Jim Ladd

Jim Ladd once described FM radio as the “soundtrack of our lives.” It’s not difficult to understand what that meant, coming from the pioneer and most steadfast defender of freeform rock & roll radio.

Ladd’s legendary career as a DJ and radio producer began in 1969 at KNAC when he first graced Los Angeles radio before moving to 95.5 KLOS in 1971. After a four-year stint, Ladd joined KMET-FM, an embattled station which had been experimenting with programming and had been experiencing turbulence as a result. With the help of Ladd’s singular approach to freeform radio, KMET found its footing and within a year became the top-rated station in all of Los Angeles. Out of the nine years Ladd spent working at KMET, he enjoyed eight as the #1 rated air personality in his time slot.

While Jim was working at KMET, Ladd created, hosted and produced Innerview. It was the first of its kind hour-long nationally syndicated program which aired weekly on over 160 stations, from 1974 – 1986. Over the twelve-years in which it ran, Ladd shed insight into the lives of nearly every major rocker in the industry including: John Lennon, Pink Floyd, U2, Joni Mitchell, Stevie Nicks, the Eagles, Led Zeppelin and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young..

Along with the admiration of his longtime listeners, which he has endearingly labeled ‘The Tribe,’ Ladd has been numerously recognized for his contributions to radio, music, and culture. Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters was inspired by Ladd’s work and asked him to be involved in 1987’s Radio K.A.O.S. where he played himself as a rebel DJ. Ladd also joined Waters on the album’s highly touted world tour and starred in all three MTV music videos.

In 1989 Ladd played a semi-autobiographical role in Cameron Crowe’s Say Anything… and he and his voice have also been featured in films including Tequila Sunrise, Rush, She’s Out of Control and Defendor.

In June of 1991 Ladd published his first book titled Radio Waves: Life and Revolution on the FM Dial through St. Martin’s Press. A vivid and colorful account of his times working as one of the country’s premier radio DJs, Radio Waves boasts Ladd’s outspoken and vivacious nature. Both a celebration of the golden era of rock radio and a mourning of its demise, Radio Waves was praised by publications such as the New York Review of Books and The Boston Globe as well as celebrated icons such as Don Henley.

Jim Ladd also hosted The Extremists, a television show about the world of extreme sports. This was followed by the nationally syndicated Headsets which he first created in 1974.

Ladd rejoined KLOS in 1997, where he spent the next fourteen years. He was selected as the Air Personality of the Year in 2000 by The Los Angeles Music Awards.

In 2002, Jim was honored when Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers based their album The Last DJ around Ladd’s life and career.

On May 6th of 2005, Ladd was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his lifelong dedication and contributions to entertainment. The Hollywood Arts Council celebrated Ladd’s accomplishments two years later with the Media Arts Award.

When Cumulus Media acquired KLOS in 2011, Ladd left to join SiriusXM and host his own national primetime show on Deep Tracks, bringing his singular brand of freeform radio to all of North America.

Ladd lived in California, hosting his weekly SiriusXM show, until his passing on December 16th, 2023 at the age of seventy-five.

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Jim Ladd Comments On Desert Trip

Read the whole article at the LA Times. “It sounds like an extraordinary, historic event,” veteran classic-rock deejay Jim Ladd told The Times this week. The participants also won’t be...