Murray the K

From Academic Kids

Murray Kaufman (February 28, 1922February 21, 1982) professionally known as Murray the K, was a famous and influential rock and roll disc jockey.

Following in the footsteps of Alan Freed, Kaufman reached his peak of popularity in the mid 1960s as the prime-time radio host on WINS-AM in New York City. Kaufman was an early and ardent supporter of The Beatles, and for a time was billed as the "Fifth Beatle," a moniker he was given by George Harrison during the train ride from New York to the Beatles' first U.S. concert in Washington, D. C. When WINS went to an all-news format in 1965, Kaufman returned to the airwaves the next year as the program director and prime-time D.J. on WOR-FM, the first FM rock station.

Throughout his New York radio career, Kaufman was renowned for the rock 'n' roll shows he produced three or four times a year, usually during the Easter school recess, the week before Labor Day, and between Christmas and New Years. Those shows featured the top performers of the era and introduced new acts, such as Dionne Warwick, Wayne Newton, Bobby Vinton (who was the leader of the house band when he asked for a chance to perform as a singer), the Lovin' Spoonful, Cream, and The Who.

In the mid-'60s, Kaufman also produced and hosted television variety shows featuring rock performers. The best known was a national broadcast entitled "It's What's Happening, Baby" which was made under the auspices of the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission. That show also introduced the first music video-style programming, pre-dating MTV by 15 years.

After WOR's switch to an oldies format, Kaufman left New York and hosted programs in Toronto and the Washington D.C. area before returning to New York on WNBC radio where he was joined by Wolfman Jack and Don Imus. His final New York spot was on WKTU-FM before he moved to Los Angeles where he hosted the syndicated "Soundtrack of the '60s" until ill health forced him to resign.

Kaufman, whose Valentine's Day birthday may have explained his six marriages, succumbed to cancer a week after his 60th birthday on February 21, 1982. He was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1997.


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