Godfather Of Disco
Sadie Hawkins' night at the Jabberwocky was pure gold and I was the Godfather of Disco. Those were the times that spawn rich memories and which having lasted a lifetime can be recalled vividly on a moment's notice. There really is no describing just how colorful and dynamic were those days as we were moving into a new era of music and dance, filling the dance floor with standing room only for the night long. Connecting with Ron Jones, who has become The Voice of La Jolla reflects on his many years as a Disc Jockey in the times of "Wolfman Jack" with the music and dance craze that swept across the nation through the wonder years of the 70's.
Californian or did you simply get here as soon as you could?
Born and reared in St. Paul Minnesota in a "Leave it to Beaver" neighborhood.
At what age were you inspired to follow a career in entertainment?
Age 11. I was a radio junkie. I had my favorite hosts and answered to every single contest that came on the airwaves. My father had an amplifier for his guitar, which I hooked up in a closet and began self-training.
Were your parent very supportive or had they been hoping for a doctor in the family?
They never understood. Theater was in my blood. I did all of the plays in high school and loved all of it.
About that time, with "Flower Children" parading the streets of San Francisco, the Midwest must have seemed rather confining. How did you manage to break out?
Just prior to the "Flower Revolution" at age 18, and about to be drafted into the Army, I selected the Air Force. They sold me by promising me a choice of duty. I chose the Air Force Band, which was filled. I chose weather reporting only to find out that I was color blind and sound not read the charts. The assigned me to the Air Force Police, which I failed at miserably. A year or so into it, there was an opening for an announcer on Armed Forces Radio. I applied, the Air Force assigned me to a 10-week course, and thereafter sent me to Turkey to do radio. Finishing that tour, I did the same in Athens, Greece and left after completing my term of service.
You seem to have the perfect voice for radio. Was a that what landed you the job initially?
It was a trained voice from my days in high school theater. You learn how to project your voice even at a young age. The Air Force took it to another level.
How was it that you found your way to San Diego?
I was in Lincoln, Nebraska with a small radio station that was a perfect fit for me. I relished those years. I received an offer from ABC in Los Angeles and the big city beckoned. While there, I connected with the management company for "Wolfman Jack". They sent us both to San Diego where I began as the DJ for their new nightclub at the Le Baron Hotel on Hotel Circle. We're now talking the 70's, just before Disco became the craze.
Some of your more notable Gigs included spinning records in the Le Barron and then your time at Rasputin's in Point Loma, and then again at the Harbor House. Would you consider those to be your Golden Years?
Certainly those were my Golden Years of nightclubbing in San Diego. I was post Haight-Ashbury and pre-new wave. It absolutely was a free and easy lifestyle. We were on the cusp of the breakout of Disco and who knew at the time. When I first arrive at the Le Baron Hotel we played to an empty room for many of those nights and suddenly it began an lasted a good 18 years with Gigs at what turned out to be some of the most successful scenes in San Diego.
Would you consider this stretch of engagements the pinnacle of your career?
I was called the Godfather of Disco. There were no role models of the day. It was all new and we had to be creative. Until Saturday Night Fever, dance music was R&B, light rock and the Doobie Brothers. We played to the crowd, each night different. At the Jabberwocky, one great idea came to mind when I began Sadie Hawkins' Night on Mondays. That was golden. Standing room only and looking over the crowd you would find a sea of recognizable celebrities. Wilt Chamberlain made it his go to place when in San Diego and given his height, it was not hard to notice that he had arrived in the room.
Did your stint as a DJ expand outside of the nightclub venues?
Absolutely. In 1985, after my 9-year tenure at the Harbor House, mobile DJ's became a trend and I joined the mix. I did special events such as weddings and private parties. And still do! I have been the President of the DJ Association for the past 15 years. I also do voice-overs for commercials, video games and narration for films. Most rewarding to me is when I do a private wedding and take the event to another level. Both the hosts and guests respond so favorably and they truly appreciate the effort.
How was it that you met your wife Cathy?
I met Cathy at the Harbor House while there as a DJ. She came in with a date for dinner and then returned the next night. That Gig was on of my all time favorites and it prove more so having met Cathy. Not so long afterwards we were married, going on 31 years.
What led you to begin the Voice of La Jolla Radio Show?
I saw a change in the landscape about how people were seeking their news and entertainment via the internet. Thus, I began to look into Internet Radio and found podcasting, which I wanted to embellish into audio and video. I had been here since 1976 and knew the turf, so I found it a perfect fit. I only recently began the podcast some four years ago and it has been growing steadily ever since.
With the advent of the internet and Podcast, has that been the most remarkable change in broadcasting?
Immensely so! The internet has changed the world. Voice of La jolla is a combination of the news. music, interviews, etc., all on podcast allowing you to go there when you choose. I do no live broadcasts. It is a definitive change in how the world seeks their entertainment and news.
What demographics define your audience?
Thirteen to Ninety-Four and you can believe it. It is what the Top-Forty used to be. We cove it all. My podcast "California Dreaming" on the Voice of Peace Network highlighting Southern California is immensely popular in Israel, Jordan and India. Go figure!
If it could be, would you return to the Jabberwocky in a heartbeat?
No, been there, done that. Today is the best day of my life and I am looking forward to tomorrow.