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 THE DISC JOCKEYS


Lan Roberts
 

From Texas, to Taiwan, and back home again. The long and storied radio career of Lan Roberts began around the time JFK beat Nixon to win the 1960 Presidential election. The lanky Texan first hit his stride at WTIX in New Orleans. The Todd Storz station was known for wacky stunts and contests. One of the most bizarre happened when Lan convinced a fellow known as Wachikanoka to display his reputation as a snake man to bury himself in a grave full of snakes and stay there until the station's ratings went up. WTIX sold the promotion to a local shopping center. The stunt was successful, 'Snake Man' made it out safely, but there were a few tense moments with all of those cottonmouths and rattlesnakes. A full recounting can be found on Lan's website (www,texoma.net/~lanbo'). By 1962, Roberts moved to the great Northwest to commence a run of popularity at 95 KJR Seattle. Two of the first people he encountered were none other than Elvis Presley & his manager, Colonel Tom Parker. They were in town for the filming of the movie, 'It Happened At The World's Fair'. Except for a short run in the late 60's at perennial competitor KOL, Lan made a home at KJR's Harbor Island studios. He worked with other legendary jocks like Jerry Kaye, Tom Murphy, Norm Gregory, John Maynard, and Larry Lujack. KJR was spearheaded by Pat O'Day, who as the station's Program DIrector (as well as on-air personality) helped launch the career of national rock and roll acts such as the Fleetwoods and the Ventures. By 1974, Roberts was looking for a change and startled KJR management by quitting the station to move to Hawaii. He found a job shortly after arriving and spent time at KORL & other area stations. By 1977, O'Day had purchased radio stations in Honolulu and Seattle (96 KYYX-FM). O'Day convinced Roberts to do some on-air work for him at KYYX. That work was largely voice-tracking, as Roberts stayed more or less in the Aloha State for the next ten years. In 1985, he received an offer from English-language station ICRT in Taipei, Taiwan. He says that with a US population of around 10,000 plus 20 million Chinese, it took some work to connect with the local mindset. A couple of times in those years, Lan went to South Africa to do on-air work. Highlights of his stay there include perilous encounters with wild animals out on the range. In the early 90's, he was extended an offer to work at a radio station in San Francisco. Unlike his previous adventures, this was not one of Lan Roberts' happiest times. Lack of fulfillment due to the tendency of latter-day radio to curtail creativity convinced Lan early on that once his contract was up, he was out of there. After 'Frisco, he moved back to his hometown of Bonham, Texas. Today, Lan Roberts consults radio stations and maintains his own web site. He also stays in touch with a lot of his former KJR mic mates...who call themselves 'The Old Farts Club'. While talking to Ultimate Oldies Radio, Lan shared an interesting story. 'A former girl friend in Hawaii had my stuff stored at her parents house when I moved to Taiwan. A TV reporter was in Taiwan doing a news story on all of the former Hawaii radio people who had migrated to Taiwan to work in radio at ICRT. My lovely fiancee was in the studio at the time of the taping and the reporter asked if I was planning on marrying. We both said yes. Fade out fade in: After returning from Taiwan with the story the news reporter aired the story on the 6pm news. My former girlfriend heard it and was so put off that she loaded everything I had stored and dumped it all in the Pacific Ocean near Kaneohe. What can I say? All of my tapes and things that I had collected over the years were gone. It was funny although tragic as I think of it later. So to answer your question, all of my tapes are at the bottom of the ocean. Know any hard hat divers?' Lan Roberts passed away in 2005 of complications from lung cancer. His professionalism and great talent was exceeded in later years by his grace, humility, and optimistic spirit in the face of many tragedies. He is greatly missed.

  

 
     

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