Wednesday, September 02, 2015

The Other Blonde Bombshell at KGB

I don't mean the Russian KGB ( Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti ) I am referring to 101.5 KGB-FM in San Diego. From the beginning of time, one of the virtues of radio is that the talent is faceless and sometimes even nameless. Talent in radio is a disembodied voice which through personality and character a person can build a relationship and even loyalty with their listeners. When images of a DJ are cynically used as marketing eye-candy, that power is undermined.
The Internet has exacerbated the problem with live studio cams, pin-up calendars, and hot top 50-lists. But exploiting female air-staff for marketing is not new. There are numerous history examples; Anita Gevinson just was one among many.  Sam Phillips did not want to start an all-women radio station to support the ERA.
It happens in other industries and there are reams of serious literature on this topic. But in Radio in particular it seems to be an artifact, not a product of the industry.

What got me on this topic was the recent passing of Sue Delany-Leighton. It's sad because as recently as 2010 the San Diego Troubadour magazine referred to her as "the other blonde bombshell." The original blonde bombshell in their view was Susan Hemphill, another KGB-FM staffer. It was probably the only print media attention either had gotten in years. Delany only managed more print coverage by dying. In her obituary, NBC San Diego called her voice "sultry."  Yes, in her obit. The really sad thing is that Delany was a serious DJ, who was in California broadcasting for decades. Still, R&R spelled her surname wrong almost every time.
After graduating from San Diego State University, Delany went into radio. She started doing a night-shift on KKDJ in Frenso in December of 1979 when the station first flipped to AOR.  Previously it had been KARL, a MOR station going back to 1965. In 1980 she moved on and took the 7:00 PM to 12:00 Midnight shift at KBOS, in Tulare, CA. She left the station in 1981 for a better shift at XETRA "91X."  In 1982 she started hosting the KGB morning show and Jeff Prescott.  This was the show that everyone remembers. There in 1989, Delany was called the “high priestess of afternoon-drive radio..." by the San Diego Tribune. She remained at the station until 1992.

Michael Berger took over her morning show seat in 1986 and in 1990 he and Prescott moved the show to 91X to compete with KGB. The new KGB morning show was Dawn Patrol, lasted two years and then it moved to 105.3 KCBQ. There was a purge going on and that same year Delany fled California moved to Tampa, FL to host an afternoon show on WYNF. Che came back to California in the late 1990s and got a slot at KCLX where she worked a 5:00 PM to 9:00 PM shift on weeknights. Somewhere in there she was also at KUPR.  Her last known radio gig was at 107.1 KLYY before it flipped to KSSE Spanish Contemporary Hits in 1999. She is survived by her husband Doug Leighton and her brother Chris. More here.