Whether it was small local gigs at Gazzari's, or huge metal events like Monsters of Rock, if it was a metal gig in Southern California, KNAC was at the forefront. In fact, when Monsters of Rock in 1988 turned into an all-out riot, KNAC chronicled the entire thing on the air, describing it as "an absolute solid mass of people covering the entire Coliseum floor to about the 50-yard line from the stage..." KNAC listener Robert Watts remembers that day clearly too: "The best part of the whole day was when Metallica came on. The place went fucking ballistic! There were eight-foot high chain link fences between the floor and the risers. Those fences came down in seconds as Metallicans rushed the floor. Security had no fucking clue what they were up against. I remember my six-foot friend literally throwing his four-foot-six girlfriend over the fence before it came down."
L.A. was definitely the place to be during the '80s, and for most of those glory days of the Sunset Strip, KNAC was part of it. To be a fan back when bands like Megadeth, Armored Saint, and Testament were first starting out, and to watch those bands go from playing small clubs to huge arenas almost overnight...it must have been quite an awesome thing.
Even rock stars had an opinion about the end of Pure Rock 105.5, as Sammy Hagar waxed poetic on his memories of the station later that year at his annual birthday bash when my girlfriend threw a KNAC sticker to him onstage in Cabo San Lucas: "...But this shit ain't no good no more, no KNAC...man, what happened? It went...Hispanic...they went, like, Español on us, right?...So, do any of you people remember KNAC, from Long Beach? This was...this was a rock 'n' roll station from Heaven. It was a fuckin' major station. And all of a sudden, I'm driving down the street...I have it on, and like, right in the middle of a song...they go into some Mexican shit! Because they sold it to some Mexican people, and now it's like The Hispanic Channel...it's funnier than shit...105.5!"
One thing I remember most of all was calling in to the station one last time, to say goodbye to people I had never met in person, but considered my friends. Some of the phone operators you get to know over the years, but so many come and go that it is impossible to know all of them so when someone answered the phone that day whose voice I didn't instantly recognize, I thought nothing of it, because there was a huge gathering at the studio full of former DJs and phone operators.
The person asked me my name and where I was from. When I gave the name of my hometown of Downey, California, he answered back, "Downey's a nice place." Being a teenager, I gave an answer along the lines of, "You must have never been here, because it's so boring!" He answered back, "Actually, I grew up there. Had great times there."
It was right then that I realized: Holy shit, I am talking to James Hetfield. He grew up in my hometown. He went to the same high school as I did; where I am ditching school from. I am talking to the frontman of Metallica, the biggest fucking metal band on earth right now.
I had never spoken to a celebrity before, so I probably did not play it very cool when I asked outright, "You're James Hetfield, aren't you?" When he answered back, "No, I'm Lars.", I knew that it was indeed him that I was talking to. He chatted with me for a couple more minutes (about what, I can't really remember), and then that was it. Even on the final day, KNAC had given me a memory to keep with me for the rest of my life. Thank you, KNAC, for giving me an opportunity that every other teenager at that time could have only dreamed about: to have a few minutes to just shoot the breeze with James Hetfield or anyone from Metallica, and just to talk to them like a regular person. I got to do that, and it was because of KNAC. Even in their last hours of life, they were still giving back to their fans and still giving them happy memories to hold on to.
If I'd never had hometown pride before, I felt it not only after talking to James, but when those final moments of KNAC were approaching, and a montage was played over the Queensrÿche song "Empire", naming every single city in the area that KNAC had reached. When they named my hometown, I felt like I had been part of something. It was their way of telling all of us that we belonged, and that for all the love we had for them, KNAC had loved us back.
I used KNAC stickers & made the word "Rocker" out of the "E & R" on the sticker.I used a razor knife and cut out the letters.That way it said "Pure Rocker" on my remote control,blow dryer & the back of my motorcycle helmet.
I also kept the regular KNAC sticker on my lunch box & my toolbox for work.You could also find one on my trash can.
KNAC got so many requests for Metallica,that DJ Poundin Pat created "Mandatory Metallica" which is part of the reason that Metallica was in the studio the last day that KNAC was on the air to send them off.All other radio stations followed Poundin Pat's lead.