Sunday, September 6, 2009

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.

1 comment:

  1. 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!