(April 3, 1985 was the last day KAAY was a Top 40 blowtorch. Two guys who had something with coordinating The Last Day, Barry Mac and David B. Treadway, have stepped up to the plate to give us an inside look behind the scenes. By the way, audio is included of The Last Hour of The Last Day. Below are some recollections of Barry Mac, the man behind the board for Clyde Clifford:)
Wow, my recollections of "the last day." Don't really know how much I can come up with, as I was only there for the last six hours, six to midnight. I can certainly come up with bits and pieces, but probably not anything resembling a coherent story line.
As I recall, it wasn't a weekend, it was about the middle of the week, so I'd probably been at school (UALR) for either two or three classes. In fact, thinking of that, I'm almost absolutely certain it was a Wednesday, because I remember working through that weekend and we were still running a lot of spots, but when it got to Monday, April 1st, we were running virtually NO spots, because not only had we completed a week, we'd completed a month, and none of those advertisers were going to sign up with "the new" KAAY. But there was one exception, which was a rather odd one. Radio station KLRA, a long time local AM country music station (which hired David B., who in turn hired me - again!), bought a huge package of spots to run those last three days, and it was so strange, because those were close to the ONLY spots that were running. They were :30 as I recall, with local radio legend Brother Hal doing the spot dry, nothing in the background, just him talking. I think he recorded two of them, but the message was essentially the same in both: "When KAAY goes gospel, we sure hope you folks will consider coming over and finding a new home at AM 1010 and give us a listen." I mean, I was used to these stopsets (sorry, commercial breaks) with 3-5 spots in them, running three or four times an hour, and then the last three days, it's virtually nothing but the occasional bailout from the music to listen to thirty seconds of Brother Hal.
Unfortunately, I couldn't tell you the last song I played just before 9:00, when we went into our regularly scheduled religious block time programming (The Harvest Gleanor Hour!), although I do remember playing a few different things those last three hours from 6:00-9:00, specifically "Bus Rider" by the Guess Who. The only reason I remember that is because two of the jocks from the other side of the building, working at K-Light 94.1, were egging me on about whether or not I was going to cut lead singer Burton Cummings' line about "I'm so awful GD glad I'm not in your shoes," telling me, go ahead, air it, don't cut it, come on, you've got no balls if you don't just go ahead and air it (the jocks were Terrell Woodall and a big musclehead guy named Blake, but I couldn't tell you his full name or the name he went by on the air). Well, when it got to the moment, I cut the "GD" out, and the guys just railed on me incessantly.
Speaking of "The Harvest Gleanor Hour," which, by the way, was only 15 minutes long (a lot of the Christian programs did that for some reason - the "something hour," but it was almost invariably only 15 or 30 minutes), I don't think I had an inkling about David B. bringing Clyde back for that last hour until after I'd hit that block programming at 9:00. I also recall not thinking to record it until about 11:15, which really didn't matter, as I know I haven't had that tape since I've lived in the house I'm in now (which is since the end of 1990).
Another thing to add was my disappointment in the "crowd" that had shown up outside the studios, in the back parking lot after dark. Now, David B. could correct me on this one, but I only recall seeing somewhere in the neighborhood of maybe 30 or 40 people holding vigil for the great KAAY - maybe to some a decent showing of the locals for the demise of a formerly great and influential AM station, but not nearly what it deserved. Granted, this is 1985, and the transition from AM to FM for music listeners had been in full swing for several years, but we're talking about the mighty 1090, which every 20-something and 30-something in central Arkansas and beyond had grown up listening to. And we can't even get 50 people out here to pay homage? Well, if there were 50, it was barely 50.
Other quick recollections - the ratings that came out a few weeks later showed a significant spike for KAAY (I think the last rating was 4.1 or maybe 4.5, and had been closer to around a 3.0 or less just the previous summer), that Eric Lundy (real last name "Wiehl") was the last experienced jock on the air (I had the last shift, but I was very, very GREEN), that I couldn't believe that Multimedia sold the station for LESS than a million (Sudbrink, who bought it, sold it just over two years later for 2.6 million), and that the station, in my opinion (and based on the ratings), had regained momentum and found direction, after a few years of having no direction. I still remember our categories of music - pre-'64, '64-'70, '71-'75, and '76 to '79 (with a few very early '80s thown in), with the primary emphasis on the '64-'70 years, secondary emphasis on '71-'75. I also recall a black guy who had a late night show when I first came on by the name of Buddy King, and the show was "Blues Alley." It may have been only a Friday night thing, but I don't think he was still doing the show the last few weeks, or maybe even the last couple of months. The rumor of the sale had gone back to around the holidays of '84, and I think the official announcement came in early February.
And by the way, David B., you hired me in October of '84, as I recall it being about two weeks past my birthday on the 6th. I also recall about three weeks after being hired thinking about quitting, because I knew that I was not only a pretty horrible jock, but I was a pretty horrible jock on KAAY! Which was just wrong! But luckily, that didn't happen, and eventually I got better, although even by the following April, I think I had only achieved "barely tolerable" status.
Hopefully, this will help supplement anything that David B. comes up with, and if there's anything else I think of, I'll pass it along.
P.S. And I'll never forget a bunch of us getting together at Pepper Joe's (just down the road from the station) afterwards, and after fellow and former co-worker Sheila Glover said something that had us laughing, David B. came back with the line, "Sheila, you're just a d**k away from being one of the guys!" Which got an even bigger laugh than whatever it was that Sheila said!
(Here's the first half-hour of that Last Hour:)
The final Beaker Street on KAAY, 3 April 1985, Part 1: stream | download