MarketInk: After 50 Years in Radio, DJ Gary Kelley Teaches and Still Broadcasts– from Home
Gary Kelley’s voice has been heard on San Diego radio and TV stations for the past 50 years. And, he’s only 66 years old.
“I started when I was in diapers,” Kelley told Times of San Diego.
Today, Kelley’s voice is also heard by children attending kindergarten through eighth grade at Hill Creek School in Santee (more about this later).
Kelley’s radio career began as a freshman attending Clairemont High School. At age 14, he built his first radio station in his closet. “I had enough power to reach about six or seven blocks down Moraga Avenue,” he said.
Then, at age 15, he was hired to pre-record voice-overs for a small radio station called KSEA, later to become KSON.
“At age 15, I was covered in pimples, long-haired and skinny,” Kelley said. “I would say, ‘Good morning, San Diego. This is Gary Kelley on KSEA. It’s going to be sunny with highs in the 70s today.’ When I was getting ready for school, I would listen to myself on the radio. That was pretty cool when you were 15.”
As a high school junior, he worked on weekends at top-40 station KCBQ 1170-AM, which was San Diego’s most popular radio station at the time. Starting at age 18, he spent two years in Los Angeles with top-rated KIIS/KKDJ and KIQQ. At the time, he was Los Angeles’ youngest disc jockey to work at a No. 1 ranked station.
Over the years, Kelley has worked for San Diego stations KFMB-FM, known as B-100, on three different occasions over a span of about 15 years. He was hired three times at B-100 by Bobby Rich, a widely-respected radio programmer for about 20 years in San Diego before relocating in 2019 to Tucson to purchase a radio station there.
In addition, Kelley worked for seven years (for 12 different program directors) at classic rock station KPRI-FM. His last radio gig ended in 1999 at 94.1-FM, The Eagle.
Then, for 20 years, between 1997 and 2017, he was a weekend and weekday fill-in weathercaster at KGTV-TV/Channel 10 and XETV-TV/Channel 6. After being on the air for 67 years, XETV ended operations in 2017, after losing its affiliation with the CW Television Network. “I decided to end my weather career when Channel 6 closed down,” said Kelley. “After all, I don’t look good in a cocktail dress.”
In 2012, his daughter’s softball coach encouraged Kelley to become a teacher. “The coach said I related well to kids,” said Kelley, the father of four children.
So, at age 56, Kelley spent a year earning a teaching credential. He later worked at Scripps Ranch High School and three different schools for the San Dieguito Union High School District. He also worked four years for a CPA firm before returning to teaching in Santee in January 2022.
“My title at Hill Creek is a site substitute, which means I never know what age group I’ll be talking to on any given day,” said Kelley, who is known as Mr. Roehl, his real last name (He selected Kelley as his radio name due to admiration for “Shotgun” Tom Kelly, another longtime San Diego radio icon).
“Teaching is very rewarding for me,” he said. “The other day I taught first grade, second grade, sixth grade, eighth grade, plus worked in the library, all in one day. I hope that I’m making a difference in their young lives. It’s worth waking up early every day.”
However, playing music remains Kelley’s major passion. He still accepts invitations as a mobile disc jockey for private parties and corporate events. “I’ve played music for live events for 46 years, so I have an excellent perspective on San Diego’s musical tastes,” he said.
Also, on July 21 of this year, after a year of planning and research, Kelley launched his own radio station, called TheVoiceOfSanDiego.com, an online, 24-hour station streaming over the Internet that is operated out of his El Cajon home. The station’s app is available for free on the App Store, Google Play and featured with Apple Car Play, Google Assistant and Alexa.
“Traditional radio stations are built for the purpose of generating advertising sales in the 25-54-age demographic,” said Kelley. “My station is not built on who I can target for sales. I’m going against the grain by playing songs for my age group. This is not a hobby for me, it’s a business that I pray with perseverance and consistency will become one of the most popular radio stations in San Diego and America.
“I’m using the best, most high-quality equipment. The audio quality compares to SiriusXM, minus the monthly subscription fees. I’m doing all this for my listeners. I’m providing a service. It’s hard to know actual numbers, although my original app said I had a little over 3,000 listeners on the first day. I get notes from listeners in California, Georgia, Texas, Arizona, Nashville, Virginia, who say they are listening all day long.”
Kelley prides himself on a format featuring at least six different music genres per hour. Songs are from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Artists include Jimmy Buffett, Elton John, James Taylor, Billy Joel, The Doobie Brothers, Chris Stapleton, Kenny Chesney and George Strait. He also plays at least one Beatles song per hour.
“I stay away from the heavy metal, acid rock and punk rock,” he said. “People do not listen to one type of music anymore. Listeners love it when they hear their favorite music.”
According to Kelley, he has come full circle in his life in several ways.
“I built a radio station as a teenager and built another one in my sixties,” he said. “Also, at age 15, I listened to myself before school. And now, I’m still listening to myself again on my way to school every morning. And, I couldn’t be happier.”
Shae Geary Joins Visit Oceanside as Director of Communications
Visit Oceanside Conference and Visitors Bureau, the tourism marketing organization for San Diego’s North County city of Oceanside, announced that Shea Geary is its new director of communications.
Geary, with more than 25 years of hospitality communications experience, was previously director of hospitality communications at San Diego public relations agency (W)right On Communications and served as Visit Oceanside’s external public relations liaison with WOC since 2012. Prior to her eight-year stint at (W)right O, Geary also served as a public relations representative with Visit Oceanside.
She holds a master’s degree in communication from Arizona State University and a bachelor’s degree from the University of California at Santa Barbara.
Visit Oceanside promotes travel to the city for both leisure and group visits. The organization says it influences about one-third of the $415 million in annually visitor spending, which supports nearly 3,500 jobs.
Classy Names Chris Silver VP of Marketing
San Diego-based Classy, a GoFundMe affiliate, has named Chris Silver as senior vice president of marketing. Silver was previously Classy’s VP of product marketing.
Classy also has named Soraya Alexander as president and chief operating officer of GoFundMe. She will report to Tim Cadogan, GoFundMe CEO. Alexander joined Classy in 2018 as VP of product marketing. In 2021, she was named CEO of Classy.
A public benefit corporation, Classy is an online fundraising platform that provides nonprofits with fundraising tools to convert and retain donors. Since 2011, Classy has helped nonprofits raise nearly $4 billion. Classy also hosts the Collaborative Conference and Classy Awards that spotlights innovative work nonprofits are implementing around the globe.
Raindrop Agency Produces Promotional Video
Raindrop, a San Diego creative marketing agency, has produced a 2:59 promotional video that promotes itself by highlighting the agency’s team of copywriting and creative masterminds.
A Raindrop statement said the video gives a behind-the-scenes sneak peak into “how the sausage is made,” including the internal processes, resources, departments and values that contribute to bringing ads to life. “It gives clients a comprehensive preview into exactly what it will be like to partner with Raindrop,” said the statement.
“This ad uniquely documents our process in a way that showcases not just what we do but how we do it,” Jacques Spitzer, Raindrop Agency CEO, said in an email to Times of San Diego. “It’s a new form of long form storytelling that uses a voiceover-driven narrative with fun breaks for comedic moments that keep you wanting to watch more.”
The video is available on the agency’s website, www.raindrop.agency.
Rick Griffin is a San Diego-based public relations and marketing consultant. His MarketInk column appears weekly on Mondays in Times of San Diego.