Remembering LA radio genius “Obscene” Steven Clean – Orange County Register

If you were in Los Angeles in the early days of freeform album rock radio – before it became Album Oriented Rock as the official format name – you probably remember Steven Segal, known on the air as “Obscene” Steven Clean , as heard on Legendary stations such as KPPC (now KROQ, 106.7 FM), KMET (now KTWV, 94.7 FM), K-WEST (now KPWR, 105.9 FM), and KROQ during the era of AM-FM Simulcast.

He’s the man that Dr. Demento – aka Barry Hansen – gave his name when they both worked at KPPC. Described by some as brilliant and a genius in the air, Clean passed away in his sleep on October 29 at the age of 76.

In a tribute by his friend Paul Rappaport ( Rappaport writes that Clean “is a bit of an unsung hero. You see, Steven is one of the most important figures in the creation of FM rock radio.”

Rappaport stated that Clean was “a true genius in the air, delivering important thoughtful cultural messages via spoken word, intertwined with just the right music to bring his points to life,” adding that “beyond the music Disc jockeys conveyed their own power messages. No one was more adept at this than Steven. As with Bob Dylan, this expertise didn’t come from years of practice, it was a gift from above.

“Kids literally dropped out of school early to listen to Steven just to make sure they didn’t miss anything important. They exchanged cassettes of his radio shows, which were like little pieces of performance art,” Rappaport wrote.

That’s the connection to radio that I remember, a connection that’s often missing in today’s McRadio version of the industry.

Granted, you have to be of a certain age to have heard him on air. He’s just ahead of my time because when he left town to return to WBCN-FM/Boston in 1977 I was still listening to Top-40.

PastDaily.Com has a full hour (music and commercials) of Clean on KMET from 1975 at the aforementioned homage, has a Scope (edited) check from his arrival at K-WEST in 1976…and incidentally includes a mention of Be -Bop Deluxe to commemorate the wide variety of music once found on the radio. If you want to hear more, there are a few other Air Checks that pop up on places like YouTube and, which have eight recordings from his time at KMET, which you can find by searching for his name.

More air checks!

Speaking of MixCloud and YouTube, one of my favorite Mixcloud accounts, Retro Radio Joe, has a new YouTube page, and both are filled with absolutely delightful recordings. Big finds for me include three hours without a scope, Mark Elliot playing a part in counting down The Big 93 hits to 1972 on KHJ (930pm) and on YouTube he has a TV commercial that hooks viewers on recalling the connection that the legendary top 40 stations had at KFRC/San Francisco with the Bay Area links at and

SoCal Sound web update

The changes referenced here last week regarding moving SoCal Sound 88.5 FM special shows to new time slots should be at least a little more palatable to fans very soon.

The station will create a new page on its website that will feature “SoCal Sound Specialty Show Archives – On Demand.” All shows that aired late and were rescheduled are always available to listen to… with one exception: “The Dylan Hours” cannot be posted on-demand due to copyright laws that prohibit the posting of content that involves gaming by three or more consecutive songs by the same artist.

readers react

Regarding new music on the radio, this email says exactly what I feel: “I just turned 59 and I totally agree with you. For the last 10 years and maybe longer I’ve mostly listened to college radio. specifically 88.3 KUCR and 88.7 Claremont. The best thing that ever happened to me.

“I’ve been to the last 3 Joshua Tree Music Fests. Think very miniature Coachella. It is great. I still appreciate classic rock. But try to dig into the songs that never get played.” — DanReich

And on the KGO/San Francisco move: “I think you missed the boat when you said the sports betting radio would be down. The success of this format is definitely NOT tied to the success of the two sports betting initiatives in the California vote. Most sports betting is done online either offshore or with local sportsbooks.

“As you said, the program will be very cost-effective as sports advertisers pay for 30-60 minute segments. The real thing about sports betting… a sucker is born every minute. This is the audience. I predict it will go very well. I sincerely hope it doesn’t come to KABC as they have a great program!” – JamesPowell Remembering LA radio genius “Obscene” Steven Clean – Orange County Register

Adam Bradshaw

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