“Shotgun Tom” Kelly has been entertaining Southern California radio and TV audiences for over 45 years. He has worked at such renowned radio stations as KGB (in its “Boss Radio” days) and gained national acclaim at the legendary KCBQ. “Shotgun Tom” was honored at B-100 radio (KFMB-FM) with the Billboard magazine Air Personality of the Year Award for Major Markets in the mid-70’s. He also received two Emmy Awards for his performance as host of the McGraw-Hill syndicated TV word game show “Words-a-Poppin’” for children. For twelve years at KUSI-TV he was host of their morning and afternoon children’s programs. In 1997, after a nationwide talent search, “Shotgun Tom” Kelly was chosen by CBS Radio’s K-EARTH 101/Los Angeles to fill the coveted afternoon drive slot after the death of The Real Don Steele. In 2000, “Shotgun Tom” won Radio and Records “Oldies Air Personality of the Year” and competed for that award with radio personalities in New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and Detroit. “Shotgun Tom” is also heard around the country doing voice work and commercials for many other stations. In 2013, “Shotgun Tom” Kelly received his Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, located at the corner of Hollywood Blvd. and La Brea Ave.
LABOR DAY 2018: “SHOTGUN TOM” JOINS SIRIUSXM! Click to read more.
“Shotgun Tom” was born in San Diego, California at Mercy Hospital. He attended Our Lady of the Sacred Heart and Saint John of the Cross parochial schools for his elementary years. He attended Mount Miguel High School and was the announcer for the morning bulletin. While in high school, Tom joined Junior Achievement which had a radio show on KOGO.
At 10, his mother mentioned to Tom that there was a disc jockey doing a radio show in a shopping center in Lemon Grove, California. The disc jockey was Frank Thompson on KOGO-AM, who saw the young Tom looking through the window and interviewed him on the air. Following that experience, Tom became fascinated with radio shows, even putting together his own mock radio studio in his bedroom.
A few years later, the then 13 year-old Tom went to other radio stations and watched the disc jockeys on the air. Tom visited Radio KDEO where he met program director ‘Sunny’ Jim Price.
Price wanted to get a teenager’s opinion on a song he was going to add to the play-list. Price played the song to Tom, who liked it. The song was “California Dreamin’” by The Mamas & The Papas. Radio KDEO was the first station in the country to play it. Price afterwards gave Tom his first job at a radio station helping with remote broadcasts.
In 1966, at the age of 16, Tom was hired by Program Director George Manning to work on Sunday mornings at KPRI-FM 106.5 in San Diego. Tom was playing music sung by Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Johnny Mathis and Sergio Mendes and Brazil 66. Every Sunday morning, Tom also did a children’s radio show, called The Uncle Tommy Show and played recordings from Disney Records.
After high school, Tom attended the William B. Ogden Radio Operational Engineering school. He graduated in 1969 with his FCC First Class radio license and went to work at KYOS in Merced, California.
At 21, Tom worked at KACY in Port Hueneme, California using the name Bobby McAllister. There, he met DJ Dave Conley who named him Bobby “Shotgun” McAllister. Less than a year later, Tom and Dave moved to radio station KAFY in Bakersfield, California. Tom wanted to use his real name, but the general manager did not like the name Irwin, and asked Tom to change his last name on the air to Kelly. Dave Conley suggested the name “Shotgun,” from Bobby Shotgun McAllister, and they ended up using the name “Shotgun Tom” Kelly. In addition to radio, Tom took a weekend job at television station KERO, and did a television kid’s show as NEMO the Clown.
In 1971, Tom was offered an opportunity to return to his hometown, San Diego, California when Charlie Van Dyke him at Boss Radio 136/KGB. Less than a year later, Tom was hired by Buzz Bennet to work at KCBQ. In 1972 Tom was hired by Bobby Ocean, and returned to 136/KGB.
Shortly thereafter, Tom joined Buzz Bennet for a job at KRIZ in Phoenix. He later returned to San Diego to work for Jack McCoy at KCBQ. While at KCBQ, Tom was asked to host the kid’s TV game show “Word’s-A-Poppin” airing on KGTV Channel 10 in San Diego and syndicated to other cities.
In 1976 Tom was hired by Bobby Rich to be the morning man at KFMB-FM, known as “B-100”, where he remained for the next four years. While at B100, he was offered a position at KUSI-TV as a booth announcer and on camera kid’s TV host with cartoons on The KUSI Kid’s Club.
In November 1987, Congressman Duncan Hunter invited Tom to the White House to meet President Ronald Reagan.
In 1989 Mark Larson hired Tom at KFMB-AM to do a radio show from David Cohn’s Corvette Diner in Hillcrest, and at The T-Bird Diner in Escondido.
In 1993 Rich Brother Robbin hired Tom to work at KBZT K-Best-95 in San Diego.
In September, 1997, Tom was hired by Mike Phillips to succeed the late Real Don Steele and work in afternoon drive at KRTH K-Earth 101.
Tom has appeared on several television stations since the early 1970s. In 1970, Tom would take a weekend job at television station KERO, Bakersfield to host a Saturday morning television kids show as NEMO the Clown. In 1972, Tom was asked to host “Words-A’Poppin” a game show for kids. The show aired in San Diego on KGTV Channel 10, and was also syndicated in several other cities. Tom went on to win two Emmy Awards as host for the show.
Also in 1972, Tom was invited to host the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon; he would serve as host of the telethon for more than 30 years.
In 1976, Tom was offered a position at KUSI-TV as a booth announcer and on-camera host on The KUSI Kid’s Club. Tom would continue as host of the show for 12 years.
He has also served as station announcer for WFLX-TV FOX 29 in West Palm Beach, Florida.
Shotgun Tom’s voice is featured in the motion picture “Déjà Vu” starring Denzel Washington and on the Fox Television show America’s Most Wanted and Spike TV’s 1000 Ways To Die.
Tom also does voice work for his hometown San Diego Chargers. Tom’s voice can be heard on the Jumbotron during Charger’s home games.
The voice of Tom appears on Fred Falke’s song “Radio Days”.
On April 30, 2013, “Shotgun Tom” Kelly was honored with at Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. His star is located adjacent to another K-Earth personality, The Real Don Steele.