Hostess of KFI

During the preparation of this history for Kathryn Kay, it became clear that she was only twenty years old when she got the job as the Hostess of the Midnight Frolic Show at KFI Radio in Los Angeles. Because she started her second year at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City that same year, the question arises of how she got that job in California while she was attending college and living at home in Utah.

It turns out that Kay was visiting her cousin Ruth Snow in Los Angeles after she had begun her second year at the University of Utah in the fall of 1926. Kay's father worked for the railroad, and she had a free pass to visit relatives as often as she wanted. Ruth was a clerk at KFI and offered to take her to the "Midnight Frolic" on Saturday night. That was in the early days of radio and KFI was the only 50,000 watt station in the West, and it had a nationwide audience at night, when there were almost no other stations on the air. People would phone in from all over the country saying that they were listening, and the girl that took the calls would give a list of callers to the announcer who would read their names. Everyone wanted to hear their name over the air, and the show developed a wide audience and was well known to everyone, including Kay. Right about the time of Kay's visit, movie stars and other celebrities began wanting to perform on the show to hear how their voices sounded on the radio and to reach this new audience. Until this time, movies were almost entirely silent movies, and many celebrities were eager to have their voices heard, even as the audience wanted to hear them. (It turned out that some careers were destroyed when the virile hero turned out to have a squeaky voice.) So it was a treat for Kay to get to go see the show in person.

While there, Kay was dancing with a man she had heard sing with the band, when she saw the young woman come delivering the list of callers to the announcer. She said to her partner, "You work here don't you?" When he replied that he did, she continued, "What would a person have to do to get a job like she has?"

"Would you like to have her job?" he asked. "Oh yes, and I'm going to school at the University of Utah, and I wonder what classes I should take to get a job like hers. Maybe something in communication?"

"I've been looking for a girl to replace her. We're growing all the time, and we are going to be inviting many important celebrities and movie stars here. I need a girl who will not be flattered by being offered gifts by sponsors. You look like a girl who has her head on straight." He paused for a moment, while Kathryn was stunned by the authority that this band singer pretended to have. He continued, "If you would like the job, it's yours."

"Wait a minute," she countered. "Who do you think you are? I thought you just sang with the band."

"I'm Robert Hurd, the program manager of the station, but I sing with the band too under the name of Paul Roberts."

"I have to be home for Thanksgiving, because I'm the national historian for the Spurs, and we have a Thanksgiving program to do, but after that I'd be available," she replied.

"That would be just fine. It would give me time to give the current girl her notice."

Kay quit school and moved to Los Angeles to begin an eventful adventure among movie stars, some of which are described here as celebrity anecdotes. The Midnight Frolic show could be heard all across the country at night and so it became the place for celebrities to come, similar to the modern "Tonight" TV show. The stars came to perform, however, rather than to advertise their new movies. Moreover, many famous people in the news came to tell their stories. Kay worked at KFI every afternoon and was the one to meet them and be hostess to them during their stay. Moreover, on the air, she was the only announcer who would talk to them and introduce them. She was not at interviewer like Barbara Walters, but rather just introduced their number. There was no other announcer. KFI liked Kathryn doing this job because she was never at a loss for words and could keep the conversation going between numbers. The station wanted to avoid "dead air" when no one was talking, because listeners would think that they had lost the signal, and they never had a problem with Kay at the microphone. She had the job for three years and became known as the Kay who put the "K" in KFI. She became acquainted with many famous people personally and remembers many anecdotes from her glimpses into their lives.