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California Engineer Verboon Passes Away

Spent almost three decades at KUSC

Retired radio engineer John R. Verboon passed away Oct. 12 at his home in in Hanford, Calif., after a long battle with cancer.

Verboon had an early interest in radio that he turned into a long and successful career in the industry. He majored in radio/ television at the College of the Sequoias and voiced the COS Daily Bulletin over the intercom from 1966–68, but then enrolled at Fresno State College in 1968, where he earned his degree in radio/television in 1971, according to an obituary published in the Burbank Leader.

Verboon kick-started his paid radio career as an on-air personality at KOAD(AM) in Lemoore, Calif. in 1967, and after his graduation from FSC, he moved to Los Angeles to attend the REI Broadcasting School. After graduation from that program, he returned to his hometown of Hanford and was hired at KCOK(AM), also working part time jobs at KGEN(AM) and KJUG(AM), the obituary said.

In 1977, Verboon’s career aspirations turned to public radio, and he moved back to Los Angeles to work for the University of Southern California’s public radio station KUSC as a master control technician, an opening he heard about from long-time friend and current program director at East Tennessee State University’s WETS Larry Mayer. Verboon held this position for nearly three decades, until his retirement in 2005.

Another long-time friend and fellow broadcast engineer Pablo Garcia worked with Verboon for 20 years at KUSC as a maintenance technician and later director of engineering and operations. Garcia remembers Verboon as a 

Listeners might remember Verboon by many on-air personality names, including: Radio John, Jumpin’ John, Johnny Gunn and Johnny R. Garcia recalls Verboon would sometimes tell Spanish speakers that his name was “Juan Pistola, Spanish for Johnny Gun.”

“John loved radio, and he loved his work at KUSC. He always pushed himself to do the best possible job for the station, both in and out of the office,” Garcia said. “I remember when he began going to the gym and hired a personal trainer a few years back he actually ask the trainer if he would not mind changing the station playing over the house sound system over to KUSC.” 

After his retirement from KUSC, Verboon explored his love of music by working for Canterbury Records in Pasadena, Calif. There he put his love of music into a new role, and Garcia says that he quickly became known as a “walking encyclopedia on records” and customers loved to come in and talk to him.

Verboon never married or had children, but Garcia says that “his love was radio and music.” In fact, Garcia describes the tombstone that Verboon designed himself as featuring an LP record, a microphone, a radio transmitter tower and the words “no dead air” engraved on the back.

According to the Fresno Bee, the family will hold a second memorial service in his honor Oct. 23 at the First Presbyterian Church, 340 N. Irwin St. in Hanford, Calif. Visitation will be held at 9:30 a.m. and church service at 10:30 a.m., followed by the burial at the Hanford Cemetery, with a reception to follow in the church social hall.