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Machine Gun Kelly

M.G. “Machine Gun” Kelly began his radio career in 1970, while still a junior in high school. His first station was KTEN in Ada, Oklahoma playing song dedications to schoolmates. A year later, M.G. was hired by KOMA in Oklahoma City. While at KOMA, he came to the attention of radio mogul, Lee Abrams who brought Kelly to Cleveland in late 1972 for afternoon drive at WGCL. The following year, radio consultant Kent Burkart presented “The Gunner” to KSTP in Minneapolis, as Kelly became part of the team that drove the 16th ranked station to number 2 in just 100 days. This dramatic ratings increase caught the attention of RKO Radio and 21-year-old Machine Gun Kelly was shooting straight to the legendary 93 KHJ in Los Angeles.

Two years later, while still at KHJ, he began studying acting and soon landed a role as the venomous D.J.  "Bebe Jesus", co-starring with Barbara Streisand and Kris Kristofferson in the 1976 film, A Star is Born.  Next, came a departure from the typecasting when Clint Eastwood cast him as The Priest, "Father John Voss" in, The Enforcer. Within a three year period M.G. proceeded to act in five more feature films including The Buddy Holly Story and The Fifth Floor. He also was cast in  28 guest star roles on prime time television.

Kelly continued to keep his radio work alive as he departed KHJ in late 1977 and joined KTNQ . During a press party to promote his arrival, “The Gunner” hit the stage with a real Thompson Sub Machine Gun loaded with a hundred rounds of blanks. When The Real Don Steele introduced him, Kelly unloaded the gun over the heads of the 400 invited guests. R&R had a field day with this stunt.

In 1978, during his stay at KTNQ, M.G. was chosen as Billboard Magazine’s “Radio Personality of the Year.” A short time later, when “The Q” was preparing to flip to Spanish, M.G. Kelly announced his retirement from radio.

Kelly went on to enjoy a successful voice-over career landing hundreds of national ads, movies trailers and network promos. He also continued his acting, adding more than 50 episodic television shows to his previous resume including, WKRP in Cincinnati, CHiPs, Knots Landing, Hill Street Blues, Too Close For Comfort, Mork and Mindy, Happy Days andM*A*S*H. In 1980, he hosted a weekly syndicated television series,  The Rock Show. This “music video program” was broadcast throughout the U.S. and Europe.

In 1984, KFI invited Kelly to guest host in the afternoon slot.  This marked the end of his “five year retirement” from radio.  He was just about to sign with KFI, when CBS convinced him to move to New York City and join CBS Radio Radio. There, he produced weekly syndicated programming for the network including, “Dan Ingram’s Top 40 Count Up” and Kelly’s own introduction to national radio, M.G. Kelly's Top 30 USA. After a couple of winters in The Big Apple, M.G. relocated his production and hosting duties for CBS back in L.A.. Some say he missed the sunshine. Dan Ingram had the best line when he said, “M.G. reminds me of a palm tree in Times Square.”

By 1985, the guy known for high-energy radio somehow ended up doing mornings on L.A.’s KOST 103 .  After this brief stint, Kelly signed with Merv Griffin Productions as the announcer for  Wheel of Fortune, while also stepping back into the high energy comfort zone of KIIS FM.

In 1986, M.G. created his second radio project for syndication called Live from The '60s. To host the program, Kelly approached his biggest radio idol, The Real Don Steele. Together they walked into Premier Radio Networks with a demo and in less than three months, Live From The '60s was on over 100 radio stations.  With Kelly writing and producing the series while Steele hosted, “Live from the ‘60s” was nominated for “Best Oldies Show” of 1988.

By 1989, a new oldies station in L.A. was rounding up the Boss Jocks.  The Real Don Steele signed on and Kelly left KIIS to join Steele, along with Charlie Tuna, Humble Harve and Rich Fields.  It was a familiar dial position, “93”, but this time it was FM, KODJ.

As a station promotional vehicle, Kelly formed a  seven piece oldies cover band, Machine Gun Kelly and The Hit Men. The group featured The Gunner on drums doing his radio shtick live. They opened for dozens of top oldies acts including Chuck Berry, Three Dog Night, Tommy James, Johnny Rivers and The Beach Boys.  The Hit Men played numerous times at The Universal Amphitheater, Pacific Amphitheater and The Los Angeles Coliseum.

In 1992, Machine Gun Kelly and Charlie Tuna teamed to co-host the syndicated radio program, Your Good Time Oldies Magazine. While continuing this national show, M.G. departed KCBS FM in 1993 and headed to KOOL FM in Phoenix.  There he drove the afternoon ratings from a 2 to a 6 share in just nine months.  The Gunner also continued performing live with his band The Hit Men and also recorded an album with proceeds from sales going to a local Phoenix charity.

In 1995, the Kellys left the States for England where he and his wife guest hosted on Capitol Gold, London as "M.G. and Molly".  Over the next four years they were also heard on KBGO FM, Las Vegas, and MIX 96 in Alberta, Canada.

Machine Gun Kelly was inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998. The same year his work from KHJ was introduced at The Museum of Television and Radio.

Since 1998, Kelly has produced and hosted what many in the radio industry call "The best works of his career." His syndicated programs included; The American Hit List, The Amazing 80s, The Daily Time Warp, The Daily Rewind, The Classic Hit List and as part of the retro review came Back to the 70s and The Time Machine.


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