» Portland Radio

Dick Novak - KGON's R & B Disk Jockey In 1953-54.

(13 posts)
  • Started 4 years ago by Craig_Adams
  • Latest reply from kennewickman

  1. This is a Major find for Portland Radio & Oregon Radio as well. We've heard from people on pdxradio who remember Dick Novak on KPOJ 1330kc & KGON 1230kc. His KPOJ program began April 11, 1955 and was on nightly 9:30 to 2am from "Scotty's Hamburgers". "Dick Novak's Rhythm Room" played Rhythm & Blues music but what percentage was R&B? There has also been no evidence to show Dick had experimented with R&B on KGON. Since then I've learned he was a DJ at KGON back to at least March 1948. Nothing was ever written in The Oregonian or Oregon Journal about Dick playing R&B music. Now for the first time we learn from Billboard magazine what Dick Novak was doing. In his own words:

    Aug 14, 1954 (Vox Jox column, page 39) Dick Novak KGON, Oregon City, Ore. is celebrating the first anniversary of his R&B show. He reports "Man, have I got the tiger by the tail. The mail and telephone response was immediate and supersonic. And it shows no signs of dissipating. It has opened an entirely new field for me while evidently supplying satisfaction for a sizable segment of an overlooked and music hungry listenership. It's been a real pleasure for me to meet and interview many of the artists whose meat and potatoes are directly tied to this medium of beat and blues Americana. Anyway, it's been an enjoyable and lucrative year with R&B and let's hope that other stations will get the call and heed the frantic word. They'll dig this the most."

    If he was explaining this to fellow broadcasters across America in 1954, was Dick Novak the first to bring Rhythm & Blues to mainstream Radio?

    Posted on January 28, 2010 - 06:09 AM #
  2. jimbo

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    Dick also did his Rhythm Room from Amatos Supper Club on SW Broadway. There was a small booth just off the Broadway entrance for his use.

    Posted on January 28, 2010 - 12:16 PM #
  3. semoochie

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    Can you call Kim? Maybe, she knows something about it!

    Posted on January 28, 2010 - 01:09 PM #
  4. Andy_brown

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    "There has also been no evidence to show Dick had experimented with R&B on KGON. Since then I've learned he was a DJ at KGON back to at least March 1948. Nothing was ever written in The Oregonian or Oregon Journal about Dick playing R&B music."

    Dick used to talk about his KGON experience all the time when I worked with him at KATU '85-'94. Evidence enough for me. He used to throw band names and song titles at me all the time since he, like Joel and myself, were radio to TV transfers.

    Posted on January 28, 2010 - 01:18 PM #
  5. jimbo

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    And, I'll repeat again, Dick was president of the local chapter of the Bill Haley Fan Club in Portland when Haley was on the top of the charts.

    Posted on January 28, 2010 - 06:50 PM #
  6. Jimbo: If that's the case. It brings up a question. Did Novak water down his Rhythm & Blues show as Rock N' Roll came on the scene? Or was Bill Haley at the time considered an R&B act?

    Posted on January 28, 2010 - 09:22 PM #
  7. jimbo

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    Good question, Craig, and I cannot answer it. I did not listen to R&B knowingly back then because I never heard of it. I learned later that some artists started in R&B and transformed into R&R later. I do remember Dick broadcasting from Amatos and even went by the booth one time to check it out it was not when he was on. He also did some shows from up at the transmitter, probably on weekends. I also remember the shows from Scotty's but could tell you the order between Amatos and Scotty's. I also don't remember the order of KGON and KPOJ. I was young in 55-57 time frame and listened to whatever station was playing what I wanted to hear at the time. My dad was a classical music person and didn't like us listening to that "heathen" music. I started sneakily listening to C&W and then went to R&R at the time when it started with Little Richard, Pat Boone, and Bill Haley...then came Elvis and the rest. Believe it or not, but the title of "King of Rock and Roll" was shared equally for a time by Haley, Boone, and Presley. I was interested in Haley, buying the original records on 78's. I had called Novak's Rhythm Room and talked with Dick at the time and that is when I learned he was the pres of the club. I was a freshman in High School when KISN started. R&R was long established by that time.
    Bill Haley basically started in the late 40's as a western artist and played in western bands. I had read some time ago that he recorded an R&B tune (Rocket 88) around 1950-1951, the first white guy to cover an R&B tune. He also started merging country with pop music (of the time). Pop music migrated to R&R in mid-50's. His western swing band changed it's name to the Comets and became the first R&R band and the rest is history. He had a few early releases in about 1953 and recorded Rock around the clock in 1954, I believe. It didn't take off until a year later when it was used in a movie. Haley also did some covers of R&B tunes at the same time (Shake Rattle and Roll, for one) and that may have possibly been a possible link with Novak. I don't know and he is not around to tell us. Dick was a great guy and he would sit and talk to you for hours about anything you wanted.

    Posted on January 28, 2010 - 11:08 PM #
  8. Was Dick Novak the first R&B disk jockey? Tiger Tom Murphy gave me DJ suggestions to research in Billboard magazine. The answer is no.

    The most well known of them, Alan Freed who was broadcasting his R&B show in early 1953 on WJW Cleveland was on the air a few months earlier than Dick Novak. The winner by a mile was Hunter Hancock. I found the earliest article in 1943 but most articles were in the 1951-52 period. Hunter Hancock did two shows a day on two stations. KFVD Los Angeles & KALI Pasadena.

    Posted on January 31, 2010 - 09:54 PM #
  9. Freedom

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    The Journal used to publish Dick Novak's list of hit songs weekly. I remember the songs being pretty much Rcok 'n' Roll.

    Posted on February 1, 2010 - 12:22 AM #
  10. If The Journal published a list of Dick Novak's songs aired, that would have been after he joined Journal owned KPOJ. By then most popular Portland DJ's were playing the new Rock & Roll Like: Bob Adkins, Larry Caramella, Bob McAnulty, Bob McCarl, Don Porter, Sammy Taylor & Ric Thomas.

    Posted on February 1, 2010 - 01:33 AM #
  11. I use to play golf every Sunday Morning at Broadmoor Golf course on Columbia boulevard with Mr. Dick Novak, Vern Mueller and the voice of the Buckaroos Bill Anderson---we would tee it up at 6 AM and play 18 holes of golf--Mr Novak was a great gentleman--I can't ever remember him swearing--we were all just average players--thon older than me---but we had fun---I miss those days---I believe the years were around 1968---1973 Butch Fyllingness

    Posted on August 11, 2010 - 10:19 PM #
  12. They were all a generation older than me and I was to dumb to know what a radio station was LOl

    Posted on August 11, 2010 - 10:21 PM #
  13. I knew Bill Anderson somewhat too...I engineered for him at the coliseum when KYXI picked up Winterhawks Hockey in 1976/77...he and his wife were nice people !! Dick I only knew as an aquaintence on a few occasions crossing paths at KYXI ( KGON ) the early and mid 70s.

    Dick sure could hit his marks tight, boy did I notice that right away !!! With those great set of pipes...

    Posted on August 12, 2010 - 03:04 PM #

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