Influential L.A. disc jockey Hunter Hancock died Aug. 4 of natural causes in Claremont, Calif. He was 88.

Influential L.A. disc jockey Hunter Hancock died Aug. 4 of natural causes in Claremont, Calif. He was 88.

Active from the pre-rock'n'roll era, Hancock introduced rhythm & blues records -- then still known as "race records" -- to Southern California listeners during DJ stints at a number of L.A. stations. He began his career in the area in 1947 with "Harlem Holiday" at KFVD, and later worked at KGFJ and KGER.

In the mid-'50s he hosted a local weekly TV show, "Rhythm and Bluesville." He also promoted R&B shows at local venues like the Olympic Auditorium. In the late '50s, he operated the indie label Swingin' Records, which released singles by Big Jay McNeely, Joe Houston and others.

Hancock was among the announcers who became embroiled in the payola scandal of the late '50s and early '60s: In 1962, he was convicted of evading taxes on unreported income of $18,000 -- which the government said was money paid to him for airplay -- and sentenced to probation. He exited the radio business in the late '60s.