Bill Drake, who turned 1960s top 40 AM radio into “Boss Radio” on KHJ and other stations, died Saturday of cancer in West Hills, Calif. He was 71.
At the height of his career as a radio programming consultant in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Drake championed a streamlined format that came to be known as “Boss Radio,” which made announcers’ personalities secondary to the Top 40 hits they were spinning, placing music — rather than disc jockeys — at the center of the broadcast.
Under Drake’s guidance, radio stations such as KGB in San Diego, KHJ in Los Angeles and KFRC in San Francisco shot to the No. 1 slots in their markets by promising more music and less chatter. Top disc jockeys from KHJ Boss Radio including Robert W. Morgan and the Real Don Steel were brought over when Drake launched KRTH 101 in Los Angeles.
Drake, whose given name was Philip Yarbrough, was born in southwest Georgia and began his professional radio career as a disk jockey and later program director at WAKE in Atlanta.
His name was changed to Drake because the station wanted a name that rhymed with the call letters,.
He is survived by his partner Carole Scott and a daughter.