“Legend” is a word that is often too lightly doled out, but today we proudly present an interview with a bonafide LEGEND. Art Laboe is a broadcasting icon who was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 2012. This honor was rightly bestowed as he was the first DJ to play Rock and Roll on the west coast airwaves, smashed color lines by presenting mixed race concerts and playlists, coined the term “Oldies but Goodies,” invented the concept of the compilation album and continues to bring joy to generations of radio listeners.
At 87 years young, Art is a sprightly figure, holding one of the top rated slots in Southern California radio, one of the world’s most important markets. He graces the airwaves six nights a week with his Art Laboe Connection program. The show’s format is an exception amongst commercial radio, emphasizing a direct connection with the community. Throughout each show he takes dedications from listeners and sends their songs and kisses over the airwaves to loved ones, many of whom are incarcerated. His radio show is a pipeline through which the emotions and wishes of listeners are transmitted. The songs heard on the Art Laboe Connection are a refreshing and heartfelt break from the glossy buzz flooding much of the dial. While Art plays tried and trued favorites every show his playlist varies widely night to night based on to listener requests and his mood. On any given episode you’re likely to hear rare doo-wop, R&B or sweet soul cuts played nowhere else.
We were honored that Art Laboe opened up his studio and schedule to graciously allow us this interview. Scholar and dublab board member Josh Kun sat down with Art at his Original Sound Studio on Sunset Boulevard to revisit the history of his illustrious career and explore the dynamic of his nightly connection with listeners cruising the California streets or listening close for the voice of a loved one.
Enjoy this bonus outtake as Art gives a tutorial on how to replicate his famous radio kiss.