Longtime L.A. Radio Legend Charlie Tuna, 71, Passes
February 29, 2016 at 1:20 PM (PT)
Longtime L.A. radio personality CHARLIE TUNA has died at the age of 71, passing away "peacefully in his sleep," while at home in TARZANA, CA, the city for which he served as honorary Mayor since 1977.
The KEARNY, NEBRASKA native, whose real name was ART FERGUSON, was part of the legendary KHJ BOSS JOCK lineup, starting at both KROQ and KIIS and serving as both PD and morning man for KIIS AM and FM.
TUNA worked as a morning drive radio personality for more stations and formats than anyone in L.A. radio history: Top 40, AC, Hot AC, Oldies, Talk, Sports Talk and Country.
TUNA began working at his hometown radio station, KGFW, at the age of 16. He went to take a job at KLEO in WICHITA, KANSAS, for a year using the air name "BILLY O'DAY." He then worked for KOMA in OKLAHOMA CITY in 1966, where he took over the "CHARLIE TUNA" alias from CHUCK RILEY, who had used it for one show the week prior to TUNA's arrival. CHARLIE then moved on to WMEX BOSTON for the first nine months of 1967.
In late 1967, KHJ LOS ANGELES offered him the 9 to noon slot, where he debuted on THANKSGIVING 1967. On FEBURARY 9th, 1971, he had just commenced his morning show at 6a when the SAN FERNANDO earthquake occurred. In 1972 he became one of the original DJs at KROQ AM, a new Top 40 station (formerly Country KBBQ). In 1973 be moved to KKDJ as PD and morning personality. He presided over its 1975 call-letter change to KIIS-AM, and broadcast the first show at KIIS-FM as it began its AM-FM simulcast. He also worked at KTNQ, KHTZ (later KBZT), KRLA, KODJ (later KCBS-FM), KMPC, KIKF, and KLAC.
CHARLIE TUNA worked at KBIG (104.3), where he hosted a long-running morning show "CHARLIE TUNA IN THE MORNING," which aired from 5 to 10a. His last full-time morning show aired on SEPTEMBER 17th, 2007, when the station flipped to a non-rhythmic-based AC format, as 104.3 (MY FM). He returned to radio FEBRUARY 9th, 2008, when he became the weekend personality on CBS L.A. oldies station KRTH (K-EARTH 101). On AUGUST 27th, 2015, when CBS began downsizing their stations in L.A., CHARLIE moved on to expand his syndicated radio business with CharlieTunaSyndication.com.
TUNA was inducted into the NEBRASKA BROADCASTERS ASSOCIATION HALL OF FAME in 1999, and was honored with a star on the HOLLYWOOD WALK OF FAME in 1990.
In 1997, CHARLIE was voted one of the Top 10 L.A. Radio Personalities Of All Time by readers of the LOS ANGELES RADIO PEOPLE.
In 2007 and again in 2013, CHCARLIE was elected by his LARadio.com broadcast peers as one of the Top 10 L.A. Radio Personalities.
He was heard around the world daily on the ARMED FORCES RADIO NETWORK for a 25-year 6,000-show run from 1971 to 1996, as well as on numerous nationally syndicated radio shows, since the early '70s.
He could also be heard across the U.S., CANADA and internationally on his syndicated five-hour daily and weekend shows, plus a daily HOLLYWOOD MINUTE entertainment feature.
TUNA was the announcer for the television game show "Scrabble," which ran for seven years on NBC, and a dozen other TV shows ranging from "THE MIKE DOUGLAS SHOW" and "THICKE Of The Night," to "AMERICA'S TOP 10 WITH CASEY KASEM." He hosted "Cinema, Cinema, Cinema" for 30 years, an internationally syndicated TV show featuring the top movies in the U.S. each week, with clips from the films. He also hosted the international TV show "Inside HOLLYWOOD" for three years.
TUNA appeared in two movies, "Rollercoaster" in 1977 and "Racquet" in 1979, as well as hundreds of TV and radio commercials. VH1 used CHARLIE’s "Celebrity Interview Archives," he sported dozens of radio station voice-imaging clients, narrated the U.S. AIR FORCE’s 50th Anniversary CD, and served as a musical network TV consultant.
CHARLIE hosted the red carpet and emceed the REVLON RUN/WALK for five years, and served as master of ceremonies for the annual 4th OF JULY WARNER PARK in WOODLAND HILLS celebration, which attracts annual crowds of over 50,000 spectators.
Reach out to send your condolences at www.charlietuna.com.
Memorial donations may be made to CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL LOS ANGELES, for which he raised more than $2.5 million over the years with his annual 'TUNATHON."