"Shotgun" Tom Kelly

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
"Shotgun Tom" Kelly
"Shotgun Tom" Kelly.jpg
"Shotgun Tom" Kelly in April 2010.
Born (1949-08-08) August 8, 1949 (age 70)
Station(s)Sirius XM Satellite Radio
Previous show(s)San Diego Film Awards
WebsiteOfficial website

"Shotgun" Tom Kelly (August 8, 1949) is an American radio and television personality, two-time Emmy award winner, Billboard Air Personality of the Year winner and recipient of a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.[1]

Born in San Diego as Thomas Joseph Irwin, Kelly worked at KDEO, KPRI, KGB, KCBQ, KOGO, KBZS and KFMB-FM before replacing the late Don Steele in the afternoon slot at Los Angeles oldies station KRTH-FM, K-Earth 101. In August 2015, Kelly was taken off the air and became KRTH's "Ambassador," doing personal appearances throughout Southern California. He eventually returned to the air as a weekend host.[2] Kelly exited KRTH in November 2016.[3] In September 2018, Kelly debuts on SiriusXM Satellite Radio's '60s On 6 channel.[4]

Early life[edit]

Thomas Joseph Irwin was born in San Diego, California at Mercy Hospital.[5] He attended Our Lady of the Sacred Heart and Saint John of the Cross parochial schools for his elementary years. He attended Mount Miguel High School and was the announcer for the morning bulletin. In high school, he joined Junior Achievement which had a radio show on KOGO.[citation needed]

At 10, his mother, La Von Irwin (née Driscoll), mentioned to Tom that there was a disc jockey doing a radio show in a shopping center in Lemon Grove, California. The disc jockey was Frank Thompson on KOGO-AM, who saw the young Tom Irwin looking through the window and interviewed him on the air. Following that experience, Tom became fascinated with radio shows, even putting together his own mock radio studio in his bedroom.[citation needed]

A few years later, 13 year-old Tom went to other radio stations and watched the disc jockeys on the air. Tom visited Radio KDEO where he met program director "Sunny Jim" Price, who wanted to get a teenager's opinion of a song he was considering adding to the playlist. Price played the song for Tom, who liked it. The song was "California Dreamin'" by The Mamas & The Papas. Radio KDEO was the first station in the country to play it. Price gave Tom his first job at a radio station helping with remote broadcasts.[citation needed]

Early career – 1960s[edit]

In 1966, at the age of 16, Tom was hired by Program Director George Manning to work on Sunday mornings at KPRI-FM 106.5 in San Diego. Tom was playing music sung by Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Johnny Mathis and Sergio Mendes and Brazil 66. Every Sunday morning, he also did a children's radio show, "The Uncle Tommy Show", and played recordings from Disney Records. After high school, he attended the William B. Ogden Radio Operational Engineering school. He graduated in 1969 with his FCC First Class radio license and went to work at KYOS in Merced, California.


At 21, Tom worked at KACY in Port Hueneme, California using the name Bobby McAllister. There, he met DJ Dave Conley who named him Bobby "Shotgun" McAllister. Less than a year later, Tom and Dave moved to radio station KAFY in Bakersfield, California. Tom wanted to use his real name, but the general manager did not like the name Irwin, and asked Tom to change his last name on the air to Kelly. Dave Conley suggested the name "Shotgun," from Bobby Shotgun McAllister, and they ended up using the name "Shotgun Tom" Kelly. In addition to radio, Tom took a weekend job at television station KERO, and did a television kid's show as NEMO the Clown.[6]

In 1971, Tom was offered an opportunity to return to his hometown, San Diego, California when Charlie Van Dyke hired him at Boss Radio 136/KGB. Less than a year later, he was hired by Buzz Bennett to work at KCBQ. In 1972 Tom returned to 136/KGB.SHOTGUN TOM ON 136 KGB. YouTube. January 26, 2009.

Shortly thereafter, he joined Buzz Bennett 440 for a job at KRIZ in Phoenix. He returned to San Diego and was on air weekday afternoons at KCBQ. It was while at KCBQ that Tom started wearing his trademark ranger hat.[7]

During this time, he was asked to host the kids' TV game show "Words-A-Poppin" airing on KGTV Channel 10 in San Diego, and syndicated to other cities. He won an Emmy for Words-A-Poppin' that same year.[8] In 1978, Tom won a second Emmy for Words-A-Poppin'.[9]

In 1976, Tom was hired by Bobby Rich to be the morning man at KFMB-FM, known as "B-100". Tom won the 1976 Billboard Magazine Air Personality of the Year Award and remained at B-100 for the next four years.[8]


While at B100, Kelly was offered a position at KUSI-TV as a booth announcer/on camera children's TV host with cartoons on The KUSI Kid's Club. He hosted the KUSI Kid's Club for 12 years.[10]

In November 1987, Congressman Duncan Hunter invited Tom to the White House to meet President Ronald Reagan.[11] While visiting, Tom presented the President with one of his trademark ranger hats, which President Reagan donned for a photo op.[12]

In 1989 Mark Larson hired Tom at KFMB-AM to do a radio show from David Cohn's Corvette Diner in Hillcrest, and at The T-Bird Diner in Escondido.[13]


In 1993, Kelly was hired to work at KBZT K-Best-95 in San Diego. In September 1997, he was hired to succeed the late Real Don Steele and work in afternoon drive at KRTH K-Earth 101.[14]


On August 28, 2010, Kelly hosted the dedication of a monument at the former site of the KCBQ building and its six, 200-foot towers. The dedication was attended by over 400 of the radio station's fans and former on air personalities.[15][10]


Kelly has appeared on several television stations since the early 1970s. In 1970, he took a weekend job at television station KERO, Bakersfield to host a Saturday morning television kids show as NEMO the Clown. In 1972, Kelly was asked to host Words-A'Poppin', a game show for kids. The show aired in San Diego on KGTV Channel 10, and was also syndicated in several other cities. Kelly went on to win two Emmy Awards as host for the show.[16]

That same year, Kelly was invited to host the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon; he would serve as host of the telethon for more than 30 years. In 1982, he was offered a position at KUSI-TV as a booth announcer and on-camera host on The KUSI Kid's Club. Tom would continue as host of the show for 12 years. He has also served as station announcer for WFLX-TV FOX 29 in West Palm Beach, Florida.[citation needed]

Voice over[edit]

Shotgun Tom's voice is featured in the motion picture Déjà Vu, starring Denzel Washington, and on America's Most Wanted and Spike TV's 1000 Ways to Die.[citation needed]

Tom also did voice work for his hometown San Diego Chargers. Tom's voice could be heard on the Jumbotron during Chargers home games.[17]

Kelly's voice is heard on Fred Falke's song "Radio Days".[18]

Hollywood Walk of Fame[edit]

On April 30, 2013, "Shotgun Tom" Kelly was honored with a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.[19] His star is located adjacent to another K-Earth personality, The Real Don Steele.[20]


  1. ^ Biography of "Shotgun Tom" Kelly, LATimes.com; accessed February 19, 2018.
  2. ^ Shotgun Tom Kelly Segues From Afternoons To K-EARTH/Los Angeles Ambassador All Access
  3. ^ "Where Are They Now?", LARadio.com; accessed February 19, 2018.
  4. ^ http://allaccess.com August 21, 2018
  5. ^ "About Shotgun", ShotgunTomKelly.com; accessed February 19, 2018.
  6. ^ "Shotgun Tom" Kelly as Nemo the Clown", flickr.com; accessed February 19, 2018.
  7. ^ "10 Questions with ... 'Shotgun' Tom Kelly", AllAccess.com; accessed February 19, 2018.
  8. ^ a b Spring Valley's Own 'Shotgun' Tom Kelly Wins Prestigious Billboard Magazine 1976 Award, Patch.com; accessed February 19, 2018. In 1976, Shotgun Tom hosted a local television show in San Diego called, "Disco 10" which aired on KGTV. After local high school kids would go dance and take part in similar activities as they would on the more popular, nationally syndicated, "American Bandstand", the kids would then get to watch themselves on television at a later date. The show aired on Saturdays at 12:30pm.
  9. ^ "Shotgun's Emmys and Billboard Award, flickr.com; accessed February 19, 2018.
  10. ^ a b "Shotgun Tom remembers his East County roots", San Diego Union-Tribune; accessed February 19, 2018.
  11. ^ "With President Ronald Reagan and Congressman Duncan Hunter", flickr.com; accessed February 19, 2018.
  12. ^ "With President Ronald Reagan", flickr.com; accessed February 19, 2018.
  13. ^ Shotgun Tom Kelly KFMB San Diego 1990 California Aircheck Video. YouTube. August 10, 2010.
  14. ^ "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now" (page 61), Radio and Records, September 19, 1997.
  15. ^ "KCBQ-A Remembered With Monument In San Diego", AllAccess.com; accessed February 19, 2018.
  16. ^ Words-A-Poppin Part 1 of 3. YouTube. April 23, 2008.
  17. ^ "Radio won't be same without Shotgun Tom", San Diego Union Tribune; accessed February 19, 2018.
  18. ^ Fred Falke returns with 'Radio Days' featuring LA radio icon Shotgun Tom Kelly", earmilk.com, November 6, 2015.
  19. ^ "Shotgun Tom Kelly on the Hollywood Walk of Fame", walkoffame.com; accessed February 19, 2018.

External links[edit]