03/09/2016 12:56PM

San Diego broadcaster Ernie Myers dies

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Ernie Myers, a star of radio in the San Diego area for decades who also called races and hosted Del Mar’s simulcast show, died of Parkinson’s disease on Tuesday at his San Diego-area home, the track announced. He was 86.

Myers, blessed with a silky-smooth voice, was a top radio disc jockey in San Diego for nearly four decades while working for the biggest stations in town, his talents ranging from big band music to rock ’n’ roll to talk radio. He frequently had the No. 1-rated morning show in town.

A longtime fan of racing, Myers would broadcast from the backside at Del Mar during the summer racing season and interviewed many of the stars of the day in the 1960s and 1970s, such as jockey Bill Shoemaker, who rode his favorite horse, Swaps. At one point, he was the track’s morning-line maker.

He also called races in the 1960s, most notably at Caliente in Tijuana, Mexico, but also on the California fair circuit and in New Mexico, where as a licensed pilot he would fly himself on weekends. In the 1990s, Myers was a co-host of Del Mar’s simulcast show.

Myers maintained friendships in racing even after he retired. Before his health worsened, Myers was a regular at the Del Mar backstretch kitchen in the company of trainers like Mel Stute. When he could not attend the live races, Myers would frequent offtrack wagering facilities near his home.

Myers grew up in the Los Angeles suburb of Glendale. At first desirous of being an actor, he had parts in several movies – including “The Adventures of Don Juan” with Errol Flynn – and radio soap operas before serving in the U.S. Army for four years during the Korean War. He worked for Armed Forces Radio, then turned his career to radio broadcasting when he left the Army.

Myers is survived by his longtime partner, Onyx Novelle Jones. Services are pending.

Allen Kemp More than 1 year ago
I worked as Ernie's radio show lead in for 9 years at KOGO Radio 600 and watched this consummate radio show host up close. During his era, when you went to work in San Diego, Ernie's morning silliness was almost always the talk of the morning. Like many geniuses, he was a bit spacey. Frequently, he'd forget to get his commercial book to do his shows from the back stretch at Del Mar. He'd call the station. I'd tell him who the sponsors were for the first half hour, and he would do a brilliant job of ad-libbing the spots. Then it was my "honor" to deliver the book to him and hang out the rest of the morning. He was so glib that he sparkled in many other setting as well. One of the finest entertainer introductions I ever heard was when Ernie was the MC for a Henry Mancini concert in San Diego. Long time Ernie Myers fans will always remember the Miss Gold La may Pit Crew contest to "select" a companion to accompany him to the Dayton 500. There was also the Dash-hound Olympics held in the KOGO Radio/TV parking lot that filled the area with hundreds of yapping dogs running through many obstacles to say nothing of the startled workers arriving at the station. Who can forget the references to the ski lift up Otay Mountain, or the classic of all "The World's Worst Parade". At the height of the frustrations around the Viet Nam war, Ernie, almost single-handedly, put together the parade which featured a "princess and the pea" flatbed truck stacked high with mattresses and a beauty lounging at the top; a pre-teen accordion band; twelve ordinary brown cows; and a tap dancing troop on a flat bed truck, among other equally as fun entries. There was a fly-by of the National City Air Force which was a bi-plane that's engine was off tuned to occasionally have a cylinder miss. The topper was Ernie dressed very regally in a pristine white polo outfit riding atop a sway back horse. The police crowd estimate for the closed off main downtown Broadway was nearly one hundred thousand. Ernie was a class act that with the changing fabric of the area and the country will more than likely never be seen again. It was fantastic being that close to his genius, and I am only sorry the nation was not treated to the late, great Ernie Myers. RIP