“Explore the legacy of Jim Ladd, the iconic voice of Sirius XM and KLOS. Stay updated on Jim Ladd’s latest news, obituary, and contributions to radio. Discover the profound impact of his career and remember the legendary broadcaster through Sirius XM and beyond. Celebrate the life of Jim Ladd.”
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Discover the profound impact of his career and remember the legendary broadcaster through Sirius XM and beyond.
The world of rock radio lost an icon this week. Jim Ladd, the legendary Los Angeles DJ known for championing album-oriented rock (AOR), has died at age 75 after suffering a heart attack.
Ladd was a central voice on SoCal airwaves for over four decades. His laidback style and encyclopedic music knowledge made him a fan favorite during the golden era of freeform FM radio in the 1970s. Ladd helped shape the sound and politics of stations like KMET, bringing progressive rock to the masses.
His death on November 5th was confirmed by colleague Meg Griffin on SiriusXM radio, where Ladd worked most recently. “He never stopped caring,” Griffin said. “He delivered the truth. He lived for the music, and I am blessed to have worked with him.”
A native of St. Louis, Missouri, Ladd landed in Los Angeles in 1969. He quickly ingratiated himself into the market’s burgeoning music scene. When pioneers like KMET adopted a freeform progressive format, Ladd found his niche. His marathon eight-hour shifts and thematic sets made him a star among young listeners.
Ladd also gained national exposure through his show “Innerview,” reaching 160 stations at its peak. He conducted lengthy interviews with rock legends like John Lennon, Pink Floyd, U2 and more. These raw discussions offered fans an intimate portal into the art and lives of their heroes.
In his 1991 memoir “Radio Waves,” Ladd recalled FM radio’s rebellious spirit in the Vietnam era. The resonant message of anti-war songs shaped Ladd’s sociopolitical perspective. His progressive worldview informed both his musical selections and discourse with listeners.
As the FM band eclipsed AM in popularity through the ‘70s, Ladd became an icon. He counted major artists among his personal friends, including Roger Waters who invited him to work on the 1987 concept album “Radio K.A.O.S.” Ladd also directly inspired Tom Petty’s ode “The Last DJ.”
However, by the mid-‘80s Ladd grew disenchanted as radio consolidation squeezed out local personalities in favor of corporate formulas. He watched the original freeform progressives disappear, including his beloved KMET which abandoned rock in 1987.
Ladd persisted as one of Los Angeles’ last authentic heritage DJs committed to the album format. He bounced between stations like KLSX, KLOS and KBZT before joining SiriusXM’s “Deep Tracks” channel in 2011.
There he connected with listeners until the very end, delivering hand-curated sets and backstories gleaned from his many years befriending rock stars. When Ladd signed off every night, fans knew they had just heard three hours of radio magic.
As word of his sudden passing spread, tributes poured in from prominent broadcasters and musicians alike. Fellow DJ Michael Harrison hailed Ladd as someone “able to survive on the air…long past many of his on air contemporaries.”
Jim Ladd now takes his place among the legends of FM radio he so passionately saluted. Though he exits the airwaves, his rebel spirit and brilliant legacy will rock on forever.