The highlight of my career at KVWM was the daily 'Apache Indian Hour.' These people would come in every afternoon with a
stack of Apache language records. They didn't speak English and my education at St. James The Greater in St. Louis did not
include native American language. I would announce, "Welcome to the Apache Indian Hour" and point at them. They would
dance around a single microphone in the middle of a cinderblock room. When they pointed at me, it was time to play the next
record. When we ran out of records, I would, "Thank you, for listening to the Apache Indian Hour," and move back to Mitch Miller.
Oh, and did I mention that my girlfriend sent me a 'Dear John' letter on Christmas Eve. It was time to move on.
KCNA, Tucson: Fired as I am a night owl and was always late for my morning show.
KNOG, Nogales: Hired by Ralph Anderson again.
KTKT, Tucson: I filled in while their star, Frank Kalil, did reserve duty for Uncle Sam.
KAIR, Tucson: Thanks to manager Ron Barrington, I learned the concept of 'team' radio. Thanks to Bob Mitchell and Tom Donahue, who were on their way from WIBG, Philadelphia with suitcases of 'payola' money, I learned how to wheel and deal with the music industry. We did an early version of KROY, became #1 over the almighty KTKT. Two weeks later, the sister of KTKT's manager bought KAIR and changed the format to religion.
KELP, El Paso: Fired after playing with a teletype, sending the message, "Help, I'm being held prisoner in a Top 40 Factory." How was I to know that the teletype was directly wired to several law enforcement agencies?
KRIZ, Phoenix: Fired for not answering the 'hotline.' The owner was on the other end.
KWAC, Bakersfield: Where I innocently moved into Oildale, CA. Little did I know, it was the wife swapping capital of the world. Wife, Carol insisted that we move.
KYNO, Fresno: Home of the first great radio war. KYNO vs. KMAK.
KJOY, Stockton: The greatest mistake of my career.
KXOA, Sacramento: It all started to come together.
KROY, Sacramento: Under the tutelage of Dwight Case, I became focused on a 'sound scope' of exactly how I wanted the radio station to sound.
I've always hated deejays who sounded like they had come out of the Don Martin School of Broadcasting. To make matters worse, once Bill Drake had success at KYNO, a majority of DJs tried to get that 'wretch' sound to their voice. God, I hate that. Let me state here that KROY, to me, was a handful of talented individuals. Many other people contributed to the success of the station at other times, but for the purpose of this bio, here are the people who make KROY:
Dwight Case—The greatest salesman of them all, sold us on ourselves.
Don Trafton—Without his engineering talent, this discussion would never take place. By the way, to answer a question brought up several times, the KROY time tone was simply a backwards capacitor.
Bob Sherwood—Reeked with humanity, warmth, trust and loyalty. Looking back, I was too focused for opinions but Sherwood chose his shots carefully and was usually 'on the mark.'
Chuck Roy—One of the most complex, yet simple minds I have ever worked with. Truly, "a frog who dreamed of being a king, and then became one."
Wonder Rabbit—To use the word 'hyper' would be an understatement. Just think of the 'Trix' cereal bunny and you have Marty.
T. Michael Jordan—A great night man. He had his audience nailed.
Dr. Tom Becker—Another great night man who didn't realize his true talent 'til years later.
Gene Lane—The hardest-working man in radio. Another great 'night' man.
Bob Martin—A kind and gentle man who was ultra-talented in production.
B. Winchell Clay—Another super-talented production man masked as a deejay.
Jack Hammer—Good looks, an Oklahoma drawl and a wicked sense of humor.
Grahame Richards—A great wealth of broadcast experience whose best talent was explaining to the New York 'suits' to leave us alone.
Life after KROY: I continued programming, did consultant work, produced music, owned a record label and music publishing company. I went into motivational speaking, did lots of commercial work and established a highly successful marketing fulfillment company. I finally slowed my role by working with friends and opening a bed and breakfast until I retired in 2003. Since then, I have been fixated with the Internet and all that it has to offer. I have started a Web site, www.top5s.com, which is dedicated to showcasing the most popular titles in six different areas of arts and entertainment. The site does well and allows me creative input while working in my jammies. I live east of Placerville, on top of a ridge on 30 acres and have become somewhat of a hermit.
[August 3, 2017] The following additional biographical information is placed here as a tribute to Johnny from his many friends, colleagues and family members.
Johnny Hyde said, “I think that I was born to be in broadcasting. After spending his formative years in markets in the southwest and the lower San Joaquin Valley, he moved on to Sacramento where he guided stations to ratings success through innovative program direction and endeared himself as “the Big Fish” to his fans. Throughout much of the 1960s and ’70s, Hyde was one of Sacramento’s most widely known figures.
Hyde broke into radio in the mid-1950s when he left his St. Louis home at age 14 and headed for Arizona. He worked at a succession of stations in Tucson, Show Low, Nogales and Phoenix, Arizona, and at KELP-AM in El Paso, Texas. He relocated to California in 1960, first landing a job at KWAC Bakersfield before settling for several years in Fresno with “Top 40” music station KYNO. After a brief stop at KJOY in Stockton, Hyde came to Sacramento in November 1963 and became the 7 p.m.-midnight personality at KXOA (1470 AM). His knack for identifying potential hits and gauging the tastes of the audience quickly earned him the title of music director.
At KXOA Hyde achieved success by exposing his listeners to the new music that had caught his ears as early as 1962—the “Mersey Beat” sounds that would soon create the nationwide frenzy known as the “British Invasion.” Hyde focused on British performers during a nightly segment of his program that he called the “Gear Hour. The “Gear Hour” pulled as high as a 60 Hooper rating share.
KROY general manager Dwight Case hired Hyde in 1966, soon appointed him program director. Hyde transformed KROY into an electrifying force that riveted the attention and attracted the affections of Sacramento’s young people.
KROY was solidly entrenched in the No. 1 spot in the ratings in 1970 when Hyde decided to move on. He worked briefly for KRBT, the poorly rated precursor of present-day KSFM (102.5 FM) before KCRA (1320 AM) recruited him. Hyde designed a personality-driven adult contemporary music format that complemented the station’s news segments. Hyde had succeeded again.
Wishing to give FM another try, Hyde joined KWOD in the late ’70s but was unhappy there and remained for only a year. He continued programming on a consulting basis, produced music, owned a record label and music publishing company, became a motivational speaker, and was the voice for numerous commercial campaigns. After recovering from a series of heart attacks, he established a successful fulfillment company.
He then accepted an invitation to administer training for a 911 emergency call center. He demurred at first.
“Then I got it into my head that my most recent near-death experience had been a signal from above to ‘give back’,” Hyde said. He took the required medical courses and did that work for five years, simultaneously operating a bed-and-breakfast inn called Shadow Ridge Ranch, until 2003, when he suffered another heart attack that weakened him. “It was time to retire,” he concluded.
Hyde and his first wife, Carol, had two sons: Larry, of Los Angeles and Charlie, who died in 1986. Hyde married and divorced a second wife, Jan, who had been Dwight Case’s secretary. He operated the bed-and-breakfast inn with his third wife, Carlotta. In recent years he has lived with his companion, Maxine, on their 30-acre property east of Placerville.
“I had grown up listening to radio during an age when radio was theater of the mind. You could visualize the voices,” Hyde wrote in April 2001. “That's the kind of radio that I wanted to be around.”
Johnny Hyde Bio continued from the Disc Jockey page