Friday, January 8, 2016

KNAC: The Spirit Lives, 30 Years Later

KNAC Pure Rock, 105.5: Long Beach, Los Angeles

January 8th, 2016 marks the 30th anniversary of the birth of a heavy metal revolution: the day that a 1500-watt station from Long Beach officially changed to its “Pure Rock” format, and both Los Angeles radio and the metal community would never be the same again.

Last year, in honor of the 20th commemoration of KNAC's sign-off, I wrote a tribute piece to the station, and went into extensive detail all the ways in which KNAC was both a local and worldwide phenomenon, and how influential it was to all headbangers, even those who had never been to Southern California. I wrote this piece out of love and respect to something that had been a huge part of my upbringing as a metalhead—I never expected the overwhelming response that I received from readers around the world who remembered Pure Rock, and the people who felt inclined to share their own stories with me, either on this blog, or on social media. Long after my original article was published, I continued to receive feedback from Pure Rockers who thanked me for writing something that apparently had hit a nerve with so many people. It became the most-read article on my blog, and in all my years of writing reviews, I can say with all sincerity that the KNAC tribute is the one thing I have written of which I am the proudest.

 Early KNAC promo ad
(Photo courtesy of the KNAC Facebook page)

In some ways, I figured if anyone were to respond to my blog, it would be fellow fans. However, what I did not expect was the outpouring of respectful comments from KNAC staff, from people who actually worked there: DJs, phone operators, etc., who also read my article and complimented how well I captured the KNAC experience, whether it was to readers who had lived it firsthand, or explaining it to those who had never known KNAC except for the stories that had grown to mythical proportions over the years. To read their praise and their kind words online was such an honor: that teenage version of myself who remembers listening to KNAC in my room, hearing these DJs on the air, and all these years later, to know that they read something I wrote and actually liked it...I cannot express in words enough that KNAC had such an impact on my life that they play a huge part in encouraging my love of music and to share my love of was truly like coming full circle. When Long Paul—who has become the name associated with KNAC, especially since switching to the format—said that my article was “as pure as the driven snow”, I felt for a moment what it must be like for an actor to win an Oscar, or for an Olympic athlete to win a gold medal. (Well, maybe not to such an extent, but needless to say it was a very nice feeling!) KNAC's influence on me as a metal fan cannot be stressed enough, so to receive such appreciation from these people was indeed a humbling moment for me.

That being said, the positive response I received for my tribute to KNAC prompted many people to ask me if I would be writing something for the 30th anniversary in 2016. To be honest, I wasn't sure if people wanted to read an updated version of an already-long article, but when so many people asked me to write more, I thought there must be something to this; especially when more stories from fans kept coming my way. As was told to me last year when I started this project, there are so many stories from fans out there, waiting to be told. I was learning this as people continued to regale me with KNAC tales.

I don't think there's any need to elaborate on the history of KNAC or go into too much detail about the station's end, as I covered that already in my previous blog entry. Not only that, but the earlier article was written as a memorial to KNAC's end. I would like this piece to celebrate the spirit of KNAC, which continued to live on after the station “faded to black” on the FM dial, and continues to live on to this day. I think this time I am just going to sit back and (for the most part) let the Pure Rockers tell their stories through their pictures and words, so that you might feel for a moment in time what it was like to be there.

Southern California's only real ass-kicker!

From the start, KNAC was like nothing the average radio listener had ever heard before. For headbangers, it was like an epiphany: for the first time, they could switch on their radios and hear bands that they loved and music they identified with. Bands like Slayer, Metal Church, Suicidal Tendencies, and countless other heavy bands that mainstream rock radio would never touch.

Ray Clouse recalls the exact moment when 105.5 changed format from new wave to heavy metal:  “I listened to the transition. It was a Sunday evening, I was flipping through the radio and “Rock & Rhythm KNAC” was playing “Oh Shit” by the Buzzcocks and then “Anarchy in the UK”, and I'm like, this is a little more punk than they are usually. Then AC/DC's “It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock and Roll)” came on. I had to go do some other stuff, then I came back and they were playing Rush. I was like, what happened here?”

KNAC: playing music even the DJs enjoyed!
(Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Times; shared by Lucas Riot)

Nadja Murano remembers:  “I would go to bed and wake up listening to KNAC. I had metal in my dreams!”

James Aten was floored by the arrival of KNAC: “I was at the La Mirada Swap Meet one day with my cousin. We were looking for some new tapes, and we heard W.A.S.P. playing on the radio station; [we] went, what the fuck?!” 

The collective jaw-dropping moment had happened. Pure Rock was on the air, and for the next 9 years, headbangers all throughout the Southland had found a place to call their own.

 KNAC: primed and ready for world domination
(Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Times; shared by Lucas Riot)

Word about the new heavy metal radio station spread like wildfire, as more metalheads learned about KNAC's existence and turned their dials to 105.5. As Michael Coughran put it: “[I] was sitting in my one room apartment in Huntington Beach when the girl upstairs came down and said, ‘You gotta listen to this new station.’ It was about a week after the format change.”

Wendy Lee shares a special milestone with the birth of Pure Rock: “Taking my cousin out for a spin in my new car, he remembered the new station we'd heard about was coming on air. We tuned in just as the first song was played—something by AC/DC—[I] will never forget; it was my 21st birthday.”

Instantly, KNAC garnered a loyal fanbase. Todd Stout was one of those who listened to the station from beginning to end: “I read about the format change in the Calendar section of the L.A. Times in late January or maybe early February of 1986. Being out in the Inland Empire, I wasn't sure if I could even get it so I ran upstairs to my bedroom and tuned my stereo to 105.5. Amazingly, I was able to receive it—I was high enough up in the foothills, I guess—and was a regular listener until the end in 1995.”

L.A. Times newspaper clipping (courtesy of Lucas Riot)

As mentioned in my previous KNAC article, the station became beloved by headbangers all across the globe, not only among locals. People who had never been to Los Angeles or could not locate Long Beach on a map knew what KNAC was, and the station was treasured by fans of hard rock and heavy metal everywhere.

Although a Californian, Scott Mosher had never ventured from the Bay Area, yet word of KNAC had reached all the way up the coast: “That station had a cult-like following, and I've never been to Long Beach; I'm from San Francisco! KNAC filled a niche; no other station in the country could touch it.”

Kevin Hrasdzira, who lived all the way on the East Coast, knew about KNAC due to the metal bands who promoted the station by way of the t-shirts they wore: “[I first learned about KNAC through] George Lynch's shirt in the “It's Not Love” video. I lived in New York at the time.”

Long before he was Y2J: wrestler and Fozzy frontman Chris Jericho rocks KNAC gear in his native Canada!
(Photo courtesy of the KNAC Pure Rock Facebook page)

Louie Sanchez's story hearkens back to a time when MTV actually played music: “MTV actually broke the news to me when I was living in Colorado at the time.”

Michael Condelli refers to a film all about metalheads:  “I first heard of KNAC in ’88 when I saw bits of The Decline of Western Civilization, Part II, but I first heard the station for myself when I was in L.A. in ’91. I'd listen to it all day and night; it was like paradise to hear a 24/7 hard rock/metal station.”

KNAC magazine ad: get your KNAC gear here!
(Photo courtesy of Lucas Riot)

A member of the KNAC Rocks! Facebook group with the username of Loud Rock tells the tale of how devoted Pure Rockers in the Southland were sharing the word about the station far and wide, long before the days of file-sharing and streaming media:  “I grew up on a farm in aunt lived in Torrance and would mail me a cassette every was like heaven!”

Out-of-towners who caught wind of KNAC by visiting the area were so blown away that such a radio station existed that they had to take it back with them, like a souvenir; which is what David Kinzer did when he visited Southern California: “I remember visiting L.A. from Oregon in the ’80s and cassette-taping hours of KNAC to take home so I had great radio to listen to.”

Pure Rocker Annettra shows her KNAC pride
(Photo courtesy of Annettra Ross)

From January 1986 to February 1995, I was between the ages of 7 to 16, so growing up in Southern California, it is easy to take for granted that the rest of the world had radio stations like this; especially when rival station Pirate Radio came on the air and there were essentially two metal-based radio stations on the dial, along with at least 6 or 7 other stations that specialized in some particular form of rock music at one time or another. Los Angeles was truly a rock ’n’ roll heaven back then; I remember a time when all the presets on your car radio could be filled with rock stations, and there were still 2 or 3 more to flip through on the dial, besides. I never realized how unique KNAC really was until the station went off the air, and I actually traveled to other cities like San Diego, Seattle, and Las Vegas, and heard what passed for rock radio in other parts of the country. Some of them were quite good, but none of them were like KNAC. Even the stations that did play metal (or followed a template similar to that of Pure Rock) were very limited on the bands they could play, or the time of day those bands could be played.

Cheryl Trujillo found KNAC flipping through all those L.A. rock stations: “In high school, I listened to KMET, KROQ, and KLOS until I turned the dial all the way to the right [to KNAC]. Then it was on! I loved the speed metal!”

KNAC: winning the war on lame mainstream radio
(Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Times; shared by Lucas Riot)

Daryll Kars perfectly sums up just how unique KNAC was compared to your typical rock radio station: “Going though the dial while driving and heard “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” and thought, who has the guts to play such a heavy tune? Certianly wasn't KMET or KLOS! It was at the other end of dial and [I] programmed in [the] station immediately.”

Once fans discovered KNAC, many never bothered with any of those other stations again. Laura Simmons was one such listener: “[I was a fan] from the day it started! First song I heard was W.A.S.P.'s “L.O.V.E. Machine”, and instantly KNAC was my only love in L.A. radio! My dial never moved after that night!”

MLB Hall of Famer Mike Piazza's custom-made KNAC jacket
(Photo courtesy of Long Paul)

Also, growing up in the ’80s and early ’90s, this was before the internet age, so KNAC was a hub of information if you were a metalhead. Before there was Google, YouTube, and social media, KNAC had its finger on the pulse of what was happening in the world of metal. During those years, I probably knew 437-KNAC better than I knew my home telephone number, and easily could have dialed it in my sleep! In fact, it was a hard habit to break for a long time after KNAC went off the air not to dial that number every time I had a question about my favorite bands or just felt like talking to other metalheads. KNAC was “interactive” long before the term was coined. As Ray Bones points out: “KNAC was your metal information center. No internet, MP3, [or] YouTube. We relied on KNAC to let us know [who the] upcoming bands [were] and where we can see them live.”

Many Pure Rockers would agree that KNAC was the social media of its time: the station fostered a sense of kinship from the beginning. A bond formed between the on-air personalities, the listeners, and the bands. KNAC was the connecting thread that put the metal commuity in touch with the music they loved. It became more than a radio station: it became a gathering place where lifelong friendships were forged, marriages were made, and people found a sense of home and family in a world where they were often labeled as outcasts or misfits.

KNAC Nights at California Dreams!
(Scan courtesy of Eric Kuder)

One way in which the KNAC staff and audience built their metal society together was through the legendary KNAC Night events, held at local clubs such as Geckos, Red Onion, Jezebel's, or California Dreams. The DJs and listeners partied together as they headbanged to their favorite Pure Rock tunes. Kris Vaughan describes it this way: “Best times, many headbanging hangovers. Always seemed like a concert was the next night also!”

Albert Albright shares some funny memories of the sorts of people you could find at a typical KNAC Night: “Who remebers the guy that came to all the KNAC Nights and moshed by himself? We called him the self-contained mosh pit!”

 KNAC Nights at Jezebel's
(Photo courtesy of Lucas Riot)

The good times on KNAC Night can often be described in just a few words. As Phil Lazarus said: “Best KNAC Night? The ones I got laid at! Duh!” Or Scott Morris, whose memories aren't as clear: “I don't remember any of them. I was usually too intoxicated!”

The line between fans and staff was virtually non-existent. It was definitely not your typical radio station, where certain radio personalities made it clear that they had some sort of celebrity status by keeping their listeners at arm's length, even at public events. KNAC had no such boundaries: they were a station for the people, by the people. If you called in to the request line, they never acted inconvenienced or too busy to talk, even to callers who just wanted to chat. Much of the time, DJs were known to carry on full conversations with listeners quite regularly. They were people you could easily imagine hanging out with or having as friends. Pure Rocker Eric Kuder sums it up like this: “Every DJ brought their A-game to KNAC. That's what made it so special; it made its place in history. The bond was really there; the DJs really made themselves available to the fans. It was a special time—electricity was in the air and you could feel it.”

The one and only: Tawn Mastrey, “The Leather Nun” (1954-2007)
(Photo courtesy of Cara Mastrey)

While all the on-air personalities are certainly remembered fondly and revered by listeners, one DJ in particular that is associated with Pure Rock and with L.A. rock radio in general was Tawn Mastrey, who had a sexy voice to match her inner and outer beauty. Her love for hard rock and heavy metal ran deep, and fans adored The Leather Nun as much as she loved them.

Tawn touched the lives of everyone she met, as her sister Cara shared this one particular story with me: “Tawn's spirit is alive; she communicates with me everyday in some way or another. Today, I went to my chiropractor for an adjustment, whom I've been seeing for almost a year. He asked if I was related to Tawn and I said yes. He proceeded  to tell me how she changed his life. He was a huge fan of Tawn's, a metal fan and would visit her while she was at her gig promoting the station. Tawn would encourage the game contestants to [do] crazy things to win prizes. My chiropractor said he pulled up his shirt and she rewarded him with a back massage at the bar. He said she inspired him to become a chiropractor by her touch and here he is working on me! Tawn brought people together and still does. It felt as thought Tawn herself was working on my back through his touch. This is one of a zillion stories I experience where Tawn acted as an angel by changing their lives for the better.”

 Ad for KNAC and Tawn Mastrey
(Photo courtesy of Cara Mastrey)

That symbiotic relationship between KNAC and their audience was genuine, and many of the listeners were inspired to take part in the Pure Rock experience by doing more than just listening to the station or going to the events. Some of them, seeing and hearing the sincere love and respect that fans and staff had for each other, wanted to do their part and start working for the station, even if it was nothing more than answering phones or driving the KNAC van around to events.

My friend and fellow Pure Rocker Scott Whitaker was one of those KNAC “phone foxes”, and shared his memories of his time working at the station with me: “I was young and fresh off the farm in the big city...I was a phone fox for a couple of years; I answered phones for Long Paul, Remy, and Lori Free. My phone fox name was Psychotic Scott! I got some strange calls: sometimes people just wanted to talk; shoot the shit, talk about bands. Good stuff. KNAC was special; just great people...the staff, the guests—[like] Slash, Metallica—going out in the van to the Long Beach Grand Prix and such. Good times. It was fun while it lasted. Shortly after I left the station, they shut down for good. Sad day.”

KNAC pays it forward
(Photo credit: Los Angeles Times; shared by Lucas Riot)

KNAC reached out to their audience with more than just the music: whether it was keeping listeners informed during the 1994 Northridge quake, or holding charity events to raise money for youth shelters, KNAC was giving back to the local community. People who didn't even listen to heavy metal benefitted from KNAC's contributions. For all our tough exterior, we metalheads have a soft spot, and many of us truly care for causes; going out of our way to help those less fortunate. KNAC exemplified this collective sentiment by continuously giving back to people in need all across the Southland.

However, in typical KNAC fashion, they turned charity events into an opportunity to further interact with the listener base and to give fans more memories to cherish. Randy Jones describes one of them: “[The] canned food drives KNAC had weren't about the free tix to shows; it was about standing in line all night, waiting for staff to come out for a live feed and having a fuckin' blast bullshitting with other metalheads!”

KNAC raises money for the Children of the Night youth shelter
(Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Times; shared by Lucas Riot)

KNAC didn't only forge a relationship with their audience, but also with the musicians themselves. There was a deep respect for KNAC both from bona-fide superstars and unsigned bands alike. Many of those bands crossed that line, starting out on the Hollywood local scene and ultimately working their way up to platinum albums and Grammys, and had KNAC to thank for that success. Bands from Guns ‘n’ Roses to Stone Temple Pilots could credit Pure Rock for their rise to stardom, because KNAC took chances and played any band that rocked hard. Even in a city with as abundant a local scene as Los Angeles had, radio stations would not give you the time of day unless you were already selling out arenas and getting airplay on MTV every hour. KNAC was different: it didn't matter to them whether you were the flavor of the month or if you were the latest underground basement band. If you played rock music, kicked ass, and showed some talent, then they put your music out there for thousands of Pure Rockers to hear across the Southland. Simple as that.

Scott Hammond played in one of those local bands to whom KNAC helped give a boost, and his story combines both the constant support KNAC gave to the local metal scene, and the inspiration KNAC gave to some Pure Rockers to take part in the station by doing more than just listening: “I played in bands in the ’80s and KNAC was there on the scene supporting bands, so we played many of their nights; got on the local show a couple of times with my band Slumlord. It all helped that our bassist Wences was a phone fox there. Eventually we had Dangerous Darren join us on stage for a tune, and from there the side project Toxic Undershorts was born!”

Lars Ulrich holds a copy of Master of Puppets, with KNAC's Scorchin' Scotty
(Photo courtesy of the KNAC Pure Rock Facebook page)

Although many bands can attribute their fame to KNAC, the band that unquestionably became the crown jewel of Pure Rock was none other than Metallica. They personified the spirit of KNAC like no other band: Metallica was loud, heavy, aggressive, and didn't give a damn what anyone else thought of them; the same attitude that Pure Rock flaunted proudly. Fans loved Metallica and requested them all throughout the day. Even though KNAC played its fair share of Metallica, the requests were so great that a nightly show dedicated to the band was formed: Mandatory Metallica, and if that name sounds familiar to you because your own local rock radio station has a version of it, you also have KNAC to thank for that.

Mandatory Metallica: “You'll never be able to get rid of Metallica on KNAC!”

For nine years, KNAC was the epicenter of all things related to heavy metal in Southern California. It was a devastating blow to listeners when it was announced in late 1994 that the station was given a death sentence, and had only a few months to live. KNAC had been a part of people's lives for so long, and for many people, had given them a place to belong for the first time in their lives. Young metalheads like myself who had grown up with the station and could not remember a time before it existed, took for granted that it would always be there and now had to face a sad reality of life without Pure Rock. We felt cheated out of so many things that we looked forward to sharing in when we got older: all the concerts and clubs that our older Pure Rock brethren were always going to and bragging about; the friendships that were formed among DJs, fans, and bands. Now, as we were approaching the age when we were finally old enough to go to concerts or to drink at the bars, the local metal scene was practically wiped out, because the loss of KNAC had been a deadly wound to many of the bands who had relied on 105.5 to spread the word about their live gigs. Now they had nowhere to go, as rock music turned a strange corner in the mid-’90s, and even grunge wasn't the flavor of the month anymore. The headbangers who had lived those 9 years enjoying the decadent parties and fun times were left with little choice but to accept that the good times had come to an end. As frequent caller “Big Al” inqured on the air to morning host Thrasher during the station's final days: “I just want to know, as a 68-year-old solid rocker, where the hell am I supposed to go to get my adrenaline? Do I have to play tapes now instead of the radio?! God, I don't know what in the hell I'm gonna do anymore!!!”

Pure Rocker Samantha keeps the spirit alive
(Photo courtesy of Samantha Magistrale)

I know I promised that I would keep this entry more about the spirit of Pure Rock and less about its final days, but one of my favorite stories about the various ways in which fans reacted to the end of KNAC—and a clear affirmation of what a loyal following they had—comes from Eric Kuder, who packed up his life on the other side of the country when he learned that Pure Rock was leaving the airwaves: “Back in ’93, I moved to Charlotte, North Carolina. I used to call in [to KNAC] every time I went to a concert to give a review of the show. I used to wear my KNAC t-shirt to every show, which allowed me some perks. The last show [I attended in North Carolina]—which was a Motley Crüe show with John Corabi—I called in to KNAC to give my review of the show and the DJ informed me that KNAC was going off the air in 6 months. After that crushing news, I called home to Long Beach and told my parents it was time to come back home. I quit my job, broke up with my fiancée, packed up my shit and bought a plane ticket home to Long Beach. That night I found some blank tapes and started recording the final broadcasts of KNAC: six months' worth and to this day I still have those recordings.”

Recordings of the final months of KNAC
(Photo courtesy of Eric Kuder)

KNAC might have lost its home on the FM dial, but much to the chagrin of self-righteous religious pundits and snooty soccer moms, they could not do away with metal music altogether, or undo the impact that KNAC had made upon the world during its near-decade of existence. As metal went back into the underground during the latter half of the ’90s, KNAC hitched a ride on the information superhighway and found a home on the internet; where has thrived for nearly 2 decades. This is something that metal's strongest opponents have never been able to figure out: metal is about freedom of expression, and being proud of who you are. Metal is about finding a place of your own, when the rest of the world tells you that you don't fit in. Metal is about gaining acceptance among those who don't blend into the crowd. Metal is about pushing the envelope and questioning what everyone else automatically accepts. As long as there are people in this world who feel different, who dare to question everything, or who choose to express themselves in a way other than what is expected from everyone else, metal will always survive. Metal will always speak to those rebellious souls who long to break from convention and strike a path away from a predictable course. Metal will always speak to those outsiders who feel alone, and empower them with the strength of music. KNAC created a shelter for those free spirits and lone wolves, and it is for this reason (among many others) that KNAC is still hallowed ground for headbangers everywhere.

Motörhead's Lemmy Kilmister (1945-2015) and KNAC: two legendary symbols of the Sunset Strip
(Photo courtesy of the KNAC Pure Rock Facebook page)

However, to close this article and to put a cap on everything KNAC had been, I go back to the final days of 105.5, where a listener named Rachel wrote to the station and probably best articulated what so many of us were feeling at that time, to which Thrasher replied: “See? I told you: people make an emotional connection with a radio station, whether you think they do or not.”

Rachel's words were as follows: “Here's what KNAC means to me: it's a place where I can go to get away from the world around me, and engulf myself in a blanket of heavy guitar, hard drums, and gruff metal voice. It means to me an attitude that shows the world that we're not like the rest of society; we're not ready to conform and become robots. It's an outlet for the aggressions of daily life. KNAC means to me nightclubs with pounding, grinding, pulsating hard rock music that vibrates the floor below me and within me. It's a place where I have friends anytime of the day; that's pretty cool. It's a special feeling that there's a place for me on the FM dial. KNAC is driving down the road or freeway with the wind in my hair, and pounding tunes pouring out the window. KNAC is an outlet for concert information, giveaways, movie screenings, new bands, speed metal, and club nights. KNAC is a good time, no matter what. KNAC is a radio station that has bent the rules, pushed the limits, and gone where no other station has gone before!”

Happy anniversary, KNAC. Your legacy endures. The Spirit Lives!!!

The KNAC crew on their final day: February 15th, 1995
(Photo courtesy of “Eveready” Ed Kelley)


*All KNAC audio promos uploaded via my own personal YouTube channel.*

Dedicated to the memory of Tawn Mastrey, “The Leather Nun”: 1954-2007.

Also dedicated to the memory of two Southern California icons and champions of metal, both whom we lost in 2015: the ultimate rock rebel, Lemmy Kilmister (1945-2015), who needs no introduction; and Fred Sands (1938-2015), the real estate mogul who purchased KNAC and gave metal a home on the FM dial for 9 years. Your contributions to metal and to the Southern California hard rock scene will not be forgotten.

This anniversary tribute to KNAC, as always, is dedicated to the Pure Rockers who made 105.5 their permanent address on their home stereos and car radios, and still keep the spirit alive!

Of course, this is also dedicated to the young metalheads who weren't fortunate enough to have experienced KNAC firsthand. I always write from the perspective of making the reader feel as if they are right alongside me; so I hope that through my words, you can get some sort of idea of what it was like to have a radio station that played our kind of music, day and night. I write this for you, so that you will know that in metal, anything is possible!

Special thanks to the following (including those who contributed to last year's article): Jason Rhodes, Christina & Frank Luna, Lisette & Luis Camarena, Gabe Ariza, Sudra Kaye, Greg Rowe, Brian Walker, Rick Knutzen & Tony Danatino at the KNAC Rocks! and KNAC Past, Present, & Future: Rock On! Facebook groups, Yvette Soto-Desmond, Jennifer Ott, Dustin Leonsky, Scott Whitaker, Denise T. Dardarian, Samantha Magistrale, Scott Hammond at Radio Hot Tub, Todd Stout, Child Saint, Bradley Hindman, Marlena Beltrame, Jill Armstrong, Jaime Gerardo, Michelle Parisi, Gerald Logue, Kris Vaughan, Chris Heathcote, Damian Young, Josh Taylor, Michele Evans, Robert Watts, Stephani Gramann, Brian Racer, Jenny Brooks, Perry Brunette, Jordan West, Annettra Ross, Hector Hernandez, Randy Jones, Scott Mosher, Ray Bones, Nadja Murano, Vic Trujillo, Andrea Skelton, David Mobley, Ray Kiss, Alann Escamilla, Kevin Hrasdzira, Cheryl Trujillo, Ray Clouse, Michael Coughran, Phil Lazarus, James Aten, Louie Sanchez, Scott Morris, Laura Simmons, Daryll Kars, Michael Condelli, Wendy Lee, Albert Albright, David Kinzer, Loud Rock, all of the KNAC staff, local and signed metal bands past and present, and last but certainly not least: to all the countless metalheads all over the world who were part of the KNAC revolution!

Enormous thanks go especially to Lucas Riot of the KNAC Pure Rock Facebook page, who went above and beyond the call of duty by gathering all the stories, photos, and memories from Pure Rockers together so that the information was easily available to me while I wrote.

Copious thanks to Eric Kuder, whose KNAC archives provided the material quoted in the last several paragraphs of this entry.

An immense thank-you Cara Mastrey, for taking the time to share her stories of Tawn with me and for contributing the photos of Tawn for this article.

Extra-special thanks go out to the KNAC DJs who shared my last article on social media and provided content for this anniversary tribute: Long Paul, Mike Stark, “Eveready” Ed Kelley, Poundin' Pat, Stew Herrera, and everyone else who ever sat behind the mic at 105.5 between 1986-1995.

This article was brought to you by Super Shops: “...Because everyone deserves performance!”


  1. Jammin Jeff SeamonJanuary 9, 2016 at 5:31 PM

    Your article was very well written and expressed from the heart. I was a phone fox for 6 months in 1989 . I was in the U.S. NAVY , stationed there in Long Beach from 85 to 89. Growing up i would listen to metal shop on the local radio stations in New York where I'm from and read circus magazine . I could sense the musicianship coming from Hollywood and Sunset strip , so when i joined the Navy i wanted to be stationed near Los Angles . I guess i was lucky that a few months later the best radio station that will ever live KNAC 105.5 pure rock was formed and that whole experience changed my life and i am very grateful for the music and fans i have meet along that journey

    1. Thanks for your kind words, Jeff! It seems that no matter how many stories are sent to me or how thoroughly I research for these blogs, there are still more KNAC stories waiting just around the bend. It was truly a cultural phenomenon that has withstood every other fad, trend, and silly phase that we have seen over the decades. To see KNAC still alive and kicking is wonderful to see; not just with but with the recent tribute to KNAC over at KLOS as well. Here's to hoping that the ratings for that show will prompt some sort of metal-based show and slowly but surely start bringing metal back to the airwaves in the Southland!

  2. Cool story. KNAC was a really fun radio station to listen to. I remember the first song I ever heard on that radio station was something by Judas Priest. I think it was "Electric Eye". I remember when I heard it on the stereo of my car, I was like "Whoa. Who's playing this shit?". Of course it was KNAC and I was hooked on that radio station ever since then until it went Spanish. Not only was KNAC the best radio station of LA but hearing bands like Slayer, Testament, Napalm Death, Cannibal Corpse or Morbid Angel on the radio was something of a rare privilege just because many radio stations didn't have the guts play that kind of music early in the morning.

    1. That's why it was the best! Thanks for sharing your story; I always love talking about the good ol' days of KNAC!

  3. hey put that pic of me with metallica on last day -poundin pat

    1. Pat: Send me the photo and I will gladly do so!

  4. I thought I would leave a comment after reading this blog which a friend of mine showed to me. I moved from Phoenix to LA in the summer of 1989 to look for a job and literally start a new life. I got tired of living in Arizona anyway. So once I got to LA, when I scanned the radio in my car to look for at least a rock station, an Iron Maiden song was on. My thoughts were "WHAT?! IRON MAIDEN ON THE RADIO?!" and as soon as the song was over I remember one of the DJ's said something like, "This is KNAC and you just heard some Iron Maiden". Until then I had never realized that KNAC was from LA despite having already seen that name on either cars or on TV. Since that day I got to LA, KNAC was my radio station and would remain so until its demise. This was the only radio station not just in LA but in other places that had the right to play metal 24/7.

    1. Meant to write that KNAC was the only radio station at that time to play metal 24/7.

    2. Thank you for reading! I am always so glad to see people reading this and remembering Pure Rock.