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Diamond's radio career offers students' valuable insights

A wealth of experience is often a good thing, in David Diamond's case it's a tremendous resource he can call upon to embellish his lectures and bring real life experiences to communication students at Black Hills State University.

Students wanting to know how top radio jocks sounded in the 60s can check out a web site known as reelradio and listen to Diamond on KFRC in San Francisco as he counts down the top 12 hits on Dec. 31, 1968.

Writing students can find Diamond's work in several novels including the Slade western series written under the pen name Link Pennington or Claudia Davison in the novel Unholy Ghost.

And just to make sure he has covered all the bases, students in the BH professor's television production class can learn from his experiences as a talk show host on KBTV, Denver, Colo., and with Kaiser Broadcasting in Los Angeles.

There isn't much that Diamond hasn't done in the communication's business and for the past 18 years he's shared that experience with the next generation of would-be journalists, announcers, and writers.

His interest in the communications business began as a child listening to the radio at home in Howard, S.D. Summer evenings were spent tuning in local and regional stations to hear different formats and styles. Yet, it was a course in college that really sparked his interest and got him on the air for the next 24 years.

“It was a lark. I was late signing up for classes and many were filled when I saw a sign advertising a radio and T.V. class,” Diamond said. “I was able to get on the air right away. I also worked part-time at a local radio station in Hattiesburg, Miss.”

After graduating from University of Southern Mississippi in 1959, Diamond began his career at KFOR in Lincoln, Neb., moved on to KOIL in Omaha, and then on to several other mid-west cities before hitting the big time at KFRC in San Francisco in 1968.

There was a lot of competition for top spots in radio during the 60s, and 70s. You were only as good as your ratings, he said.

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In 1965 with his career rising, he moved to Los Angeles to work for KHJ Boss Radio as a `Boss Jock.' It was very successful moniker that followed him to KFRC in San Francisco.

“I had a gimmick,” said Diamond about his early success. “I called my show the Diamond mine (sometimes referred to as the Diamond mind). It was a theater of the mind sort of thing. I would take my listeners down to the 13th level of the mine. Through alliterations and word visuals I would interview people and develop my show. It was similar to the old Jack Benny shows where he would visit his vault with all the sound effects and trappings. People could picture in their mind what was happening.”

By 1982 the pace of late night radio became wearing. Diamond was ready for a change.

“I was only going to get out for a year,” he said. “I was burned out. I took a job in Iowa (Buena Vista College) and stayed there six years.”

The collegial lifestyle had its appeal as he spent the next eight years at Morningside College, Sioux City, Iowa, as chairman of the communications department. He then joined the faculty at BHSU in 1995 where he continues to teach and write.

Looking back at those radio days, Diamond said, “Getting a job in L.A. was real satisfying. If you got in those markets you made it.”

His association with people in the music world such as Janis Joplan, Jim Morrison, and the music group `The Doors' added to the excitement of the time. He was also responsible for publishing the song “Incense and Peppermints” recorded by the group known as the Strawberry Alarm Clock. It hit the top of charts in November of 1967.

For communications students in Diamond's classes it's like finding a gem of real-world experience to call upon. By taking them down to the 13th level of the Diamond mine he has taken them to a new level with improved prospects for the future. For the students it's like finding a diamond in the rough.

“I like teaching and having students do well,” he said. “I have placed them in radio, television, public relations and advertising.”