Jimmy Rabbit was a great guy, a pioneer, and a major player in the golden days of KLIF to whom Kenny and the Kasuals owe their success with Journey To Tyme.
Mark Lee - Manager for Kenny and the Kasuals
RABBITT, Jimmy: KFI; KRLA, 1969-70; KLAC, 1971; KMET, 1971-72; KBBQ, 1972; KROQ, 1972-73; KMET, 1975; KGBS, 1975; KLAC, 1976; KROQ, 1976-78. Jimmy is one of radio's outlaw characters. He died during the Thanksgiving holiday of 2020.
Born Dale Payne in 1941, he grew up in Tyler, Texas, joined the Marine Corps, then sold shoes until his first radio gig at KGKB in Tyler. Jimmy flourished at KLIF-Dallas, and with music changing in the 1960s, KLIF’s pd allowed Rabbit a Sunday-night-only show, featuring "psychedelic" music. Soon he was on nightly, and Gordon McLendon spent a fortune putting psychedelic lights in the KLIF studio windows, visible from outside.
In 1968, he was off to KCBQ-San Diego. When the station tightened its playlist in 1969, Jimmy, looking for a way out, contacted his buddy Doug Cox, who was programming KRLA. The times were a-changing in 1969 when Doug put Jimmy on the air for a combination of “free-form” sprinkled with Country music. He left the station less than a year later.
In 1969, the LA Times named Jimmy rock dj of the year. When times got tough, Jimmie rode horses in Topanga Canyon. He joined KMET for the first time on January 18, 1971, for the 11 a.m.- 4 p.m. shift. In May 1972, “The Rabbitt” was on KHJ for three days. He was called to a meeting at Nickodell's (an industry hangout) with Ted Atkins and Bill Watson. According to Jimmy in a Billboard magazine profile, Watson said, "We don't want another Robert W. Morgan at night." Jimmy was suspended, not fired, but only because Bill Drake had hired him and Bill was in Hawaii; he was eventually fired after Drake approved it.
Later in 1972, Jimmie joined Bob Hamilton's Radio Report publication as Country editor. In 1975, he was back on KMET in the early evenings. When things didn't work out on KMET, management put him on sister Metromedia station, Country KLAC. A fellow worker marveled at Jimmy's ability to meld Progressive music with Country. "He'd mix classic country oldies with the Eagles and Linda Ronstadt." Jimmy’s band, “Renegade,” played the Palomino Club, and had moderate record-selling success. Between radio assignments, he did a one-to-one voiceover workshop at Wally Heider Studios, up the block from local jock hangout Martoni's. In 1996 Jimmy returned to Tyler, Texas and was working at KKUS. He's now at KAFM/fm Community Radio in Grand Junction, Colorado.