“Thirty thousand dollars.” It’s Shotgun Tom Kelly on the phone from his L.A. apartment to talk about the star he will be getting next year on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. “That’s what they cost. And then it costs another $500 a year to keep it maintained.”
While the bulk of Shotgun’s radio career was spent in San Diego, for the past 15 years he’s anchored the afternoon-drive slot at K-EARTH 101 in Los Angeles. Are they putting up the cash for the star? No, he says, “I have a sponsor.” He’d rather not say who it is just yet. “We’re working out the details.”
Next year, when the bronze emblem is set in concrete, Kelly (he’d rather not divulge his real name) will have joined a short list of K-EARTH jocks, including Charlie Tuna, Robert W. Morgan, and the Real Don Steele, who got stars as well. “But let’s approach this from a San Diego angle. Raquel Welch got a star, and so did Regis Philbin (he started at channel 10), Art Linkletter (KGB radio), B-100 jock Ellen K., and Marion Ross,” otherwise known as Mrs. Cunningham on the ’70s TV series Happy Days. Is Kelly excited?
“I’m thrilled. Are you kidding me? I feel really good because my predecessors at K-EARTH all have stars.”
A graduate of Mt. Miguel High School in Spring Valley, Shotgun Tom, 62, was born at Mercy Hospital. He comes home on the weekends to Fletcher Hills, where he has lived for decades. Here, he worked for KCBQ, KGB, K Best, and KFMB. In the day, he made a loud exhortation between records (brrrrreeeeeeeeahhhhh!), and he wore a Smokey Bear ranger hat. He still does. “I get them from a place in San Diego called Ace Uniforms.”
Shotgun Tom also hosted an Emmy Award–winning children’s show at KGTV/Channel 10 called Words-A-Poppin’ and another at KUSI TV, a show that ran for 12 years called Kids Club. He says the application for the star was filed two years ago and that he was denied twice before winning. What will the honor mean for his career?
“It validates everything I’ve done in radio in San Diego and in L.A. And that I’m happy for. As you know, these gigs aren’t forever. One day this one will go away, too. I don’t know when, but when it does, there will be a star on Hollywood Boulevard with my name on it.”