It was about 1960 when Jeff Clark who was an announcer at KOGO, San Diego told me that with my deep voice I ought to be in radio. Throughout the ’60s I did occasional bits—solo and with Clark Powell, Terry Huston, groups like the Red Mountain Ramblers, and others.
Sometimes I’d take a bunch of old records down to one of the radio stations and go on the air with one of the DJs I knew. It was about 1967 when I became more or less a regular with O.B. Jetty and Bigsby P. Naughton on KPRI Underground Radio. (I think I was with Gabriel Wisdom a few times, too) In 1969 I started a regular blues show on Sunday Nights with Ralph Phillips and then later with Joe Chandler on KPRI, playing mostly post-war stuff (Muddy and Wolf, Sonny Boy, and Otis Rush). That show lasted about three years. Then Ralph and I did a show for a short time at KDEO. It was about 1973 that I went to KGB, where I did two shows on an old-time “Sunday Morning Gospel Hour” (“All day singin’ and dinner on the ground”), with lots of old-timey, bluegrass, and some sanctified and jubilee gospel. I also did a show called “The Lou Curtiss Folk Arts Radio Show,” which was sort of a mixture of Dr. Demento-type stuff and some live stuff that the folks were playing at the San Diego State Folk Festival (which I was putting together during those years and some of the folks I was putting on in concert at my Folk Arts store. That show lasted until about 1979 when KGB changed the format and my shows were cancelled.
I was off the air for a while until Kim Cox asked me to join him on a Sunday night at KSDS in August of 1986. Shortly thereafter we split Kim’s time slot and “Jazz Roots” came in to being. I did that radio show every Sunday Night from 1986 until my last new show at the end of October 2015 (they ran repeats into January 2016). At that time they informed me that they would no longer need my services, (Actually, I got a letter from station manager Ken Poston on March 25, 2016). Most every record I played on “Jazz Roots” was from my own collection of LPs, CDs, 78s, and maybe a 45 or two. I never took any kind of salary for doing the show. I was just glad to share my music with folks. I don’t really believe that KSDS will be able to find that kind of stuff to play in the future.
Folks who called the station were told that I was cancelled because no one was listening and during their fund raisers no one sent money during my time slot. I was always told that the station did very well during my time slot. So, someone has their facts back assward. At any rate, I had a mighty good time doing “Jazz Roots” and lots of folks have told me that the good time factor was mutual. I’d like to get back on the air sometime, maybe with an internet broadcast or something. Meanwhile, I’m putting up a lot of rare stuff on my Facebook page (at Louis F Curtiss) and I’ll also be putting some stuff up at the Lou Curtiss Sound Library, so watch for that. These sites allow me to be a little more broad in the type of material I’ll be putting up, so you might hear some kinds of music you haven’t heard before.
I’ve always told folks to listen to something you haven’t heard before, because you might find out that you like it.