The Ramones and Talking Heads drew him into radio. Rush Limbaugh and Carl DeMaio pushed him out.
Billy Bones worked continuously in San Diego radio for 37 years until he quit Friday, June 29. He was part of the inaugural DJ lineup at 91X when that station became famous in 1983 as one of the first stations to flip to a modern rock “Rock of the ‘80s” format. “People wanted to hear something other than Billy Joel and Deep Purple. They were ready for punk, ska, reggae, techno, and new wave.”
Bones doesn’t mind working the graveyard shift he’s held down for three decades. He’s long been the overnight guy at iHeart Media which owns and operates five FM and two AM stations locally. “I was the overnight guy who made sure all the stations were on the air and the commercials got played.” Since all the stations have no live DJs during those wee hours, he was often the only person at the iHeart compound on Granite Ridge Drive.
In previous years Bones performed other functions such as producing commercials, which he was happy to do. But, “For the last five years I’ve had to deal with news bullshit for KOGO. It has been humiliating for me personally to have any affiliation whatsoever with a right-wing talk station. I became a corporate tool. I like radio, but I’m glad I’m leaving this job.”
Bones recalls the day in the spring of 1983 when the first ratings of 91X as a modern music station came out. He had driven back from the Tijuana studios to the 91X headquarters on Pacific Highway right across from the Highway Patrol. “We beat KGB. Four months earlier that was inconceivable. Everybody in the office was completely shitfaced drunk that day.”
In 1984, Bones was furious he wasn’t given a week of vacation. “I wanted to take my girlfriend to Hawaii for a week. Lynch wouldn’t give it to me. I let my unhappiness affect my attitude at work.”
Bones was demoted to weekends and fill-in when he wouldn’t take overnights. A year later, he accepted the overnight slot and stayed there for 33 years. He enjoyed the fact he was allowed to play whatever he wanted during his late late DJ show. “One of the Mexican engineers that I worked with, Santos Uriarte, was a musician and put out an album which I played on the air. The phones went crazy. A party erupted at the transmitter site with him and all his friends. The people who lived in Tijuana had a great deal of loyalty to 91X. They called us ‘Marijuan X,’ because we were so wild.”