Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A Don Payne Recollection!

Boy, I'll tell you what...those KAAY folks were a great bunch!  The more I rub elbows with them, the more I find that they were a cut above the rest, as far as innovation and being fun-loving!  Don Payne regales once again:

"Howdy Bud!

I worked for KAAY/ KEZQ and later KLPQ in the Cottondale Lane building for about 3 years in the late 70s. Bob Nelson and Stewart McRae and I have stayed in touch off and on thru the years; Bob just yesterday emailed me the link to this site. Incidentally C. David Hamilton (the KAAY Program Director who took over after Dick Downs) ended up being my Regional VP here at Radio One. We had a nice time talking about the KY days. Oh, and not directly to do with KY but remember the Program Director for Ron Curtis’ KLAZ and KALO-AM, Barry Mayo? Well, he’s the President of Radio One right now! He’s one heck of a great guy; every time he comes to town we have some good conversations about Little Rock radio. Never burn a bridge, right? Who would know almost 40 years later we’d be working together.

KAAY was only my second job in radio and I was only about 19 or 20 years old. I had worked right across the river at gospel 1050 KSOH for about a year. My friends and I had ham radio licenses and we would drive out to Wrightsville to see Stewart in the middle of the night and stare at that huge transmitter. We got to be friends. The transmitter was in a very remote location, and we would bring Stewart cokes and donuts and snacks. Stewart ended up hiring me to do weekends to give him a few days off. By then all operations were in the new studios on Cottondale Lane. Saturday was my big night and there was only about 2 hours of Beaker on Sunday before we went into block programming loading reels of tape and babysitting it all night as I recall. At that age, and after growing up listening to the guys on that station….I was so damn nervous every time I opened the mic that you could hear it in my voice. I’ll be glad to put more memories like this on the site.

Part of my job was to keep that automation system across the hall (It had a nickname “Clark” named after the Superman Clark Kent) loaded with reels of music and it was sometimes a pain in the ass. It took the better part of Bob Nelson’s life 24/7 to listen to it constantly and keep it running. I later went on to do afternoon drive at that station, which changed from beautiful music to AOR. You would not believe how the front desk phone rang for a solid week after that format change! Doctors and Dentist offices opened up Monday morning with Zeppelin blaring thru the hallways! What memories. Later, I’ll tell you about the time the KY Fun Mobile caught on fire and burned along side a major freeway.

(Once), I locked myself out on the roof during Beaker Street. (Never mind what I was doing up there, but it went on a lot back in those days)

I put on a nice 7 minute song and headed up the ladder. The wind blew the hatch shut and there I was. Luckily another staff member just happened to be in the neighborhood and heard the station go silent. After about 10 minutes of dead air, I must imagine his surprise as he came pulling in the driveway seeing me standing there out on the roof, stoned. The fact that nobody ever said anything or I never got in trouble for that is a major miracle. Ha. -Don"

Uh, oh, I'm glad the statute of limitations has run out...now we can hear about the Fun Mobile and other things!  Thank you, Don, we'll be sitting on the edge of our seats for more!

Bud S. (staceys4@hotmail.com)

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