Since New Year’s Eve 1989, a morning alternative to Scott Shannon’s “Pirate Radio,” KIIS-FM’s Rick Dees and KLOS-FM’s dominant duo — Mark and Brian — made its first appearance on a radio station known for popularizing “ROQ of the 80s.”
Today, radio legend Shannon is at WCBS-FM in New York. Dees hasn’t been heard on L.A. airwaves for years, while the Mark and Brian program ended August 17, 2012.
That KROQ-FM 106.7 in Los Angeles morning show? Although one of its hosts has been based in Seattle for many years, its remained a key anchor to the station’s success over three decades.
Now, it is ready for a major makeover, as this New Orleans-based host — Gene “Bean” Baxter — will be soon exiting the Kevin & Bean Show.
In a surprising announcement, Baxter shared with listeners in the 7am Pacific hour on KROQ that he will be departing the show at the end of 2019.
On Twitter, he elaborated, “After 30 years I am leaving the show at the end of the year to move back home to England, the ninth largest island in the world. Much more to come on this.”
Baxter retweeted local media reports on his departure and a Hollywood Reporter story, giving unofficial confirmation that his declaration wasn’t a stunt; KROQ famously has been home to April Fool’s pranks that even involve a faux format flip to “Pirate Radio” following the demise of the former KQLZ-FM.
Then, the show went on, with Boy Meets World actress Danielle Fishel an in-studio guest.
Baxter’s planned departure comes following a 2018 medical leave of absence due to mental health concerns, which lasted several weeks.
In the early 1990s, Kevin & Bean were hosts that spoke to the Depeche Mode/Cure/Madchester sound acts that defined the station until late 1993, when it adopted a more grunge-influenced playlist. With Baxter and co-host Kevin Ryder in AM drive, “Jed The Fish” in PM drive, and Richard Blade in middays, KROQ entered a renaissance in the ratings, with K&B eventually becoming a top choice among Hollywood elite — and listeners.
In June 1999, Baxter left L.A. However, thanks to technology and T1 lines, he continued to co-host the show — first from Seattle and now from Louisiana.
In the 9am hour, Baxter saluted the “most talent and most fun” crew that presently comprises the entire morning show, which includes Allie McKay and Jensen Karp — key individuals who could emerge as the eventual morning show hosts, should Ryder decide to call it quits.
Karp selfishly said on-air that he wanted Baxter to stay, and even host the show from England. Baxter said that he’d thought about it, but eventually ruled it out, with a move to the U.K. with his wife one that will see him depart KROQ, now owned by Entercom and acquired in the CBS Radio merger.
“It is still really really difficult to say it out loud, because I really have fun doing the show,” Baxter said in the 9am hour, Pacific Time.
Among the major stars who started their careers at KROQ, on Kevin & Bean, is Jimmy Kimmel. The ABC late-night talk host was “Jimmy the Sports Guy” from 1994-1999. He exited KROQ to co-host The Man Show on Comedy Central with another show member, Adam Carolla.
From 1999-2017, Ralph Garman walked the show-business beat; traffic reporter Lisa May was a major contributor to the show from 1990-2015.
It’s all thanks to a move KROQ OM Scott Mason made at a time when the station decided to fight back against Shannon and Pirate Radio, with Baxter in-bound from KXXX “X100” in San Francisco and Ryder arriving from KZZP-FM in Phoenix.
Baxter is a native of Middlesex, England and is a 1977 graduate of Bowie High School in Bowie, Md. He began his career at WPKX-FM “Kix 106,” a Country station in the Washington market in the early 1980s. In 1983, he joined WPGC-FM for weekends, and then jumped to overnights and then evenings.
Famously, when hired at former Top 40 WAVA-FM to do the nighttime shift, he was told moments before taking the mic to change his on-air name to “Flash Phillips.” Baxter’s next stop: KZZP, where he held the afternoon shift, before moving to San Francisco.
— With reports from RBR+TVBR in Hermosa Beach, Calif.