Shotgun feels validated by his Walk of Fame star.
  • Shotgun feels validated by his Walk of Fame star.
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“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.”

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madmexarts July 5, 2012 @ 6:10 p.m.

Haha thats a laugh, might as well give Johnny Downs a star too.


Burwell July 6, 2012 @ 12:19 a.m.

Shane In Wonderland, Uncle Russ, and Johnny Downs never received Hollywood Walk of Fame Stars. Why should Kelly get a star?


Duhbya July 6, 2012 @ 5:47 a.m.

Two letters: LA

Dang, didn't think anyone recalled Uncle Russ. Did the parakeet get a star? Or Okie Bob? "Friends, ya don't never need no money here at Yeakel Pontiac".


sageofsantee July 6, 2012 @ 1:27 p.m.

The writer did mention that Kelly had to pay for his star. But what he failed mention is that Kelly (nee Erwin) spent the last three years shamelessly begging his friends and others in the industry to ask the Hollywood chamber people to give him a star. And if you saw the Channel 8 story on this you saw Shotgun Tom comparing himself to legendary L.A. DJ, the late Real Don Steele. Let me try to explain that one. Don Steele is to Shotgun Tom, as 60s Top 40 hits are to modern hip hop crap. If there was a San Diego radio Hall of Fame, Tom would pale in comparison to such greats as Bobby Ocean, Rich Brother Robbin, Lee Baby Simms, Happy Hare and even Gabriel Wisdom. Maybe the meek will one day inherit the earth. But for now, it's blowhard hacks like Shotgun who aren't afraid to pay for their fame. Caricatures are fine, but I like them when they are fictional. Like Archie Bunker or Ted Baxter. But when they take themselves seriously, like George Putnam, Morton Downey Jr., or our own oozing, unctuous cartoon Shotgun Tom Kelly....uh....not so much.


Burwell July 6, 2012 @ 11:17 p.m.

I hate to see a guy having to pay for it.


tomjohnston July 7, 2012 @ 9:32 p.m.

Burwell, EVERYONE has to pay for it. And the person who sponsors the nominee is the one who is on the hook for the $30k.


BirdmanOfPDR July 7, 2012 @ 6:39 p.m.

Wow, I'm stunned by the outrageous comments, un-reasonable comparisons, and complete misunderstanding of how Mr. Kelly, or anybody, gets a star on The Hollywood Walk Of Fame. It's unrealistic to compare Mr. Kelly with Happy Hare or Gabe Wisdom, or any of the others, to one another. Many were on different stations with different formats and programmers, sometimes in different decades, not to mention they all have/had completely different styles and personalities. To compare what Mr. Kelly does in 2012, to what Gabe Wisdom was doing in the 70's and 80's, to what Happy Hare was doing in the 60's just doesn't make any sense. And quite frankly, if there was a San Diego Radio Hall of Fame, the guys listed would make sure Mr. Kelly was included with them. Also, please keep in mind, The Real Don Steele personally selected Mr. Kelly as his replacement if he were ever unable to perform. Shamelessly "begging"? Not really. Mr. Kelly went through the process just like any of the others who are on the list of star recipients. It's not a perfect science when it comes to who does, or who doesn't get a star. There is quite a bit of networking involved, a lengthly application process, and there are both Local and International recipients of stars. Trust me, nobody who gets a star is surprised by it, they or somebody on their behalf submitted an application, and many of this years recipients have submitted applications for several years. Very few are selected on their first application. One thing is for sure, it doesn't matter who you are....if there's not a check for $30,000.00, there won't be a star. And every year there are those on the star recipients list that appear less deserving than others, or appear to be completely overlooked. Many star presentation ceremonies are scheduled as part of a new CD release, Movie, or TV show promotion. Maybe that's how Shrek got on the list? Mr. Kelly's broadcast career spans more than 40 years, including KEARTH for 15 consecutive years and counting. Not too many other broadcasters can put up those kind of numbers. In closing, Mr. Kelly applied just like all the others, and the Hollywood Chamber made their choices.


sageofsantee July 7, 2012 @ 7:14 p.m.

Don Steele personally selected Tom Kelly? That is completely made up. No one has ever said that line before. Luckily the KRTH PD who hired him, I think his name is Hamilton, can debunk that Steele endorsement crap. Steele had been dead for a while when Kelly was completely surprised when that call came from KRTH. And call it what you will, if you badger friends and associates for years to get them to lobby for you to get a star, maybe it's not begging. Maybe it is. But he didn't just apply. He lobbied hard for years. Interesting line... "If there is no check for $30,000, there is no star."If that is true and if Kelly can't raise the cash, then I guess this story and all others that say he is getting a star are worthless. Don't think CBS Radio/KRTH will be forking out that kind of vanity cash.


sageofsantee July 7, 2012 @ 7:39 p.m.

And by the way, Johnny Downs was way cool. When he danced on top of the milk bottle in those Golden Arrow Dairy commercials, it was as close as a kid could get to eating LSD. That, the Addams Family and Man From UNCLE blew my eight year old mind. Howdy howdy howdy.


BirdmanOfPDR July 7, 2012 @ 9:51 p.m.

Yo SageOfSantee, You may want to check your facts before you belly up to the keyboard. Don Steele had gone to KEARTH management and told them the only guy who he could imagine sitting in his chair besides him would be Shotgun Tom Kelly. The programmer was Mike Phillips and he contacted Tom specifically with respect to Don's wishes. Don passed away in August of 1997, Tom was hired just a few short weeks later, and started on KEARTH in mid-September of 1997. KEARTH management applied for a star for Tom for the first time in May of 2010. It's only been 2 years, so I'm not sure what you mean by "lobbied hard for years". Others apply, and re-apply for 5 years, and much longer before they either receive their star, or give up. As for the $30,000 price tag. It's true, no check, no star. Everybody gets 5 years to "fund" their star and have their ceremony scheduled. Just this past year, Adam West with much help from KROQ held "Friend-Raisers" to help him raise the money for his star, because without the money....he wouldn't have his star. It's about the money.


tomjohnston July 7, 2012 @ 10:04 p.m.

I don' t know so much about the lobbying for years part. The nominating committee only meets once a year, in June, to vote and then the names they select have to be approved by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. Nominating apps are good for 2 years, so if someone has been nominated after 2 yrs they either have to be renominated or send a letter requesting that the application be reinstated. So I'm curious as to Kelly's statement that the application was filed two years ago and that he was denied twice before winning. Seems contradictory to me. And for certain anyone selected knows about it because They have to sign a letter of agreement that is submitted with with the nominating form. Here's another thing I'm curious about. The list of Walk of Fame recipients was just announced 2 weeks ago come this Monday and as of yet there have been no ceremonies scheduled. They have to go thru the L.A. Board of Public Works Department and that typically takes week for approval So I wonder how Kelly can say it will happen next year.


BirdmanOfPDR July 7, 2012 @ 10:25 p.m.

Hello Mr. Johnston, Mr. Kelly's first application was in May of 2010, the same application was also good for 2011. A new application was submitted in May of 2012. Understand? KEARTH and Mr. Kelly are hoping to get his ceremony on the schedule for sometime in 2013 and they completely understand there is a scheduling process involved with The City of L.A., not to mention other professional and personal scheduling concerns. Tom's son is currently in the Navy and stationed overseas, I'm sure having his son in attendance is one of his top priorities with concern to the schedule.


tomjohnston July 9, 2012 @ 12:02 p.m.

In the story, Kelly claims the application for the star was filed two years ago and that he was denied twice before winning. Neither the story nor your comment indicated a 2nd application had been submitted. If that truly is the case, then I stand corrected.


jmichael July 8, 2012 @ 2:39 p.m.

I am very upset by what I am reading here. Shotgun Tom is entirely deserving of that star. I heard some stories about Don Steele that painted him as a less than stellar character, but he was still amazing at what he did and was recognized for awesome talent. When I was a kid in the 70s and early 80s I found that my favorite radio personalities were real jerks much of the time -- high horse prima donnas. When I worked in radio in the late 80s and 90s, I remembered that and did my best NOT to be that type of personality. After I left the business, some of my closest friends in the biz when I was there turned out to be those high horse jerks to me once I was out of the biz. I never had the pleasure to work with Shotgun but I've met him a few times on occasion and he's one of the nicest, honest-to-character people I've ever met in the radio business. In fact one time I told him a story about a fellow personality that he knew and how they had helped me land a gig and a few days later that person said Tom called them up and relayed the story and told them they were awesome to do that for another jock and he just wanted to personally thank them. Who would of thought that a two minute story from a remote would stick in his mind like that?

A couple of years ago, it was Shotgun Tom who helped spearhead the campaign to bring a KCBQ momument to the old transmitter and studio site in Santee.Not many legendary but now lost stations can garner the same recognition. Anyone who has driven by the Lowe's/Kohl's in Santee in the past five years would never have know what greatness existed there once upon a time. Now, it stands in the concrete to be memorialized for all time - thank you Shotgun! You deserve the star so that your name can do the same.


sageofsantee July 8, 2012 @ 6:03 p.m.

OK so it was Phillips and not Hamilton. Let's track him down and ask him.


BirdmanOfPDR July 9, 2012 @ 7:36 a.m.

Hey SageOfSantee, It's become apparent that you have no idea of what you write. If Mike Phillips were available, I guarantee he would be happy to confirm. Unfortunately, Mike passed away in 2006. Yet another "fact" you don't seem to have any grasp of.


DaveAtonement July 8, 2012 @ 7:31 p.m.

Hey, "Idiot of El Cajon" (or "Sage of Santee" if you prefer) -- what kind of twisted, bitter, hate-filled personal existence has led you to spew your completely misguided -- not to mention totally false and undeserved -- venom over a fine gentleman like "Shotgun Tom" Kelly," who is not only one of the most superbly talented radio personalities of all time, but at the same time happens to be one of the most open, friendly, and sincere human beings of his generation? Having met Mr. Kelly personally on a number of occasions, I can attest to the truth of one oft-repeated statement about him: that not only is he every bit as nice in person as he appears to be on the radio -- but he's actually even nicer!
It may sound like a cliche to a misanthropic slug like you, but in his case it's literally true.

Not only do you have it all wrong as to what Mr. Kelly is actually like as a person, your understanding of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce's nominating process sounds totally made up -- by you, to suit your obvious agenda of knocking down anyone and everyone who seems to be more successful than you (which would seem to include most of the present population of the earth, judging from your spiteful comments). One can only shudder to guess at who you might choose to nominate as a more deserving star recipient than Mr. Kelly -- someone like Rush Limbaugh perhaps? Give me a break. dittohead!

As for these alleged thirty thousand dollar fees which you seem to equate with some kind of personal or professional corruption, who do you suppose -- in the depths of your ruddy ignorance -- will be paying the fees for Janis Joplin's star? Or Ellen Degeneres? Or virtually any and all of the other 2013 nominees? I hate to be the one to break it to you, but like it or not, it's a corporate world, and installing and maintaining the Hollywood Blvd. Walk of Fame costs big money. Naturally it's reasonable to expect every one of these stars to be sponsored, by some (presumably interested) entity other than the "deep pockets" of the people nominated. Or, as you snidely insinuate in the case of Mr. Kelly, do you expect they're going to ultimately deny Janis her star, by virtue of the fact she's been dead for decades and probably isn't in a position to cough up the 30 grand she now "owes"?

I might also comment as to how ludicrous your comparison of the nationally prominent Shotgun Tom is to a bunch of local San Diego DJ's of the 60's & 70's -- with all due respect to them, and I'm sure they all sounded mighty fine on the air back in their heyday, there's only one man who's been king of the Los Angeles airwaves for almost 15 years now. And there's every good (and obvious) reason why he's the one who'll be getting his long-deserved Star in the year 2013 -- and you never will.


sageofsantee July 9, 2012 @ 10:54 a.m.

Oh so Mr. Phillips is dead. Hmmmm. Isn't that convenient. All I know is that that this story that Don Steele selected his successor from the grave or on his deathbed or whatever has never been talked about among his close friends or radio industry people. This story appeared for the first time in this blog. Mr. Phillips may be dead but all his long time associates are still around. Ask them. I would like one of these radio people who have known shotgun for 20-30-plus years, to step up here and using your real name, please tell us if you have ever heard this Steele-picked-shotgun-from-the-grave story. There is, of course, nothing wrong with paying $30,000 for your own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. And there may be nothing wrong with lobbying for it for three years. But good grief. Really? Misanthropic slug...hmmm. Don't think I ever heard those two words used together before. Do you know what misanthropic means? Whether or not Mr. Kelly/Erwin is a nice person (and he is) I find it galling that he would compare himself to the Real Don Steele. Give me a god damn break! King of L.A. airwaves? Please. Like I said, Steel is to Shotgun as "Light My Fire" is to "Hey Baby (Drop it to the Flo)"


sageofsantee July 9, 2012 @ 11:55 a.m.

Well what do you know? A little research turned up the truth about how Mike Phillips came about hiring Shotgun. It seems when he died in 2006, the KRTH production director who was hired by Phillips held a memorial for Phillips. One of those people who attended was Ken Levine, a former DJ (who went by the name Beaver Cleaver) and a huge fan of legendary jocks like Morgan and Steele. Levine now is one of the announcers for the Seattle Mariners and he used to do the same for the Padres in 1995-96. Levine also has written scripts for MASH, Cheers, Frasier, The Simposns and many other TV shows. Anyway, there was a website put up after the Phillips memorial where everyone who attended gave their two-cents Here is what ran next to a photo of Levine:

Ken Levine represented all the listening fans of K-EARTH. “I was like a radio geek in L.A. growing up hearing the people on KHJ and hearing Mike Phillips on KFRC-San Francisco. Mike would refer to me as a peer. He would solicit my advice. He even took my advice when I said stupid things like, ‘hire Shotgun Tom Kelly.’ He was always willing to listen to ideas from other people. I wished I had worked with him.”

You can view that Mike Phillips website and Ken Levine also has own site called I say we all ask him to comment on how he lobbied Phillips to hire shotgun and ask him about this crap about how how the Real Don Steele got Phillips to hire Shotgun from the grave.

Look, Shotgun makes lots of money, he just got a contract extension last year I think, and I'll bet he'll be around KRTH as long as he wants. And even though this Hollywood Star thing gags me a little, I think it is a downright crime of against nature for Shotgun to compare himself to Steele. And to say that Steele gave him a good reference from the grave is downright creepy. Talk about slugs!


BirdmanOfPDR July 9, 2012 @ 9:30 p.m.

Hello again Mr. SageOfSantee....We meet again. I do say, your eyes and ears must not be at full function anymore. Have your read the Reader article, did you really see the Channel 8 piece? Mr. Kelly makes NO comparison to himself and The Real Don Steele in either. Mr. Kelly only mentions that he is "sitting in his chair" and that now he will have a star also. In fact, Mr. Kelly refers to Don as "a huge star", he never refers to himself in that way ever in the article or the Channel 8 piece. The only one making such comparisons is YOU! We could go round and round about Don's feelings about Mr. Kelly being his replacement, and it's obvious that you have "some" understanding of the people involved in the final decision, but as the saying goes...."You know just enough to be dangerous and stupid". With comments like yours, your handle should be something more like "StupidFromSantee"! I've attached the link to the Channel 8 story for your review:


Duhbya July 10, 2012 @ 4:53 a.m.

The most amazing/appalling facet of this exercise in futility is that a DJ apparently has groupies! This week's sign of the apocalypse? ;> )



BirdmanOfPDR July 10, 2012 @ 6:52 a.m.

Not sure if I'd qualify for the title of "Groupie"....but I'll take that over "Contest Pig"


sageofsantee July 10, 2012 @ 11:40 a.m.

Hey Birdman! Did you forget you wrote this

Don Steele had gone to KEARTH management and told them the only guy who he could imagine sitting in his chair besides him would be Shotgun Tom Kelly. The programmer was Mike Phillips and he contacted Tom specifically with respect to Don's wishes.

That is not true. Beaver Cleaver/Ken Levine who worked at B-100 with Shotgun is the one who took the Shotgun idea to Phillips. We're not going round and round about anything. This is the fact and what you said was made up. You were busted in a lie. There's not any "going round and round" about anything. Hey look, Shotgun successfully lobbied after three years to get a star, he promises he'll come up with the money to pay for it, and he's a got a great radio job when so many talented people are out of work or out of the business. That's all. Let's not make stuff up. He is a nice man. I'm just not sure where Tom Kelly ends and Tom Erwin begins. At any rate, let's leave Don Steele out of it please.

Sure would like to hear from some of Shotgun's longtime friends on this blog about how Phillips channeled the ghost of Steele in 1997.


sageofsantee July 10, 2012 @ 12:27 p.m.

Will someone who knows Ken Levine get him to comment on this please.


sageofsantee July 10, 2012 @ 9:34 p.m.

Bottom line: does Shotgun Tom Kelly deserve a star on the Hollywood walk of fame? Of course he does. He earned it. He lobbied for three years. And he paid for it. Or at least he says he is going to.

This has become a cesspool of ego. Turning a very sweet, lovable, decent man into someone who is driven for fame. March on Shotgun! You got what you wanted!


numberonearbitrons Aug. 5, 2012 @ 5:53 p.m.

Tom is a great guy, & has a good act on the radio. What sets him apart is his natural charisma and genuine nice guy persona. Many journeyman DJ's and wannabees. visit his pool parties every Saturday night at his home. He is loved. Nice guy, great pipes, good act. Is he in the same league as the late Real Don Steele? Of course not. He knows that, but he has had a very successful career as this fun loving, hand slapping, extrovert that always has been at home with the public. For that I salute him. As a radio talent, he is very limited. What is sad is the followers who actually believe that Tom is the greatest talent in radio history. It's astounding, Tom I imagine would feel awkward when compared with Steele, Humble Harve, Robert W Morgan, Bobby Ocean, Lee Baby Simms, or Jack Armstrong. He isn't in that class. He's not a story teller like Lee, or an artist like Osh, or a cooker like Rich Brother Robbin. He knows that, this is not a put down of Tom. You couldn't work with a nicer more decent gentlemen. But his radio wannabe friends need to get out more, they are laughable claiming this man to be something that he is not.


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