Jona Denz-Hamilton participated in KFJC from 1972 to 1975, serving as Station Manager from 1973 to 1975. During that time, she started the Dead Air Club and ushered in KFJC’s FM stereo broadcasts. Following her stint in college radio, she moved on to a long career in commercial radio and has been at KBAY for the past 23 years. As part of KFJC’s 60th anniversary festivities, Denz-Hamilton will be joining Sir Cumference on the air during his program on Sunday, October 20th from 2pm to 3pm. In advance of her visit, we chatted with her about her time at KFJC.
Thanks to Jona Denz-Hamilton for sharing some KFJC memories and artifacts with us!
KFJC: What prompted you to join KFJC?
Jona: My intense interest in music and loving the changing radio scene of the early ’70s.
KFJC: Tell us about KFJC during your time there in the 1970s.
Jona: I loved to record local bands and to play them on the air. I also began the Dead Air Club in 1974 in order to raise funds to go stereo. We hired popular recording artists to perform and had immediate success. We followed up the initial concert with two other performances that included bands matched to a music-oriented movie. This gave us enough money to equip the other studios with stereo control boards, etc.
KFJC: What are some of your favorite KFJC memories?
Jona: Besides those awesome benefit concerts, I have a really exciting memory of when we had begun to get great, regular record company album service. in 1975, Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti album was shipped to all the local rock stations for a certain release date. Most records shipped from San Francisco; ours shipped from New York…and arrived a day EARLY! What a surprise to open that box. We immediately made a big deal of it on the air and promoted playing the entire album that evening. It was huge. Only one station complained–LOL–the one in San Francisco. KOME and KSJO just rolled with it.
A SECOND memory was when I started interning at KOME while still at KFJC and was in charge of collecting and tabulating their record store radio preference surveys. The stores were from San Jose to San Mateo. KFJC consistently showed up as the #2 or #3 favorite station. I was so proud!
KFJC: What was KFJC’s air sound like when you were there?
Jona: We gave the station more structure in that it had been kind of a mish mash of top 40, multicultural, rock, and dead air slots. No-shows were no longer tolerated, the format became basically Progressive rock, the multicultural and other specialty shows were slotted where they made the best sense. And we picked certain KFJC-centric new music to differentiate ourselves from the commercial stations.
KFJC: Is there a record/band that you discovered at KFJC or that defined your time at KFJC?
Jona: We had a relationship with Timbercreek, friends of the Grateful Dead. We also were friends with England’s the Man Band and the North Bay’s Sons of Champlin. We played the very first albums from bands like Blondie and the Ramones and had a lot of fun with that emerging punk genre while enjoying other forms of rock of the ’70s like glam, spacey, art, folk, jazz fusion, and country rock.
KFJC: What were some of your favorite shows, on-air personalities at KFJC during your time there?
Jona: I loved the Karl Jay-Sistah Kate Aloha Nookie Nookie News–hahaha! Kate went on to become Sully on KFAT, one of the many of that time to go on to radio success. We have a number of radio personalities, station owners, managers, program directors, engineers, newspeople, record company reps, TV folks and professional musicians who shared KFJC with me between ’72 and ’75.
KFJC: Do you have any dramatic tales to share?
Jona: FranK Milatzo’s Marijuanathon in 1974 or ’75 go us in some hot water!!
KFJC: How did KFJC change during your time there?
Jona: It went from being a rather run-down mono station with sporadic single (45s) record service to a super-popular, stereo, respected station that was able to compete with the big guys with its choice of music and fun/cool/unusual/hilarious personalities. We still had the 2-year rule, which I begged to stretch to 2.5 years so that I could have airchecks and move up to on-air on KOME.
KFJC: How has KFJC changed your life?
Jona: It springboarded me into my professional career. I went directly to KOME and after 9 years became a program director in Monterey then Sacramento. My latest show has been on KBAY since 1996. Listeners still remember me from KFJC!!
KFJC: What are you up to today?
Jona: Well, during my time as Station Manager of KFJC in 1974, I joined KOME then went to Monterey to program AOR, KLRB then to Sacramento to be Program Director of KROY-FM. I came back to San Jose and did afternoons at KLOK and eventually joined KBAY in 1996. I’ve been at KBAY, now known as 945 Bay FM The Greatest Hits of the ’70s and ’80s, for over 23 years–mainly doing middays. I love that I’m playing many of the tunes that we premiered on KFJC, like Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, Aerosmith’s Dream On, Elton’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, and “new” artists like Blondie, Journey, Buckingham-Nicks, Billy Joel and Springsteen.