"BJ the DJ" Benefiel at KHRB, Lockhart, TX Hosts an In-Studio 6-Piece Band
Hello there, I'm "BJ the DJ" Benefiel," and I am sitting here at my Texas Sound Studio desk at KJCR Low Power Radio in Lockhart; and I've got my new hound dog in my lap. I was just thinking there are some old Caldwell County radio stories that need to be told. This one is about my good friend and recording business partner: Cecil Moore of Luling, Texas.
When I was working for Radio Station KHRB in the early 1970s; I would schedule bands to come and play "live" from KHRB Radio Station in Lockhart, Texas".
It was "not a problem", electricity wise, as we had an extension cord with a multiple oulet. There was a problem of having enough room for a 6 piece "Honky Tonk" band, trying to squeeze into a 3 room radio station. I had them here the month before, I just put them inside, and allowed the studios one microphone to pick up the sound. It worked out terrible, it was distorted and too loud and you could not hear the drum or the steel, which had to play beside the front door. Just then, Cecil said, "B.J. you can do it" ;and he would pause, and then he would say: "if you know what I mean jelly bean, ha,ha,ha,ha".
I was watching for a big white Ford van, that beautiful Spring afternoon; and soon I saw it, through the two glass windows of the radio station. I put an album on the turntable and went outside to tell them how I wanted to "set things up".
I joked and kidded with them, and soon their nerveousness vanished, when they saw that we were in the middle of a cow pasture and that those cows were so friendly. They unloaded all of the equipment; but there was not enought room inside to place it. Cecil said, "You can do it, B.J."
So I had some of the band members carry out the two desks and chairs that crowded that little station office, and that was the big room. I then said: "Cecil I want your amp here in the studio and the fiddler's amp back here. I want the rythum here just outside the studio door, in the office; and in the office was the only small space left. I asked him to set the steel guitar up there. It was one of those extra large models with six legs."
That left no room in the building. Where could I put the drum at? Put it outside? Then I thought of the toilet. There was nothing in there but a little sink and a case of tissue, and I moved the tissue out. The room stank from a poop or a lack of flushing, so I pulled the chain, and since the toilet had a lid, I pulled it down. Then I said, "Delane you sit on this toilet". B.J.-- What! On the pot!, and with that everyone laughed. He sat down, and encountered the odor, but was used to it, as he worked full time at the Luling Chicken Plant. Everything seemed to be hunky-dory, so he set his drum up there.
It was a good thing that Dianne, the cute little secretary was not there, cause' she would need her desk and the toilet too. There was then just 5 minutes left until their "airtime".
Everybody was picking, twanging, and tuning their instruments. Everything seemed to be ready. There was no time to take a level. I shouted: "everybody get ready, Here We Go! With that I played the KHRB Radio Identification, "Country Music for city folks, KHRB, country music for city folks- KHRB. It's country music all through tha day."
"Ladies and Gentlemen, Live --From the studios of KHRB in Lockhart. Here's Cecil Moore and the Diamondbacks." Then I waved my arm like I was starting a dog race". VOOOM, Pow, twang, bang, the VU meter indicating the volume had no indicating needle anymore, with music from Diamondbacks, they kicked off the 30 minute live show. The light bulbs all blew out, and the cows let out a groan and ran toward Austin.
I could not control the volume of the music, but it did come out balanced pretty much. I yanked off my headphone as the loudness hurt my ear. The chickens all ran East toward Lockhart. After 30 minutes of broadcast, you could say that the station's pipes got cleaned out real good. That next month the radio station sold; and then all they played there was some high fallutin ballet music. I hate to say it but, "it was sissyfied".
"BJ the DJ" Benefiel
Portland OR: Dave Stone turns up some KISN aero car history
(Apr 2009) The KISN aero car has been repainted to red/black with red wings. It has been owned by Marilyn Felling of Grand Junction, Colorado since 1981.
It once flew Fidel Castro's brother, Raúl Castro in Cuba. It hit a horse on the runway and damaged the plane. From 1961-1963 it was a traffic-watch (Operation Airwatch) aircraft for KISN (910AM) radio station in Portland, Oregon where it was flown by Scotty Wright (Wayne Nutsch and Ruth Wikander). Wayne Nutsch reports having 350 flying hours in N103D performing KISN Airwatch duty. It was used for traffic reporting in the morning from 7-8:30AM and from 4:30-6PM.
During its Airwatch missions it was painted white with red hearts and had the letters KISN on the top and bottom of the wings. The aircraft was equipped with an emergency police/fire receiver for reporting emergency events on KISN radio stations broadcast. When flown for KISN it was based at Wik's Air Service, Hillsboro Municipal Airport (HIO), Hillsboro Oregon. On one of its more eventful flights for KISN it survived the Columbus Day Storm of 1962 without damage after doing an evening flight.
Rick Sklar & Me
I graduated college at 19 and then attended Announcer Training Studios in Manhattan. I was ready to become the #1 disc jockey in America. Only thing missing was I had no talent. I interviewed at CBS Radio and got the job as producer of Walter Cronkite's 5-minute radio features. I was told I'd start in two weeks. Showed up to start work; the guy that hired me was fired and no one knew he hired me.
Went to Central Park and cried a little.
Then went to ABC on 66th Street to the personnel department. In those days I listened to WABC constantly and thought Dan Ingram was god. Personnel said there is a job at WABC Radio that I might fit. I was to be interviewed first by Rick Sklar's secretary, Ellie; she liked me and setup an interview with Rick.
I got the job as Rick Sklar's assistant – I almost wet my pants. I did a little of everything. Rick taught me the radio business, how to manage and how to deal with giant egos.
I was drafted in 1966. Rick wrote a letter telling the world I'm the greatest broadcaster in history. Through that letter and other reasons I was assigned to the Army's Entertainment Division.
After the Army Dan Ingram produced my audition tape.
Rick and I remained friends up until his death.
Lou Kasman aka Lou Perry
Murray the K (Kaufman) - By his son, Peter Altschuler
Murray Kaufman was a showbiz kid. His mother and aunt played in vaudeville, mom as a pianist, his aunt as a performer, and Murray himself appeared (as one of many child extras) in several Hollywood films of the 1930s. As the only child of a demanding mother, Murray always strived to make her proud, though she had little patience for parenthood, and packed him off to a military boarding school.
When real military service came along, Murray couldn't quite pull off a Section 8 discharge and wound up organizing entertainment for the troops. It was an assignment that gave him a headstart at putting together shows for the resort hotels in New York's Catskill Mountain Borscht Belt.
In the off-season, Murray left the mountains and returned to Manhattan, where he had been born in 1922, and held an assortment of jobs in advertising and music promotion. As a song plugger for Bob Merrill and, specifically, Merrill's early '50s hit "How Much Is That Doggie In The Window," Murray seemed to have found his stride. By 1953, he was producing late night interview programs from a club on Lexington Avenue. The program was hosted at various times by Eva Gabor, Laraine Day, and Virginia Graham. It was that experience that led to a nightly show of his own, which occupied the two hours before Barry Gray's midnight program and which, in an era when husband-and wife shows reached the height of their popularity, was frequently co-hosted by his "better half."
During that same stint, Murray became president of the National Council of Disk Jockeys. The organization, which sought to raise the image of broadcasters who catered to a younger listening audience, included Dick Clark on its executive board and, in 1956, spearheaded a relief effort for refugees of the Hungarian Revolution.
From WMCA, Murray went briefly to WMGM, developing the late night shtick that reached its peak a year later at WINS. As the overnight host of the Swingin' Soiree, Murray built a following that readily tuned in earlier when Murray assumed Alan Freed's primetime slot, following Freed's untimely fall during the payola scandals. From mid 1958 until the sale of WINS to Group W and its conversion to an all news format in 1965, Murray the K was the king of the New York City airwaves.
Murray's antics on the air, on the streets, in the subways, and overhead (broadcasting from Air Force jets), combined with his natural showmanship to earn him a virtual franchise in live events. As the host of personal appearances by hot bands at local movie theatres or as the emcee of four- times-a-year rock 'n' roll shows at the Brooklyn Fox Theatre, Murray developed the first truly multi-racial audience. Like Freed before him, Murray Kaufman believed in the talents of black and Latin artists and preferred to play their records rather than the cover versions recorded by white singers. By building preference for a wide variety of music on the air (including Frank Sinatra, whose music opened every show), Murray attracted fans from every strata to his live shows and, in their passion for the music, tensions had virtually no opportunity to develop.
Kaufman went live in other ways. He became the unofficial American spokesman for the Beatles, thanks to touring American groups who were the opening acts at Beatle concerts in Great Britain (before the group arrived in America). When Brian Epstein asked for advice, those performers advised Brian Epstein to get in Kaufman's good graces if he wanted the Beatles to succeed in the States. New York was the market they had to own, and Kaufman owned New York in the ratings. Of course, once the Beatles arrived, Murray and the group were inseparable. He broadcast from their hotel room, accompanied them to their first show in Washington, DC, co-hosted their second show at Carnegie Hall, and went with them to Miami for the third leg before joining them in England and emceeing a Wembley Stadium concert at which he also met the Rolling Stones, suggesting that they cover an American R&B hit, which became their first number one hit in America.
It was that popularity that led the Federal government's Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) to approach Murray about producing a national program that would a) appeal to inner city youngsters and b) let them know about job opportunities through the New Chance program. The show, It's What's Happenin', Baby, which was arguably the first music video, attracted national headlines, the censure of Congressmen who deplored the use of public funds to broadcast "jungle music," and too many inquiries from young people about a government program that turned out to be woefully underfunded.
Locally, Kaufman was innovative in other ways. He devised a new dance hall phenomenon that set the pattern for Manhattan's Cheetah and San Francisco's Fillmore Auditorium. In an abandoned airplane hangar at Long Island's Roosevelt Field, the starting point of Lindbergh's historic flight, he created Murray the K's World, a multi-level, multi-media discotheque that combined live and recorded music with projected slides and film, providing a level of sensory overload that only Timothy Leary seemed able to exceed... with the help of mind-altering drugs.
As the World was taking off (and quickly crashing), WINS was changing formats. There was no more room for Murray the K and his cronies. Times were changing. The first threat was Top 40, a format which was considered before Group W's decision to convert WINS to "all news all the time." For someone like Murray, Top 40 was oxygen debt, cutting off the creative freedom to program his own show, choose his own music, take his own risks: like the time he refused to play the A side of Dionne Warwick's new record because he was convinced that the B side would prove to be the hit. In spite of calls from everyone connected with Sceptre Records, Dionne's label, Murray played the B side: Walk On By.
Within a year, Murray was leading a group of disillusioned talent to a new frontier: FM rock. On WOR-FM, Murray set the tone for the rest of the '60s. He played records from albums, not singles, so that Bob Dylan's Positively Fourth Street and Janis Ian's Society's Child were aired in full (one of the few places they could get played at all, initially). At the same time, Kaufman was extending his OEO experience to produce local television specials that were combinations of on-location and in-concert performances punctuated by unexpected appearances by guests such as football great Joe Namath and the undisputed king of variety shows, Ed Sullivan.
Less than twelve months later, when Bill Drake came in to program WOR as an oldies-format station, Murray and the others quickly left. Not, however, before Murray told his listeners, as he had at WINS, just exactly what the executives were planning to do... before the executives had alerted the press. It won him few friends in a town where everyone in the industry knows everyone in the industry and where disloyalty is as ominous as a Mafia kiss.
Thanks to WINS' nightly 50,000 watt clear channeling, Murray's reputation reached far beyond the boundaries of metro New York. For awhile he aired in Toronto, then in Washington and Maryland before returning, in the early 1970s, to a national stint on NBC Monitor and, subsequently, to a regular program on WNBC. That relatively low key show, which led into Wolfman Jack's late night program, declined along with Murray's health at the start of a long fight with cancer. His last New York gig was in 1975 on the extremely mellow WKTU, a station he willingly left to serve as a consultant on the production of Beatlemania. Following a national promotional tour, Murray left New York for "the Coast" to accompany his soon-to-be sixth wife, a soap opera star whose show relocated to L.A. It put him in an ideal position to host Watermark's syndicated Soundtrack of the '60s, which carried Murray's name and reputation to markets as far away as Australia.
Yet Kaufman's battle with cancer was a losing one. By the end of one season, he had to withdraw from Soundtrack, giving up his slot to Gary Owens. Within a year, at the age of 60, Murray Kaufman was dead. Yet his legacy lives on through the artists whose careers he advanced (from Bobby Darin and Wayne Newton to Dionne and Little Anthony), the innovations he brought to music broadcasting, and the thundering call of the Submarine Race Watchers: ah bey!
Bill Moen remembers John K. Chapel
In January,1960 I arrived at KABL in San Francisco (Oakland, actually) to take over the morning "trick". One of my duties was to introduce "John K. Chapel, NEWS and Commentary" on his morning newscasts.
John was an old, typical Radio humbug who tap-danced through a long career pontificating to the non-cognoscenti on his morning newscasts. (He actually asked me once, during the 1960 campaign, if Hubert Humphrey was a Democrat! I assured him that he, indeed, was and John, on his next newscast, authoritatively, referred to him as such.)
After three years of introducing John as "Author, Lecturer and World Traveler, John K Chapel!" he, alas, went the way of all of us in broadcasting. On our last day together, after the last newscast he came into the control room and said to me "Goodbye, Bob." I was touched.
KBCO, Boulder CO: Nostalgic Broadcast 50 Years in the Future
KBCO (early 1984-1986) was playing the new music from Talking Heads, The Jam, Joe Jackson, U2 and Elvis Costello but also heritage artists like Joni Mitchell, Grateful Dead, the Beatles & The Who along with John Prine, Peter Tosh, Miles Davis (in the early and on the Sunday evening Jazz show) and Andreas Vollenweider - an astonishing variety of music - yet the numbers were credible.
My favorite memory was watching the legends of the station pull of this complex April Fools joke. The premise was that of a nostalgic broadcast 50 years in the future and the celebration of "Intervention Day" - the day of an inter-galactic intervention that saved the Earth and opened up planetary regions far beyond Nixon's China.
On April 1st, the station did not run any normal ads all day - instead running mock commercials were based on what advertising might sound like 50 years in the future - a sample..."Jane, I need this to go to Andromeda...gasp silence...Andromeda...we're late already...then a strong voice comes in with. Don't tell me we are late, get me Retro-Express for when it absolutely positively has to be there yesterday". There were others like "Space-X chronometers - they take a quicking and keep on ticking". Living spaces like "Condo-maximums by Flooshenwingle"
Another series of bits presumed drugs would be passé so the kids would be into time travel (insert sfx of commotion and a reporter explaining the problem..."Well you know these kids are hot-wiring normal household appliances and traveling back in time...just last week we had to go rescue some kids from the middle ages (Monty Python like sfx)...it was a mess". Needless to say, the April Fools bits were a success. Irony is BCO ran this same general fools day routine for several years prior to finally winning an NAB award for outstanding radio. Everyone participated but I believe the majority of the scripting came from Bruce "Jeremy"McCaleb and Richard Ray. I worked part time and did a good deal of fill announcing but my experience was something I will always treasure.
Lee Baby Simms Gets Drafted
In 1968, Lee "Baby" Simms was 'fired' from KCBQ in San Diego. He had gotten a call on the air from a "Marine Corps" enlisted man that his "draft number" had been drawn and that he was being drafted on the air. An ensuing rucus occurred on the air as Lee was dragged away. Lee was screaming, "You can't do this to me", etc. as if if he were exempt from being dragged, or drafted, into the service.
This was on a friday afternoon about 4:15 PM and he was physically removed from the control room. Dex Allen (the morning guy) took his place on the air and phone calls began to flood the station. This continued through the weekend until the following Monday aftenoon. At 3:00 pm, when lee was supposed to show up, Dex Allen was there until Lee showed up to reclaim his throne. He did, & things got back to normal quickly. It was hilarious.
Gentleman Jim Carter
KCUB, Tucson - The Brazil '66 Rain Forest
Back in 1967, while you were still "burnin' away" with the Stones, I was on a local MOR station in Tucson, playing "The top easy listening 30". The playlist was so short (MOR stations just didn't do that, did they?) that on one overnight shift, I'd play the top rotating songs three times. It got so that I have a love hate relationship with "Don't Sleep in the Subway (#1), "Mary in the Morning" (#2) and "Night and Day" (#3).
Oddly, for months I thought that the Sergio Mendez record started with the sounds of the rain forest, since they were, after all, the Brazil '66. The rain sound sort of faded out just as the vocal began. Silly little 18-year-old me. Eventually a new cut was put in the control room, and the "rain forest" turned out to be an extra long cue burn! It was gone! And the record never sounded the same to me since!!
KFMI-FM, Eureka CA - Hector, the Ghost
It was always rumored that KFMI-FM in Eureka, California had a resident ghost. The story started when a female jock alone in the station saw a figure walking around one evening and called the cops. They came but found nothing. The ghost story began and perhaps is real.
It was in 1983 and KFMI-FM was fully automated when my encounter with the ghost happened. Our automation system was named Hector, our name for the ghost. When ever the automation system screwed up, we always blamed it on Hector, the ghost.
One morning, I was standing around talking with the program director who had boinked one of the sales women the night before. He was 23 years old and she was in her 40s. He was giving me a few of the gory details and ended the story with "she's a real barracuda." Just then Hector jumped to a new song by Heart called Barracuda! We both freaked out. True story.
KFMU, Steamboat Springs CO: Hippie-Haven Radio
KFMU (1980-late 1983) was "The Sound of the Wind" because the station was in fact wind powered -- by an ancient 1934 Jacobs wind generator (acquired from so farm in Kansas) providing the low power signal to a series of batteries that powered the radio station from atop Stagecoach Mountain.
To say this was hippie-haven radio would be an understatement. When I arrived (from radio in New Mexico) the morning guy literally read the newspaper on the air as part of his news coverage. And throughout the day you never knew what might be playing at any given time. The first thing I did was to buy a dozen or so spiral notebooks in an attempt to at least document what played. Doing production was also a major challenge because the cows, ducks and other nearby farm animals used to render and reads of commercial copy Mel Brooks funny.
In the winter when the wind or the backup generator failed we had to go up to the transmitter site 2 of us at a time bunched up on this ear numbingly loud Husquavarna 2 stroke snowmobile - that our nearly blind engineer Hawkeye (one of the most amazing people I have ever had the pleasure to work with) insisted on driving. As a result, when you needed to go deep in the snow (as you held on in back) you would have to slap Hawks helmet on the left or right side of his head to wind your way up the mountain since he could not see very far ahead. Worse yet, when he would plow ahead full on you needed to pay attention and quickly bonk him flat on the top of his head to avoid getting decapitated by low-slung cattle fences. Hawk still lives in the area.
KFRC, San Francisco - Don Sainte-Johnn On-Air Boo-Boo
Thought I'd never be able to admit it; however, the time does seem appropriate and the statue of limitations had surly been exhausted by now. I, Don Sainte-Johnn, once made an on-air "boo-boo" while working at RKO's KFRC in San Francisco!
During the mid 70's--when the incomparable Doctor Don still ruled the airwaves--there was a Bay Area sponsor called Shirtique [Pronounced: (1) shirt-ah-Q, (2) shirt-teek]. The name isn't terribly important, but it is connective to the story. The closing line for the spot was "get your shirt together!"--which proved to be nightmarish for me one late Saturday night and early Sunday morning at approximately 1:50- ish. After doing two shifts in the same day--an event that was unheard of at the time--I managed to give in to over exhaustion and replace the shirt in the tag line with shit. It was the most embarrassing moment in my career, up until that moment.
As fate would have it, I did have an ENGINEER-board operator who was flawless. Sir Kent Hedberg, somehow managed to incidentally, and quite innocently I should add, roll tape of the show as I announced to North America: GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER!
The tape has surfaced at many Christmas parties and proved to be a thorn in my side for years. (Doctor: Now, that I have done this on- the-couch thing, I feel much better now.)
KFRC, San Francisco - Don Sainte-Johnn & the Cuspidor Kid
The year, 1972…
The location, somewhere far out west…
The event, KFRCeee makes a new hire…
The company brought in a character—straight off the set of “Mayberry R.F.D.”—who seemed a bit out of place in the ultra hip Bush Street conclave and far removed from the so-called ‘FRC Family.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you CT, which—by the way—stands for Cowboy. Seemingly, his initials, his handle, should have been CB—as in CB Radio—a popular craze at the time. He was brought in to be a Board Operator—the fingers that press the buttons, the hands that rotate the pots (did I just mention pot) and run the mechanics of the show at the precision hand cues from the bigger-than-life 610 On-Air Personalities.
Most of the rank-and-file thought the hire to be rather atypical; because, CT was not well coordinated, a minimum requirement for the PIC at Master Controls for the likes of Dave “Your Duke” Sholin, Rick Shaw, Bobby Ocean, etc. He surprised the staff when he showed up for the second day on the job, holding an accessory that resembled the Starbuck’s 16-ounce Travel Tumbler. For those forward thinking futurists, it was waay cool for the new hire to be on the Shultz bandwagon, long before Howard’s company cemented their brand of Joe in the American psyche.
To the surprise of everyone, the bowl-shaped metal vessel with a funnel-shaped cover formulated from high grade Brazilian copper and polished with stainless steel, was a spittoon. Its owner was a card-carrying member of the Chew the Cud Club. That, in itself did not present a problem; however, there was a problem when Murphy—creator of the humorous axiom: anything that can possibly go wrong will go wrong—entered the room.
CT accidentally spilled the contents of his cuspidor that was brimming at the 98.5% level. Suddenly, Red Man tobacco-flavored fluid splattered onto and into the electronic components of the ‘FRC Main Control Room Console. Liquid tobacco was everywhere! The stench was nauseating. Management hit the stratosphere.
Shortly thereafter, and I emphasize shortly, the new hire and RKO got a divorce—and it was finally final. Officially, both claimed the long-established, conventional face-saving Irreconsible Differences.
Those of us watching on the sidelines listening to Sammy Johns—removed the Black & Decker respirator masks—and breathed a sigh of relief, while waiting for the next ‘FRC mini chapter to evolve.
KFWB's Remote Faux Studio
I was released from active duty in the USAF in March of 1964 and returned to stay with my folks in the Los Angeles area. By then, I'd had done a year in AFRTS and about the same at KTEO, San Angelo, TX (working the evening gig during my off-duty hours at the local Top-40 outlet). Beatle-mania was in full swing, and KFWB and KRLA were going toe-to-toe for ratings. I was able to land a weekend gig at a local FM (KAPP-FM) while I looked for another full-time job.
KFWB announced they would be broadcasting live from a remote studio in the Topanga Plaza in the San Fernando Valley. Being a radio guy, I figured I should go check it out. When I got there, I found a glass-enclosed cubicle, with the DJ (Gene Weed) sitting on a small platform running two turntables and an engineer sitting at an elaborate electronic console about 6' x 3' with dials, switches and meters going full tilt.
As I watched this whole thing, I noticed that the meters were bouncing around in a steady rhythm that had no relation to the DJ or the music being played. Having done a few remote broadcasts of my own, I just couldn't figure out what this console was doing. When the engineer took a break and stepped outside the 'studio', I asked him about the set-up. He explained that actually the console had been salvaged from a scrapped submarine and set in the 'studio' to give the folks watching the whole thing a visual highlight. All the commercials and jingles were going on-air from the home studio, as well as the news broadcasts. The console served no purpose other than to provide window dressing for the broadcast.
KIQQ, Los Angeles and the Emergency Dwarf Alert System
B.R. Bradbury had Wolfman Jack record a takeoff of the Emergency Broadcast System, called the Emergency Dwarf Alert System, which had to do with an unnamed programmer Bill Drake had working for him at K-100. He was very short and was nicknamed the Dwarf - just to piss him off.
Wolfman's Dwarf Alert was then dubbed onto an on-air music cart knowing the jock on whose shift it came up on never stayed in the studio (Eric Chase). Chase hit the cart and as usual walked out to visit with whoever and in the middle of the Stones, "Angie" the music gets nice and soft and up pops the Wolfman with the Emergency Dwarf Alert System and at the end says, "If you'd like a copy send one dollar to K-100 here in Hollywood".
B.R. Bradbury was fired and several staff members were suspended
KJR, Seattle: Tom Allen Remembers Tom Murphy, Lan Roberts and Pat O'Day
I was on a split shift at KJR, Seattle, in 1965; noon-to-three as a jock, and then 6-9PM doing news for Larry Lujack (jocks did news on KJR back then). We had just hired this new guy named Tom Murphy. Jerry Kaye had been moved to the all-night shift, and Murphy was hired for 9 to midnight. Nobody had seen him yet. Lujack and I kept wondering if he would ever show up. 8, 8:15, 8:30...and no Tom Murphy. FINALLY, about 8:50 or so (about ten minutes before he was to go on the air) there's a knock on the side entrance. I opened the door, and there's a guy with a Beatle haircut and Beatle boots with a big, broad smile...."Hi, I'm Tom Murphy". He sat down and did a show like he had been there for months. That always amazed me.
One day back in about 1965, Lan Roberts said he had just gotten a call from his wife and he had to run home. He asked me if I cared to go along. His pet snake had gotten loose, and was nowhere to be found. While Lan was looking for the snake, I got to look at his huge aquarium with several piranha. The snake was found later, as I recall, coiled up in one of his wife's snow boots.
When Pat O'Day would hold a DJ staff meeting, sometimes he would ask each of us to submit criticisms of each other on individual strips of paper (anonymously, of course) Then, he would pull these strips out of a box, and read them in front of everyone else at the meeting. You learned real quick what your colleages thought of each other. I can still hear Pat saying..."pound-for-pound, Larry Lujack was the best jock on the West Coast". One of the best, to be sure. Everybody else wanted to make it to L.A. Larry always said he was headed for Chicago. Didn't take him long to get there.
Tom Allen (Tom Larson)
KJR, Seattle: Chuck Bolland, the Late Morning Newsman
The late Lan Roberts had just started his AM shift. I had been on all night and had to stay until the news guy, Chuck Bolland, showed up (we needed the coverage of a 1st phone license back then). Bolland, as usual, showed up 25 minutes late.
Meanwhile, Lan instigated a bogus contest whereby the listeners were to keep track of the number of days Chuck was late. He then announced: Beginning on Feb. 1st, send us your January results, and mail them to: MANAGER (Pat O'Day) KJR Seattle, Seattle 98124! Chuckie Boy was seldom late thereafter.
While I was on the air at KMPS one Saturday afternoon, the control room's suspended metal grid ceiling collapsed all around me with a deafening roar. For some reason the spot right above my head held. So I opened the production room pot, grabbed a couple handfuls of carts and LPs and crawled out on my hands and knees.
The newsman on duty called the chief engineer to clean up the mess while I continued my show from the production room. The listeners were never aware that it happened.
Mark Richards learns a lesson the hard way
In March of 1982, I began hosting and producing a nightly three-hour game show on KOGO-AM/San Diego. Listeners competed on the air in a variety of three-minute games complete with bells, buzzers, applause and winner fanfare ... just like a real TV game show. Winning contestants were awarded dinner certificates, car washes, pizzas, movie theatre passes, etc.
During my third week, a woman competed against another listener and won the game. I congratulated her and as I was about to announce her prize (a pair of movie passes) she asked me on-the-air what she had won. Previous to the game I had announced what the winner of the game would receive - but apparently she didn't remember. So I asked her "You don't know what you've won?" She said that she didn't. And I told her in my very best announcer's voice "You've won a BRAND NEW CAR!" She then yelled and screamed and carried on for what seemed to be an eternity. After she calmed down I told her that she didn't really win the car but a pair of movie theatre passes which she accepted.
Going into the commercial break the "hot line" phone rang in the studio and it was the station's program director who said to me "You had better be prepared to buy that woman a new car." He went on to tell me that if she persisted and followed up on what I had told her she won, I would have to make arrangements to buy her a car.
Needless to say, I had many sleepless nights and as the days, weeks and months went by she never called to demand the car.
Last Moments of KRIZ, Phoenix
One of my saddest memories was the sign off of legendary Doubleday Top-40 KRIZ 1230 in Phoenix, AZ. I grew up listening to the stellar battles between KRUX and KRIZ. KUPD-AM and FM entered the fight later on, but KRIZ was always my favorite. Some seriously talented people came through Phoenix on their way to L.A. and worked at that station located on Buckeye Road.
A group called Family Life Radio bought the station, and the last day, a day in June of 1978 I believe, jocks from all throughout KRIZ's history called in, came by or sent goodbye greetings. People like Phil Motta, Jay Stone, Todd Wallace, Chris Cooper, Shotgun Tom Kelly, Dennis King, John Sebastian, Mitch Heller, Tony Evans, Bob Shannon, Phil Kelly, Chucker Dean and I could go on and on. The KRIZ PD Chuck 'The Chucker' Dean signed the station on and gave his personal endorsment of what station to switch to right before sign off. And as KRIZ played it's final song, "Tonight's the Final Night", by Douglas Allan Davis, a KRIZ Jock, Chucker asked all listeners to honk their horns as the station signed off for the last time. I sat in the KRIZ parking lot, honked my truck horn and I don't mind saying, cried like a baby. My lifelong goal was to get into radio and come back to Phoenix and one day work at KRIZ. That was never gonna happen now.
I eventually worked in Phoenix in the early 1980s. One station was KMZK-FM. Its AM was KLFF, a music of your life station. Both stations were housed in the old KRUX studios. One night, I went into the old KRUX studio (now used as an AM production room) and nosed around. I found a box containing old KRUX and KRIZ hit surveys, bumper stickers, etc. It was a really cool find I still have in my possession.
Mike Lee (12/03)
Morning Personality/Creative Services Director
WALV/WAYA ALIVE 95
KRKO, Everett WA - The Great Flood of '78
Back in the dim dawn of time (before Accu-Ratings) I worked at KRKO in the city of Everett, Washington, about twenty five miles north of Seattle. The station was a 5K AM at 1380 which covered most of Snohomish county and hit Seattle, if you leaned real hard. The studios sat on a little sidehill on the edge of a valley bounded by a series of dykes that held the Snohomish river in place. Farm country....beautiful!
That year the rains were record breaking and it took about a week of steady torrents but the river hit crest, then flood stage, then over flood stage,...and then all hell broke loose. Volunteer sandbaggers were fighting a losing battle with the water. We were the headquarters site for the Search and Rescue teams, since the station was on a small rise, and they were camped out in the lobby, day and night. Talk about having the perfect access to emergency bulletins. Our competition had to call us for breaking developments!
As we headed into a Wednesday night, it was pouring so hard Noah would've felt right at home, and the sandbaggers ere losing ground fast. About seven-thirty, the studio door opened and one of the S and E guys said, "If you want to get out of here, now's the time. The river just broke the bank about four miles away and in about ten minutes we're gonna be sitting in the middle of a lake!" There was no way I was gonna try to leave, so we sat it out. The studio had a big window out toward the flood plain and you could see the water rising up through the grass.
Now, the tower system for the station was right outside the station, about one hundred feet away; a two-stick directional array. Number One had a tuning house about twenty five feet up, and water rose til it was lapping right at the bottom of the house. That put it over the level of our parking lot, but not quite over the floor of the station. It was like being on a houseboat in a lake.Needless to say, the signal ground plane was completely thrashed.
Up the road about a mile, a lumber yard had a log storage lot, which immediately turned into a storage pool. The logs began floating all over the valley, down toward the station and near the tower guy wires. It was dark, you could hear small animals swimming and thrashing in the water under the station, cattle bellowing from nearby farms. The all night guy called and said there was no way he could get to the station, so I figured to stay on. The format was so bent from all the emergency bulletins, that a few more changes wouldn't hurt, so we did five to eight minute bulleting three times an hours and then took calls between music from people who needed help or wanted to offer some. All this during a driving thunderstorm.
Finally, about four-thirty in the morning, the GM called and asked what the situation was. He said the Search and Rescue team had a high-wheel four-by-four they could use to ferry in a relief, so everyone at the station could get some sleep. He also said they were sending a boat down so we could row out and push some of those logs away from the tower supports. It turned out that to be an aluminum boat, with metal oars! So there we were, in a driving rainstorm, in the middle of a lake, pushing huge goddam logs away from a charged tower, sitting in a metal boat! I don't remember that chapter in the "Careers in Radio" texbook!
KRKO, Everett WA - The Big Hit
It's early Spring, the Pacific Northwest, medium sized AM station with the towers right outside the main studio window. Late afternoon on Tuesday, and Robert O'Brien is doing drive, while I get ready for the 7 - mid show. We're are both in the studio while the news guy finished the top of the hour cast. The main studio, newsroom and transmitter room all faced each other in a sort of triangle, with glass windows so the guy on air could see the transmitter readings from the board.
Outside is a hell of a rainstorm, beatiful, but terrible at the same time. Torrents of rain, like a giant showerstall, gigantic thunderclouds, black and boiling, wind, lightning, medium-sized animals and small trees flying by the window. You get the picture.
At the close of the news, there is supposed to be a little banter between the three of us, and then Robert O' usually ran the carted ID and a teaser for the hour, hit the first tune and then I'd slide into the chair. Naturally, we planned to yak about the storm.
What happened this time was this: Just as the news guy was saying, "and the temp in the city is 48 degrees. That's what's happening and you're up to date!", there was a HUGE flash and an IMMEDIATE, real loud SNAPPP, and several things happened at once.
Every dial and light on the board, and the transmitter flared or flickered, or just went out. The news guy stopped in the middle of his sentence and said, "JESUS!". Robert O', who had his mic on, ready for the end of the cast chat, ( and who, incidentally, was terrified of anything electrical ), jumped back from the board and yelled, "HOLY SH*T, What was that??!!". Pretty snappy repartee, eh?
We then looked at the board and found that we were off the air, went through the re-start drill, and found that nothing wanted to work. About that time (a maximum of thirty to forty-five seconds, probably, but it seemed like about a week ) the chief walked into the room and said, "Forget it. It's gonna be awhile." He pointed out the window and, through the rain, we saw that lightning had hit, not the tower (they have lightning chokes, right? ), but the tuning house ATTACHED to the tower, which was basically right outside the window about fifty feet away, and was now merrily on fire, and part of the aluminum housing was already melted.
It turned out later that the strike had actually hit the remote reading meter itself, and totally fused the thing into slag. It's still sitting at the chief's home today. We had to completely re-core the tuning house and we ran on the backup tm for a week and a half. But, in twenty years, I've never heard of another jock who was that close to a lightning strike.
KRLA Days from Ron Budnik
I worked at KRLA after school (Pasadena High School and City College) from about late 1959/60 (when Jack Kent Cooke was still coming in every morning before the promo fiasco that affected KRLA), to 1962. I came back in 1972/1973.
As a high school senior, I'd lived in Sierra Madre, next to Pasadena, and Wink Martindale lived close to me. So, one day I knocked on his front door and asked him if I could come to the station, and asked who I should see to get some news copy off the AP and UPI wires; we needed some for a class at school. It was Bill MacMillan who first welcomed me at KRLA, along with Dick Moreland, who became one of my best friends until his passing in the late 80's. MacMillan was the News Director, and Jim Steck and Richard Beebe (who later created The Credibility Gap along with Harry Shearer) were doing News. Upstairs, Sy Holiday, and a few months later Bill Keffury, worked in Traffic and did on-air work as well as production (local commercials). Keffury also did weekends. In the big office off the left of the front door was the music director, Mary Kelly.
I became a "gopher and the all around do anything that needed to be done kid" at the station. I worked on station promotions, giveaways, answered phones and such. It was John Barrett who actually hired me, at the urging of Eubanks, who'd become a good friend. Barrett had just come from Buffalo, I think.
Eubanks was the all-night guy, Wink was doing 6 to 9 AM, Roy Elwell was doing mid-mornings, Moreland at Noon to 3:00. Jimmy O'Neill was a monster personality then doing afternoons (as I recall). Then it was Sam Riddle and Roger Christian, with Perry Allen in there somewhere. I think Perry did weekends. Keep in mind that this was the period well before Casey, Hudson, Reb Foster, Dave Hull , Dick Biondi, Ted Quillan and the rest, and years before Shadoe Stevens, China Smith, Dick Saint, Lee Sims, Russ O'Hara, Charlie Tuna, Gary Mack, Sonny Melendez, William F. and so many others.
In 1960, KRLA was new, but the facility was old. At that time there was an old Lilly Tomlin "switchboard" telephone system in front lobby, and in the lobby was a white naugahide sofa in the lobby (adjacent to the stairs) that Eubanks would "crash" on sometimes. I would get to the station before school, at the same time Wink showed up, just before 6:00 AM. Eubanks and I would generally have breakfast mornings in the hotel (Huntington Sheraton) commissary after his shift, remembering KRLA was on the grounds of the hotel. Rudy Marini was the engineer at night, and the Chief Engineer was a guy named Frank; a big burly cowboy type who'd been with the station when it was still KXLA with a country format, only a year or two before. Following Frank in engineering, there was a nice guy named Jack Reeder, who had an "off" eye, and then there was Phil Little, one of my classmates from PCC, who ultimately became chief engineer.
When I got there, KRLA was the new kid on the block, and remembering this was 1960, Rock N' Roll music had begun to change our culture. It was a new format for a new day back then. We were still on the warp edge of the Doo Wap days, with the Platters and the Five Satins, The Coasters, The Fleetwoods, The Skyliners, The Crests, and the new kids on the block were Paul Anka and the Everly Bros. It was that transitional period of music, that ran from the Doo Wap groups and girl singers like Connie Francis and Brenda Lee to Chubby Checker's Twist, to Preston Epps' Bongo Rock, to Duane Eddy and Bobby Rydell to Roy Orbison to Frankie Avalon. And does anyone remember Skip and Flip?
The only competition at the time was KFWB and KMPC. There was KNX (CBS), and a few other stations in town, but Rock N' Roll was breaking big and KRLA became the contender along with KFWB. And the battle began. But, that's a whole other story.
Having become good friends with Eubanks and everyone else at the station, it came a time that I wanted to go on the air. What kid wouldn't want to be a disc jockey, right? So Eubanks, Steck and Keffury suggested that I go to their old farm team radio station, KACY in Oxnard. Moreland, Eubanks and Keffury had attended Don Martin's School of Broadcasting, and all had worked at KACY. Eubanks always said to me "keep it light, keep it bright, and shut up!!" So, I'd go up into the production booth and practice "my time and temp technique". Finally, my confidence sufficiently sequestered, and having heard there was a weekend opening at KACY, I went up to Oxnard do an air check for them in their production booth. Long and short, I got the weekend gig at KACY. So, during the week I worked at KRLA doing odd jobs (still going to school) and did KACY weekends and relief. It was now 1961.
By 1962, the KACY weekends finally transcended into a full-time shift and, simultaneously, Vietnam was beginning to rage. I remember doing "rip and reads" off the AP and UPI noting that Vietnam body counts and fire fights were getting absurd; a few was turning into hundreds. It was scary. So, wouldn't you know, it was about a year or so when I got the word that I was coming up on the list, and had to act quickly. I was doing what I could to avoid the draft, and was lucky enough to avoid a free "round-trip vacation" to beautiful downtown Saigon and the exotic Vietnamese countryside villages by stumbling into a Reserve PsyOps Broadcasting Unit down at Fort MacArthur in San Pedro. Ironically, it was full of Radio, TV and assorted Show Biz bozos (like me) from L.A. who also chose to avoid the free trip to Vietnam. I had to leave KACY (and my dear friends at KRLA) to do some active duty, but fortunately, not "over there". Basic training at Fort Ord, and six months of active duty in the ivy covered garrison headquarters at Ft. Lewis (Washington) was a period that Rick Scarry and I both reminisce about to this day.
When I came back for a short while, Quillan, Hudson, Biondi, were there, and then I left again. KRLA started getting a little weird when the station lost its license and became an FCC whipping boy. There was now some slick suited guy named Larry who came in to run things. He'd been brought in by the "board" or the Washington FCC guys (I think), and things started changing after that. I can't remember the exact years, but I do remember the people. My dear friend from PCC, Penny Biondi, who'd married Dick's brother, and who worked in traffic, Reb Foster and Dick Moreland who remained dear friends over the years, along with Hudson, Beebe, Charlie O'Donnell, and so many more.
Those were wonderful years, and I remember things like the all the Promo men coming in with stacks of vinyl and all those artists who came to the station (including a young couple named Caesar and Cleo wearing these outrageous clothes and long hair....who Got You Babe). Guys like Bobby Rydell and Freddy Cannon (great guys) and The Everly Brothers, a little aloof but good guys, and gracious ladies like Connie Francis. So many faces and so many great friends were made for life thanks to KRLA.
When I came back from the Army, and KRLA was not quite ready for me, I’d started writing songs with Jerry Riopelle at Screen Gems Music on Sunset, across from Liberty Records and the IHOP. We worked together for awhile, but it never really clicked. One of the writers down the hall did manage to crank out a few hits, but Mac Davis liked to work alone. Meanwhile, I needed to make some money, so I put out some feelers to old friends at KRLA and was told that Al Anthony at KFXM in San Bernardino was looking for a weekend and all-night guy. I got the all-night gig. 1t was 1963.
San Bernardino was a commute from L.A. and it was time to move out there. Don Elliot and Gene Gleason were talking about sharing a place. What happened was we all ended up sharing an apartment. Since we all had different shifts, it worked out fairly well, for a while. However, Gleason was getting laid more than Don and I, so he needed more privacy than we did. It became time to look for a change.
One morning, to my surprise, it came. It was just before 6:00 AM, and I got a call from Bill Watson, who was the mid-day guy at KMEN and the Program Director at KMEN, which was “the” competition to KFXM. It was the number one station in San Bernardino and everyone loved the KMEN. He also made me a better deal. I went to KMEN. It was 1964.
The year and a half at KMEN was terrific. I moved to Crestline, up the mountain from San Bernardino, as it was beautiful and San Bernardino was, and still is, the pits. And, since the drive was only 20 minutes, and I had the midnight to six slot, there was no traffic, and it simply made sense to not live down in San Bernardino. The station had great promotions, concerts, and there were young girls for every disc jockey on the staff. We had more girls than you could ever imagine.
Late at night, the front office area sofas and the kitchen were witness to some of the most incredible nubile young frolicking female bodies. I think that was the real fun of being a jock; the chicks. Sure, we all loved radio, be we were all young guys with libidos and a lot of juice, and there were young girls throwing themselves at us. Clearly, it’s what made San Bernardino tolerable. It wasn’t heaven, but...
A few months in and I was moved to the evenings slot, and give a promotion to Music Director. Promotion men from L.A. were on us all the time, since we were the largest market outside of Los Angeles proper to break new records. And we did. I managed to program new music more than I could ever have done in L.A. Promo men loved coming out to San Bernardino, because they knew that had a better chance of beinglistened to and programmed than in L.A., and we were also sponsors of Concerts at the Fairgrounds. Most people don’t know that KMEN was the first radio station to sponsor The Rolling Stones in the United States, and their first appearance in the U.S. was at the Orange Show Fairgrounds in San Bernardino. We also had the Mamas and Papas, Chad and Jeremy, Dick Dale, and numerous bands and music artists at our beck and call. We were riding high. However, things were starting to change, and so were the numbers.
Then, one day, it was announced that a new Program Director was coming in and that there were going to be some changes. The changes included a whole new staff, including the evening guy and the music director. In one week, almost all of us were gone. However, the music director, me, had a good relationship with the record guys, and the word got out that I was thinking about leaving radio and doing something in the record business. I did.
I left KMEN in 1966, and went to work for Mercury Records as the L.A. Promotion Man for the label. Guess who I’d call on as a promotion man in San Bernardino. Yep, you guessed it. And, one of the still fringe benefits of my trips to San Bernardino, were a few girls that I’d known as on of the KMEN.
In Los Angeles, I worked for Mercury, until I was hired away by a distributor who was looking for someone to handle the United Artists line. I'd begun to get involved with the music end of the business more and more, until I left promotion altogether and started working with various bands and forming a music publishing business with Four Star Music. I finally ended up producing some acts; none of which ever made it really big. I did a couple of albums with Gary Usher at Columbia, sat in and oversaw the Bookends album production with Simon & Garfunkle with Roy Halee, and worked on a couple of projects at RCA, including a project with Cannonball Adderly and David Axelrod, and New Heavenly Blue, which was the Brubeck boys. I also managed to squeeze in a brief stint of weekends at KDAY when Bob Wilson was running it in 1967.
Reb Foster called me in 1972 to be Music Director at KRLA for a new format called "Future Rock", where we would program records that we thought were hits in the making. We tried to program new artists and new music before others, but it just never seemed to catch-on.
However, during the Future Rock days, we broke some big records. I was the person who did the first edit to a single of Emir Deodato’s “Also Sprach Zarathustra” that was to become the single from Creed Taylor. We also broke Springsteen out west and a few other artists were first heard on KRLA in the early 70’s. Management finally decided to dump the Future Rock format and us, so we left KRLA in 1973 or early 74, I don't remember for sure. Following that, Dick Moreland, Dean Torrance (Jan and Dean) and I set up an advertising and marketing company doing advertising and concept development in 1974, which went until 1976-77. We produced marketing materials and commercials for entertainment and non-entertainment businesses.
In 1978 I gave up all contacts with the Music and Radio business and started working in Commercial and Industrial Real Estate. I've been leasing and selling commercial buildings since then. It certainly hasn't been quite as "turbulent" (that's supposed to mean "fun") as "show biz", but certainly a lot more financially rewarding. That's basically it. But, to this day, you should know, Eubanks still drowns his eggs in ketchup.
Ron "Buddy" Budnik (Jan 2008)
KSLM, Salem OR - Back-timing to the Network News
I worked at KSLM in 1986 doing mornings and eventually afternoons. It was a full-service Oldies station where we had to back-time into network news at the top of each hour. I quite often made it a goal to back time a cold ending song into the news because it sounded better and was more challenging.
One afternoon I was in the last song of the hour playing The Letter, by the Box Tops. It's a short song with a real cold ending. While it was playing, another jock came into the booth to B.S. for a few minutes. Somehow during our conversation, the arm on the turntable was bumped and it flew all the way to the other side of the 45 record, but was still playing.
At that point I began to prepare some ad-lib information, like a weather forcast, or a PSA. I was not sure how much time I would have to fill after the song ended. Guess what? The song ended cold right into the network news bed. It was awesome. The song didn't miss a beat. We laughed until we cried.
KSLY, San Luis Obispo, CA, from Richard Wayman AKA Ric Stratton.
Privileged to work at a radio station? Oxymoron? Dichotomy? I don't think so...
In my entire career in radio, the finest operation I worked at was KSLY/San Luis Obispo, CA from 1982-1984. Sure, when I started there, we were in an old farmhouse in the middle of a new townhome development, facilities were primitive, to say the least, and you never knew when, in the middle of y our overnight shift, you'd hear a tapping at the windows surrounding the control room, you'd open the window, and it would be a listener making a request! Or better still, "Weird Al" Yankovic would climb in the window (which happened a few times) bringing his latest cassette tape for you to air!
Yes, it was truly free-form radio. With Captain Buffoon holding down the AM drive and making the Central Coast laugh, to "Grateful Don" Potter calling the Grateful Dead hotline once a week on the air to let the listeners know where the Dead would be appearing the next week, to Mike Kelly's song s poofs and novelty records, it was truly the last gasp of real radio on the Central Coast.
Overseen by Guy Hackman, the station, as I said, was in an old farmhouse, transmitting on 1400 kHz, with a beautiful music operation, KUNA-FM at 96.1 MHz, using an ancient automation that frequently required kicking so the Carousel cart decks would turn. My stint at the Sly began in 1982. I had recently been "let go" from a country music operation and was looking for a gig. I had interviewed Captain Buffoon about a year ago as part of a project for the community college newspaper. One day I went to cash my unemployment check, and who should stand in line right behind me but Buffoon! We started talking, he remembered me, and mentioned that he had a part-time gig available running American Top 40 with Casey Kasem, and might I be interested? Hey, it was only Sunday morning for 4 hours, but you bet! I jumped at the chance to join the crew of the Sly!
Within several months I was part-timing overnights on the weekend. Then Mike Kelly left the station, I took overnights full time, and within a few more months was promoted to evenings, 7-12midnight.
One night I was on the air, and our huge orange cat the station had adopted, Sly, was sleeping in his usual place on top of the triple stack cart deck. About 4:30 AM, the deck went dead with an excruciating wow-down. I quickly grabbed one of our few remaining vinyl records (we only had one turnta ble left) and started to keep the show going with one turntable, talking between every record and cueing by sight. In the meantime, I was frantically on the phone to our engineer, who said he'd be right down. He got there, took the back off the cart deck, and started pulling handfuls of orange ca t hair out of the motor! Needless to say, he posted a HUGE note stating that Sly (the cat) was not allowed to sleep on the cart deck any more! Hey, who could blame him, it WAS warm!
The powers that be decided that our free-form style was outdated and brought in a new PD (who shall remain nameless) to "freshen up" the sound and take us to a "true" Top-40 format. Over the next few months major adjustments were made to the sound. Then came the big announcement. Corporate approv ed the purchase and outfitting of all new studios in an "industrial park" in the area. The new studios were built from scratch and new boards, speakers, cart decks, etc. were purchased and installed. We made the move one night at midnight, it took about 30 seconds for the engineer to make the swi tch to the new studios, and we were on the air from brand spanking new studios!
The sound of the station was refined over the next couple of months - and then came the big announcement: the AM and FM were switching dial positions! The new slogan of Sly96FM was chosen, and one night in 1983 at midnight I signed off the AM side, by playing "Last Dance" by Donna Summer - and g iving the legal ID, "KSLY San Luis Obispo - goodnight and see you on the FM side!" The carrier went dead. I yelled at the engineer in the other room, and he went frantically switching wires around, and after about 20 seconds yelled back that we were set to go. The program director opened the mic, and in a deep solid voice announced: "This is the all-new Sly96FM - K-S-L-Y San Luis Obispo, California," hit the first cart, and the strains of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" went reverberating through the whole building - the PD had turned up the output to full, and the sound was incredible! Champagne corks popped, snacks were served, and all had a good time until about 4:00 in the morning! Then we were told to be ready for a staff meeting at 10:00AM.
Dragging myself in the next morning, I walked into the staff meeting only to be greeted by the news that our formatics were now set in stone, no one except for Captain Buffoon (AM Drive) and the PD (PM drive) were allowed to deviate from it. New jingles were in place, strict guidelines were estab lished, and the feel of "real radio" was gone forever.
I left Sly96FM in 1984 when the PD told me my services were no longer required. He was "nice" enough to give me two weeks on the air (the only time that's EVER happened to me) with the strict proviso that I was not to mention my firing on-air. I honored that request until the last night at midnig ht, when I said something innocuous enough that it was nice working for Sly, and goodbye to all my friends (I can't remember the exact wording, it was rather emotional though).
In 1992 I vacationed in San Luis Obispo, and visited the studios of Sly96FM. All the old staff had left, Captain Buffoon was working for the competition, and Guy Hackman asked if I would like to visit the control room. I eagerly took him up on the offer, walked in, sat down in the familiar chair, ran my hands over the console, turned up the monitor just in time to hear a Transtar satellite announcer finish a back announce into a spot break, and damn near cried. The mighty Sly96FM had been commercialized, it's soul had been taken away, and was now nothing more than a cog in the machine th at we called Radio of the 90s. Nothing special, everything the same, no local announcers talking about the community between records, Sly96 had become a faceless entity, it was sad to see it go. But the good times will ALWAYS be remembered, and with much fondness! Captain Buffoon, Paul Fling, Grateful Don Potter and Tom Walsh, you will never be forgotten!
Richard Wayman AKA Ric Stratton
KSPN, Aspen: COP JOCKS
Back in the early 70s I was doing the morning shift at KSPN in Aspen, Colorado. I had been up quite late the night before (it's Aspen after all). I had put on an album and promptly fell asleep on the couch in the DJ lounge.
I only heard about this later, but two Pitkin County sheriffs heard the album had run it's course and was just going pshhh, pshhh, pshhh. The studio was on the ground floor of a building on Main street, and in the summer we left the window next to the front turntable open. The cops walked across the lawn to the window and just reached in and put the needle back on the beginning of the album. Hmmm.
Later they told me they didn't see anyone and just wanted some music as they made their morning rounds.
Greg Gardner's Ear Trick at KSLY, Yuma AZ
I was afternoon news guy at KVOY in Yuma, Arizona. We had a foxy blond who did afternoon drive. Her name was Sherry Flynn.
Well, part of our 5 o'clock news hour had a live 60 spot. One day, Sherry had just started reading the spot when I left the news room and entered the booth and I stuck my tongue in her right ear. At first, no problem. Sherry was a pro.
Then, she lost her place in the script and that 60 turned into about a 2 and-a-half minute pregnant pause. Poor girl never did get over that and she started locking the booth door when I was in the building.
E-mail: GMgar8816@aol.com< br>
KXLY-FM, Spokane WA
From "99.9 Almost Perfect Radio" to "Classy 99.9" Spokane's KXLY-FM has had many names! The move to "FM-100" was the big one for me!
According to the KXLY WWW Page, KXLY-FM, Spokane has been on the air since 1959 ... my experiences began in 1974...the day after Spokane's "Expo '74" closed its 6-month run.
At the time, KXLY-AM was a soft-rock/MOR mix...Captain & Tennille and Neil Sedaka were big ... CBS news every hour and Seattle SuperSonics basketball or the CBS "Mystery Theater" every night...and the TV station across the hall! But down that hall ... in a room hardly bigger than a closet ... was "99-point-9 Almost Perfect Radio ... KXLY-FM". Ten-inch reels of "beautiful music" interrupted by two spots an hour (when the BIG bead went thru the automation clock) and news simulcasts from :55 to :06 (when the AM jock remembered to push the right buttons)...it was more afterthought than real radio
According to others, in years past it had been known as 99.9 FINE, in reference to the area's gold and silver mining history...and for a short time in the 60's or early 70's "XL Country"...yes, country on FM!(too bad it never caught on!!) Before that, a stack of records on a Garrard turntable that the Engineer picked out and the AM jock was supposed to flip over twice an hour!
Finally, in 1975, management committed to get serious about Beautiful Music. The competition was KEZE, FM 106, carrying John Doremus-syndicated tunes and doing well! Contracts were signed with Bonneville Productions from New Jersey...two new ITC tape decks and a new Carousel to play the spots ... plus a new automation system ... from Gates ... where the sequence of events was entered with a telephone dial and recorded to a tape cart!! This monster was my first introduction to "automation" and the beginning of over 20 years of live assist, satellite and automated format work.
Bonneville had very specific guidelines to make the format work ... and the "liners" were written, recorded and put on cart!(the same announcer 24 hours a day!) A different "automation sequence cart" had to be programmed for each daypart, and variations for different spot loads. There wasn't a Program Director(except maybe the folks at Bonneville)and the AM jocks still had to remember to load the correct tapes at the right times ... but it was a beginning! In those days, every medium-to-major market had a Beautiful Music station...(some had TWO!) KEZE's switch a few years later to alternative rock pretty much gave the market position to FM-100!
KXLY-FM was known as FM-100 for 20 years...from those days in the closet until just last year ... when the transition to Soft AC was completed and the Image line changed to "Classy 99.9". Little by little, the full automation gave way to live-assist...(Ron Hatch did the first "live" morning show in '77...he just recently left the station!) ... then to full-time live radio! As KXLY's facilities grew at West 500 Boone Avenue, all the radio studios moved "upstairs" to fancy new facilities and the closet became an office!
The things I learned about automation, about Easy Listening, and about radio in general 20-plus years ago have served me well in my travels around the Pacific Northwest ...'70's Rock at KEIN in Great Falls...'80's Beautiful Music at KBRD in Tacoma...and Full Service AM in the '90's at KVNI here in Coeur d'Alene. The technologies, faces and feelings ... not to mention owners, formats and audiences have changed considerably ... but so have we!
Steve Sibulsky, May 16, 1996
KYLT-FM, Eureka CA - Mistake-free News
My first radio gig was at age 19 in Missoula, Montana at 1340 KYLT, an AM Adult Contemporary. It was in 1980 when The Old Fat Dad hired me for all nights and explained the most important part of the job was to make sure his coffee was ready by 5:58 AM each morning for his show, other than that "just keep it on the air". I always wanted to put a hit of acid in his coffee and watch the fun, but I didn't.
One of my duties after working the all night shift was to record the morning newscast for the automated KYLT-FM FM 100 rocker. In those days it was recorded on a cart and you had one chance to do it right or you had to start over. It was also recorded in the same room as the automation system which also had live assist capabilities. When a certain peg was in position, the board would automatically go live at the top of the hour.
I was pretty green at news reading and really sucked at it. However, I had pride in my work and didn't want to put out a newscast with mistakes, so I kept doing it over, and over, and over again for almost an hour. Of course, the only bulk eraser was in the production room so each time I messed up I had to go there to erase and back to the other room to record. I was getting real tired by this time and just wanted to go home.
It was on my 15Th or so attempt and at 7AM sharp when it happened. The night guy (who was training to go live) left the peg up and I didn't notice it. I started to record the newscast at the top of the hour and got about a third of the way through the newscast and messed up again. Frustrated with myself I blurted out the "F" word. At that moment I realized the peg was left up and I was LIVE. I immediately pushed the button to restart the automation and music played.
I sat there and felt my face and body get very warm. I had just said the worst word you could say live on the air during drive time on the rock station. My career flashed in front of me. I finally got the newscast recorded and went home home.
I didn't hear from anyone at the radio station the rest of the day and figured I still had a job. When I came in at midnight the evening jock asked me what happened because a friend of his told him he was laying in bed with his wife that morning listening to KYLT-FM FM and said the news came on, the newscaster suddenly stopped, said the "F" word, and then music played. It was the funniest thing he'd ever heard.
I failed to see the humor.
KYNO, Fresno CA - TOILET TRICK!
When I was doing morning drive at Drake's KYNO in Fresno, I would always come in an hour early. As long as I was there, the all-night guy, a great friend named Chip Roberts, hit the head at precisely 41 minutes past the hour for his morning dump. Reason being, of course, that in the old Drake format the news came on at 40 past: "20/20 News". The news overnight was on tape. Chip, therefore, had a comfortable eleven-or-so minutes to eliminate leisurely. His outQ was when the newsman [actually, the TAPE of the newsman] said, "K-Y-N-O, first in Fresno with twenty-twenty news!" At that juncture, Chip would come in with live weather and back into music.
One day it occurred to me that sitting on the pot some distance from the studio a fella can lose track of time. So, I got a used news tape and dubbed onto cart the aforementioned outQ - just the outQ. Once Chip was comfortably ensconced on the throne, I sneaked into the control room, waited a few minutes, and then inserted the gimmicked cart into the machine. With flawless timing I simultaneously, deftly threw the master key over to the off-air "audition" channel and hit the tape! All at once as loud as can be the news person is saying [HORRORS!] "K-Y-N-O, first in Fresno...."
Well, it gets about that far and here comes Chip! His pants are down around his ankles and he is as white as flour. As soon as he throws open the studio door and sees me at the console laughing my patooty off he starts calling me NAMES!!!!!! as he hobbles back into the head. From all the way in there I can still hear him hurling imprecations my way.
What a great strike that was, if I may say so meself!
Big John Carter aka Jay Crosby
And speaking of toilets... from Jeff McNeal
When I did PM drive at KYUU in San Francisco, I noticed that the mens and women's commodes share the same plumbing, separated by a common wall. You could tell because if you happened to be sitting on the can and someone on the other side of the wall sat down, the toilet would jiggle a little bit.
Armed with this intimate bit of trivia, I said "watch this" one afternoon to a couple of engineers in the hallway outside the jock lounge as Music Director Annette Lai entered the ladies room. I quickly ran around to the mens room, and started to jiggle the toilet bowl with my foot to simulate an earthquake. Unfortunately for me, the bowl broke and went crashing to the ground, sending Annette flying off her toilet seat on the other side of the wall. She ran out screaming, and I had to think fast so I wouldn't lose my job. So when questioned, I said "Uh, well, when I sat down on the toilet, and it just broke". News spread through the station like wildfire and both men and women on the staff came into the mens room to see the toilet seat that I "accidentally" broke. The story made it's way into Herb Caen's column in the San Francisco Chronicle, causing me further (but well deserved) embarrassment -- but also for poor Annette. A week after the incident, former PD Mike Phillips sent Annette a toilet seat -- with a seatbelt attached -- as a gag gift.
Another fond memory involved middayer extraordinaire Rick Shaw, who put out a small fire in an ash tray by the elevator on the ground floor lobby of the station by unzipping his trousers and "hosing" down the flames. Lots more memories on my KYUU archive pages at www.ohms.com/kyuu.htm.
E-mail: Jeff McNeal