laboe Day.)

Someplace in the ’50s, listeners periodically asked him to play a tune from a few years back.

” I believe some individuals did a commitment and popped that word out– just, you understand, ‘This is an old song, however it’s an excellent song,'” Laboe says. “And after that I states, ‘An oldie but a goodie? That’s what I am.’ And they all laugh.”

They chuckled, Laboe saw an opportunity.

” I started a record business,” he states. “I figured, ‘I’m not letting this go to waste.’ So I put out ‘Oldies However Goodies, Vol. 1,’ and sold over a million. A million! And this is just an old lot of old songs together. So I stated, ‘Why not make it a series?’ So I did. And now, behind you on the wall, are 15 volumes of ‘Oldies But Goodies.'”

Old and not so old

Laboe’s radio home because 2015 is KDAY-FM/93.5 where his show is relayed Sundays from 6 p.m. to midnight. It’s likewise syndicated weeknights from Oxnard to Riverside and Palm Springs– basically all across Southern California– and other stations in the Southwest.

The oldies are more recent today than they were in the ’50s and ’60s. When he hosts his Super Love Jam at Pechanga Arena San Diego on Saturday, the live entertainers will be primarily drawn from ’80s R&B acts such as Evelyn “Champagne” King, Midnight Star and Peaches and Herb.

The listeners still call and compose non-stop in hopes of getting their names or those of their loved ones on the air. Laboe takes the top off a box in his mailroom filled with a couple of hundred letters, the vast bulk of them from a captive audience– prison inmates are among his most loyal listeners, he says. This is simply the haul from the most recent few weeks.

” Lots of incarcerated individuals are able to get messages for their better half or sweetheart or simply a buddy, and you do not have to be anybody unique to do that,” he says.

He is so popular, he keeps in mind, that he tried an experiment when, informing listeners to simply address their letters to Art Laboe, Palm Springs, California: The mail got through simply great, he says.

However he is not so popular that the sidewalk hawkers on Hollywood Boulevard understand him by sight, however. There’s a story there Laboe enjoys to inform about the time he was awaiting the light to change at the corner of Hollywood and Highland, ideal beside his own star on the Stroll of Popularity.

” There’s this person there hustling stars, you understand, provide us a dollar and we can sell you a star,” Laboe says. “The light doesn’t change. The person’s preaching to me all this time, however I state, ‘I currently have a star there.’ The guy laughed and says, “Yeah, sure.’ He didn’t believe me.”

Laboe makes fun of the memory– when you’ve been a radio character as long as he has you can afford to laugh– and describes why the adventure of belonging of individuals’s lives is a big part of the factor why he gets up and goes to work.

” I did the Hollywood Bowl a couple of times,” he says of the oldies reveals he’s promoted for years. “One time I abandoned phase and said, ‘My name is Art Laboe,’ and the place broke up. Everybody was cheering and shrieking and all that.

” When you march on a phase and it’s individuals as far as you can see like there is at the Hollywood Bowl, it’s truly hard to get that out of your mind,” Laboe says.

And when one day he’s no longer on the air, how will fans cope? Well, perhaps there’s a message in the song Laboe states may be his preferred oldie ever.

” There’s a tune by a group called the Skyliners and it’s called, ‘Considering that I Do not Have You,'” he says. “That’s been a tune that touches my due to the fact that there’s a lot of individuals that you do not have anymore.

” And you know, that’s my favorite. Everyone has one. I have a few. But that’s one of the huge ones.”

Art Laboe Valentines Super Love Jam

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 15

Where: Pechanga Arena San Diego, 3500 Sports Arena Blvd., San Diego

Just how much: $38.50

For more: ArtLaboeConnection

This content was originally published here.