Sam Riddle, an original “Boss Radio” DJ on KHJ Los Angeles who also produced and narrated Star Search and many other TV shows, died Monday at his home in Palm Desert, CA. He was 85. Riddle’s family said had been battling Lewy body dementia.
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Riddle was one of KHJ’s original Boss Jocks during the mid-1960s and went on to host local TV shows including Hollywood A Go Go, 9th Street West, Boss City and Sounds of Now. He also co-hosted Get It Together with Mama Cass and Sam Riddle at the turn of the 1970s. The 2021 HBO documentary Tina includes Riddle announcing the first big TV appearance of Ike and Tina Turner.
Born on December 12, 1937 in Fort Worth, Texas, Riddle served in the Air Force reserves during the Vietnam War. His radio career began with DJ gigs in Texas and Arizona, before he landed at KRLA/Los Angeles as a 1960 resident. He moved to L.A.’s KFWB in 1963 and two years later was among the original fast-talking Boss Jocks on the popular and influential “Boss Radio” format on KHJ. He worked from 9 to midnight until 1970. After that, he moved to KDAY-FM and KROQ-FM. KHJ returned him to KHJ in 1974.
Riddle began producing television for radio by the middle of the 1970s. He worked on the series Almost Anything Goes and Hollywood Teen and announced for The Wizard of Odds before working on the Ed McMahon-hosted prototype competition show Star Search. Riddle produced and narrated the show from its 1983 launch through 1994. He would go on to serve in producer or EP roles for TV specials and such syndicated series as Triple Threat, Out of the Blue, House of Pop and Destination Stardom.
In the mid-2000s, Riddle produced The Ultimate Poker Challenge and other card tournaments. Riddle also managed acts for Sony/BMG, EMI Latin, and worked on numerous Spanish-language specials and series for Telemundo as well as specials for Univision and Telemundo.
As an actor, Riddle played an announcer in Green Acres, the Elvis Presley film Clambake and later Burke’s Law. He also had a role in the 1976 film comedy Tunnel Vision, which featured then-rising sketch-comedy stars from Saturday Night Live (Chevy Chase, Larraine Newman, Al Franken) and SCTV (John Candy, Joe Flaherty).
Adrienne, his wife of 54-years; Scott and Courtney; as well as Miracle and Garin, Riddle’s grandchildren are still with him.