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Machine Gun Kelly

M.G. “Machine Gun” Kelly began his radio career in 1970 while still a junior in high school. His first station was KTEN in Ada Oklahoma. There, Kelly played song dedications to schoolmates. A year later, He was hired by KOMA in Oklahoma City. While at KOMA, he came to the attention of radio mogul Lee Abrams who brought him to Cleveland in late 1972 for afternoon drive at WGCL-FM. The following year, radio consultant Kent Burkart presented Machine Gun Kelly to KSTP-FM in Minneapolis, as “The Gunner” became part of the team that drove the 16th ranked station to number 2 in just 100 days. This dramatic ratings increase caught the attention of RKO Radio and 21-year-old Machine Gun Kelly was shooting straight to the legendary 93 KHJ in Los Angeles.

Two years later, while still at KHJ, Kelly began studying acting and soon landed a role as the venomous D.J., “Bebe Jesus”, co-starring with Barbara Streisand and Kris Kristofferson in the 1976 film, A Star is Born. Next came a departure from the typecasting when Clint Eastwood tagged him as the Priest, “Father John Voss” in The Enforcer. Within a three year period, Kelly proceeded to act in eight more feature films including The Buddy Holly Story and The Fifth Floor. He also was cast in nearly 50 guest star roles on prime time television.

Kelly continued to keep his radio work alive as he departed KHJ in late 1977 and joined KTNQ. During a press party to promote his arrival, he hit the stage with a real Thompson Sub Machine Gun loaded with a hundred rounds of blanks. When The Real Don Steele introduced him, Kelly unloaded the gun over the heads of the 400 invited guests. Radio and Records magazine had a field day with this stunt.

In 1978, during his time at KTNQ, Machine Gun Kelly was chosen as Billboard Magazine’s “National Radio Personality of the Year.” He went on to enjoy a successful voice-over career landing hundreds of national ads, movies trailers and network promos. Kelly also continued his acting, adding more episodic television shows to his previous resume including, WKRP in Cincinnati, CHIPs, Knots Landing, Hill Street Blues, Too Close For Comfort, Mork and Mindy, Happy Days and M*A*S*H and many more. In 1980, M.G. Kelly hosted a weekly syndicated television series entitled, The Rock Show. This “music video program” was broadcast throughout the U.S. and Europe – prior to the launch of MTV.

By 1984, CBS convinced Kelly to move to New York City and join CBS Radio. There, he produced weekly syndicated programming for the network including, “Dan Ingram’s Top 40 Count Up” and Kelly’s own introduction to national radio, Top 30 USA. After a couple of winters in The Big Apple, Kelly relocated his production and hosting duties for CBS back in Los Angeles. Meanwhile, Kelly signed with Merv Griffin Productions for over 200 episodes as the announcer for Wheel of Fortune. At the same time the wheel was turning, M.G. Machine Gun?Kelly added afternoon fire power to KIIS-FM Los Angeles.

In 1986, Kelly created his second radio project for syndication called “Live from The ’60s”. To host the program, Kelly approached his biggest radio idol, The Real Don Steele. Together they walked into Premiere Radio Networks with a demo and in less than three months, Live From The ’60s was on over 300 radio stations. With Kelly writing and producing the series while Steele hosted, “Live from the ’60s” was nominated for “Best Oldies Show” of 1988.

By 1989, a new oldies station in L.A. was rounding up the Boss Jocks. The Real Don Steele signed on and Machine Gun Kelly left KIIS-FM to join Steele, along with Charlie Tuna, Humble Havre and Rich Fields. It was a familiar dial position, “93”, but this time it was FM, KODJ.

In 1990, Kelly formed a seven piece rock band called Machine Gun Kelly and The G-Men. The group featured Kelly on drums doing his radio shtick live. They opened for dozens of top acts including Chuck Berry, Three Dog Night, Tommy James, Johnny Rivers and The Beach Boys. Machine Gun Kelly and The G-Men played numerous times at The Universal Amphitheater, Pacific Amphitheater and The Los Angeles Coliseum.

In 1992, Machine Gun Kelly and Charlie Tuna teamed to co-host the syndicated radio program, Your Good Time Oldies Magazine. While continuing this national show, M.G. Departed KCBS FM in 1993 and headed to KOOL FM in Phoenix. There he drove the afternoon ratings from a 2 to a 6 share in just nine months. “The Gunner?also continued performing live with his band The G-Men and also recorded an album with proceeds from sales going to charity.

In 1995, Kelly left the States for England where he and his wife guest hosted on Capitol Gold, London as “M.G. and Molly”. Over the next four years they were also heard on KBGO FM, Las Vegas, and MIX 96 in Alberta, Canada.

In 1998, Machine Gun Kelly was inducted into The Nevada Broadcaster’s Hall of Fame. The same year his work from KHJ was introduced at The Museum of Television and Radio in Los Angeles.

Since 1998, Kelly has produced and hosted what many in the radio industry call “the best works of his career.” His syndicated programs include; Machine Gun Kelly’s American Hit List, The Amazing ’80s, Back to the ’70s and The Classic Hit List. Kelly is now heard on nearly 100 radio stations in America and around the world.

Updated: January 20, 2015 — 7:34 PM
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