Adam Smith on the Radio

Adam Smith and Radio
Adam Smith and Radio

Radio is where I had spent almost 30 years and held a number of varied and interesting positions. It also gave me untold opportunities to go places and see and do things I might never have had a chance to. I’ve always loved music and the mystique of radio and was drawn to it at a young age. In fact, I believe I announced to friends and family at about age 14 that I was going to be a DJ on the radio.

It’s important to note that in those days when I was first starting out, nobody aspired to remain at any one station longer than 6 months. We were always looking for that next and better gig in our quest to hit the big time. I’m proud to say that I was only “dismissed” from one job in my entire career. The rest were my choice and in my attempt to keep moving up.


K-131 (KIOT 1310 AM, Barstow, CA)

Jim Knight at the K-131 controls
Midday personality Jim Knight at the K-131 controls (I only have two pictures from K-131 and I’m not in them)

It all started when I was 19 years old and got a job as a DJ at K-131 in beautiful downtown Barstow (well actually, it was on the outskirts of town!). We played the pop/rock music of the day and the DJ’s were upbeat and entertaining, albeit very inexperienced. We would also produce and record commercials to be played throughout the day. It was the fun and creativity of producing commercials that really got into my blood and would lead to where I’ve ended up today.

There’s more! Click here to read the full K-131 story and for more pictures!


K-ORANGE (KORG 94.3 FM, Garden Grove, CA)

I landed the overnight DJ slot at KORG-FM in Garden Grove, California. Much closer to LA than Barstow, this little three-thousand watt FM station serving Orange County was just 30 miles from radio mecca.

Adam Smith on-the-air at K-Orange - Summer 1978
Adam Smith on-the-air at K-Orange – Summer 1978

We played easier pop music than K-131.

It was a great opportunity to be so close to home (I spent most of my formative years in Costa Mesa, California, just 10 minutes from Garden Grove) but to still be able to say I was working in LA, because Garden Grove was considered part of the Los Angeles radio market. I was also exposed to some very talented people and had some great experiences here, including being able to really spread my wings in the production studio.

There’s more! Click here to read the full K-Orange story and for more pictures!


KOLA (KOLA 99.9 FM, San Bernardino, CA)

31,000 watts! Wow! That’s a massive radio signal in Southern California, and here I was as the new “voice” of the station. The station played rock music and all the material was pre-recorded, so it was my voice you heard introducing every song, doing the news reports, and of course, voicing and producing the commercials. Even though KOLA was farther from home and Los Angeles, the signal carried all the way from the desert, to the Pacific ocean, and from Los Angeles to San Diego.

There’s more! Click here to read the full KOLA-FM story!


KIK-FM (KIKF 94.3 FM, Garden Grove, CA)

Adam Smith in the early days of KIK-FM
Adam Smith in the early days of KIK-FM

I can honestly say I came to disdain heading into the KOLA studios each day. Horrible to say, I know, but that’s the truth of it. The working and living conditions were simply too much to take for a young man of 21 looking for some fun and adventure.

Adam Smith with Johnny Cash
Adam Smith with Johnny Cash

I had received a call from a friend who I worked with at K-Orange who told me they were looking for someone to handle the night shift and do production. I had heard through the radio grapevine that the station was soon going to change format to country music and honestly, wanted nothing to do with that format. I mean, here I was at a hard rock station! But he was persistent and strongly suggested I at least talk to them and see what they had to offer. I couldn’t argue with that, being as I was so unhappy at KOLA.

There’s more! Click here to read the full KIK-FM story and for more pictures plus an aircheck!



COW-AM & FM (KOWN 92.1 FM & KOWN 1150 AM, Escondido/Vista, CA)

Yes that’s right…”the Cow”. OK, I’m going to start right here and say I fought, and fought hard, against calling this station “the Cow”, but clearly lost. While at KIK-FM, the same owner purchased this AM/FM combo in north San Diego county. The call letters “KOWN” were initially meant to convey “own”, as in the community’s “own” radio stations. Why the owner insisted on calling it “the Cow” is well beyond me.

I began as a consultant to this combo while still programming KIK-FM (I had taken myself off the air by this time in order to devote all my time to programming) and changed the format from easy jazz to modern country. Again, I fought hard against calling it “the Cow”, but lost.

There’s more! Click here to read the full KOW-FM story!


KEZY-FM/KORJ-AM (KEZY 95.9 FM/K-Orange 1190 AM, Anaheim, CA)

Growing up in Orange County, there was one station that ruled us as teens and preteens and that was 1190 KEZY AM. Over the course of the years AM was relegated to news and talk while FM took over as the listener’s music choice. But it had always been a dream to be able to say that call sign: “KEZY, Anaheim”.

I had developed a reputation for the success of KIK-FM and my name was known in radio circles.  So when I saw an ad that KEZY was looking for a Production Director, I pounded loud on that door!

There’s more! Click here to read the full KEZY story and listen to an aircheck!


COOL (COOL 94.3 FM, Anaheim, CA)



KZLA (KZLA 93.9 FM, Los Angeles, CA)

There it is! Los Angeles! I had made it! And what a difference compared to all the stations I’ve worked at before. AFTRA contract, state of the art studios, no politics, just radio pros playing radio. It truly was a dream come true because right down the street was the original Bob’s Big Boy and a killer donut shop with fritters the size of truck tires. And just down the street in the other direction, NBC studios. I don’t want to sound jaded by putting donuts ahead of a world renown TV studio but trust me, those donuts were unbelievable!

There’s more! Click here to read the full KZLA story!


Metro Networks (KABC-AM, ESPN Radio, Los Angeles, CA)


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