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Rabbit stew
from the STL Journalism Review, June 2001

SJR: With regard to your article concerning KXOK Radio I feel an incumbency to offer the following:

In early 1962 I created the name Johnny Rabbitt which I used on air at KXOK until mid-1964. During that period of dramatic increases in KXOK's ratings, we created a new sound in St. Louis radio and I was particularly honored as being the deejay in this area to break The Beatles and help start the British Invasion. I left KXOK for WIL and due to legal issues over my personally created name I settled in court to retain joint ownership of the Johnny Rabbitt name, image and all colorable imitations thereof. At that time I opted to take a position with KEWB in San Francisco where I introduced The Beatles, at their suggestion, at The Cow Palace. After I left KXOK, of my own accord, the station hired another person to carry on with the name and successes I built. That era ended in 1969.

Storz Broadcasting gave me full ownership of the name in 1975 and I returned to KXOK as Johnny Rabbitt remaining there using the Rabbitt name and persona until 1982 when the station switched to an all-talk format. I am the Johnny Rabbitt mentioned in "Chet; Radio Pioneer"the 1980 autobiography of former KXOK manager Chet Thomas. Since 1988 I have been continuously using my Johnny Rabbitt name on WIL and now WRTH. For the past 4 years I have also taken the name to television with regular reports on KSDK (Channel 5). I have used the Rabbitt name consistently since 1962. My articles and columns have appeared in the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, the St. Louis Inquirer, the new St. Louis Globe-Democrat and the Clayton West End Word. My book, "Johnny Rabbitt's 1,001 St. Louis Trivia Questions," has been a local best seller since 1998.

My career and history as the original Johnny Rabbitt have been documented in many publications including front page articles in Profile St. Louis, the Riverfront Times and the St. Louis Globe-Democrat. I have been honored with front page feature spreads in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Belleville News-Democrat. In a Post readers' poll, I was voted "the Johnny Rabbitt most influential" in St. Louis.

A paragraph in your story indicated Woodrow Wilson "Bud" Connell was manager. Actually, the manager of KXOK (from 1941 to mid-1964) was Chet Thomas. Connell was program director. Ramond Oddis (Ray Otis) was hired as a disc jockey after Connell and I heard an audition tape in which Otis's voice sounded much like Ed Wilson who had just been hired at WIL. Jack Sampson replaced Thomas as KXOK's manager.

Incidentally, the lighted plastic letters displayed horizontally facing Kingshighway Memorial Boulevard at Radio Park which previously had vertically graced the northwest corner of the old St. Louis Star-Times building at 12th Street and Delmar Boulevard were green-not red.

You can't forget the past, any more than you can change it.

Ron (Johnny Rabbitt) Elz

P.S. I am, and since 1962 have been, the only person recognized by AFTRA (American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) as Johnny Rabbitt.