May 25, 2015 at 12:28 am #10947Craig_AdamsParticipant
Today May 25, 1915 Delmar Merle “Sammy” Taylor was born in Toronto, Kansas to Jennie Mae Ward and Richard Folk “Dick” Taylor. Sammy had one older brother: Emmet “Dick” Dalton. And two older sisters: Viola M. and Faye O. Sammy’s father was an adventurous wild-cat oil man. In 1931 after two years of high school, 16 year old Sammy decided he was big enough and old enough to hit the road, living in a railroad boxcar for a time. Taylor remembers: “I did everything that everyone did in those days…fruit tramp, dishwasher and finally ended up in a logging camp.” Sammy talked about those days like the movie, “Grapes of Wrath.”
On July 11, 1933 Sammy’s father Richard Folk Taylor died at age 53 in Texas. Sammy, working as a logger, remembers 1934: “I was 19 at the time when an accident put me in the hospital for three months. Having been told by my doctor to stay away from physical labor, I decided to do what nice boys did at that time and became an overnight success working for a major bootlegger.” The police put a stop to his new occupation after two days on the job, and it was back to dishwashing.
In early January 1937 Delmar Merle Taylor, 21, married 21 year old Marion I. Baker. The Taylor’s lived at: 56 S.E. 71st St. in Portland. Sammy remembers: “I wanted to be a singer, but I wasn’t that good. I used to go to the old beer gardens, a place called the Balloon Room. They had an amateur show every night and just about continuous entertainment. One night I got boiled on 3.2 beer and got up and sang.” Consequently he “guest-starred” at many local night spots and after-hour dives. “The regular emcee didn’t show up and they asked me to fill in.”
Taylor broke into radio by accident after someone from KALE heard him. Sammy was asked to appear on KALE which had studios in the New Heathman Hotel: 712 S.W. Salmon St., and read Hawaiian poetry. By June 1937 Sammy had joined KWJJ, broadcasting from their transmitter studio at Oaks Park. Sammy began as one of Portland’s few disc jockeys. He took requests from 11:30pm to 3:00am in the morning, playing Jazz, Blues & Big Band music. On April 17, 1940 it was announced Sammy Taylor had quit KWJJ having left for Hawaii. By this time he was divorced.
On May 8, 1941 Delmar Merle “Sammy” Taylor, 25, married 26 year old Beatrice Louise “Bette” Swift in Camas, Wash. On July 17, 1941 Sammy was back on the air at KWJJ late nights from their Oaks Park studio. On August 29, 1941 it was announced Sammy Taylor was KWJJ’s new Promotions Manager.
On April 1, 1942 Sammy Taylor moved to KGW, broadcasting from their transmitter studios off North Denver Ave., as their overnight deejay from Midnight to 2:00am. Then back on again at 4:00am to 6:00am with his jive jazz program “Swing Shift.” Sammy known as “The Little Man Behind The 8-ball.” which would become his slogan throughout the 1940’s. Radio stations across the Nation were staying on the air 24 hours in their effort to entertain swing shift workers in factories during WWII.
In May 1943 Sammy began playing more of his favorite music, Jazz on KGW. Not every listener was happy. This appeared in the Behind The Mike column: “Why was Sammy Taylor allowed to ruin a good program with his gush and jive records? I and many others, I’m sure, had enjoyed the 12 to 2 A. M. program immensely until he started. Most high school jitterbugs are asleep by midnight, I hope, and adults who are awake usually enjoy good music without so much meaningless chatter.”
On May 20, 1943 Sammy & Bette welcomed their first son Thomas “Jackson” Taylor. The Taylor family were living at: 1936 N.E. Halsey St. On August 4, 1943 Delmar Merle Taylor and 70 other recruits were selective inductees at the local Navy recruiting station. On August 11, 1943 Sammy Taylor left KGW to go to Navy Radar School. While in the service he met and became friends with Jack Teagarden, a big band leader.
On February 4, 1946 Sammy was back in Portland on KWJJ from midnight to 1:00am from their Oaks Park studio. The Taylor family were living at: 13571 S.W. Goodall Rd. in Oswego. Sammy & Bette would live in this home for the rest of his life. The home was expanded many times.
In September 1946 Sammy switched to KEX doing the midnight program but Taylor left 1190 kc. soon after. He had lined up friend Jack Teagarden to come down to the KEX transmitter studios off N. Denver Ave., for an interview while he played some of Jack’s records. However, KEX’s Ray McPherson saw Teagarden come in the door. So Ray put Jack on the air on his own show, then led him back to Taylor, who had to get busy and pull himself another show of records in a hurry.
On October 21, 1946 Sammy was back at KWJJ with a new program called “The Record Man” weeknights at 10:00pm. Plus another show Taylor hosted “Battle of Bands” Monday nights at 9:30pm also on KWJJ. On November 12, 1946 Sammy hosted yet another new KWJJ program “Make-Believe Barn Dance” weekdays at 5:30pm, in which Taylor did half a dozen voices and used sound effects. It was said the program was one of Sammy’s best.
On February 5, 1947 it was reported Sammy Taylor, “The Record Man” show at 10:00pm weeknights was “one of the finest on the Pacific Coast.” On July 1, 1947 the local version of “Record Party” with Sammy Taylor began on KWJJ from 10:30pm to 11:00pm. On July 14, 1947 Sammy’s last “Battle of Bands” program aired on KWJJ. On August 22, 1947 KWJJ started an audience participation show emceed by Sammy Taylor for teen-agers, Fridays at 5:30pm. No tickets required. Participants selected while the show was on the air, were given a recording of their interview and were handing out other prizes.
On November 9, 1947 Sammy Taylor began a Sunday disc jockey show on KPDQ at Oaks Park, from from 10:00am to 1:00pm where Sammy would countdown the top 50 hits. He was still on KWJJ weeknights from Oaks Park. On December 1, 1947 “Fashions In Music” debuted on KWJJ weeknights at 10:00pm with Sammy Taylor as host. On January 6, 1948 the “Behind The Mike” column said this about Sammy: “The guy has the best of them licked to a standstill. In many ways he has the best spieling voice on the air.” On January 23, 1948 Sammy hosted his last “Make-Believe Barn Dance” program on KWJJ.
On March 5, 1948 the Friday “Sammy Taylor Show” debuted on KWJJ at 2:30pm then moved to 3:00pm in September. On March 30, 1948 Sammy & Bette welcomed their daughter “Kathy” Kathryn Taylor. On May 1, 1948 “Tot Time” began from 5:00pm to 5:30pm on KWJJ with Sammy hosting a Saturday children’s program where juvenile guests from five to ten years of age became junior disc jockeys. The first program was headed by Sammy’s son Jackson.
August 27, 1948 Olds & King ad: “Extra! Extra! SAMMY TAYLOR will interview NAT KING COLE direct from our record room over KWJJ from 3:30 to 4 today! The Record Room, Fourth Floor.” 915 S.W. Morrison St. By December 1948 Sammy Taylor “The Record Man” was on KWJJ Tuesday through Saturday nights, 11:30pm to 2:00am from KWJJ’s new studio/transmitter location at 4350 N. Suttle Rd., at Smith Lake. “KWJJ, Oregon’s Most POWERful full-time Independent.”
On December 5, 1948 Sammy Taylor & Georgene Amato began co-hosting Sunday night’s “Amato Show” on KWJJ at 10:30pm live from Amato’s Supper Club at: 620 S.W. Salmon St. On Friday May 27, 1949 it was designated “Sammy Taylor Night” at the Jantzen Beach Park ballroom, just off N. Denver Ave., where Ike Carpenter & His Orchestra played and Sammy was MC of the festivities presented especially for the high school set. On April 12, 1949 “Fashions In Music” aired for the last time.
On Saturday June 4, 1949 Jantzen Beach Park opened its musical swimming pool. This was a Sammy Taylor idea from his submarine work in the Navy. A loudspeaker was positioned at the bottom of the pool, and embedded in caster oil and rubber. If you put your ear close to the water, or jumped in, you heard music. Ad: “Swim to…”MUSIC UNDER WATER.” The Swimming Pool Sensation of The Year! STARTS TODAY! In person SAMMY TAYLOR, “The Disc Jockey With The World’s Largest Record Collection.” Broadcasting Direct From The Jantzen Beach Pool Over Station KWJJ — Saturday, 10:30 A. M. to 2:00 P. M. THE ONLY ENTERTAINMENT OF ITS KIND IN THE WORLD. Jantzen BEACH PARK. The Northwest’s Million Dollar Playground.” This went on every Saturday to the end of Summer on KWJJ AM/FM.
On June 29, 1949 “Sammy Taylor’s Teen Age Club” debuted Wednesday mornings at 11:00am on KWJJ AM/FM. Ad: “Join in the most fun ever! Zany Sammy Taylor, who broadcasts under water, is going to broadcast under foot! His own Dance Club at Arthur Murray’s is open to all teenagers! You need never have danced before! Arthur Murray experts will teach beginners as well as advanced dancers at the latest steps! You’ll find yourself dancing the new Rumbas and Sambas…Foxtrots and Swing.” 721 S.W. 11th Ave.
On July 12, 1949 KWJJ AM/FM debuted the contest program “White Rock Caravan” hosted by Sammy Taylor, on location Tuesday’s & Thursday’s at 3:00pm. Within a months time, this unique show became Portland’s biggest give-away program. The White Rock Caravan was actually a truck loaded with gifts, merchandise, kitchenware, furnishings and record albums, leaving KWJJ AM/FM studios with two gallons of gas in a glass jar. When the gas was exhausted and the truck sputtered to a stop, the nearest lucky person’s home was approached by Sammy Taylor, trailing yards of mike cable. Whoever answered the door got a try at answering two questions. A first answer right meant about $100 dollars in merchandise. The second, or jackpot answer, meant nearly $1,000 dollars in items such as diamond rings and home appliances.
KWJJ AM/FM was using Portland area’s first commercially licensed remote shortwave unit. The truck could broadcast directly to the studios from a ten mile radius. Listeners would follow the truck to winners homes, watching & listening as Sammy asked the questions and witness the awards given on the lawns of winning residence. Remember there was no television in Portland at the time. “Whose house will the White Rock truck be nearest to when it stops after using up its 2 gals. of gas? Who will be the Jackpot Winner? Will it be You?”
On August 4, 1949 KWJJ AM/FM’s “White Rock Caravan” was reduced to once a week, Thursday’s at 3:00pm. On September 3, 1949 The Sammy Taylor Show was now on 10:30am to 2:00pm Monday through Saturday on KWJJ AM/FM. On October 20, 1949 the last “White Rock Caravan” aired on KWJJ AM/FM, although it wasn’t known at the time. On October 23, 1949 the last “Amato Show” aired on KWJJ AM/FM, although it wasn’t known at the time.
On October 26, 1949 in the early morning Sammy Taylor was driving his Buick convertible home to Oswego from a bowling tournament in Vancouver. At about 2:00am he attempted to light a cigarette and failed to negotiate a turn on S.W. Boones Ferry Rd., near Stephenson Road, crashing into a tree, totaling the car. Taylor suffered possible broken ribs, smashed lips and a leg injury. Wade Bettis removed Sammy from the car and took him to Wade’s home, where Mrs. Bettis, a nurse administered first aid. From there Sammy was taken to St. Vincent’s Hospital where he stayed for about three weeks and was on crutches for two months.
November 11, 1949 Ad: “–Tonight– Greet SAMMY TAYLOR (on crutches!) Popular KWJJ disc jockey just home from hospital. EL RANCHO VILLAGE. 130th & S.E. Stark. For Reservations Call KE 1313. MICHAEL LORING …host…mgr…songs. Don Tooley band with Nita. No Cover Charge.” On November 18, 1949 it was reported in the Behind The Mike column: “Sammy Taylor is running a Santa Claus show on KWJJ six days a week at 5:30. The other night Sammy got his long white beard tangled in his crutches or something and didn’t get on the air. Station received about 200 calls from kids.”
December 17, 1949 RCA Victor ad: “Sammy Taylor Applauds New Records. Portland’s favorite Disc Jockey, Sammy Taylor at KWJJ with the world’s largest record collection, says “The new RCA Victor 45 rpm records are top hits with me. For tone quality and ease of handling, they can’t be beat. I play them on all my programs.”
SAMMY TAYLOR PROGRAMS
10:30 A.M.—2 P.M. Daily—“Sammy Taylor Show”
5:00 P.M.—5:45 P.M. Daily—“Christmas Preview”
5:45 P.M.-6 P.M. Daily-“Sunny Jim” (kindergarten show sponsored by Sunny Jim Peanut Butter)
4 P.M.—5 P.M. Wednesdays—“Sammy Taylor Teen Age Club”
On February 21, 1950 Sammy started a new show “Amato’s with Sammy Taylor” Tuesday through Sunday’s from midnight to 1:00am live from Amato’s Supper Club on KWJJ AM/FM. On May 26, 1950 Sammy interviewed Vaughn Monroe at his Autograph Party from 4:00 to 5:00pm in the J.K. Gill Record Department at: 408 S.W. 5th Ave., heard over KWJJ AM/FM. Sammy had also been MC introducing some of the Big Band’s to Portland audiences: Gene Krupa, Stan Kenton, Duke Ellington, Tommy Dorsey, Jimmy Dorsey & Jack Teagarden.
June 3, 1950 Taylor began another Summer of Saturday afternoons playing music underwater, pool side at Jantzen Beach Park over KWJJ AM/FM. In early September 1950 Sammy was hospitalized due to health issues but continued to broadcast his KWJJ AM/FM programs from his hospital bed. On September 15, 1950 it was announced Sammy Taylor one of the best Disc Jockey’s in the Portland area, was taking an indefinite leave of absence from his programs due to suffering from ulcers. Taylor had been doing late morning, afternoon, and late night radio shows, six days a week.
On October 25, 1950 Sammy feeling rested and better was back on his “Amato’s with Sammy Taylor” program at 11:15pm on KWJJ AM/FM. On January 17, 1951 Taylor left 10,000 watt KWJJ. There must have been a falling out at the last minute. My thought is KWJJ wanted Sammy back on his long schedule of radio shows. Doctors probably told Sammy to cut back or risk more health problems.
On January 18, 1951 Sammy showed up on 250 watt KGON Oregon City, broadcasting his new “Sammy Taylor Air Show” at Amato’s Supper Club from 11:00pm to 2:00am, six nights a week. On July 28, 1951 Sammy Taylor began a Disc Jockey show from the Sherwood Room at Wherry’s on McLoughlin Blvd. 10:00pm to 2:30pm on KGON. By July 1952 The Sammy Taylor Show was broadcast from KGON studios at: 1065 McLoughlin Blvd., in Gladstone, from 3:00pm to 5:30pm. Then back on KGON from 11:15pm to 2:00am.
By October 1952 “Sammy Taylor’s Record Shop” was opened at: 364 N. State St. in Oswego. (Shop closed in 1957).
On April 12, 1953 “The Sammy Taylor Show” returned to KWJJ from 11:00am to 2:00pm seven days a week. Since Taylor’s departure KWJJ had been sold to new owners Rod & Betty Johnson. On July 13, 1953 “Behind The Mike” column: “If only Liberace had a voice like Sammy Taylor’s. Oh golly!” Genevieve Ashenberner, Portland. On August 17, 1953 “The Sammy Taylor Show” began broadcasting live from the Multnomah County Fair, daily thru the 22nd on KWJJ. (8-13-54 as well)
On February 9, 1954 Sammy broadcast live from “Montgomery’s Appliance & TV” at S.W. 5th Ave. & Salmon St. with guest Louis Armstrong in person, showing how to prepare his famous New Orleans Creole dishes on the new Hotpoint Range. The show began at 10:30am on KWJJ. On August 8, 1954 Sammy won the Disc Jockey five-lap race at Portland Speedway and a trophy, sponsored by the Junior Chamber of Commerce. On November 6, 1954 Sammy’s sister Viola M. Taylor-Stone died at age 53 in Arizona.
On December 8, 1954 Sammy & Bette welcomed their second son Jonathan Swift Taylor. On January 31, 1955 “The Sammy Taylor Show” began broadcasting every Monday & Friday from Lipman’s Record Department at: 521 S.W. 5th Ave., 11:00am to 1:00pm on KWJJ.
On January 23, 1955 Sammy played the controversial 45 minute album “The Investigator” on his Sunday show, satirizing Senator Joseph McCarthy. Sammy was immediately flooded with phone calls of protest from pro-McCarthy fans. When the recording ended he got a group of calls from the anti-McCarthy faction, wanting to know where they could obtain the disc. McCarthy wasn’t mentioned by name but actor John Drainie imitated his voice so perfectly you’d swear the senator was speaking. The record was a bootleg of a broadcast over Canada’s CBC Network on May 30, 1954. Record stores were selling the satire for $5.95. There was worry disc sales went to the Communist Party. Taylor rebroadcast the record on Feb 14th.
August 26, 1955 Ad: ‘TODAY 3 TO 5. BARDAHL OIL presents SAMMY TAYLOR direct from: PENNA’S TEXACO SERVICE STATION at North Lombard and Interstate. KWJJ, The Station That’s Going Places.” On December 9, 1955 “Behind The Mike” column: “KWJJ’s Sammy Taylor still leads the local deejay pack for fine voice tone. Mal Higgins, Oregon City.” Also reported Sammy was one of the few playing “Good Jazz.”
April 5, 1956 Orpheum Theater ad: “HEY KIDS! DIG THIS: Teen-Agers’ Premiere TODAY AT FIVE. FREE! ROCK AND ROLL JACKETS. They’re The Most!…By Totem Sportswear…From Lipman’s. FREE! BILL HALEY ALBUMS. His Latest Decca Records Hits! Dean of Portland Disc Jockeys! from KWJJ IN PERSON ON STAGE! SAMMY TAYLOR. Bring The Gang! It’ll Be REAL GONE!! It’s The Whole Story of Rock And Roll! THE SCREEN’S FIRST ROCK & ROLL FEATURE! BILL HALEY – ROCK AROUND THE CLOCK.” 759 S.W. Broadway.
April 6, 1956 Ad: “MEIER & FRANK’S HI-FI SHOW. Auditorium, Tenth Floor. Action! Thrills! Music! Prizes! Entertainment! MEET SAMMY TAYLOR, Portland’s popular disc jockey on KWJJ…broadcasting from our Auditorium, 1 – 4 P. M. today and Saturday, and 6 – 8 P. M. tonight.” 621 S.W. 5th Ave. On September 23, 1956 Sammy revealed his favorite song. The oldie “Body And Soul.” Artist was not mentioned.
September 28, 1956 Ad: “TONIGHT Open House Honoring Business And Professional Woman’s Week at CHARLES F. BERG featuring Boyd’s Coffee. SAMMY TAYLOR live broadcast from Berg’s 7 to 9 P. M. KWJJ, The Station That’s Going Places.” 615 S.W. Broadway. Sammy also repeated Berg’s event in 1957. October 28, 1956 Ad: “Sammy Taylor’s Record Revue. Brought to you by Sixth Avenue Records – Today – 1:15 P.M. to 6:15 P.M. KWJJ.” Sunday’s. 430 S.W. 6th Ave. On February 1, 1957 “Behind The Mike” column: “KWJJ’s Sammy Taylor is giving up his Sunday show after four years. Seven days a week is just too much, he says.”
On February 11, 1957 Sammy Taylor began a new show on KWJJ 6:00pm to 7:00pm live from the new 6th Avenue Records location at: 511 S.W. 6th Ave. On April 16, 1957 Sammy’s KWJJ schedule was know 10:00am to 1:00pm & 3:00pm to 5:00pm Monday through Thursday and 1:00pm to 4:00pm Fridays. Saturdays 9:00am to Noon & 1:00pm to 4:00pm. On September 11, 1957 Sammy became the announcer for the new KPTV program. “Horse Sense Bridge” with host Sam Gordon. “Bridge for beginners and experts.” Wednesdays from 3:15pm to 3:45pm. KPTV studios: 735 S.W. 20th Place.
On October 7, 1957 The Sammy Taylor Show was on location at the Portland Central Fire Station on: S.W. Front Ave. & Ash St., over KWJJ from 10:00am to 1:00pm. Sammy interviewed Mary Kathryn “Kathy Lumm”, 18, “Miss Flame of 1957” (elected 10-1-57. 35-23-35. Former Washington High School May Queen) on Fire Prevention, as well as interviewing Portland Firemen. On February 26, 1958 the last “Horse Sense Bridge” television show aired on KPTV.
On March 30, 1958 The Sammy Taylor Show broadcast from the new Oliver Jay Apartments open house at: 0232 S.W. Gaines St., from 1:30pm to 6:00pm on KWJJ with free coffee and doughnuts. April 11, 1958 Ad: “See…Hear Sammy Taylor, KWJJ Direct Broadcast From The Fred Meyer Rockwood Store 10 A. M. to 1 P. M.” 18535 S.E. Stark St.
On November 18, 1958 “Behind The Mike” column: “Sammy Taylor of KWJJ completed his 1,650th remote radio program with a broadcast from a Tigard supermarket last Friday. Estimates he consumes five to six cups of black coffee and smokes a pack of cigarettes during the average remote. In three hours of broadcasting away from the KWJJ studios, Taylor will play about 45 records, read 3,000 words of commercial copy and ad lib another 3,000 to 4,000 words of record introduction and general information. A little quick mental arithmetic shows that in 1,650 remote broadcasts that’s a mere 4,950,000 commercial words and 6 1/2 million other choice words. And Sammy says with his limited vocabulary, that’s a mouthful.”
“All this has required Sammy to broadcast from some unusual locations and events, including, from under the ice at the old Portland Ice Arena, from the top of a moving delivery truck, from small planes, giant air liners and from boats in both the Willamette and Columbia Rivers. Sammy has broadcast at different times a milking contest from the middle of a downtown Portland street, from a 24-hour auto endurance contest, from dance halls all over the Northwest, race tracks and flying schools. (from a diving bell underwater at Jantzen Beach). It’s quite a record for Sammy, even though he did lose all his hair.”
On February 21, 1959 Sammy broadcast from the 5th annual Portland Boat Show at the P.I. building from 3:00pm to 5:30pm Friday and 1:00pm to 5:00pm Saturday & Sunday on KWJJ. On September 25, 1959 Taylor began conducting a new KWJJ Friday night program as announcer. From 10:00pm to 10:30pm “Bridge To Dreamland” featuring Jerry Van Hoomisen live from the Palais Royale at: 2115 W. Burnside. On October 2, 1959 Sammy began yet another new KWJJ Friday night program as announcer. From 10:30pm to 11:00pm with Monte Ballou & His “Castle Jazz Band” live from Rossini’s Supper Club at: 949 S.W. Stark St.
On October 30, 1959 “Castle Jazz Band” moved to 11:00pm on KWJJ. On December 4, 1959 the last “Bridge To Dreamland” aired on KWJJ. On December 25, 1959 the last “Castle Jazz Band” aired on KWJJ. On July 7, 1960 The Sammy Taylor Show on KWJJ moved to 10:30am to 3:00pm weekdays and Saturdays: 9:00am to 11:00am & 12:15pm to 2:30pm & 3:30pm to 5:30pm. On October 3, 1960 The Sammy Taylor show’s 1:00pm hour was taken over by ABC.
November 2, 1960 Ad: “The DEAN of Portland Disc Jockeys, SAMMY TAYLOR presents a period of enjoyable listening from 10:30 A.M. to 3:00 P.M. on… “The SAMMY TAYLOR Show” featuring: *PAUL HARVEY NEWS, 12 noon to 12:15. *FLAIR, the wonderful NEW SHOW with a galaxy of great names, (Host: Dick Van Dyke) 1 to 2 P.M. Designed to brighten your day on… KWJJ – 1080 on your dial. ABC RADIO.” On March 20, 1961 Sammy began a new program within his main KWJJ program called “Pop Corn Concert” weekdays 11:30pm to Noon.
On May 7, 1961 Sammy & family returned home from a weekend at the beach to find someone had broken into their Oswego home. Sammy’s remote amplifier had been stolen but that could be replaced. The biggest blow was his valuable record collection of over one thousand albums, acquired over a 26 year period, were now missing. Many were priceless Jazz collector items and special promotional issues. KWJJ announced that listeners to Sammy’s program needn’t worry about Taylor having nothing to play, KWJJ had over 100,000 albums.
On October 2, 1961 “The Sammy Taylor Show”on KWJJ moved to 10:00am to 11:00am. With his “Pop Corn Concert” 11:30am to Noon & “The Sammy Taylor Show” 12:15pm to 2:00pm weekdays and Saturdays: 9:00am to Noon & 12:15pm to 2:30pm & 3:30pm to 5:00pm. On December 9, 1961 the Saturday Sammy Taylor Show on KWJJ moved to 9:00am to 11:00am & 12:15pm to 2:30pm.
On March 31, 1962 KPTV brought back “Stump The Deejay’s” quiz show (originally aired in 1955) Saturday nights at 10:30pm. The DJ’s were: Sammy Taylor (KWJJ), Barney Keep (KEX), Bob Blackburn (KPOJ) & Bill Davis (KGW). George Sanders was emcee. “Have a ball with Portland’s four top Deejays as they clown through their panel quiz with local celebrities.” Sponsored by Rancho Rambler. The premier show took five hours to tape.
In the April 1962 issue of “Movie Mirror” magazine, Sammy Taylor was featured in a one page article honoring “America’s Greatest Disc Jockeys” for 1962. On May 19, 1962 Sammy and “Stump The Deejays” aired for the last time on KPTV. On July 20, 1962 it was announced in a KWJJ ad, Sammy Taylor was voted “America’s Greatest Disc Jockey” by “Movie Mirror” magazine for 1962. “Just Heard You Were Voted the Nation’s Number One Disc Jockey. Congratulations, But What Are You Going to Do for an Encore? Anyway, My Most Sincere Wishes….Shirley MacLaine.”
July 24, 1962 KWJJ Ad: “Sammy Taylor…KWJJ Radio, Portland. My Most Hearty Congratulations to the Nation’s Number One DeeJay. Keep Ridin’ Fast and Hard in That Disc Jockey Saddle, Sammy….John Wayne.” July 26, 1962 KWJJ Ad: “Sammy Taylor…KWJJ Radio, Portland. Sincere Best Wishes for a Long Tenure as Top Disc Jockey in the Nation. And Congratulations from “The Great One” to the Greatest….Jackie Gleason.”
October 15, 1962 Ad: “The Nation’s No. 1 D.J. wears Portland’s No. 1 Suit. CAREERMAN …exclusive with Weiner’s. Sammy Taylor must look his best at all times, as does anyone on the way up. You can have the look of success and real feeling of achievement if you wear a CAREERMAN suit….” On July 1, 1963 The Sammy Taylor Show expanded a half hour to 2:30pm on KWJJ. In July 1963 Sammy Taylor was honored for the second year in a row by “Movie Mirror” magazine as “America’s Greatest Disc Jockey” for 1963.
On August 29, 1963 tragedy hit the Taylor family when Sammy’s son, 7 year old Jonathan, was accidentally shot in the groin with a 12-gauge shotgun while in his sleeping bag. Jonathan had been attending a neighbor’s slumber party about midnight, when conversation was brought up about prowlers. Slumber Party hostess Mrs. Minkler said she had protection under a bed and reached for it, accidentally triggering it off. Jonathan was listed in fair condition at St. Vincent Hospital after five hours of surgery and would undergo further surgery.
On November 2, 1963 the Saturday Sammy Taylor Show was now 9:00am to 2:30pm on KWJJ. On November 29, 1963 Sammy broadcast live from Lloyd Center 10:00am to 4:00pm on KWJJ interviewing customers, Santa Claus and Lloyd Center personnel. On January 15, 1964 Sammy’s friend Jack Teagarden passed away and Sammy served as a pallbearer. In the June 1964 issue of “Movie Mirror” magazine, Sammy Taylor was featured on page 9 with two pictures.
On November 2, 1964 “The Sammy Taylor Show” was now heard on KWJJ from 10:00am to 11:00am. With his “Pop Corn Concert” 11:30am to Noon & “The Sammy Taylor Show” 1:00pm to 1:30pm & 2:00 to 2:30pm weekdays. On November 14, 1964 Sammy did his last Saturday show on KWJJ.
On March 1, 1965 KWJJ switched its format from Middle of The Road music to Country & Western. Sammy Taylor became KWJJ Music Director. Sammy commented nine months later: “I think a few people were astounded that I went along with the change-over. Well, you can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy. Some people resented my switching over to C&W. In the beginning, I got some sharp phone calls and some nasty letters. But that’s all over now.”
By September 1965 Sammy Taylor was KWJJ Program Director and Music Director. On October 24, 1968 Sammy’s brother Emmet Dalton “Dick” Taylor died at age 69 in Independence, Oregon. On April 16, 1969 “Taylor’s Viewpoint” at 8102 N.E. Killingsworth, honored the Dean of Portland Disc Jockey’s, proclaiming it “Sammy Taylor Nite.” On the bill were LeRoy Van Dyke & The Auctioneers with Ira Allen & The Renegades. On May 25, 1970 Sammy Taylor celebrated his 55th birthday and his 33rd year in broadcasting on his show 9:00am to Noon on KWJJ.
In 1971 Sammy’s son Jonathan now 16 years old, had to have his leg amputated after years struggling with the aftermath of the shotgun accident. On October 5, 1971 Golden Hours radio service began and Sammy was heard as an announcer. In Fall 1971 Sammy was nominated to the Board of Directors of the CMA – Country Music Association. On November 28, 1971 John Wendeborn of The Oregonian staff: “Sammy Taylor who was the dean of Jazz radio several years back (said). “Jazz has changed too much for me; I can’t get into it anymore,” Taylor said.
By November 1974 Sammy Taylor was Program Director but no longer Music Director. In March 1977 Sammy Taylor celebrated 40 years in radio and shortly after retired from KWJJ and broadcasting.
On January 31, 1980 Sammy Taylor passed away at his Lake Oswego home at age 64, after suffering chest pains.
At the time his mother Jennie and sister Viola were still living. Both passed in 1981. Sammy was very influential in the growth of Country music in the Northwest. In 1971 Sammy commented: “Radio has been good to me and the people of this area have been exceptionally good.” In 1991 Sammy Taylor was inducted into the Country Music DJ Hall of Fame.
Special Thanks to Joel Miller who helped make this biography more complete.
References: Billboard magazine, Broadcasting Yearbook, The Oregonian, TV Radio Mirror, Wikipedia.
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