John Sanford Gilliland, Jr. was born October 15, 1935 in Quanah, Texas. Mr. Gilliland’s first interests in radio started when he was about 12 years old after receiving some recording equipment from his grandfather. At this time Gilliland would simulate a radio station and magazine with his friends and family.
In 1952 Gilliland began working in radio part time for KOLJ in Quanah, Texas. He earned a Bachelor or Arts degree in English from Texas Christian University (TCU) in spring of 1958. During his time there Mr. Gilliland worked as a disc jockey at KCUL, a radio station in Ft. Worth, Texas. John Gilliland’s shows at KCUL were called “The House of Wax” and he was known around midnight as “The Man on the Beat.” These shows included air play of the top 40 records and rarely heard rhythm and blues artists. Working briefly at KLIF in Dallas Gilliland spent two years, starting in 1959, working for the multi-award winning news department at KILT in Houston. From 1961-1965 Gilliland worked for the news department at KOGO San Diego. It was here that he used the nom de plume of John and Johnny Land. While at KOGO, he worked in radio and television news, creating and producing several syndicated and non-syndicated radio and television documentaries.
From 1965 to 1970, Gilliland worked with the news department at KRLA in Pasadena. It was here that he began to conceptualize and work on “The Pop Chronicles” 50’s and 60’s. This undertaking of an audio history of popular music began in 1967 after the inspiring Monterrey Pop Music Festival. The “Pop Chronicles” first aired in 1969 and was also syndicated for a time.
At KRLA, newsman Lew Irwin formed the nationally acclaimed radio show “The Credibility Gap,” which included Gilliland. Irwin and the “Credibility Gap” recorded and produced a comedy record titled Lew Irwin and the Credibility Gap: An Album of Political Pornography in 1968 on the Blue Thumb label. The record features Lew Irwin, John Gilliland, Thom Beck, Richard Beebe and folk singer Len Chandler.
In 1971 Mr. Gilliland joined KSFO in San Francisco as a radio personality and stayed there until his return to Texas in 1978. It was during his time at KSFO that Gilliland created and produced the 24 hour blockbuster “The Pop Chronicles 40’s” which focuses on the music, musicians and producers of the 1940’s. In Texas, Gilliland wrote a manuscript for a novel about radio and did some radio work at KREB in Houston and KXIC in Quanah, while, in 1994, “The Pop Chronicles 40’s” were published as a 6 hour book on tape. During his last years Gilliland kept busy with some video production, voice-over work and writing. John Sanford Gilliland, Jr. died July 27, 1998.