Friday, July 29, 2011

My Trip To Little Rock: Friday, The Butler Center For Arkansas Studies

Our last day in Little Rock, AR....I'd contacted Guy Lancaster, Editor for The Encyclopedia of Arkansas to see if I could drop by and bestow some gifts upon the Center and he was able to make it in (remember, he was cleaning up from storms and tornados a couple of days previous).  So we gussied up, ate breakfast, packed the GMC Jimmie and headed over.

When we arrived, I checked with Guy before I unloaded the Jimmie.  I went back out and loaded up- and things got quiet when I showed them the stuff.  Guy, bless him, was practically running to get a release form!  In the meantime, he sent over Chris Stewart, who is doing the transfer of tapes to digital format and Brian Robertson (darn, I can't remember his title!).

Maybe it was me, but I could see the reverence in their body language as they handled the posters and reel-to-reel tapes I brought them and as they noted the fine stitching on Charlie's shirt.  I also showed them the rectifier tube and got a pose with them:

From left to right, that's Brian holding the box of tapes, Chris holding Charlie's bowling shirt, Guy holding one of the 45-year-old posters and me holding the tube.

I was honored to meet these folks, especially Guy, who made sure my entries of KAAY and KTHS history were properly edited before making it into the Encyclopedia of Arkansas.  If you get a chance, please go by there and check out their facilities; many minds, both young and old are being shaped by the great things there!   Thank you Guy, Chris and Brian for your hospitality and fervor you show for Arkansas history!

Well, I'd wanted to meet with Barry Mac, but work and travel scheduled clashed, so we went Pine Bluff and to meet Charlie Okle, friend of the blog and best friend of Tommy Riggs.  As we got into Pine Bluff, we met at the local Walmart's McDonald's.  My wife and daughter went shopping, of course, while Charlie and I visited.  Charlie had some candid pics of Tommy Riggs goofing off as only Tommy could!  He also promised to scan and send along these pictures, as we were enroute home...and these will be posted at a later date, thanks to Charlie Okle!

As we said our "see ya laters", I got my daughter to snap a picture of us as I presented Charlie with a poster:

Thank you, Charlie Okle, for taking the time to meet and spend time with me!

Thus was basically the end of my trip to Little Rock...we headed home and I was drained, emotionally and physically....but, there's more to come, as Jerry Sims has sent me other photos of the Tuesday leg of the trip, and I have pictures of other items, etc. that didn't "fit in" in these different day's formats...for lack of a better term.

Bud S. (

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Bad News...Good News....

First, the bad news: Ford is no longer offering a CD player in it's new Focus vehicle...maybe this is a "sign of the times"...?  The new set-up will offer a USB port for digital music players instead.  There are several links besides the one above stating the same information, word for word....

Now, the GOOD news!  You can download ALL the audio here on this blog and links and drive around in your new Ford Focus, reliving those cruisin' days when you were younger and listened to KAAY!

I hate what's happening to my beloved radios....will it all fade into computer-generated "entertainment"?  By gosh, I hope not...

Bud S. (

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

My Trip To Little Rock: Thursday With Charlie Scarbrough

And the rainy weather continued.  Not bad, but enough you didn't want to get out in it very long...but I wasn't going to let it dampen my trip!

Charlie Scarbrough ("Charlie King" KAAY 1967-1969) again picked me and my family up and we rode around for a nice day's tour.  We'd pretty much seen almost all of the KAAY-related places, so we decided to make it a day for the girls.  Charlie and I talked about broadcast radio in general and the places he'd worked.  We also ran into a neat little junk shop which had some interesting LPs (33-1/3 "Long Play" vinyl albums, for you young 'uns!), but we didn't pick anything up.  As it was close inside, we went out underneath the awning for some fresh air; we got called back in when my wife beckoned, because a fellow about Charlie's age had inquired what we were visiting for.  She mentioned what it was all about and he stated he knew A. J. Lindsey and was a KAAY fan from a long time back.  I introduced Charlie to him and we had a nice, but short conversation.  Nice to know people still remember!

We basically headed back to Keo, AR for (if I remember correctly) the Morris Antique Mall, which had been closed on Monday.  What a great place!  We walked around, oohing and aahing over the neat stuff they's one old General Electric radio that was NOT for sale (darn it!):

The unique thing about this radio is that the tubes were not mounted vertically, but horizontally behind the face of the unit!  It was really sweet.  Note the paper taped to the top, which said, "Not For Sale!"

Charlie, the ever-humerous fellow, clowned for us in a really nice setting:

Yes, the ladies assured us that we (he) could sit in the chair and mug for the camera!

As we looked around, the ladies told us that we couldn't go into a section they called, "Building One" due to a skunk having been in there and their dog, too, when he rushed in to attack the skunk!  My wife had again told them why were there and the lady at the register got SO animated, I thought she was going to cheer!  She was (and still is) a BIG KAAY fan, having enjoyed listening to all The Greats over the years and loved all the music (see what effect y'all had on the audience, folks?).  When I told her we were archiving music and airchecks, I thought she was REALLY going to cheer!  She called a co-worker in from another office and I introduced Charlie to them.  I gave them the blog address and they promised they'd be checking it!  As we left, we could smell that skunk in the parking lot....

Back toward Little Rock, we toured some more and Charlie had a surprise for me...he is good friends with Jim Cleveland, who was also friends with and did work with Barry Wood!  We just "happened" to be in his neighborhood, so Charlie had me call him to see if we could drop by.  Charlie had me use his cell phone, to see if Jim had any "remarks" upon answering, but he remained a gentleman!

Upon arriving at Jim's a few moments later, we shook off the rain and were welcomed in.  Man, what warm greetings these folks in Arkansas had for us!  We sat a bit in Jim's living room and had a blast- and it didn't seem boring for my wife and daughter, either (they roll their eyes and try to hush me up when I start talking radio!).  Before we left, we got a picture with Jim:

Thank you, Jim, for your great hospitality!

Onward into the we drove, I saw a Krogers and started to sing the "Let's go Krogering" jingle...Charlie looked at me and said, "You know that jingle?"  I mentioned that it was on many airchecks and that I couldn't help myself.  He wheeled in and took us shopping!

As my daughter is treating her Celiac Disease with diet (doctors will not diagnose her, since it is NOT treatable with DRUGS), Charlie said that Krogers had a nice gluten-free section...and it did!  We had a blast shopping with Charlie, who sampled some of our "special" food while driving on....

(Special Note: for any of you who may need more information about Celiac Disease, or even fibromyalgia, please contact me at my e-mail address below. Bud)

We had a nice supper with Charlie, even closing the place down.  When we looked around, there was no one in the place except us and some of the wait staff.  It was about 20 minutes or so after closing and apologized, but the people said they enjoyed listening to us talk...some knew Charlie from some of his free-lance work in Little Rock and elsewhere on the radio.

As it was getting late, Charlie took us back to the motel.  I got on the Web and let him listen to the Christmas 2010 greeting he'd participated in and he was very appreciative and amazed at what we did (thank you, Greg Barman!).  As he had given me his bowling shirt, I presented him with a copy of each of the posters I had gotten from the transmitter site on Tuesday...I wish I'd have thought to have him pose with one of them....

With heartfelt "see ya laters" all around, Charlie went off into the night, another KAAY Legend who welcomed me, a humble listener, and my family, to his wonderful state....

Bud S. (

Monday, July 25, 2011

My Trip To Little Rock: Wednesday, Mementos Shared

Jerry is a great host; we ran all over the place, weather notwithstanding.  Jerry had to run an errand and helped out a lady and her kids.  I witnessed a great philanthropic deed by Jerry.  And, we just barely beat the rain to the car afterward- it started coming down hard!

We went by his home to grab some other mementos he had to share, then Jerry drove me back to my motel.  The conversation was great and the information flowed.  We saw lots of great stuff, including the Big Dam Bridge (there's a story behind that unique name!)

Needless to say, this great day had to end as well, so Jerry kindly posed with some of his treasured LPs (that's long play 33-1/3 record albums, for you youngsters who don't know about vinyl!):

This is an album by Tommy Riggs, "Songs of the Funnyman".. We'd posted a scanned copy of Tommy's autograph on the flipside of the cover, so here's Jerry with the whole thing:

And here's the original link:

And something that Jerry and I both have, a copy of the 1967 "Ear on Arkansas":

This had been a big day as well; we'd been running non-stop for two days, trying to cover as much ground as possible while I was there.  Time for a little rest...

Is this too much like a slide show you hate to see when your neighbors get back from vacation?  I hope not!  We're trying to chronicle history here!

More later...

Bud S. (

Thursday, July 21, 2011

My Trip To Little Rock: Wednesday, The "Old" KAAY Sites

After lunch, Jerry and I ran around town, as he showed me many neat attractions around the area.  I almost missed Robinson Auditorium, mentioned several times on the blog.  As we left the light, there was practically no time to get another shot, so this is all I got:

What a beautiful is another shot previously posted:

You'd already seen the latest location of KAAY and its sister stations on a Tuesday post.  We travelled to the 2400 Cottondale Lane location, where KKPT is located, the last home of Beaker Street:

The signifigance about this location is that Beaker Street ended here, in almost the same location in the building, back on April 3, 1985.

Sadly, Beaker Street had its ending again here on February 6, 2011.  There are five posts back in May 2011 documenting this, with audio.  This is also an important location for many of The Greats....

We breezed on over to what was the 1425 West 7th Street location (Charlie Scarbrough had also taken me there):

...which basically made way for I-630.  This is what used to be here:

Lot's of things change, don't they?

More to come....

Bud S. (

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Jerry Sims In Arkansas Softball Hall of Fame‏!!!


If you remember, a proud Jerry Sims sent along a great post and picture last year about his daughter Karen making the Arkansas Softball Hall of Fame:

Well, this year, Jerry made it as well!  He mentioned to me, when I was touring with him in Little Rock this past April, that there were rumors that it might happen...and it did!  Herewith, his comments and pictures:

"Bud...You wanted a picture of the Hall of Fame induction.....Here tiz.

Me and my granddaughter Mia Sims. The date was July 1st. I am tremendously honored to be mentioned in the Hall. I love the game, continue to play, and get as excited about it as I did when I was a young boy.

My daughter Karen and me at the induction ceremony.  Unique because she was inducted into the Arkansas Women's' Softball Hall of Fame last year.  We, I believe, are the only father/daughter team there.  She was awesome, still is.  She plays on three different teams in Denver this summer.  One an all men's team, except for the pitcher,  my little blond Karo, the youngest inductee ever.
Really great job on the blog. Even though I was a part of your trip here, I feel the excitement you generate to others with your narative. Thanks.

CONGRATS, JERRY!!!!!  What an achievement!  And thank you for those kind words....

Who would have known that, when I was listening to Jerry, as "Sonny Martin", way back in the day on those early evenings, when KAAY came booming in at dark in Semmes, AL, that I'd be associated and befriended by him years later...and he'd become a Great in another arena, the sport of softball, as well!  I'd played and coached the game myself for about twenty-three years, so I look up to Jerry in this area.  Maybe I'll rejoin a league one day and try to catch you and Karen!

Again, congratulations to Jerry Sims, that "Sonny Martin" I listened to a short few years ago...seems like it, any way!

Bud S. (

Monday, July 18, 2011

My Trip To Little Rock: Wednesday, Butler Center For Arkansas Studies

With most of the bad weather gone, it was a wet, slightly sprinkling morning when Jerry Sims picked me up.  The agenda was to head over to the Butler Center For Arkansas Studies, where the Encyclopedia of Arkansas "resides", among other things.  I wanted to meet the folks who helped me get my entries published on KAAY and KTHS....

Upon arrival, we were directed upstairs and met with Ali Welky.  At the time Jerry and I arrived, several key people hadn't arrived; Guy Lancaster was home, cleaning up storm debris from the night before, Nathania Sawyer was on vacation and Jasmine Jobe hadn't arrived, as they thought she wasn't coming in due to weather, as well.

As we spoke, Jasmine arrived!  She perservered and came in.  We spoke a few minutes, then asked if Jerry and I could get a picture with them:

That's Jasmine next to Jerry and Ali is next to me.

As we spoke, Ali went and got Michael Keckhaver, the man responsible for media in their department.  Jerry had gone back to the car and gotten some of his materials to show Ali and she immediately got Michael.  He pored over the materials and Jerry gave him permission to scan and catalog whatever he wanted.  The awe that these folks displayed was immediate, as they are "all about" preserving Arkansas history.

As Michael was scanning, I realized who he was; he was the gentleman who handled my media for my entries into the Encyclopedia of Arkansas!

After Michael got through with Jerry's materials, Jerry took a picture of us:

Please note that I am proudly wearing my Encyclopedia of Arkansas lapel pin!

Michael is an accomplished musician and also broadcasts a show on a local college station on weekends.  Michael said in an e-mail to me:

"The show is Sunday night, 9:00 p.m. to whenever. KABF 88.3 FM community radio. It’s called the Music Is The Best Show. Thanks! We play primarily unreleased bootleg live recordings."

Check into the website and listen to the stream:

We had even more to do, so we said our "see ya laters" and headed out into the rainy day for lunch...and other Little Rock sites of interest!

More to come...stay tuned!

Bud S. (

Friday, July 15, 2011

July 15, 2011, Our 2nd Anniversary!

Hey, we made it another year!  Thanks to all the readers and visitors, we're still hangin' in there and rockin' with the music, commercials, memorabilia and personalities that made KAAY famous!

How do you like the audio we've been able to find?  That in itself is from many dedicated collectors, KAAY deejays and other personnel and folks who just happened to find us and say, "Hey, can you use....?"  Yes, emphatically!

For a while, I thought we'd come to the end of material, but it continues to trickle in, some ahead of when we can schedule it- and that in itself is a blessing!  I've stressed out so many times while I'm in search of something, wondering WHAT I can put up for you to enjoy when something else comes in- either by mail or e-mail transmittal.

I have to heartily THANK YOU ALL who love this station, its history and those who ran the Gentle Giant, and who have contributed so selflessly to the cause of bringing KAAY's history back into the limelight.  I feel humbled when Those Who Were There aknowledge something posted here and give us kudos...and I say "us" because I couldn't do it without the help of others.  I'm computer dumb, so it helps when Dave S., a college professor in the computer arts came along and works his magic.  Also for Greg Barman, for his audio and video wizardry.  To Jonnie King for his selfless contributions from his own stockpile of history.  And to many others who have offered audio, memorabilia, great memories, insights and opinions for the blog.  I know that maybe I've left someone out somewhere, so please remind me at my e-mail below...but believe me when I humbly take my hat off to you ALL....

David B. Treadway once said to me, in so many words, that it takes many folks behind the scenes, but the guy that gets all the blame or all the credit is the guy behind the mic...and, having been the one who ultimately heads this thing up, please let me know how we're doing.  I've done some production, announcing, run live and recorded venues, starred in an infomercial, but NOTHING has been as gratifying as this blog.  I'm glad we could share it with you.

Happy Anniversary to us, The Mighty 1090 Blog!

Bud S. (

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

My Trip To Little Rock: Tuesday Evening Musings and Happenings

My mind was still reeling with the day's happenings!  As David B. Treadway drove me back to my motel, he noted my "sensory overload" and wisely instructed me to rest two or three days, then get a notepad and start writing my thoughts down.  I'm glad I followed his instructions; I did just that.  Meanwhile, it was hard to sleep....

The week before I came to Little Rock, there had been some tornados touch down in the area.  We'd seen some of the damage on Monday.  Now, some of the same weather was coming in Tuesday night; we'd beat it with minutes to spare when David B. dropped me off.  Jerry's game went off without a hitch and he was able to even watch part of another game before heading home....

After my family got back, we cleaned up, grabbed a meal and holed up for the evening.  My daughter hates bad weather, especially tornado weather and tonight was a bad one for her.  We watched KTHV's weatherman Ed Buckner (who I'd met earlier) report on the conditions coming from the west.  In fact, when I'd met Ed earlier in the studio, he shook my and Jerry's hands and said, "Guys, it's going to be a bad one tonight...I have two minutes before I'm on the air" and we scurried out of the studio....

...and he wasn't wrong.  Four inch hail in Oklahoma, down to softball and baseball-sized hail on Mena; by the time it got to us there in Little Rock, it was pea-sized to nickle-sized in the parking lot.  Being a Ham radio operator, I participated in the local Skywarn weather network and reported my local sightings.  As I listened, I felt we were pretty fortunate, as other areas were getting pretty hard hit.  Doing my duty, I went back inside and listened and watched.

We'd gone in and out, visiting with the family next door to us.  Come to find out, the lady's nephew had played for the Arkansas Razorbacks and had gone on to play pro ball.  Since I had some posters from earlier in the day at the transmitter site, I gave her a few for him.  She was overjoyed and said she'd have them put in sleeves to preserve them before she gave them to him.  I hope to post them soon.

Later, the same family was outside, watching the weather, when a small (possible) twister let down in the parking lot in between the motel and the stores on the other side; the parking lot was large, it was late and there were few cars, so no damage was encountered.  The lady said that all of a sudden, the wind picked up and she saw the rain begin to swirl into something like a cone.  It travelled the length of the parking lot (about a quarter mile) and went away.  She could see it plainly in the street lights of the parking lot.

Funny (or not), you never know what can pass you in the night....

Wednesday to come next!

Bud S. (

Monday, July 11, 2011

My Trip To Little Rock: Tuesday at KTHV

I must say, this day was great and it wasn't over yet!  Jerry and I went to see the "old" KAAY studios at KTHV, where Jerry worked both in radio (KAAY) and in TV (KTHV), both times in the same office!  While at KAAY, it was while he was Music Director, at KTHV, I believe while he was in weather.

I caught Jerry as we were about to walk across the road:

Upon entering the lobby, Jerry called up to one of his associates (Jerry is still in the business selling advertising) and we were let in.  We were met by several people who knew Jerry well and were given a tour by Lana Campbell, a great lady who is also a friend of Clyde Clifford.  Lana sent in a couple of photos up and down the famous hallway where Jerry and his radio associates skateboarded and terrorized the TV people...they're further down the post....

We almost forgot about David B., so we ran downstairs and let him in (almost when the tour was over!).  We went back upstairs and Lana gave him a refresher tour.  The famed studio (more later) where everyone operated was now closed and locked, full of computer equipment and it was a touchy matter of gaining access, so that door was never opened.  However, the control room next door was opened to us.  It was a little cluttered, but Jerry showed me the glass window (now blocked off from the other side) where the engineer would take his cues and would cue the deejay.  David B. proceded to clown it up at the mike, but declined any photos!

Now, for the promised "more later" story on ther famed studio:  I had Jerry pose on the landing just outside the door of the studio, where the deejays used to be able to open the door and look down the stairs at the Blue Goose "Lounge":

I didn't use flash because I didn't want this particular photo to wash out, for a reason...not because I didn't want Jerry in it!

If you remember stories about Howard Watson, who was "Ken Knight" and how he conjured stories about how elegantly-dressed patrons arrived in limosines and dined on great food and wine, all the while having a sound track playing of glasses and silverware tinkling, then you'll get that magical picture he aired over nearly half the U.S. continent.  Folks from Wisconsin would call the Blue Goose and want to book a table!

Here are several links for you to revisit and enjoy:

And Jerry's skateboarding story:

Being the romantic, I could only imagine whay the Blue Goose looked like.  I doodled this picture I had in mind:

As I imagined, looking through the window, late at night, with all the lights off except those in the studio.

Can't you just imagine Jerry and others seeing someone walking down the alley and calling that phone booth, telling them, "The money's in the dumpster" in a hushed voice, then hanging up.  Sometimes, Jerry said, the person would look around, expecting a Mafia "hit", others would actually look in the dumpster!

On slow nights, Jerry and others had bets going as to how many rats would enter and exit the dumpster.  In the picture, I bet on two for the time I took to sketch it.  Did I win or lose, Jerry?

Thanks to Lana Campbell, friend of Jerry and Clyde Clifford, she sent some shots of the aforementioned famed hallway:

In the second picture, you'll see the stairwell on the left, which is directly across from the famed studio where The Greats spun their magic for us...and just down the hall, second door to the left was Jerry Sims' office when he was KAAY's Music Director and later the KTHV weather man!

Can't you see a young Jerry/"Sonny Martin" skating down these halls, turning the corner at the end of the hall in the first picture and terrorozing TV executives and Accounting people?  "Those darned radio people!!!!"

In addition to meeting Jerry's nephew David and other people, I got to see the Weather Garden and meet Joey the Weather Cat!

Onward, to meet with Barry Mac, who was about to get off from work; we met him at the local Cadillac dealership, where he was to pick up his car.  David B., Barry's former boss, went with us to see Barry again.

I believe this was the first time Barry and Jerry had met.  Barry was giving Jerry and David B. the nutshell story of what went on after KAAY went to a religious format.  Barry stayed on until a few years ago and was in a KTHV video that Craig O'Neill did on KAAY:

Well, after the meeting of these Greats above, Jerry had a softball game to play and David B. took me back to my motel.  It had been a great Tuesday, April 19, 2011 with the guys and David B. warmly expressed his "see ya later" (I hate "good bye").  We were all very tired after a very full, fantastically rewarding day and I expressed my concern for David B.'s safety back home, as the front started to roll in.  Fortunately, he was driving home ahead of the front, as it was to the west of Little Rock as he rocketed south.

Sitting at the motel, awaiting my wife and daughter to arrive from the diamond fields, waiting to go eat and resting (it was raining too hard by this time to walk next door to an eatery), I pondered it all....

Bud S. (

Thursday, July 7, 2011

My Trip To Little Rock: Tuesday, With Felix McDonald

We finally had to say goodbye to the transmitter site; there was so much more to do and places to go and we were trying to beat the incoming bad weather.  I had called Felix the week before to ask permission to drop by and he graciously consented.  Well, as David B. and son Matt, Jerry and I drove a half-mile down the road, we pulled up and the McDonalds were sitting on the porch as if they were expecting us!  We got out, greeted by the dogs and shook hands all around.  I must say that David B. reverently shook Felix's hand and bent down to give this great man a hug.  We all feel the same way about Felix!

Being invited inside, I got Jerry and David B. to pose with Felix:

A bunch of handsome fellers, yes?

David B. had to get his son back to Little Rock to his family and said his "see ya laters" all around, promising to visit Felix at a later date.  Jerry and I went in with the McDonalds for an hour long chat.  Jerry knew their daughter and son-in-law and they had a nice conversation, while Jerry passed around some materials he'd brought along to reminisce with Felix.

We got to talking about how, when Felix went to Texas, Pat Walsh chartered a jet to bring him back to Wrightsville to fix the transmitter when no one else could.  Felix said that Pat met him at the airport and drove like mad to the transmitter site.  Felix had a few choice words about the drive that we won't relate here, but it was a wild ride.

When they arrived, Felix went upstairs and was met by Cecil Suitt (who was the engineer for KTHS and for KAAY after the change-over).  Cecil said, "I betcha ya can't fix this one, boy!"  Felix looked things over and saw where they (Cecil and other engineers) had taken some parts out of the transmiter.  It took him about twenty minutes to put them all back, then asked one of the guys to hand him a broom..  He reached in with the wooden handle, pushed a contactor back in place and the transmitter fired right up!  We all had a good laugh at Felix's story.

I believe a version of this was related on this blog by Dave M. awhile back, but I cannot readily find the link....

Felix got up and walked over to a book case and came over to me, quietly handing me this commendation from Wayne Moss, Operations Director:

To the best of my research, I believe this happened in 1971, as Wayne didn't put the year on the page.

I'd noticed that, since his stroke, Felix was having a little trouble with recent memory, but was clear as a bell with memories of long ago.  Nonetheless, we had good conversation relating to the blog and also Ham radio in general.  He wants to get back on the air, so maybe we'll be fortunate to schedule a chat- I certainly hope so!

I had a new video camera which I wasn't very familiar with; I finally got things to work on it and got what I thought was several minutes of him telling the story about fixing the transmitter.  Little did I realize that the batteries were low and I only got less than a minute.  Maybe we can get this linked somewhere down the road for you to see Felix and Lois McDonald in their own home, speaking with Jerry Sims.

Time was slipping up on us, so we had to finally leave; we had to reunite with David B. back in Little Rock and try to catch up with Barry Mac, as well.  As we were leaving, Felix practically pushed past me, grabbing Jerry by the arm.  He stood face-to-face with Jerry and said, "The Jerry Sims I knew back then and you now are two different people- I just realized who you were!"  I wish I'd have gotten a picture or video of that touching moment....

With handshakes all around and promises to keep in touch, we left the McDonalds, a wonderful, sweet and hospitable couple; there's not many people like them any more.

As we drove back down the road, I quickly changed the batteries in the video camera and Jerry stopped by the transmitter one more time for me to get about a minute of video.  Hopefully, we can get it linked for you to enjoy a live view of the KAAY transmitter building.

Next, a visit to an old KAAY studio location at KTHV!

Bud S. (

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Glaspie B. Dillard, 1917-1920‏

(This is a great account by David B. Treadway about when we were looking for

During our pilgrimage to the KAAY transmitter site on April 19, 2011, Jerry Sims, Bud Stacey and I walked among the three towers in a field of tall grass and crawdad holes. Though not as pronounced as inside the building, there were signs of the sad neglect that has befallen The Mighty 1090. Counterpoise wires drooped when they should have been tight. The conduit that contained the feed lines to the west tower lay broken on the ground, thanks to the recent work of copper thieves. And the grass was high and ragged, years since Felix McDonald grazed cattle there.

I was hunting the tombstone of little Glaspie Dillard under that west tower. You've seen a couple of references to his name here on the Blog--and there's been a bit of controversy about him. Well, on this fine afternoon, I had witnesses with me. We were going to look at that tombstone and read the name of the child who had been buried in that field ninety years ago. There would, at last, be pictures of his marker and what little we know of his story would be told.

We fanned out and searched a good while to the north of the west tower, which is where I remember seeing the stone in 1971. It had stood almost upright, leaning maybe fifteen degrees back toward the building, with Glaspie's name and span facing roughly south. But we couldn't find a trace of it, sitting up or lying down. And here came the questions: had it fallen at last and been overgrown by the grass? Had Dillard descendants finally come to claim it? Had it been removed in an effort to damp down questions? Did I simply not remember its location--or had it never been there at all?

We looked for a bit longer. Then, deciding that it was just another lost trace, ambled back to the transmitter building. That was when Frank, the Citadel engineer, asked us if we had seen the tombstone! I told him we'd been unable to locate it, and he said, "Come on, I'll show you." So we piled into his four-wheel-drive pickup, Bud and I riding on the tailgate as country boys will do.

Back to the west tower we went--and Frank led us to its south side. The others saw the stone before I did: flat on the ground, lower third broken across and marked by a piece of rebar that had a cultivator foot welded to it, a Radio Cross to designate a grave. Except that the grave wasn't where it was supposed to be. I remember it being on the north side of the tower. But who's to say what happened to the headstone and its companion footstone (which I had never noticed) in the stretch of forty years? Vandals could have smashed it at the same time they decided to move it.

And what happened to little Glaspie B. Dillard in 1920? There was an especially nasty strain of influenza in Arkansas at the time. Was that what took him out? Was it some dreadful farm accident? Was he trampled by a horse or bitten by a cottonmouth? Did he live long enough to have any fun at all? What became of his parents? Did he have brothers and sisters to miss and to mourn him? Where did his family go? Did his death just suck all of the life out of them, forcing them to move away and try to forget the heartbreak?

The story goes that the proposed site for the KTHS transmitter relocation from Hot Springs was a cemetery, but the location was so prime for an AM facility--so perfectly matched to the specs--that family members were contacted and the graves were relocated. Except for Glaspie's. And there he remained while towers were erected and copper ground straps were laid above his little face. Sometime in 1952, some engineer threw a great big switch and fifty thousand watts of energy hit the earth that held a child's coffin. I'll bet he ain't slept a good night since.

I asked Frank if he had any Native American blood and he said "No." So he might not understand that that transmitter site was put in on a burial ground. There are prayers and rituals that need to be undertaken before you disturb such a sacred place--if you do it at all. I'm not sure that these were done, despite what I take to be the Cherokee ancestry of one of the engineers of the time.

Just before we left the west tower, Frank said, "Sometimes when the Moon is right, I can hear a three-year-old child crying out here."

David B. Treadway
Holiday VII
The Last PD

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Glaspie, Et. Al. By Dave M.

A GREAT rendition of the Glapsie story, and thanks for the photos!

BTW, the photo of the KAAY tower base shows the Austin transformer, and NOT the "Johnnie Balls" as you describe in your narrative. The Austin transformer is a torroidal transformer that is used to transfer tower lighting AC current to the tower's obstruction lights. Since there can be no electrical connection between "earth-bound" circuits, and the tower itself, the Austin transformer is the only way to get AC current onto the tower without making a physical connection.

The arc gap balls are used to suppress static electricity charges and lightning by creating an easy path to earth ground. Just the simple blowing of a summer breeze can generate an incredible static electricity charge on the tower, and occasionally, even on a breezy sunny day, you might be able to hear the "crack" of a spark jumping across the arc gap to ground.

Here's a photo of some arc suppression johnnie balls (anti-static arc gap) similar to the ones you mention in your story - (not KAAY) along with an Austin transformer and the tower's base insulator:

By the way, in your KAAY picture, you can see the porcelain base insulator that the entire tower sits on. It's an amazing thing - the weight of the entire tower sits on a single porcelain insulator!


My Trip To Little Rock: Tuesday, Searchin' For Glaspie

David B. Treadway, Jerry and I all went out in search for the legendary grave of Glaspie Dillard.  Seems as if folks intimated that it was only a legend.  I guess that's the drama and romance of keeping a legend alive.  Nonetheless, we set out to find his grave.

David B. was saying that he thought it was somwhere, but time dims memories.  We all set out looking:

My, but that grass was tall.  As I walked, I noticed crawfish holes all over the place!  Wet enough for good ground conductivity.  I'm glad I wore my U.S. Coast Guard "boondocker" boots this day, as it was rough going for anyone in street or tennis shoes.  I was also concerned about snakes, but David B. said over and over, "Snakes don't like RF!"  ("radio frequency" energy).  Can you imagine how your hair would stand up in that energy field?

We're still looking:

...but Glaspie is eluding us.

We'd walked back to the transmitter building (a LONG way away, as you'll soon see!) and mentioned to one who will be known as "Frank" that we never saw the grave.  "Frank" immediately proceded to take us back out to the west tower and walked us right up to Glaspie's grave- we were on the wrong side all along!  It is at the base of the west tower, on the north side of the tower just ouside the's the legendary grave:

When David B. saw the marker, he shouted that he "KNEW it was Dillard!".  Seems as if there was some confusion about his last name as the legend got passed around.

It took me a couple of tries, due to the light, to get a decent photo (I'm thankful for instant digital photography, you can instantly review and delete any bad material), and, in case it's not very legible to some, her is how the marker reads:

"GLASPIE B., son of W.C. & L. E. DILLARD, born May 15, 1917, died Oct. 29, 1920"

Here's David B. and Jerry posing with Glaspie:

Obviously, the red-painted cross isn't original, probably put there to keep anyone mowing the site wouldn't run over and further damage the marker.

Legend has it that when the graves in this original area were moved, no one could find any remaining family of Glaspie's to get permission to move him.  "Frank" told us that, instead, not enough of Glaspie himself could be found to be moved, so he was left in peace....

This reminds me of more "spook" stories; "Frank" told us one of  his own.  He said that, it could be gospel, it could be legend, but on a windy, stormy night, if one listened, he could hear the sound of a small child crying in this area....

The other "spook story" is one Clyde Clifford related in an interview, where Tommy Riggs ("Rock Robbins") had arrived late one night at the transmitter site, a bit inebriated.  Tommy said he wanted to spend some time with Glaspie and headed out into the field.  Here's the interview Richard Robinson had with Clyde Clifford:

Now, there's a little bit more to the story.  David B. corroborated something in the story about static ball gaps at the base of the towers:

Those intertwined rings you see in the picture helped dispel static charges on the tower.  David B. said that gnats used to like to hang around them; it irritated Felix so much, he sent engineers out with cans of bug spray to get rid of them!

Now, according to both Clyde and David B., those gnats would gum up the works and during a thunderstorm, the rings (or balls, as Clyde called them) would arc over and one could hear audio from the broadcast!

Now, here's the interesting part:  Tommy is sitting, facing Glaspie's marker, when a great flash of lightening occurs, lighting up the marker and arcing over the static rings/balls.  Yes, the audio came over the arc and Tommy, who was about 350 pounds that that time, ran all the way back to the transmitter to tell Clyde "He (Glaspie), talked to me, he talked to me!"

It looked to be about two football field lengths across there from where I stood taking this picture, and Clyde said Tommy made it in about ten seconds flat!  Yow!

Next, we visit the best engineer in the country, as far as we're concerned: Chief Engineer Felix McDonald!

Bud S. (

Monday, July 4, 2011

Fourth Of July

I am very passionate about our history- and am very saddened how there are those who are trying to make this country into something it is not...nor, was ever meant to be.  The flag, rifle and document above represent what those who went before us really mean- that this country was bought in blood by many who lost everything they had, even to their very lives, to give us freedom from tyranny.

Today, our flag carries fifty stars, a huge growth from the small union that began so many years ago- even many years before July 4, 1776.  Please take a moment to remember our ancestors who came here in the name of freedom and liberty; may neither ever be taken from us.

Remember also, please, that it's not just a holiday.

And to quote:

"Let the Fourth of July always be a reminder that here in this land, for the first time, it was decided that man is born with certain God-given rights; that government is only a convenience created and managed by the people, with no powers of its own except those voluntarily granted to it by the people.

We sometimes forget that great truth, and we never should.

Happy Fourth of July."

--Ronald Reagan, President of the United States (1981)

Bud S. (