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Obituaries

Deirdre O'Donoghue; Host of Radio's 'Breakfast With Beatles'

January 24, 2001|JON THURBER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Deirdre O'Donoghue, longtime host of the radio program "Breakfast With the Beatles," which most recently was heard on KLSX-FM, has died.

O'Donoghue was found dead in her Santa Monica home Saturday night by police officers who responded to a report that she had missed a broadcast and had not returned phone calls.

The coroner's office is investigating the cause of death, but foul play is not suspected.

Born in 1948, O'Donoghue grew up in New York City. She attended Clark University in Worchester, Mass., before landing a job in radio at WBCN in Boston in 1974.

She entered Southern California radio in the late 1970s, working first at KKGO-FM, then a jazz station, before joining KCRW-FM in 1980. Her program, "Snap"--an acronym for "Saturday Night Avant Pop"--eventually aired three nights a week and was influential in showcasing new bands on the cutting edge of rock music.

Tom Schnabel, the producer and host of Cafe L.A. on KCRW and program director of World Music at the Hollywood Bowl, recalled that the station was doing very little in the way of pop music before O'Donoghue joined the station.

"She had the talent to bring pop music to KCRW," said Schnabel, who was the station's music director when O'Donoghue came aboard. "She was talented, passionate about music and opinionated."

In 1983, she began an association with KMET, then one of the leading mainstream FM rock stations in town, that would last several years. It was there she originated "Breakfast With the Beatles," a two-hour Sunday morning program devoted to the legendary British band.

She worked simultaneously at KMET and KCRW, covering a broad range of rock music. When KMET changed formats in 1987, O'Donoghue took her Beatles program to KNX-FM and then to KLSX-FM. She remained with KCRW until 1991, when she left for health reasons.

"Deirdre was as passionate about music--and especially about discovering new music--as anyone I've ever heard on radio," recalled Steve Hochman, a pop music writer who covered O'Donoghue for The Times. "For her it was never about hits or popularity, but about talent and emotion. And she had a gift for expressing that in a way that made her enthusiasm contagious. Not coincidentally, some of her biggest fans were musicians, including Michael Stipe of R.E.M., Henry Rollins and many others."

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