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The KGB Sky Show™ in San Diego

Another touchstone event for Pyro Spectaculars by Souza!

October 6, 2012 might just as well be the Fourth of July in San Diego this year! That’s when KGB Radio (101.5 FM) will celebrate their 40th Anniversary with the 37th Annual KGB Sky Show.™ The multi-thousand aerial bursts will take to the skies with “the fireworks bar set even higher,” according to Show Producer Ron Dixon. Dixon, who is recognized as “our fireworks guy” by most all of the major San Diego events and venues, has “KGB Sky Show™ in his blood,” and is known in the world of pyrotechnics as a top designer, produce and truly master pyrotechnician.

A Beautiful San Deigo Tradition!A Beautiful San Deigo Tradition!History of The Show

Probably the most frequent question we’re asked at Pyro Spectaculars is, “What do you do the rest of the year?” The answer, of course, is: we do about 50% of our annual shows. Though the (4th of July) Independence Day Celebrations take months of planning and preparation, our thousands of “non-seasonal” shows keep us busy indeed.

KGB Sky Show™ began in 1976 through the creativity of three individuals, Rick Leibert, Ron Jacobs and Jim Price as an experiment matching the ancient art of fireworks with Rock and Roll music.

Naturally, the biggest Fourth of July season ever was in 1976 when America celebrated the Bicentennial. And it was in that year that Rick Leibert, promotions director at KGB Radio (101.5 FM), and station executives Jim Price and Ron Jacobs, envisioned a new level of pyrotechnic pageantry. Liebert called his friend (now President and CEO of Pyro Spectaculars) Jim Souza, to see if what they had in mind was even possible. Broadcasting a music track to a massive audience as fireworks burst in precise synchronization from multiple geographic locations had never been done before.  Sousa and Liebert crafted the first “Sky Show™,” and history was made.

Great Music! Fantastic Fireworks! Great Music! Fantastic Fireworks! The show was fired from two locations in San Diego: Chollas Park and Fiesta Island,  synchronized via an RF Transmitter and they set a new standard for large-scale fireworks productions. 

Following Sky Show 1, the City of San Diego Police and Fire Departments called a meeting and told KGB that because of the massive traffic jams created by the event, any future events would need to be held at a location designed to handle incredibly large crowds such as San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium, now Qualcomm Stadium.

Through the years, many different elements have been ‘experimented’ with in Sky Shows including live talent, lasers, intelligent stage lighting, props, movie special effects, propane flame effects, famous sports celebrities, the Rocket Man, sky divers, marching bands etc. but the key elements that started the concept are still the key players, namely fireworks and rock and roll.

What began in San Diego, in the words of co-creator Rick Leibert as ‘a continuing experiment of the matching of state-of-the-art fireworks with world class rock and roll’, is now practiced world wide in such places as the Hong Kong Chinese New Year, the Australian Bicentenary, the Olympics, the world’s major theme parks, baseball and football clubs, Las Vegas New Years, Korean Independence Day, Jerusalem 3,000 Anniversary, music tours and music videos, concerts, and thousands of other venues world wide where ever fireworks are synchronized and choreographed to live broadcast music.


Technology of the Show

Through the years not only have the fireworks effects grown in variety and number, but so has the technology required for such a massive enterprise emerged to that of a complete digital system, from the digital creation of the sound track on state-of-the-art audio work stations, to the recording of video, digital time codes and stereo audio on DVD’s. The fireworks are scripted, choreographed and synchronized to the sound track using the latest Pyrodigital PC software which includes databases with the characteristics of thousands of pyrotechnic devices. Timings of the pyrotechnics now are accurate to 1/10th of a second. Technology also allows the designers to ‘preview’ the Sky Show in their studios, make adjustments and present another ‘continuing experiment matching the ancient art of fireworks with rock and roll’, with split second accuracyA Night You'll Never Forget! A Night You'll Never Forget! .

Ron Dixon and Sky Show XXXVII

The man making it all happen for Pyro Spectaculars by Souza is San Diego’s Ron Dixon. Dixon’s reputation in the pyrotechnics industry is unequalled, and he has been involved in 33 of the 37 shows in the capacity of Operator-in-Charge in the early years, to Pyrotechnic Designer and Choreographer in later years.

Dixon recently recalled “one particular Sky Show planning meeting where we were stuck on a theme and design. Jim Souza, Rick Leibert and I spent the better part of several bottles of wine sitting in my Jacuzzi.  When the wine was gone, we had one hell of a show design!”

When asked about this year’s show Dixon was enthusiastic in his response: “Every year we try to make the KGB Sky Show™ better and better, but with the addition of some fantastic new custom-designed fireworks shells and effects, and the mind-blowing KGB Rock and Roll soundtrack, I guarantee this one will set a new standard!”Don't Miss This Year's Show! Don't Miss This Year's Show!

Pyro Spectaculars by Souza

Pyro Spectaculars by Souza is a display fireworks production company with offices and operations in San Diego. This last Fourth of July they presented 35 shows on the same night and, as spokesperson Sam Bruggema said, “We had a fabulous, successful 4th of July. For all accounts one of the best. Our stuff went off when it was supposed to and it lasted as long as it was supposed to.”

Pyro Spectaculars, and their local subsidiary, San Diego Fireworks, produce shows for the San Diego Padres, the San Diego Chargers, Sea World, both the Poinsettia and Holiday Bowls, and nearly all major San Diego sports and special events.

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