Friday, April 30, 2010

B. Mitchel Reed

Burton Mitchel Reed was the host of the all-night Birdland Jazz Show on 1280 WOV-AM in New York City in 1956. For this razzmatazz, fast jive-talking persona he became famous. But he also was a figure in the burgeoning free-format world of FM radio.

Reed started out doing overnights in Baltimore and picked up the all night Birdland show in 1956. He took over for Symphony Sid who had hosted the program for only a couple years. Reed only stayed about a year himself. (Some sources incorrectly put the show on 710 WOR-AM. (In August of 1959, WOV was sold to Bartell Broadcasters, who changed the call letters to WADO.)

In 1957 he took a job at KFWB in Los Angeles doing evenings. Within a year the station flipped formats to Top 40, it's most popular DJs were known as "The Seven Swinging Gentlemen." The seven also included Bruce Hayes, Al Jarvis, Joe Yocam, Elliot Field, Bill Ballance, and Ted Quillan. More here.

Reed left KFWB for WMCA, moving back home in his home in1963. Two years later Reed returned to LA and returned to KFWB. But then come one of those game-changers. He attended the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967, and something clicked. He met with Tom Donahue the Program Director of KMPX, the hit it off and then it's owner Metromedia took over KMET Reed became it's PD. Reed programmed it as a 24 hour automated AOR station. Its studio was located on Wilshire Blvd.Reed took over the station in 1969, and stayed until 1971, when he left for a spin on KRLA. But He went back to KMET in 1972 staying on for an additional six years. Donahue died in 1975 at only 46 years old. In 1978, Reed had coronary bypass surgery and shortly thereafter left KMET for KLOS. He stayed at KLOS from 1979 to 1981. He died on March 16, 1983, he was only 56. NY Times obit here.