Radio Waves by Jim Ladd

Jim Ladd, longtime L.A. disc jockey, in Radio Waves, writes of the glory days of FM radio from the late 1960s through the mid-1980s, when radio playlists were determined by the DJs and not the ratings obsessed program managers and corporate ties concerned only with advertising revenue.

Radio Waves: Life and Revolution on the Fm Dial

Ladd, long a proponent of what he now terms "free-form radio," recalls the rise and fall of iconic, counter-cultural Los Angeles radio station, KMET (94.7, "BOO-YA,") and how its demise marked the beginning of the end for the West Coast rock 'n roll music industry. Well respected by his peers and musicians, Ladd recounts interviews with the likes of John Lennon, the Eagles, Tom Petty, and Roger Waters, among many others.

The funniest story is his remembrance of the time when he was just getting started in radio, at KNAC in Long Beach in 1969, and how he stepped outside of the studio to smoke a joint and inadvertently locked himself out. Luckily for him, he'd just placed Iron Butterfly's "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" (the long 20-plus minute version) on the turnstile, and so he was able to call a janitor to let him back inside before the song ended.


Radio Waves is must reading for those interested in the burgeoning days of the Los Angeles FM rock scene, when a tune by Ravi Shankar could be followed by some Black Sabbath; Joni Mitchell by some Judas Priest; when eclecticism and whimsy and wild times ruled the airwaves.

Don Henley writes the cool intro. My copy is autographed, and contains Ladd's signature "Lord Have Mercy!" line.