Following the passing last week of popular CBS Radio Los Angeles engineer and on-air host Scott Mason, CBS Radio released this today. Radio World prints it in full.
Scott Mason, a veteran broadcasting executive and on-air personality with an unwavering dedication and passion for his work, died in Los Angeles on April 19. He was 55.
For the past 15 years, Mason was the regional director of engineering for CBS RADIO, overseeing technical operations for 45 stations in the west, including Jack-FM, K-Earth 101, KNX 1070, AMP Radio and 94.7 The Wave in Los Angeles. But it was L.A.’s upstart station in 1979, KROQ, that people most identify him with. Spacin’ Scott Mason joined the station as a weekend DJ and chief engineer and began a tenure that lasted nearly 36 years. He would become an integral part of one of the biggest radio success stories in alternative music history, serving the station in virtually every capacity, and he leaves a lasting legacy that will serve broadcasters well into the future.
Among Mason’s proudest technical accomplishments are the world class construction projects he oversaw, including CBS Radio’s Wilshire Broadcast Center on the Miracle Mile which is home to four stations, the Venice studios that house three others and the Red Bull Sound Space, a state-of-the art, intimate concert venue that has hosted shows by some of the world’s most popular contemporary bands such as Coldplay, Linkin Park and Iggy Azalea.
Friends and colleagues of Mason recall a passionate, detail-oriented person. SVP of programming and KROQ program director Kevin Weatherly noted that Scott’s passion for KROQ and radio in general was obvious when they first met in 1992. “He was such a valuable resource to me in so many ways. He would tell me about the Rick Carroll days and was a wealth of knowledge,” said Weatherly. “As chief engineer of KROQ for so many years, Scott always put the station first, sometimes before his own needs. His contributions to KROQ and L.A. radio are numerous and significant. We have lost a cherished friend and co-worker.”
Fellow CBS Radio engineers were struck by Mason’s logical approach. “He always knew how to cut through the B.S. and get to the important matter at hand,” said engineering manager Lynn Duke. “Scott was also a great ally in getting us what we needed to do a good job.”
KROQ engineer Rick Rippey recalled a time when he was working on a piece of equipment that failed in such a way that it started smoking. Scott said to me: “Uh-oh, you let the magic smoke out, it won’t work without the magic smoke!”
Mason had engineering and broadcasting in his blood from a young age. He broke into the business as a phone op when he was just 14 and got his first FCC broadcast license a year later. His first on-air job was on KKDJ in Los Angeles in 1974 when he was just 15 and later he was on KIQQ, KGBS and KTNQ. Through it all, Mason had the rare technical expertise to be an engineer wherever he worked and he also spent two years as a special equipment installer at GTE.
Mason told LARadio.com that his most memorable on-air moment was when the Northridge earthquake shook Southern California in January 1994. “I just grabbed the console, opened the mic, and said, ‘We’re having an earthquake, stay calm,’” Mason recounted. He was the original host of KROQ’s trendsetting “Loveline” and, as a testament to his versatility, also was the longtime host and producer of “Openline,” a public affairs show.
One colleague played a particularly important role in Mason’s life. In late 2012, when Mason was way down on a waiting list for a kidney transplant, KROQ morning DJ Gene “Bean” Baxter decided to donate one of his kidneys to help his co-worker and friend. “You’ve really changed my life. Overnight,” Mason told Bean at the time of the operation that helped improve Mason’s quality of life.
“Even with the additional time his new kidney might have given him, it wasn’t nearly enough,” said Bean. “He is gone from our sight now but not from our hearts. KROQ will owe Scott a great debt of gratitude for a long time to come for how much of his life he shared with us.
“Scott had health problems his entire life but he tried his hardest to never let that get in the way of living his life to the fullest,” continued Bean. Not only was his work ethic unshakable — if it needed to be done, he got it done — but he maintained a constant optimism and good humor throughout. Most people had no idea of the struggles he was going through. And when he wasn’t working he was giving back to others by volunteering for the American Red Cross and teaching classes to young broadcast students.”
Mason was born in New York. He grew up in Southern California and attended L.A. Valley College and Cal State Northridge. He is survived by his parents, brother and sister. A memorial will be announced in the coming weeks.