Late-night radio listeners all over Los Angeles tuned into Ray Briem’s show to hear that familiar voice debate liberal politicians and callers, and interview celebrities from the golden age of Hollywood. Briem, who had a brief stint as a nationally syndicated host, retired in 1994 after 27 years on the graveyard shift at KABC-AM.
Briem consistently drew the highest ratings of any overnight talk show in Southern California, routinely attracting about 15% of the available audience. He was a self-described protege of Joe Pyne, the legendary in-your-face host of a radio talk show.
“Sometimes I don’t sleep well and I’ll get up and turn him on,” listener David Shook told The Times in 1994. “Then, a lot of times, it kind of stirs me up and I’ll stay up quite a while listening to it.
“His demeanor was just real relaxed, and his voice coming over the air is kind of a comfort.”
Raised in Ogden, Utah, Briem was a junior-high student when he and a few friends came up with a 15-minute concept called “The Adventures of Vivacious Vicky,” which they convinced the town’s tiny radio station to air. Within the year, he was hired as host of his own “Music From Madhouse Manor” show.
He entered the military in 1949, but that didn’t postpone his career in radio. He was stationed in New York and, in addition to his short-wave-radio communications duties, he was assigned to take his remote gear out twice a week to ritzy Manhattan nightspots and host live shows with premier dance bands, among them orchestras led by Glenn Miller, Guy Lombardo, Count Basie, Duke Ellington and the Dorsey brothers.
During the Korean War, Briem hosted an Armed Forces Network radio show from Salt Lake City. It was called “Hometown Mailbag” and was very popular among homesick GIs stationed in Korea and Japan.
That attracted the attention of Seattle’s King Broadcasting, which ultimately lured him to the Pacific Northwest. He briefly hosted a local TV show called “Seattle Bandstand,” modeled after Dick Clark’s “American Bandstand.”
Among the national acts that made appearances on “Seattle Bandstand” were the Four Freshmen, the De Castro Sisters, the Platters and the Diamonds.