Tom "Big Daddy" Donahue (May 21, 1928 – April 28, 1975), was a pioneering rock and roll radio disc jockey.
Donahue's career started in 1949 on the east coast of the U.S. at WTIP in South Carolina and contined at WIBG in Philadelphia and WINX in Maryland. He moved to San Francisco in 1961 after the payola scandal involving Alan Freed and Dick Clark.
Donahue re-invented himself, first as a disc jockey at Top Forty station KYA (now KOIT) in San Francisco, and then to run a record label (he discovered, produced, recorded, and managed The Beau Brummels on his Autumn Records label, later selling the act to Warner Brothers). He also opened a psychedelic nightclub, and produced concerts at the Cow Palace and Candlestick Park with his partner, fellow KYA disc jockey Bobby Mitchell (also known as Bobby Tripp; real name Michael Guerra, d. 1968).
Donahue wrote a 1967 Rolling Stone article titled "AM Radio Is Dead and Its Rotting Corpse Is Stinking Up the Airwaves" which also lambasted the Top Forty format. He subsequently revamped the foreign-language station KMPX into what is considered to be America's first alternative "free-form" radio station on the largely ignored FM band, playing non-commercial music by album-oriented bands. In 1969 he managed Leigh Stephens, Micky Waller, and Pete Sears in the band Silver Metre, and Stoneground in 1970. In 1972 he moved to the role of general manager at KSAN, where he encouraged playlists of music from different eras and genres interspersed with political commentary.
A typical example of KSAN radio featuring Tom Donahue can be found on the album The Golden Age Of Underground Radio.
Donahue, and his DJ wife Raechel, formed further free-form radio stations KMET and KPPC-FM in Los Angeles.
He died from a heart attack in 1975. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996 as a non-performer, one of only three disc jockeys to receive that honor
.Original Posting January 2010