|Dick "Huggy Boy" Hugg|
|Born||Richard James Hugg|
June 9, 1928
|Died||August 30, 2006 (aged 78)|
Long Beach, California
Hugg, known to his listeners as "Huggy Boy", was instrumental in the promotion of rock and roll in the 1950s. He is credited with bringing rhythm and blues to the airwaves of Southern California, as well as bringing the "Eastside Sound" to large audience. He was the first white disc jockey to broadcast (on station KRKD) from the front window of John Dolphin's popular all-night record store, Dolphin's of Hollywood, at the corner of Central and Vernon Avenues. He also co-produced several artists, such as vocalist Jesse Belvin and saxophonist Joe Houston, on Dolphin's various record labels, including Cash and Money. With his own record label, Caddy Records, Hugg recorded local favorites Jim Balcom, Jeanette Baker, Chuck Higgins and Johnny Flamingo. Hugg later promoted bands like The Jaguars, the Village Callers, Thee Midniters and The Champs, later known as the Chicano rock movement.
Though originally an R&B disc jockey, he gradually aimed his radio and television shows at Los Angeles' burgeoning Latino population and featured almost every young Chicano group coming out of East Los Angeles, the San Gabriel Valley, the Pomona Valley, and the San Fernando Valley. He promoted dances and shows in the barrio and was important in the growth of the city's so-called Eastside Sound.
He was on KRKD, 1951-55; KWKW, 1954; KALI; KGFJ, 1955; KBLA, 1965; KRKD, 1965-66; KRTH, 1975; XPRS, 1981-82; KRLA, 1983-98; KRTH, 1998-2002. He hosted an oldies show on KRLA and for a time, a dance program, "The Huggie Boy Show", which aired weekly on KWHY channel 22. His popularity continued to increase long after the show went off the air.
Huggy Boy's show on KRLA brought a lot of rare oldies to the airwaves from 1983 until KRLA's end in 1998, and his unique, rare music collection turned on a whole new generation of listeners, and record collectors. Huggy Boy's show on KRLA in the 80s and 90s was a fun show that stood out amid the increasingly corporate sounds of commercial radio. One of the charms of Huggy Boy's show was he sometimes did not always have that perfect broadcast voice, or sometimes he stepped over the vocals while talking up a record. Sometimes between the songs there would be some rambling, and sometimes Huggy Boy had fun with the whole request and dedication thing.
Following the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which profoundly deregulated how many radio and television stations one corporation can own, CBS ended up buying KRLA in 1998. CBS also owned K-Earth 101, which was also an oldies station. Likely in the name of avoiding any potential competition, even though KRLA was very much an "Eastside Sound" oldies station as opposed to K-Earth, which was a general oldies station, CBS ended the oldies format on KRLA turning 1110 AM into a talk station. While some people were out of a job, as is the nature of broadcasting, Huggy Boy was, to the genuine surprise to many in the industry, given a nightly spot on 101.1 FM, which is a very coveted position in L.A. radio.
While it was a very generous gesture on CBS' and KRTH's part, The Huggy Boy Show on K-Earth was not quite the same, to say the least. In 1998, as it is now, K-Earth had a very highly restrictive oldies playlist, and Huggy Boy was only able to play one tune from his unique oldies collection only once an hour. As listeners to the radio station at 101.1 FM know, K-Earth is a very tightly run on-air operation, which for Huggy Boy meant his sometimes fun rambling between the music, or during requests and dedications, was greatly limited.
Hugg died of cardiac arrest on August 30, 2006 at age of 78.
Hugg is referenced in Season 2, Episode 14 of The Rockford Files, "The Hammer of C Block". Isaac Hayes's character, Gandolph Fitch, while searching for a radio station says, "Nobody's playing music anymore? Where's Huggy Boy or Hunter Hancock?"