Brian Beirne, the longtime KRTH-FM (101.1) DJ known as "Mr. Rock 'n' Roll," will deliver his signature sign-off line, "Thanks for being on the show," for the final time on Wednesday, capping a 29-year run at the station. For a continuous stint at a single station, that's believed to be second in L.A. radio only to Dick Whittinghill, whose on-air tenure at KMPC-AM from 1950-1979 ran two months longer than Beirne's at KRTH.
"I'm at that point in my life where I'm not really ready to hang up the microphone totally, but I want to take a little break, change horses and do some different things," says Beirne, most recently host of a 10 p.m.-to-midnight slot weeknights. Jay Coffey will take over that show starting Thursday. "I've been producing and hosting concerts for a number of years and I'll be doing some more of that."
Beirne will join KRTH morning host Gary Bryan's 5-to-9 a.m. show on Wednesday for a farewell broadcast, during which Beirne promises to give one more spin to Elvis Presley's "Wear Your Ring Around My Neck," the first record he played after joining the oldies station in 1975.
Because he frequently injected rock trivia into his shows, he says, "People would call in and say, 'You should be Mr. Somebody.' One day I was sitting in my living room with the 40,000 records I've collected over the years, and looking at the half-sheet poster for 'Love Me Tender,' because I also collect movie posters.
"I noticed in one corner it said, 'Mr. Rock 'n' Roll in the story he was born to play,' and that was about the only time Elvis was referred to as 'Mr. Rock 'n' Roll,' because the Colonel [Parker, Presley's manager] quickly made him 'The King of Rock 'n' Roll' right after that. I thought, 'That's not bad,' so I tried it on the air and then registered the trademark."
Members of the World War II generation periodically complain about the difficulty of finding a radio station that plays music of the big-band era, but Beirne doesn't think baby boomers will have that problem anytime soon with '50s, '60s and '70s music.
"Years from now, you're still going to be hearing '[You've Lost That] Lovin' Feeling' by the Righteous Brothers, Chuck Berry," Beirne says. "And any kid who picks up a guitar has got to go back and take a look at where this all came from, whether that's the Beatles or Elvis. That's the real roots of rock.... It's timeless music."
-- Randy Lewis