Mary Turner, considered the first lady of rock radio in Los Angeles at the station KMET-FM, has died. She was 76 years old.

Turner died Tuesday at his Beverly Hills home after a long battle with cancer, according to Jarrett Bostwick, executor of his estate.

During the 1970s and early 1980s, Turner was considered the most listened to female voice on radio. Known as “The Burner,” a nickname given to her by Peter Wolf of the J. Geils Band, she is best remembered by Los Angeles baby boomers for her years on KMET, the iconic FM outlet that rock fans were a must-listen to. in the 1970s and 1980s.

Turner was among the pioneering women who were given behind-the-mic opportunities in the early 1970s, after men had long dominated the radio business. Her break came when FM rock music formats proliferated, offering an alternative to the tight playlists and fast-paced style of AM’s top 40 stations.

Turner had two nationally syndicated shows on Westwood One, the company founded by her late husband, media executive Norman Pattiz, and broadcast to troops in 40 countries via the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service. She also hosted an in-flight music show for TWA airlines. A 1981 Gallup research study found that her voice was heard by 23.4 million people a week.

Turner was born in Maryland on February 4, 1947. After graduating from Indiana University in the late 1960s, Turner hoped to pursue a career as a television producer or director.

He moved to San Francisco, where he answered phones at Autumn Records, the label where Sly Stone worked hard as a producer, and later got a job in the promotion department of local TV station KNEW. Eventually he switched to KSAN-FM, the station programmed by Tom Donahue, who is credited with developing the progressive radio format that played album cuts instead of just the hit singles heard on the AM dial.

At KSAN-FM, Turner worked as an engineer and did some fill-in air changes. He moved to Los Angeles to join KMET in 1972 and was part of its evolution from a freeform “underground” station to a more commercial album-oriented rock format. In the late 1970s, KMET, which called itself “The Mighty Met”, was the second most listened to station in the Los Angeles market.

Turner became one of the station’s iconic personalities along with B. Mitchell Reed, jim ladd and Jeff Gonzer. Her crystal-smooth vocal delivery especially appealed to young male listeners, including one who tried to get into the station at night to meet her, according to her friend and former KMET colleague Ace Young.

The incident led her to travel with two large German Shepherds for protection. They even snuggled with her in the confines of a small study.

In a 1981 interview, Turner described his on-air approach as “let’s just live, have a good time, let the music do the talking.”

“I’m partying every night from 6 to 10,” he said. “What could be better?”

Michael Harrison, editor of the radio industry publication Talkers and a colleague of Turner’s at Westwood One, said she possessed the authenticity that the rock audience demanded at the time.

“She knew the music,” Harrison said. “She knew the lifestyle. She knew the artists and spoke her language, which made her a very effective interviewer.”

Turner demonstrated his ability to connect with rock stars on “Off the Record,” a short talk show launched in 1979 by Westwood One. The show was broadcast on more than 200 radio stations across the US and spawned a long-running series called “Off the Record Special.”

Turner spoke in an informal, conversational tone that put stars like Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones and Bruce Springsteen at ease. (Richards admitted to her that he was an altar boy at Westminster Abbey and a solo soprano until he hit puberty and his voice dropped.)

Three people at an awards ceremony.

Norm Pattiz, Mary Turner and Lou Steiner at the 46th Grammy Awards in 2004.

(Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic via Getty Images)

The success of Turner’s syndicated shows led her to leave her duties on the air at KMET-FM in 1982.

Around that time, he married Pattiz and they remained together until his death in December 2022. She shared her husband’s passion for the Los Angeles Lakers and was often seen sitting next to him courtside at games.

Turner left the radio business in the early 1990s. A recovered addict, she earned a doctorate in clinical psychology from UCLA and became a certified drug and alcohol counselor. She later served as president of the Betty Ford Center at Rancho Mirage.

Turner has no survivors.


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