Ronald Herbert “Whodaguy” Jacobs, a famous Hawaii-born broadcaster who helped bring rock and roll music to the islands, died this morning at his home in Pearl City. He was 78.
A close friend and caregiver said Jacobs had been contending with bouts of ill health.
Born in Honolulu to Raymond and Shirley Jacobs on Sept. 3, 1937, Jacobs earned his Federal Communications Commission radiotelephone operator’s license at age 17 and started his career at the old KHON radio, as most broadcasters do, working the overnight shift.
“Words cannot express my sorrow at the loss of my great friend and former colleague, Ron Jacobs,” said longtime colleague and friend Tom Moffatt, former broadcaster and longtime Hawaii concert promoter.
“A true radio pioneer with a genius few could fathom, Jacobs broke new ground in the industry here in Hawaii, first with Henry J. Kaiser’s KHVH station, then KPOA, then KPOI with the “Poi Boys” and on the mainland as the brain behind the revolutionary and award-winning “Boss Radio” format at KHJ in Los Angeles,” Moffatt said, in a statement.
Jacobs, Tom Rounds, Mel Lawrence and Moffatt created Arena Associates and promoted the first concerts at the H.I.C. Arena, now known as the Neal Blaisdell Center.
Numerous sets of call letters in Hawaii and major markets in California fill his resume, and he was a founder of the company that produced the long-popular radio show “American Top 40,” hosted by the late Casey Kasem.
Kasem’s daughter Kerri posted a short tribute on her Twitter account Tuesday. “Some sad news Watermark co-founder and AT40 producer #RonJacobs has died. A member of the founding 5 who started “American Top 40.”
Jacobs is being hailed by many in broadcasting via social media for his pioneering work in the radio industry in the 1950s and beyond. He also was known as an ardent Los Angeles Rams supporter.
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