Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Home-Brew Radio

How many times have we, as radio enthusiasts, thumbed through a catalog and found a kit radio, stirring up visions of listening to far-away stations from exotic climes?  Here is a broadcast band (AM) receiver that a Ham radio operator built and used to listen to KAAY (even though it was 2007), as well as many other stations (see his station log):

Don't let the technical details bother you...I just thought it was pretty neat, copying a 1920's design!

Any kit builders out there?

Bud S. (

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

"Where Are They Now?" Phil North!!!

I have to tell you folks...when I got a message from Jonnie King about where Phil North was (his website), I followed the lead and found him!  David B. Treadway confirmed this was, indeed, THE Phil North and I was able to get a phone number and speak with THE MAN!  HOLY SMOKUMS!  I was a kid again, and Phil took about a half hour out of his busy schedule (he was on the way out of the office) to speak with me.  This led to some of the audio you've heard here on the blog (and much more is to come!).  Phil has graciously sent along some fun memories for us to enjoy:

"Hi Phil North here,

First off it’s a pleasure to talk to all of you via this blog.  My old friend Dave Treadway approached me and help me re-discover my early radio roots.  It was like finding an old picture of yourself and saying, “Who’s That….WOW it’s me!”  I honestly didn’t know the old tapes in my attic would even play and one aircheck came from a 39 year old cassette.  So the old technology still works I’m glad to say.  It was a trip hear the old airchecks. You have to understand I joined KAAY in my junior year of high school at 16.  The airchecks are of me at 17 and 18 so I was very green and tried everything and copied everybody.  I was also in charge of what we now call “IMAGING” but I didn’t know that then.  I loved putting promos together and mixing with our 2 mono ampex machines and old RCA ribbon mic.  I thought I was in heaven. I remember being on the air and realizing I was the only one in the building at the helm of a 50,000 watt radio station broadcasting across half of America with no tape delay.  I guess the Pat Walsh trusted us not to go off our rocker and hijack the airwaves. 

My fondest memories would be working with true pros like Mike McCormick who taught me a great deal about reading and acting in commercials (voice acting is a term for it today but back then it was part of the job)…Mike would run me thru scripts and direct me or I would record him and go for countless hours in the studio producing the stuff…(for no extra money I might add-we just loved doing it).  Some of the examples I’ve sent- The FOULK Monster sessions- were all adlib between David and me.  We were pretty much un-supervised kids having fun and creating cools stuff.  It was much the same way Bill Young ran KILT when I was there…he let the creative “kids” be creative and let us loose. 

I was also able to get “Steve Lundy” at KILT in Houston to do voice tracks for me for ID’s which are on some of the airchecks….Steve was a kind soul and a great performer and didn’t mind me copying his style for a while….but one time he said…”Phil…pretty soon you're going to have to find your own style and be yourself”.  I always remembered that and eventually realized I was a better voice actor than DJ.  It led to my current career in Voice work. Sadly Steve and Gary Gears (who also did some ID’s for KAAY) are no longer with us today but were powerful influences to a kid just out of high school. 

It’s been almost 40 years since those heady days at KAAY but you guys out there have made it feel like yesterday.  There will never be a time like that in radio again, but for those of us who lived it we will never forget it.  I’m very happy that my archives are now in good hands and can be shared with all thru the web.

For those who are interested please visit my new website at  I’ve gone under the name “Eric Chase” since ’73 (long story) and invite you to say hi.

All the best, Phil North/E Chase"
Eric, YOU have helped us all relive some great memories through your contributions!  Your audio has been a rare and precious find and a great gift.  Rest assured that it has been, and will continue to be, greatly appreciated by all of us here!
Please visit often, leave us some comments from time to time...we'd love to hear when you and David B. collaborated for more fun stuff!
Bud S. (

Audio Frequency Response, From Dave M.

Hello gents,

You had me scratching my head on AM transmitter frequency response questions, and I finally found some corroboration of my 30++ year old memory about KAAY.

But first, some more trivia - KAAY's audio chain had a 75Hz high pass audio filter that intentionally limited low frequency response (60Hz power supply hum). Felix didn't like hum and he said it just ran up the power bill. During audio proof of performance, we disabled the filter to test frequency response at 50Hz, which I seem to recall was the lower A.F. limit.

On the upper end we tested to 7500Hz for the formal report, and we also made readings at 10kHz as I recall but I don't remember if 10kHz was part of the formal report [it may have been and I just forgot this detail]. Bottom line is/was KAAY always used the full 10kHz bandwidth allowed at the time. The old RCA-BTA50F would do it without complaining. 10kHz @ 100% modulation, that is. A 50-kW dog whistle!! Heh.

Measurements were made at 25%, 50%, and 100% modulation at several frequencies (I don't remember for certain, but seem to remember 50Hz, 1kHz, 5kHz, 7.5kHz, and 10kHz). We used a precision attenuator at the microphone input of the main studio, and measured the frequency response and THD distortion at the audio output of the station's modulation monitor at the transmitter site. We could resolve frequency response to within 1/10 dB. We also measured total system S/N end to end.

Since then the FCC rules relating to AM frequency have been modified. This is not surprising since early measurements were intended to monitor the performance of "tube" amplifiers, whereas now almost everything in the audio chain now is solid state of some sort, except for, perhaps the transmitter final P.A.

Here's the snippet of information I found.

"The limitation on AM fidelity comes from current receiver design. Moreover, to fit more transmitters on the AM broadcast band, in the United States maximum transmitted audio bandwidth is limited to 10.2 kHz by an NRSC standard adopted by the FCC in June of 1989, resulting in a channel occupied bandwidth of 20.4 kHz. The former audio limitation was 15 kHz resulting in a channel occupied bandwidth of 30 kHz. Source: "

Here's a link of a fellow HAM who might be able to shed some light on this mysterious subject:

Regards all,


Monday, September 28, 2009

Detuning Water Towers, Etc.

Dave M. has sent me some cool information on how they had to "detune" structures, such as their own towers at KAAY, nearby water towers, and the like, so that the radio station's radiation pattern would fit within FCC guidelines.  The reason other structures had to be treated in this manner was also to protect other radio stations from their radiation pattern.  To put this simply (and it is no simple matter!), any nearby metal structure can change a station's pattern, causing it to fall outside FCC guidelines, which could have serious consequences!

KAAY would detune two of their three antennas to get their circular daytime pattern and bypass the tuning for their nighttime figure-eight pattern.  There was also a water tower, shown in the pictures, which had to have a detuning network to stop it from being resonant (working like an antenna) on 1090.  Click on the picture(s) and look close and you'll see the wires and stand-offs holding them away from the water tower's legs:

Dave says this is a view of the water tower in Wrightsville at the corner of 2nd and Locust Streets, and KAAY is about 1/2 to 3/4 mile to the left.

Here is another picture of the water tower and a satellite view of KAAYs antenna array:

Thank you, Dave!  Dave also sent in an excellent paper on detuning; I'd be glad to forward it on to anyone who would like a copy. 

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Hearing U.S.A. Mediumwave Stations In Vietnam? Not Very Probable....

Well, folks, its about time for a "Mythbusters Moment". Behind the scenes, Ron H., Dave M. and I have been discussing the feasability of our troops hearing mediumwave (AM broadcast band) signals in Vietnam from the U.S.A.

In theory, it might be practical terms, its not probable. Ron and I are Ham radio operators (and Ron currently works in the field of radio and is degreed in several areas), while Dave is an electronic engineer; all of us have different training and life experiences and have been fortunate to have good discussions and learning from one another (boy, have I been learning from these guys!).

I've been drawing on both Ron's and Dave's experiences while in Vietnam, re: radio reception.

One time, I believe it was Clyde Clifford who mentioned that he was getting calls from soldiers hearing the station; A. J. also mentioned to me that audio was possibly piped in via an unused phone line. On still another source, the KXOK tribute website, someone mentioned hearing that particular station for an hour, from an airport. Ron pointed out here that one could pretty much count on a lot of interference from different things in an airport and not reliably hear a station from the U.S.A.

Now, the "feasability" portion of an arguement would be that a signal from the nighttime portion of the planet would bounce off the ionisphere into the daytime portion and be heard. The "probability" portion against such a thing happening on the mediumwave band is that, outside North America, channel spacing is at 9 kHz- North America's channel spacing is 10 kHz. The factors working against being able to hear these stations lay in not only co-channel interference from the 9 kHz-spaced stations, but from daytime interference generated from a variety of other local sources and atmospherics...and pure distance from the station to the reception area.

Dave also mentioned that, while working with Felix McDonald, they would take signal strength readings at KAAY when the foliage was in full on the trees; vegitation acts like a large sponge, soaking up signal and diminishing said signal going outward. However, this mainly "skews" the ground wave propagation, not sky wave propagation (thanks, Dave, for the correction! bs). Also, during this time, atmospheric noise is higher. The opposite is true in the wintertime: less foliage to soak up the signal and clearer, quieter atmospheric conditions. That's why a radio signal sounds so LOUD during the wintertime, local-wise on ground wave. Dave also mentioned that sky wave propagation is a variable phenomenon, not as predictable as ground wave propagation, so many things could "go against" sky wave propagation.

Sorry folks, but we're all doubtful on this one. There were times that tapes were sent from home and were rebroadcast on what were local on-base low-powered stations, from what Ron has mentioned to Dave and I. I would say that the solder in the airport may have heard such a station during the hour-long layover mentioned. To hear anything with constant reliability had to be borne from a local station. Also, the average soldier did not have access to a huge, high-quality sensitive and extensive radio system and antenna.

The only thing that did work with any reliability and regularity was when MARS (Military Affiliate Radio Service) stations operating on both sides of the Pacific would communicate "health and welfare" messages, BUT, they were not restricted to one frequency in one band; they were able to operate on a multitude of frequencies on many bands, in what many know as the shortwave band, that would "make the trip", according to conditions and times of day or night. Senator Barry Goldwater had such a station that was manned 24 hours a day by volunteers providing communications (and this was before cell phones and other consumer-grade worldwide communication), but that is another story for another time.

If anyone- ANYONE- claims to have heard a mediumwave radio station from the U.S.A. in Vietnam, I would challenge them for physical proof; radio can be unpredictable sometimes, but we'll stand pat on this one....

Bud S. (

Behind the scenes with John's Jeans

Phil North has contributed a collection of `'in-takes'' and ``out-takes'' documenting the (mis)adventures of one Jock Strappenger (yes, that's the name), KAAY's "official" spokesperson for John's Jeans.  Jock is not all that clever with words, and the audio clips make this painfully clear.  He does manage to tell the listener, at one point,that "this year's models all have pockets''.   I have no idea if John's Jeans knew that their advertising money was being used on Jock, but I guess it's OK to reveal the truth after all these years:

(click here to download)

As usual, thanks, Phil!

---Dave S.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Emperor Holiday Button

From Ron Henselman:

"I can't believe it!  I was looking in the drawer where my Emperor Holiday card was stored for over forty years, and I found a pin-on button!  It is an Emperor Holiday button.  I have to figure out how to photograph it now...."

A little later...

"I had a heck of a time scanning the button. It seems like my Epson scanning programming does some automatic cropping. It took a whole bunch of tries to get the axis correct."

Thanks, Ron!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Dick Downes: the "Broadcasting Yearbooks"

A note from Dick:

Wow! Some guy scanned all the "Broadcasting Yearbooks" from 1935-1981. This was a huge undertaking. I used to have a lot of them, but had to trash them during my last move - just too heavy.

Anyway, thought this from the 1977 issue would be of interest:
The others are at


Greg Fadick And FM

" Bud,

Long-winded post warning here! Feel free to edit as needed, or trash the whole freaking thing.
Mr. Montgomery, a/k/a The Great Guru Of The Wires And Knobs is correct. David B. and I were with KLAZ before the transmitter was. I’ll add to my earlier short post, and Mr. Treadway can fill in all the blanks I leave. Remember, this was the 70’s and I still see a lot of it through a haze.

Lin Broadcasting did own the original Construction Permit for an FM station in Little Rock on 98.5. In fact, if one could get their hands on an SRDS from 1971 or early 1972, there’s an entry for KAAY-FM on 98.5 with a notation that the station is still in the construction permit stage.
From what I know, the idea for the original KLAZ came from Danny Garner, owner of Carrousel Attractions, Little Rock’s big concert promoter. The concerts Danny booked into Little Rock were mostly artists only heard on Beaker Street. Take the Mountain/Ted Nugent spot you have on the blog for example. KAAY played the single version of Mississippi Queen, but the rest of Mountain’s work and all of Ted Nugent’s was only heard on Beaker. Danny figured if people would fork over their hard earned cash to hear this music in concert, they’d listen to it on the radio for free.

Danny founded a company, Tower Communications, then hooked up with Joe Dickey, the sales manager or KAAY, to become GM of the new station with Danny providing the financial backing (and backstage passes to all his concerts for the airstaff...a perk I still miss). Joe immediately tapped KAAY afternoon personality Michael J. McCormick (Barry Wood) as program director. Barry went after two of KAAY’s brightest, David B. and Phil North. David happily came on board, but Phil, while wanting to make a move, had his sights set on much bigger markets, leaving just a few months later for WDRQ in Detroit. My opportunity came when I picked up the phone to find David B. on the other end, uttering the immortal words, "Hey kid, ya wanna job?" If memory serves, the original airstaff was Ken Dennis, Bob Harrison, Rick Barrington, Tommy Alford, Barry, David B. and myself. Hope I didn’t leave anyone out. Needless to say, Pat Walsh wasn’t too happy about losing some of his best people to "that hippie station" which he predicted wouldn’t last six months.

The problem was, FM penetration (the number of FM receivers actually in existence) in Little Rock was something like 3 or 4% of the total available audience, and almost all of those receivers were home stereo systems. Remember, in 1972, an FM radio wasn’t even an option on most cars. Little Rock’s FM stations at that time included KRAA (later KEZQ), playing an interesting combination of very light easy listening and classical, and KARN-FM, playing an automated Drake-Chenault format, Solid Gold Rock And Roll. FM penetration in cars was so nonexistent that right after signing on, KLAZ’s first "promotion" was offering listeners a discount at certain retailers on FM converters...a little modulator you could install in a few minutes that gave you FM through your factory AM radio. Mono, of course, but FM just the same. I’ve attached a pic of the exact one we were hawking just for fun. I am proud to say that just a couple of years after KLAZ signed on, FM penetration in Little Rock was up over 80%. We can’t take all the credit for that, but we helped.

KLAZ signed on July 7, 1972 at 8 PM. I had the honor of being the first person running the board. I say running the board, because the first night was all on tape. We had recorded it weeks earlier at Barry Wood’s apartment, with a mic perched on top of a basket of Barry’s dirty laundry sitting on his dining room table (we had no mic stand) then mixed and mastered it at a little studio downtown by the Flaming Arrow Bar and Grill, as our production room was, at the time, empty. I guess we all figured we’d be too excited and nervous to actually do radio that first night, plus there was a great, drunken party going on in the building that no one wanted to miss.

We all wanted Clyde Clifford on board from the beginning, but that just wasn’t in the cards. Clyde did join us within the year, which sent Pat Walsh’s blood pressure up another few more notches. The moment Clyde announced his resignation from KAAY, Joe received warnings that in no way could the names Clyde Clifford or Beaker Street be used on KLAZ, and even the Beaker background sounds, even though they were on a commercially available album, were off limits. Clyde came on KLAZ as "J. P. Clyde", explaining that the J.P. stood for "Just Plain". We did tweak KAAY’s nose a bit by having Clyde open his show for the first few months with Jimi Hendrix’s If 6 Was 9, the intro of which was being used as the Beaker Street theme at that time. After those first months, the J. P. was dropped, and he became just Clyde, or Uncle Clyde as we called him, because he was one of the very few adults in the building.

KLAZ was the first "underground" FM in that part of the country, the closest being the legendary WMC in Memphis. The format was simple. The back wall of the control room was covered with floor to ceiling shelves, stuffed with albums. The rotation was, grab something, and play it. Talking over music, except the very last part of a fade-out, was a capital offense. Production elements, jingles, promos and such were banned. Playing the edited single version of a song would get you skinned. The only other loose rule was, if KAAY added a song we’d been playing from an album to their rotation, we didn’t stop playing it, but we avoided it if possible. We played everything from what are now rock classics, to bluegrass, to the obscure and really strange. Sunday nights even featured a show called Jazz Is A Four-Letter Word...four hours of traditional to contemporary jazz.

Mr. Montgomery flatters us when he says we were successful from the beginning. We did have every college frat house on board from the first night, and over time, we did build a substantial audience. However, while we didn’t go under in 6 months as predicted, the underground KLAZ was never a financial success. Even with a very talented sales force, too many advertisers were concerned about having their commercials on "that hippie station" that played "music to light your bong by". Our typical commercial set was a Carrousel Attractions concert spot, another for The Village Fox (a head shop) and one starring Ole Discount Jack from Discount Records hawking the new albums on sale. So, in early 1976, Danny Garner sold KLAZ to Ron Curtis from Chicago, who dumped the underground music and installed a straight-ahead CHR format. Interestingly, the program director Ron hired to make this switch was Ken Dennis, a member of the original KLAZ airstaff who had left shortly after we signed on. The CHR version of KLAZ, known as Z98, dominated the Little Rock market for several years, with talent like Ray Lincoln, Craig O’Neill, Tom Sleeker and others.

In a very strange move, and Ron Curtis was sometimes known for strange moves, he allowed morning personality Craig O’Neill to defect to KKYK (formerly KARN-FM) which started a downward slide the station never recovered from. The only bright spot was during the early 80’s when the station made somewhat of a resurgence with a semi-urban contemporary format. I was back for that version of Z98 starting in 1981, and stayed after Ron passed away in 1985 and the station was sold to Dick Oppenheimer and became KZOU, Zoo98. Of course, it’s now KURB, an A/C station.

So there’s the basic history as I remember it, and again, Mr. Treadway can add a bunch, I’m sure. On another note, there are enough stories about the original KLAZ to fill a whole blog by themselves, and most of them are pretty darn funny. Here’s one I’ll share with you that David B. might remember and Dave M. should enjoy:

Money was always in short supply at the original KLAZ, and a lot of the studios were held together with chewing gum, string, hope and prayer. David B. and I were in the production room one day, bemoaning the fact that we had no reverb unit, and were forced to use tape echo, a poor substitute. That’s when we realized that the first-generation Tascam Model 10 console we had in production was a recording studio board, not a radio board, and included send and receive channels. (BTW, we didn’t have this board because it was good, we had it because it was cheap...about $1700 retail at the time, if I remember correctly). We figured if we could come up with some sort of echo chamber to hook up to those sends and receives, we’d be in business. Then, it hit us that right next to the production room was the men’s john, which was about 4 feet by 4 feet square with a 12 foot ceiling, and almost completely covered with shiny, white ceramic tile. Perfect echo! So we got with our brilliant, but just-a-bit-left-of-normal engineer, Terry Beverly, who came in one weekend, mounted a mic on the ceiling of the bathroom to feed the receive channel, then parked an amp and rather large speaker behind the john itself, fed by the send channel. The delay between the floor speaker and ceiling mic gave us beautiful, natural sounding reverb. However, to make this thing work, the send channel had to be cranked up to an SPL close to that of a 747 on takeoff. David B. and I weren’t bothered by that fact, until a day or two later when we used the "reverb system" for the first time during normal business hours, not knowing our GM, Joe Dickey, was currently parked on the can enjoying his newspaper and morning glory, totally unaware of what was on the floor behind him or what was about to happen. To make the story short, our "reverb system" was dismantled within the hour, and David B. and I swore that the new dent in the ceiling sheetrock was where Joe’s head hit when that sucker fired up. I also think this event gave an entirely new definition to the phrase, "s&$t storm".



Thank you, Greg! I had a converter that I obtained from Western Auto that had an 8-track player in it. That was a hot receiver, too and was Quadraphonic Stereo, which played on the tapes, but was standard stereo on FM. Sadly, someone broke into my auto, kicked it out from underneath the dash (leaving LOTS of plastic all over the place) and took my tapes, about 300 of them. I was able to find another one, but never replaced all of my tapes.

Thanks for the info, Greg! And below, see Dave M.'s reply:

"Hey Greg!! A shout-out from Dave M!!

You've done the history so much better than I ever could. I forgot about Barry moving over to KLAZ. You're right on about the FM receiver penetration at that time - I had a little converter box in my car so I could listen to FM on the roll. It was cr*p but it was FM.

I was off on my great far-east adventure when all this came down, so I only learned about it when I came home in '73. It was a done deal. I remember coming back to a new air staff but still in the old 7th Street studio. Bob Spears (aka Bob Robbins) had replaced Barry Wood (aka Mike McCormick). Later on, Bob would leave KAAY for a new country music station, KSSN-FM, which eventually moved to the top of the ratings in Little Rock.

Your narrative certainly brings back a lot of memories for me - I had completely forgotten about the SRDS listing of KAAY-FM.

Stay well, be great!

Dave M//"

Thanks, guys...good stuff, great memories!

Monday, September 21, 2009

"Marvelous" Mark Larsen - where is he now...

HOLY SMOKES, y'all! This has made my day! "Marvelous" Mark Larsen just dropped in!


I usually don't post on the blogs and boards, but a former co-worker and fellow Razorback (I attended U of A 77,78,79) said he saw an inquiry on the Arkansas board about me.

I'm alive and well and doing mornings in Tampa Bay. I (regretfully) left Little Rock in late 79 for a quick, errant stop at WFMF Baton Rouge, on my way to B97 in New Orleans. I was only in BR for 6 weeks when a call came in from PD Dan Vallie in New Orleans about a new FM CHR he was going to fire up. He asked me to come down and I left a 60 mile long trail of rubber burning my way to B97's inaugural PM drive slot. I also did mornings and middays over the course of the next year. From there, off to Tampa Bay, where I have been for 29 years. I retired from 970WFLA after a long midday talk stint, due to a full real estate portfolio and my recording studio business. But I always said I'd come back for a morning gig, which better fit my schedule. Now at independently owned 820WWBA in Tampa Bay for the past 7 years.

I have always told folks that my fondest radio memories were at 1090KAAY. Our 1977-78 overhaul was an absolute blast -- especially 1977-78, when we didn't use any "record research" and just danced & rocked our 50kw asses off. Unfortunately, we found ourselves playing Simon & Garfunkel and Neil Diamond records by '79 (because the computer said so) and the fun was mostly over.

It was a rare occasion to take a bombed out 50kw battleship to a 13.6 in one book against Z98. Of course, we had stolen the late Ray Lincoln from KLAZ, too. But the rest of our lineup came mostly from WROK in Rockford, led by Carl Hamilton. (WROK had just been named Billboard Magazine's Grand International Radio Station of the Year, 1977 -- beating literally EVERY other radio station in America.)

Sadly, I haven't been back to L.R. since I moved. I can't tell you how many times I have wanted to relive those amazing days on KAAY. I'll never forget that first night, rockin' 28 states. It was the first time I ever had to use an area code with the request line number. My first song was Fleetwood Mac's, "You Make Lovin' Fun." To this day, every time I hear that track, I can see that RCA board, 6 ITC auto fire carts, an RE20 in front of me and the Arkansas River out the window. Donna Summer, Boston, LTD, Brothers Johnson, Saturday Night Fever... holy crap! If I could have everything I have now in Tampa Bay, I'd rather have it in Little Rock.

Feel free to copy/paste this on the radio board or your blog. By the way, Stuart McRae, with whom I share the same birthday, is still a very good friend of mine. I saw that there was an inquiry for him as well on the radio-info Arkansas board. We usually see each other every winter in Colorado on the slopes. I'll make sure he sees the board and gets your email. While NewsTalk 820 is 50kw during the day, unfortunately you can't hear it up there, as we're a very directional 1000w before sunrise. I do have my old KAAY demo and some jingles. If the tape isn't too brittle, I'll see if I can burn you an mp3 for your tribute site. Hopefully, you can get some Beaker stuff from Stuart.

All the best,
Mark Larsen

Mark Larsen's Morning Magazine(R)
Weekday Early Mornings, 6-9AM
NewsTalk 820 WWBA, Tampa Bay

Mark, thank you SO much for letting us know what's up! We hope and pray that the tapes hold up and we can get some audio from you, soon.

This is amazing...the Internet has proven to be a great tool for this reunion, of sorts- what else could we call it, but a reunion? From a now-deceased collector's entry on a now-closed website, to a query on Radio-Info Boards, to Mighty1090KAAY...prayers ARE answered, y'all!

Once again, one of the greats has emerged....come visit often, Mark!

Bud S. (

A KAAY "FM Sister Station"?

Yes, according to Dave M.; and I pestered him into giving us the info on it, so here it is!

"Here’s a short history of how KAAY’s FM sister station came to be -

The historical stage was set very well by Greg Fadick in an earlier note – KAAY had passed up an opportunity to build a new FM station – a frequency was available in Little Rock, and several people, including some ex-KAAY people applied for and got the construction permit for what became KLAZ-FM. Greg’s history is accurate as I remember.

I remember leaving for Vietnam hoping that when I came back I would have a nice and shiny FM station to work on. But, NO! Instead, KLAZ-98 became an instant hit, and KKYK-FM (KARN) joined the battle, and Little Rock now had a couple of ACR/contemporary rockers and the listener migration was well underway to FM. The stage was well set for KAAY’s ultimate demise.

Time rocked on, and local radio station owner Bernie Mann, who owned KALO-AM (urban) and KEZQ-FM (beautiful music automated) eventually sold KEZQ-FM 94.1 to Multimedia Radio, then current owners of KAAY. KEZQ-FM was moved into the new Cottondale Lane building along with a new automation system playing elevator music. It wasn’t long before an opportunity was sensed, and the decision was made to change formats on the FM from elevator music to album rock. I built a new air-studio and got ready for the format change. Now this is where the story gets fun –

The decision was made to make the format change memorable. Very memorable. When KTHS changed to KAAY, it was memorable. Why not do it again?!?

So the night of the format change came. A special set of tapes were made for the automation system, one being “Baby Elephant Walk”, and the other – Queen’s “We Will Rock You”. These two songs played over and over all weekend long, with only a pause for the station ID at the top of the hour. You should have heard the telephone calls we got!

One nice lady who was a faithful KEZQ Beautiful Music listener actually called the police department and asked them to go to the radio station to check on things, because things didn’t “sound right” and “something MUST be wrong down there”. The police officer that was dispatched to the studio rang the night buzzer and spoke with one of the staff – he was reassured things were just fine, and thanks for checking. It was a new radio station in town and he would enjoy listening to it beginning first thing Monday morning.

Monday morning, KLPQ (KQ-94) signed on playing album rock with an all new staff, new music, new studio, and sounding pretty good.

The station is now known as KKPT-FM “The Point”.


I wonder if they got protests like on the episode of WKRP, with a lobby full of folks with signs? Good one, Dave! Thank you!

Bud S. (

Sunday, September 20, 2009

More Border Blasters: XEG, PJB, and CKLW

In a previous post, we did a quick tour of the Border Blaster stations and XELO in particular.

You might wonder what kind of equipment was needed to generate 150,000 KW of broadcast power. There is a great picture and story of the power tubes used, at (Take a quick look at this before reading here any further!)

Gary Wegner and Ron Henselman in Melrose Park, IL, were avid DXers and followed the exploits of the Border Blasters. Ron contributed these comments:
It is strange how stations on 800 KHz were said to be clear channel, yet I could hear as many as three of them during hours of darkness: CKLW in Windsor, Ontario (50 KW), XELO in Mexico (150 KW), and PJB in Netherlands Antilles, West Indies (500 KW). PJB was known as Transworld Radio, and they were one of the few super power stations which could change their antenna pattern to coincide with the audience who they wish to target. Since many of their early evening broadcasts were in English, I often thought they were a US station, so I tuned right past them. One night I heard them state they were transmitting from the "island of the flamingoes"; that finally got my attention. I was never excited about getting QSL cards, but I thought receiving one from PJB might be a prize. I listened for twenty minutes and wrote to them with a description of the religious programming I heard. They sent me an information packet, but they refused to send a QSL because they required at least 30 minutes of programming description.

I remained on their mailing list for the next five years. The station was run by Dr. Paul Freed and his brother. The final mailing and insult was when they notified me they were having a religious convention and dinner in Chicago, and they wanted me to volunteer to be a waiter at the dinner!

Ron and Gary had better luck with XEG, a border blaster on the Texas-Mexico border:

As noted at ,
XEG-AM broadcasts at 1050 kHz in the state of Nuevo León, Mexico. Known for its border blaster status in the 1950s, XEG now uses the name "La Ranchera de Monterrey" and broadcasts ranchera music. In 1950, the advertising time on XEG came under the control of Harold Schwartz of Chicago who represented XERB, the station made famous in the movie, "American Graffiti."
Gary successfully obtained this QSL card from XEG:

Here's the flip side:

And here is a short audio clip of XEG from Gary and Ron:

(or click here to download)

Finally, here is a short clip of CKLW, Windsor, Ontario, from Ron:

(or click here to download)

There is good technical explation of clear-channel radio at Wikipedia:

Thanks to Gary and Ron for supplying the materials for this post and the previous post on the Border Blasters!

---Dave S.

Friday, September 18, 2009


Here is another posting from the "Phil North archive" of KAAY audio clips. This one is a collection of promos for a Mountain/Ted Nugent & the Amboy Dukes concert in Little Rock in 1971.

This is the "heaviest" collection of ads I've ever heard --- the adjective, "heavy," pops up every 5 seconds of every spot! Perhaps the announcer (Phil) was referring to the music, perhaps to Leslie West's girth, but in any case, the word seems appropriate.

Of course, the show plays at Barton Colisseum and is a Carousel Attraction, the "heaviest ever." And of course, we get to hear the cowbell-guitar intro to "Mississippi Queen." Heavy....

(click here to download)

Thanks, Phil!

---Dave S.

Another "Where Are They Now?"

I found a name of a fellow, Dennis Harrington, who was supposed to have worked at KAAY during the Top 40 days. My not having the flexibility to call during "normal" business hours, does anyone still have contact with him (e-mail?). He shows to possibly be an Oldies DJ at Oldies 105.3, KDRG, in Redding, CA?

From checking with past e-mails to & from A. J., he mentions that he may have been there near "the end" about it, folks? Anyone have any information?

Bud S. (


I got this image and had sent it to A.J. back in August of 2008...thought it was pretty neat! But, for the life of me, I cannot remember if he used it or not, so here it is....

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Mary Travers, R.I.P.

Mary Travers, of "Peter, Paul and Mary", passed away yesterday, from the side effects of chemotherapy while battling leukemia, at 72 years young. What a voice....

The band was very prolific during the turbulent '60's, but many of our fondest memories were of that childhood tune, "Puff The Magic Dragon".

Rest easy, sister, and please tell Puff hello for us....

Bud S. (

David B. Treadway's Comments

"Don't be too hard on yourself. I have known for YEARS that there's a 50K on 880. Yet when I saw the reference to "50 thousand watt AM station for sale," all I could think of was KAAY. Is that Marketing 101 or what!


I agree...what else WAS there but KAAY, the 50,000-watt Mighty 1090 when we were growing up? There was nothing, in our heart of hearts!

Bud S. (

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Educated (re: KAAY Sale?)

I feel smarter now – there actually is now a second 50kW am station in Arkansas. A listing I found on says that KLRG operates 50kW (day) and 220w (night). The bloggers opine that this is the station for sale, and not KAAY.

KAAY is 50kW (day) and 50kW (night-directional).

Here is the FCC listing and assorted related data.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Dave M. on KAAY's ground system

Regarding the previous post, Dave Montgomery writes:

"Here’s a little information about the ground system -

We refurbished the ground system at KAAY ca. 1975. The original ground system had 120 radials for each tower spaced every 3 degrees. We added new radials in between each existing radial, and ran them out about 550 feet from the tower base (a LOT of copper!). We ended up with 240 radials for each tower, and both the old and new ground systems were welded together to become “one”.

Here’s the night time coverage map from the KAAY website: "

Monday, September 14, 2009

Is KAAY For Sale?

Mentioned this morning, on Radio-Info Boards:

"NEW LISTING!Little Rock, AR - 50,000 kw - AM Station Owned Tower and real estate (7 acres)! New Transmitter"

Some expect its's the link:

If anyone knows anything else, let us know here....supposedly put "out there" by a media broker.

Bud S. (

KAAY And The Cuban Missile Crisis

This material, researched and submitted by Dave M., is timely, since these events occurred shortly after KAAY signed on...and, in-line with the anniversaries re: KAAY and the Cuban Missile Crisis, here is Dave's material:

"[This account was pieced together from a variety of sources, including some private notes from AJ (no confidences are betrayed) as well as some of the historical records available on the internet.]

====Some Notes on the Cuban Missile Crisis and KAAY====

The Cuban Missile Crisis of the '60's has been discussed several times on this blog and KAAY’s role needs a bit more context to really appreciate the position the station was in and the gravity of the decisions that senior staff were being asked to make.

On Labor Day weekend 1962, the call letter change occurred from KTHS to KAAY. KAAY’s on-air date of Labor Day weekend 1962 was only a few weeks prior to the October 1962 standoff between US President Kennedy and Khrushchev of Russia. Russia’s actions in Cuba, and President Kennedy’s response to it brought the world to the very brink of all out nuclear war.
The historical context was this - the Batista government in Cuba had recently been overthrown by Castro's revolutionaries, and Khrushchev was in power in Russia. American school children were being taught about nuclear attacks and how to "Duck and Cover" in classrooms. Khrushchev was a belligerent international bully, and he saw Cuba as a natural extension of Russia's nuclear arsenal, right in America's backyard, just 90 miles from Florida. Khrushchev was supporting the new Communist regime in Cuba with aide and money and military materiel. Russian "advisors" had taken up permanent residence in Cuba.

KAAY was in a unique position because of its powerful night-time signal into downtown Havana. KAAY also had emergency power capability in the event it "was needed". KAAY was a brand new radio station, still getting on its feet and building a new business with new advertisers. So when the call came requesting KAAY participate in the VOA broadcasts to Cuba, there were a number of factors pulling the new staff in opposite directions.

In some private (email) conversations with AJ, he gave some insight into behind the scenes activity during this period. To say that everyone on staff at KAAY agreed with the station's role in broadcasting to Cuba is an understatement. Instead, some on the staff held sharply divided opinions, and some vigorously objected to anything having to do with the Cuban broadcasts.
Those opposed were motivated in part by the practical aspects of getting the new station on its feet and developing an audience. KAAY, after all, had just gone the air just a few short weeks beforehand. Broadcasting to Cuba meant that local advertising could not be sold, eliminating part of the vital revenue stream needed to keep the new station on the air. The other rationale was the simple (and very real) fear of getting directly involved in a situation that could potentially result in the physical harm to people or themselves, and possibly jeopardize the radio station itself. Both of these were good reasons "not" broadcast to Cuba.

So Americans, including the KAAY staff had every right to be very afraid of the potential consequences. The Russians were building nuclear missile launch sites in Cuba, aimed at the US mainland. Was KAAY a target?

The tension was palpable. Americans were rightly afraid that Khrushchev's USSR would act on their threat to launch nuclear missiles onto the US mainland. US Air Force planes overflew Cuba daily taking reconnaissance photos, and these pictures were broadcast on US nightly news - pictures of the Cuban missile launchers being installed and populated with Russian nuclear tipped missiles.

President Kennedy had no choice other than to call the bluff of Khrushchev and Castro. A US Navy blockade was formed, US Navy ships "surrounded" Cuba, to prevent any shipping from reaching Cuba. The blockade enraged Khrushchev and tension escalated to an impossible level. It truly appeared that we were on the verge of an all out nuclear war with Russia. We had tiptoed up to the brink.

One thing was well known - KAAY had the second strongest American radio signal into downtown Havana at night. So the services of KAAY were sought and brought into action.

(Footnote: KAAY was not the only US radio station brought into VOA service. WWL New Orleans was also brought on line as well as others, including some private shortwave stations, as well as the might and muscle of the VOA shortwave transmitters.)

The VOA broadcasts in Spanish went on the air nightly. We have heard anecdotally from Cuban ex-pats from those days, who listened to KAAY in Spanish, and of the Cuban attempts to jam those broadcasts. Many continued to listen to KAAY after the jamming was lifted – KAAY was their source of American music and information.

Diplomats of all sides sought a peaceful end to it. No one wanted the nuclear missiles to fly. Thankfully, the crisis devolved over a period of days, and both the US and USSR were able to announce a diplomatic resolution had been reached. The world took a step back from the brink. And eventually, regular programming returned to KAAY.

Part of the "hardening" of the KAAY transmitter site was the direct result of the Cuban missile crisis, and part was a result of KAAY being designated as a Conelrad Clear Channel station. KAAY was the only radio station in the state with a 50kw transmitter, and therefore the only radio station that could cover the entire state with news and information in the event of a national emergency.

Almost anticipating unforseen future historical events, when the KTHS transmitter site was built, a generator set was installed. The generator set and an underground fuel tank would insure that the transmitter would be able to stay on the air for "days" at full power in the event of a national emergency. A fallout shelter was built on the ground floor of the transmitter building and it was provisioned with several weeks’ food and water supply. A small studio was also built in the fallout shelter, and a basic telephone line was installed to the downtown studios using a magneto crank phone.

Later, the transmitter itself and assorted support equipment were fitted with a "EMP" kits to protect it from Electromagnetic Pulse radiation that would be radiated from a nuclear blast. It had to be checked every year at Proof of Performance time to confirm it was still functional."

Dave also sent along some links where he gleaned this information, for additional reading:
This is the article that the article quote came from -
Here is a Cuban history, including a section on US relations, the Batisa overthrow, and the emergence of Castro and his support from USSR.

Thanks to Dave M. for all his hard work, showing how KAAY was interwoven into the important history of our country!

Bud S. (

Sunday, September 13, 2009

XELO and the Border Blasters

As most readers of this blog know, south of the U.S. border were radio stations that broadcasted far beyond the 50,000-watt limit assigned to U.S. clear-channel stations like KAAY.
These "border blasters" typically operated at 150,000 watts and directed northwards their mix of music with relentless ads for dubious medical cures and cosmetics.

Here is a short intro from the Modesto Radio Museum web site (
Many radio broadcasters in the 30's moved South Of The Border to avoid Broadcasting regulations and liability. So-called Mexican "Border Blasters" were licensed commercial radio station that transmitted at very high power to the United States of America from various Mexican cities near the border beginning in the 1930's and continuing into the 80's. There were many such stations licensed by Mexico's Secretary of Communications and Transport (SCT) using transmitters with an output far in excess of licensed commercial stations located within the USA. The primary reason for the high powered stations was to escape United States regulations regarding power and frequency assignments.

As was the case between the 1930's and the 1970's, some border blasters in areas near larger American border cities such as San Diego are leased out by American broadcasting companies and air English-language programming targeting American audiences. The American side leases the station from the Mexican station owners/licence holders and feeds programming from their American studios to the Mexican transmitters via satellite.

Perhaps the most famous personality from the Border Blasters was Wolfman Jack, who broadcasted from XERB. You can read about the Wolfman's colorful life south of the border at these links:
There is a great book by Gene Fowler and Bill Crawford, Border Radio (Univ. Texas Press 2002); see

But the topic of this post is XELO, one of the historic Border-Blaster stations.

XELO was originally in the Tijuana/Rosarito area of Baja California, Mexico. Later, it moved to Juarez. It was notable for its mix of music and those aggressive advertisements, and perhaps its most famous presenter was Woody Guthrie, who spent three tumultuous weeks at the station:

Woody was arrested and expelled from the country by Mexican police, who misunderstood his jest, after receiving some fan mail from Canadian listeners, that "he smuggled some songs into Canada"! See this link at Google books for the details.

XELO had a huge broadcast range, as shown by this graphic:

XELO's listeners included Gary Wegner and Ron Henselman in Chicagoland. Gary recorded these clips, of XELO's "Record Roost" show: (There's quite a cast of characters here!)

(click here to download)

(or click here to download)

(or click here to download)

(or click here to download)

Gary also requested and received a Record Roost poster:

Wow --- 150,000 Watts for this cast of characters! This was not at all unusual in the glory days of the Border Blasters.

XELO still broadcasts these days, emphasizing Spanish-language programming.

Thanks to Ron Henselman for forwarding this material!

---Dave S.

P.S. Ron has more stories about Border Blaster stations, to come....

P.P.S. The photo and XELO graphic are from a Google Books page documenting the Fowler and Crawford text. It is not my intention to violate anyone's copyright, so these will disappear if the authors request that I remove them. (In the meantime, I suggest you buy their book! :-)

Friday, September 11, 2009

One Millon Bogus Bucks

If you read the three part installment about A.J. Lindsey's adventures as Emperor Holiday (click here for Parts One, Two, and Three), you know that Emperor Holiday showered his loyal subjects with his own "bogus bucks" play money.

Ron Henselman, who located an authentic Emperor Holiday membership card for A.J., was rewarded with some bogus bucks. Ron misplaced them (!), but he found them again, and here is a scan of one of the famous bills:

and here's the backside:

Print as many of these are you like, but be forewarned that they can be spent only in Emperor Holiday's Empire!

Thanks, Ron, for donating a million bucks to the blog!

---Dave S.

Notes From A.J.

Last year, I was poised to take a business trip to Little Rock, AR, which later failed to materialize. I'd notified A.J. and made plans to take time off to see the local sites and also meet up with him. A.J. sent me some notes that, anyone interested in KAAY history, would be interested in. I thought I would share these notes:

"The original KAAY board is in the Museum of Science and History in the River Market in Little Rock. It was there several years ago when I was last there. It is the one that came out of the Channel 11 building. There are also old Channel 11 cameras there. On the wall by the board, there is a letter from President Kennedy thanking KAAY for being a source of information during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Not much to see at the current KAAY . It is typical corporate stuff. Nothing like the first or second studio locations. The transmitter at Wrightsville, just out of L.R. would be well worth it but I doubt you could get to see it. I get the impression current owners could care less about the transmitter. The last time I visited there a couple of years ago it had been badly neglected even though they have a new transmitter."

I wish that the trip would have materialized; I certainly pushed hard to go....

Bud S. (

'60's Memories

Anyone old enough to remember the 60's should enjoy this, and many not old enough should find it interesting.

Bud S. (

What Was The #1 Song For....

You can click the link and find what songs were popular on your birthdate, graduation day, etc.

Bud S. (

September 11: A Day Of Rememberance

Flags at YOUR flag flying? Remember how our land was festooned with flags on every home, every business in the days following this date in 2001. Now, many flags are NOT flying...have we grown complacent, gotten forgetful?

Remember those innocent victims of terrorism on our soil- fly those flags at half-mast and say a prayer for those who lost their lives eight years ago today...and for those who keep us safe from further attacks....

Bud S. (

Nick's & Dave's Adventures

Nick and I went fishing on Lake Conway a few times. Lake Conway is a stump infested puddle about a half hour outside of Little Rock. There are small cabins dotting the shoreline, and if you can find the right hole, you can catch a nice mess of Crappie. Nick and I headed out one hot summer day and rented a flat bottom boat at the bait shop. After a couple of hours we were out of crickets, and our 6-pack was gone, so it was time to head for shore. On the way in, we hit a stob that poked a hole in the bottom of the boat. We were stuck on the stob and couldn't get off it. We were also down a few IQ points because of the 6-pack, and didn't think to climb out of the boat into 3 Ft water and just lift it off.

Somehow (perhaps divine intervention?) we got the boat off the stob and made it back to shore before she sank. We quickly offloaded our gear into the pickup and sneaked out of the parking lot before the bait shop owner found out he had a boat with a hole in it. Those were great days, eh Nick? I don't remember if we even caught any fish, but that wasn't important anyway. We were having some fun!

Best regards to ya!

Dave M//

Deejay Identified!

"That's Mark Larson. I don't remember his tenure, but he broadcast out of the Cottondale Lane studio.

/Dave M/"

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Can You Identify This Deejay?

In the same blog that I found "Mitch Michaels", I found reference to a "Marvelous Mark".

This is a closed blog, as I mentioned in a previous post, so I cannot get any information from the folks maintaining it, nor from the founder, since he's passed away.

Does anyone remember a "Marvelous Mark" from 1977? The date of the aircheck is 11/20/1977.

Bud S. (


A friend of mine called me this morning to say "hello" and congratulate me. I said "Congratulate me ?", and he said: "Remember, old friend, today is your Anniversary ! You've been in Broadcasting for 42 years as of today !"

I said: "Wow ! You're right ! But, I've been working on my WebSites this morn. and haven't really had time to think about it."

Well, okay, now I HAVE thought about it. And, I want to thank everyone taking the time to read this, because the driving force behind what I've been doing since I started this "art form" of Broadcasting back on Sunday, September 10th, 1967, has nothing to do with me. It's because of Y-O-U the listeners, my co-workers, the visitors that go to my WebSites, and, all of you reading this...that I do what I do. Without you there would be no need for me.

And, I sincerely thank all of those involved in my life that got me "from there to here": my late parents, Bill & Mary, for their undying love & support; my friend and mentor Don Pietromonaco (KXOK's Johnny Rabbitt); Don Liddenton (KLID), who gave me that first job; Pat Walsh & Barry Wood (Mike McCormick) who hired me at KAAY. And, in order: Jim Brown (WDRQ), Al Casey & Joe Kelly (KSLQ); Richard Miller (KADI/KRJY); Gary Mitchell & Gary Brown (KGLD); Mike Waterman (WSSM); Mike Anderson (St.L.Media); Darryl & Donna Starbird (The National Rod & Custom Hall Of Fame/Museum); Jerry & DeVona Titus (Kustom Kemps Of America).

Also, all of those great friends I worked with including: Jerry McDaniel, Bill Steiger, Frank Terry, Charlie Moore (KLID); Mike McCormick, Sonny Martin, George Jennings, Ron Owens, Dave Treadway, Phil North, Dave Montgomery, Clyde Clifford, Greg F.,Mary Donald, Felix McDonald, Marvin Vines, Joe Dickey, Eddie Graham, Wayne Moss, Eula Mae, and some I know I've forgotten (KAAY);Ted Smith, Guy Phillips, Chuck Roberts, Bill Bailey, Gary Bridges, Terry Fox, Kevin McCarthy,Ted Anthony, Joan Kelly, Jo Jo Kincaid, et al (KSLQ); and, Ron Elz, Dick Williams, Jackie McCoy, Mad Maynard, Kent Hall, Jason Church, Debbie Alexander, Dena Pietromonaco, Doug Lyon, and many others who were also there.

But, most of all, I thank God for giving me the talent that I have and the ability to use it, and, to do what I done for the last 42 years.

Always Remember: You Never Do It Alone.

Thank you, all of my KAAY Friends, each and everyone !

Jonnie King

"Where Are They Now?": Nick Markel, aka "Mitch Michaels"

As I cruise the 'net, looking for more information to plug holes in KAAY's history, I occasionally come upon a nugget that becomes fruitful! I found a closed blog that had airchecks (no longer available, drat!) that listed "Mitch Michaels/John King". I'd not heard of the former, so I contacted Jonny King, who mentioned that he knew "Mitch" as Nick Markel and gave me contact information on the way, Jonny said he NEVER used "John"! We supposed that was the notes of the logger....

Inquiring of Nick, he was gracious enough to send along some notes:

"I first worked at KAAY in the summer of 1968. I was 17 at the time and had been in radio 4 years. George Jennings was PD and he had me audition in the production room and Eddie Graham ran the controls. I did vacation shifts that summer but ended up working well into the school semester due to the death of Richard Weithan ("Buddy Carr" bs). They continued to call me to do vacation and fill-in work until I went to work full time in Feb, 1969. My first full time gig was middays, from 10am to 3pm. I moved to news in the fall of 1970 and was named News Director (at age 20) in January, 1971. I remained at KAAY until July 1978.

I left broadcasting in 1988 and haven't looked back. For the past twenty years, I've been leading healthcare IT departments and currently serve as CIO of a group that owns and operates rural hospitals. I have designed and managed computer networks all over the country and have lived in Arkansas, Florida, Virginia, and Puerto Rico. At this point, I'm currently residing again in Arkansas.

Best wishes,

Nick Markel"

Nick, thanks for sharing information with us! Please stop by and give us a look-see from time to time.

Bud S. (

Jim Clark's Recollections

I lived in Little Rock at that time and was an avid radio listener. I was a newspaperman for the Arkansas Gazette, and I worked nights. I listened to KLRA (Brother Hal) in the mornings, KXLR, which was a North Little Rock station, in the afternoons before I went to work, and then I "surfed" the dial after I got off work at 1:30 in the mornings. I would go home; my wife and kids, of course, were in bed because they had to get up for school in the morning, and I would sit in my kitchen, drinking beer to decompress, and listen to great radio--WLS, WSM, WBAP, the Des Moines station, and I can't remember its call letters, the New Orleans station, and others that I would pick up by accident. I heard Wolfman Jack when he was still in Mexico. I remember the incidents that Jerry describes, the reading of the phone book names. Since, I was on the Gazette staff,I knew what was happening because I knew that KTHS had been sold and a new station was coming on the air. When that station came on the air, it was different then anything I had ever heard. I picked up immediately on the disc jockeys' names--Doc Holliday, Sonny Martin, Rock Robbins, Ken Knight, who at that time had the midnight to 6 a.m. shift, and I knew there was some great imagination at work in the programing. The music was about the same as was being played on KVLC and other top 40 stations, but it was the presentation that was different. I knew Pat Walsh by reputation; i had gone to the U of A with him in the early 1950s and had met him casually. He was in sales at the time KAAY went on the air. I knew he was a promoter type. So, we waited during the week end that Jerry describes to see what was going to happen. When it came on the air full blast we were not disappointed. The KAAY years were great times. I am no longer a newspaperman, and AM radio is no longer what it was. It has disintegrated into loud-mouths yelling at each other, and I think the world is worse off because of what it has become. Like most old farts (I'm 75), I yearn for the old times.

Jim Clark

Rogers, AR

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Doug Krile Checks In!

Doug Krile said...
"Just wanted to say "thanks" for posting all these wonderful airchecks! I know it takes time, but I'm thankful that so much has been preserved. As one who grew up in the north, listening to KAAY at night, they bring back GREAT memories!"

Doug, please keep checking in! And we're looking forward to your stories, anecdotes and recollections of all the good times you listened to KAAY!

Bud S. (

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Jerry Sims' Recollections, Re: KAAY Sign-On

Thanks to Jerry, another facet to the all-important history of the KAAY sign-on:

Bud...Here is a re-do of my thoughts on the KAAY sign-on....Jerry

There were several of us who had a very big interest in the KAAY sign-on all those years ago. A.J. had mentioned the sign-on earlier in his blog. I had written my recollections to him, but could not find them on what is left of his blog. Here we go again for those who are that old....

We were working for a competing radio station in town. It was KXLR, a pretty good small town Top 40 station. A.J., as "A.J. Lyons", was Program Director. I, as "Larry London", Gary Weir, as "John Scott", Tommy Riggs, as "Tom Payton", and some others, were the D.J.s. KXLR had another station as a competitor in town, but KXLR was the station that most of my friends listened to as I grew up in the early days of Rock'n'Roll.

We had word that the station would change over from KTHS to KAAY. Some of us knew of the station's coverage, although they did not have much of an audience in Arkansas. I had met one of their "announcers" through my church, who had allowed me to hang out with him late nights. I was amazed at the coverage when he got calls from different states. My 16-year-old reasoning wondered how could people all the way to Canada know about a Little Rock station that Little Rock peoiple didn't know about? I am sure they had their audience, but my young demo could question it. Although they ran so-called "good music", he, Earl "Pappy" Davis, had a Country Music Show ("Razorback Roundup") late at night. He even had a fan club based in Iowa. He operated with a broadcast engineer, out of what would later become the KAAY Newsroom. He had a light that went on over his desk when the engineer would open his mic. I was impressed, and took home tons of old A.P. news copy to practice reading aloud. He even asked the engineer (Eddie Graham, who later was very important to us at KAAY) to record my voice one night. My first experience at hearing myself.... I always thought I sounded better "inside my head" than "outside", Still do.

Program Director A.J., figured that they would call themselves some form of "KAY". We started a few weeks earl;y calling ourselves, "The Big K---XLR" and any other thing we could think of to confuse their big splash. That splash was even bigger than most of us expected.

The KXLR crowd anxiously awaited the sign-on to see what our loyal listeners would do. We listened, as others did, to the phone book reading and appeals to call them "from wherever you are listening to KAAY". They hit it big from the beginning. They were giving away CARS (used, but cars), mink coats and other great things, while across the river, we were still giving away an occasional transistor radio, some stuffed animals and a few records. One of the most unusual theings they did was, run their variable speed turntables a little fast. This made their music higher pitched and it sounded funny. They had a saying, something like, " just sounds better on KAAY". We knew we were in real trouble when our listeners began to tell us our music sounded like it was "dragging". The new jocks at KAAY were friendly enough. We made an effort to talk to some of them, and, I remember on one occasion, visiting Buddy Carr during his shift to watch him work. He had that big market style.

Our KXLR was sold before long. I, and Gary Weir, went to work for the other cross-town competitor for a while. A.J. later became Program Director at KAAY and called me to come to work. I thought I was through with radio and it's insecurity, but that was my "offer I couldn't refuse". I have never regretted it. I believe those were the best days of KAAY. We dominated. No FM and very little competition fot the audience we were after.

Now all these years later and, thankfully, a few pounds heavier (have you seen any of my 130-lb. Sonny Martin pictures?), we are without many of those early KAAY guys. Our friend A.J., gone just recently, Richard Weithan (Buddy Carr...and my best friend)...gone while he was still at the station (killed in a National Guard accident). KAAY retired the name after that. George J. Jennings, gone; Walt Sadler (Ron Owens, probably the best natural voice ever on KAAY), gone, Tommy Riggs (Rock Robbins), gone.

Lots of great voices came along after we early ones left. I listened to them, too, and enjoy their stories. Keep 'em coming.

Jerry Sims...a.k.a. Sonny Martin...1962-1967

"Bone Up On Your Spanish" Interpretation By Dave M.!

I was wondering how many would have fun with the Spanish there; apparently, Dave M. goes the distance and takes the strain out of doing it yourself! I thought it was fun, any way. Here 'tis:

"Felicidades Bud, here’s a Google translation of the remarks by “Ismael” on the “De Todo un Poquito” from Miami - -

Beaker Street was the first program of "Music Underground" regularly broadcast by a commercial radio station from AM in the center of the United States.

KAAY was (and still is) a class 1C AM station of 50,000 watts with a long history, licensed in 1090Khz radio dial, "The Mighty 1090" (The Mighty 1090) in Little Rock, Arkansas. Clyde Clifford was the driving force behind Beaker Street, the most successful show in the history of radio. Clyde started at KAAY by 62 or 63 years replacing an engineer in the summer and when they had the transmitter in Wrightsville. Beaker Street began in late 1966 or early 1967, with 30 minutes, until the year 1972. It was later sold and converted to evangelical religious broadcasting.

Many believe that Beaker Street died in the 70s, but the reality is different, Beaker Street is "alive and kicking," I hear it from the late 90s, with a schedule of 5 hours, yes sir, and you could also tune in to this radio station in Arkansas, every Sunday at 7:00 PM Eastern Time.

They can also download past shows at this link, may also read interviews with Clyde Clifford and read the full story of Beaker Street.

Adios, DM "

Thank you, Dave!

A Day In The Life Of A KAAY Engineer

Dave M. was gracious enough to share this info with us about a fire at the transmitter site; nothing of KAAY's was harmed, though. When we were honing this story, either Dave M. or David Treadway mentioned that Felox McDonald never used curse words, but said "sapsucker" when he was perturbed. Mine is "dadgummit", so, I suppose one could holler, "Dadgummit, you sapsuckers!" at someone in the story below:

"Arkansas Power and Light had been asked to replace the three big pole-mounted transformers at the back of the KAAY transmitter building in Wrightsville. This would among other things help our raw AC input power consumption by providing more stable regulated AC to the transmitter inputs. Our 50kw RCA transmitter used about 135kw of raw AC input to produce its 50kw output.

AP and L showed up early one summer morning with a big truck and began the process of removing the old transformers from the poles, then they set some new stronger poles and began mounting the new larger transformers. When they were hoisting the third transformer into place, well, that’s when the accident happened.

First, though, I must digress and make the tie-in with the Cuban missile crisis.

KAAY transmitter had a monster generator set behind the building. It was HUGE and fed by an underground propane tank. The AP&L truck was parked over the spot in the ground where the propane tank was located. Felix used to tell me stories of how long the transmitter would run at full output power on that propane tank – days stretching into weeks! The underground tank was eventually replaced with an above ground tank nearby, but the underground tank was never removed from its resting spot, next to the generator set. Felix said the generator would power the transmitter during a national emergency and KAAY was designated one of the "Conelrad" stations because of its clear channel status. The generator set would also be useful in case a national emergency such as the Cuban Missile Crisis would cause the country to plunge into war. We would have power when others did not.

(KAAY also had a fallout shelter in the transmitter building, with a food and water supply - - did you know that?)

Now, back to the action: When the transformer fell off of the boom arm of the A P and L truck, it also fell through the overhead AC main line coming into the property – 14,000 volts! The main power line broke and fell across the top of the A P and L truck, and the 14,000 V electric charge on the truck’s wheels and chassis arced across the tires and caused the tires to catch fire. Eventually the diesel tanks on the truck caught fire and burned the truck to the ground. Remember, the truck was parked directly over the underground propane tank, and the fire was hot and fierce.

In the meantime, the now broken AC main line was draped across the barbed wire fence surrounding the transmitter property, causing the wire fence to be charged with the same 14,000 volts! Someone on the AP and L crew decided to bypass the circuit breakers upstream of our building, so when the accident happened, there were no circuit breakers to "trip" and take our circuit off-line. And the closest sub-station (and closest circuit breakers) were about 6 miles away, on the other side of the electrified fence!

Several small grass fires broke out. All the A P and L workers were trapped inside the fence and could not leave because the fence was still electrified by the fallen power lines. One of the A P and L supervisors called the fire department by radio, and the Wrightsville volunteer fire department trucks came, but would not put out the fire until power was removed from the broken AC main line – at the substation several miles away.

All the while, our massive generator set was grinding away at full capacity, keeping us on the air, and only 20 feet away from the inferno. Luckily the radiator fan on the generator set blows "away", and help fan the flames away from our building.

We finally went home after dark that night, and the property was still swarming with A P and L insurance investigators snapping pictures and asking a lot of questions. And the generator set, installed in support of the Cuba Missile Crisis helped save the day."

And, some afterthoughts from Dave M.:

"I seem to remember the generator set was already installed at KTHS/KAAY transmitter as part of a government program to equip the transmitter for use as the main Conelrad station for Arkansas. This was no trivial generator either – it was rated at ~150kw continuous output, was very large, and expensive as well. We ran it regularly to keep it operational, and occasionally ran the transmitter from it, providing a full load to the generator. Generator operation and maintenance was logged into the station’s official maintenance logbook along with all other transmitter maintenance and repairs.

[SIDE NOTE] On cold days the big generator was extremely cantankerous and did not want to start. So we installed a smaller generator, 4 cylinder caliber, inside the building that was used to "jump start" the big one on the cold days. Birds liked to build nests inside the mufffler for the big generator, and when it started, it "blew" bird nest, eggs, feathers, and anything else that had managed to crawl inside the muffler across the yard."

From what I'm told, no one at KAAY got fired for this mistake....thank you, Dave M.!

Bud S. (

Monday, September 7, 2009

Bone Up On Your Spanish?

Here's an Hispanic blog out of Miami, FL who mentions KAAY and Beaker can practice your Spanish by trying to read it:

I can read some Spanish and get by, enough to stay out of trouble (s0me of our parts topics at work are in Spanish); can't say so much about speaking it, though!

Is the impact of KAAY during the Cuban Missile Crisis still creating ripples?

Bud S. (

WKRP: Episodes Wanted!

Like A. J., I was (and still am) a WKRP fan. I know that tapes/DVDs are available on the 'web, BUT, they've changed the music from the original! I am missing the first seven episodes, so if ANYONE has these episodes with the ORIGINAL music, please contact me at my e-mail address below! Thank you.

Bud S. (

"Wanna Buy A T-Shirt?"

I'd seen this before, but just found it again...if you want, you can buy a T-shirt with your favorite classic radio station logo on it (KAAY included!)..."The sound of a generation captured on a T-shirt":

There's logos for KAAY, 1969 and 1970. Not only on T-shirts, but on other collectibles, as well. Just click on the blue field below your selection(s) to see the goodies!

Hmmm, what can I tell my wife I want for Christmas....?

Bud S. (

Happy Birthday, KAAY!

Labor Day 1962, it all started with deejays reading the Little Rock phone book, greeting listeners, and the fun began. KAAY meant a lot of things to many people over the years and a lot of fun was had both on the station end and the listening end. A. J. Lindsey made a recording as it may have been....

Forty-seven years young today, and we're still enjoying KAAY's hilarity and great times via this blog! Thanks to all who help here, who work directly on the blog and behind the scenes, and to YOU out there who leave comments! In fact, PLEASE leave a comment below about what KAAY meant to you over the years.

Happy Labor Day, all....

Bud S. (

P.S. Here are some recordings that you might want to listen to on KAAY's birthday:
  • A.J.'s recreation and memories of the first day of KAAY: click to stream or download
  • Ron H.'s aircheck of the day before, when the DJs were reading the phone book, and ''the button was about to be punched!'': click to download
  • A Timeless Tracks interview about KAAY on its 40th anniversary: click to download

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Jonnie King comments on Phil North's April 71 aircheck

I just went to the blog and listened to Phil's Air Check that had my MiniBike Promo in it. It just blew me away ! I had (uncharacteristically) COMPLETELY forgotten about it, forgot that I even did it...and that's the first time I've heard it in 38 years !! Many thanks !!!
Hey, I actually think I did a good job on it ! (I'd hire the guy )

NOTE: Being an actor for many years before I got into Radio, my objective on-the-air has always been that EVERY word I spoke into the mike would be understood. That self-imposed rule continues to this very day.

BTW: September 10th will be my 42nd Anniversary in Broadcasting. It's been a long run, but my LR friends/co-workers and the time I spent at KAAY are still among my most cherished memories of all.
Thanks again for letting us share these memories for all to see and hear.


Phil North, Saturday, February 21, 1970

This is an extraordinary 9 minute scoped aircheck of Phil's 8pm-11pm Saturday-night broadcast on KAAY (''Phil North with Program 70''). When I listened to it, I felt like I was reliving the entire history of post-Beatles 1960s top-40 radio in a few super minutes.

(click here to play stream)

On the surface, Phil's shift sounds like the usual Saturday night mix of top 40, recent hits, news, weather, and ads to pay the bills, but the overall effect is amazing. Start with the music: We have Led Zeppelin, Paul Revere, Mary Hopkins, the Temps, Santana, Eric Burdon and the Animals, Dionne Warwick, Plastic Ono Band, Supremes, Dave Clark 5, the Beatles. This man knows how to choose....

The ads are also great, and although Phil didn't select these, they just fit: We have Coke commercials, an ad for CBS's Mannix, Ripple wine (''only 80 cents a fifth!''), and my favorite (played 4 times in the aircheck) ---
`` carlisle dragway... beeee there...''
done in its classic, multi-tracked, amphetamined, reverbed style.

But the most amazing ad appears about 4:40 into the aircheck, when there's a promo for Beaker Street, where Clyde is described as ''Mid-America's super hippie'' and his show is ''Radio's most listened to all night freak out!'' I wonder what kind of audience this was supposed to attract?! Did President Nixon know what was going on in Little Rock, Arkansas?

All the time, Phil floats above the mix, with exactly the right commentary to lead each item into the next, never getting in the way, improvising as needed to get it all to make sense. For example, after a not-so-successful promo by the ''KAAY Amigos'', Phil quips, ``Many of the programs on KAAY are mechanically reproduced because we couldn't find anybody who was living....'' Amen to that one!

This clip has the same spirit as one finds in the best of the Real-Don-Steele broadcasts (see for those), and you should take the time to listen to a true piece of broadcasting history.

Thanks for the great work, Phil!

---Dave S.