Tuesday, May 05, 2009

DJ Sly and the Family Stone

Sly of Sly and the Family Stone was a DJ on 1450 KSOL-AM. His career as a disc jockey was previous to his career as a singer. He was a great DJ, but his talent there was overshadowed by the four gold records and his later descent into a wack job strung out on PCP and cocaine. The upside is that his career self-destructed in before disco, leaving his catalog to end abruptly before funk itself was hopelessly corrupted by mirror balls and John Travolta.

...Anyway, his story is an interesting tale of transition. Sly Stewart had been to The Chris Borden School of Broadcasting in San Francisco. It was only a 3 month course, but it's more training than most DJs get. He had done some fill in at KEWB already. He was seasoned enough to be confident, and it made him a great on-air personality. After graduating high school in 1964 he started full time at KSOL, on the night shift Monday through Saturday. With his growing popularity Sly was moved off the night shift to afternoon drive.

Sly was already performing with bands and and producing records for Autumn records. In 1965 Sly started cutting his first demos with the Family Stone. Sly Stewart became Sly Stone and he developed a louder more outlandish personality that we later saw on stage. Then Sly did a 2 month stretch in 1967, across the bay in Oakland on 1310 KDIA-AM. He only left when Columbia records showed up with a recording contract.KSOL-AM has been known as KSAN-AM since 1939. John "Les" Malloy bought the station in 1964 from Norwood Patterson and changed the calls to KSOL to match the K-SOUL branding. Les had been a DJ on KSAN, in the 1940s and called himself the Midnight son and was then a TV host on KGO-TV. It was already a rhythm and blues station. It was Sly that started adding white artists to that very black playlist. Ray Charles sat along side the Rolling Stones. The R&B format lasted until 1970. Today KSOL is KEST-AM.

AIRCHEXX.com has a clip HERE
So does REEL Radio HERE


  1. Hello from former Ham KB7GJR! I was searching for an old series of Ham murder mysteries I remember being advertised in Popular Communications back in the 1980s, and came upon your post about Walker Tompkins.
    I was wondering if you could help me. This MAY be the books I'm looking for, but I could swear one of the titles was "Death by DX", which I can't find through any of the usual channels. Am I just misremembering his "DX Brings Danger", or was there another book by that title?

  2. Well the ARRL was republishing them in the 1980s, Sagamore had republished in the 1970s... they all were originally published in the 1950s. Now I'm going to go out on a limb here and wsay that one or more of the titles may ahve changes in all those printings.. one may have been DX of death... so probably the toned down "DX Brings Danger." The ARRL might be able to fill in your blanks.

  3. Thanks for the tip. I'm going to pick up a couple of Tompkins' titles on ebay if I see them for cheap. One of his books, which actually contains three of his Ham titles, is going for $150!

    Would you be interested in writing a short history of radio fiction as a guest article for my blogs? If so, drop me a line at seansontheweb (at) yahoo (dot) com