Tuesday, August 4, 2009

More Memories From Jerry Sims, a.k.a. Sonny Martin!

Folks, we are so blessed and fortunate to have so many folks checking in and giving us insights and history that would otherwise be ignored or lost. Jerry Sims checks in again with more memories of KAAY's beginnings:

"Bud....I know how exciting it was to work in radio, and particularly at KAAY, but am somewhat surprised to think that those loyal listeners are so interested in "insider" thoughts. I suppose that it makes me feel good though. If there is some interest, I am willing to share a few memories. Those were great days.

I feel that I worked at the station at the very best time in it's great history. In my time there we did not have to worry about FM. Those were simply the last of the Golden Years of AM Radio. We also did not worry about competition. We dominated the market that we were after. I remember well the very first days of KAAY.

We were across town (KXLR North Little Rock), A.J. Lindsey, Gary Weir (who later became very popular as Bozo the Clown at KATV) me, and some other players. We knew that KTHS (should have been known as The Sleeping Giant) was sold and about to become big time competition to us. Maybe we didn't know just how big. A.J.. was our program director, and knowing their new call letters and that 50,000 watt signal, figured that they would refer to themselves as "Big KAY". We started to promo ourselves as Big K--XLR and other things that would make their splash in the market seem to follow our lead. I feel very confident that they were listening to us, and feeling very afraid. Sure, they were.

We listened too, with great interest, their sign on with their great sounding jocks reading the Greater Little Rock phone book and playing "Baby Elephant Walk" for several days. They invited listeners to call from wherever they were listening (and pay for their own call). They started give-a-ways like Mink Coats and cars (used, but cars) while we were lucky to get a few records, stuffed animals, and an occasional transistor radio. They, in other words, were just scaring us to death. Gary Weir and I were very tight as friends, and would spend many nights, after our midnight sign off hanging around the production room, creating whatever we could and listening to the "Friendly Giant-The Mighty 1090", and even sometimes, giving some young female listeners (shock and surprise) "station tours".

One of the most interesting things the KAAY jocks did that would drive us crazier, was adjust their variable speed turntables up a notch to play their music at a faster speed. We were told by some that this allowed them to play more and get in more commercials/promos, of which they had a bunch. Meanwhile at li'l ole KXLR many of our listeners told us our music was "dragging". Also while music distributors would bring us several copies of records, they were bringing KAAY boxes and boxes of anything they would request. I know this to be true from personal experience too. Later when I was Music Director at KAAY, all I had to do was make a request, and I got it. No wonder, we could help break records in big markets like St. Louis, New Orleans, and Chicago. Things like this got many in "payola" trouble. I was never aware of any big time stuff happening at KAAY.

It was not long before KXLR sold and we were out of a job. We did help provide the new owners some storage space by cleaning out their record collection. I believe that is when A..J. went to radio in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, while Gary Weir and I went to another competitor (KALO) and butted our rather small heads with KAAY, until they too sold. (More records...I still have them)

Radio still excites me. I had an opportunity to work for Citadel Radio's KARN a little bit (news/talk) over the past two years. (Pay is still about the same). KAAY is in the same building. Still pumping out that great signal, only religious programming this time.. Anyway, I walked into that area, saw all their equipment, briefly say in front of a microphone and was tempted to open it and say......"remember me....do I sound 40 years older?"

Jerry Sims, aka Sonny Martin"

Thank you, Jerry! We are always interested in the personal side of radio (NOT gossip, however), in that it gives us listeners a greater understanding of the driving force in radio, especially a great station like KAAY. Folks like you are living history! Without these great insights, we'd be sitting around, saying, "I wonder...?"

And, I also wonder what it would have been like if you HAD opened that mic !?!? I would have liked an audio copy of THAT one!

Please come and visit often, Jerry; your presence, wisdom and stories are always welcome!

Bud S. (staceys4@hotmail.com)

1 comment:

  1. "I was a listener in Little Rock at that time, and I liked KXLR. But when KTHS became KAAY, it was a revolution. I have two questions. Do you remember the KXLR jock who got killed in a helicopter accident when he was getting ready to do a traffic report? And who who was the report for? I don't think KXLR carried them. Also, who was the first Doc Holliday?