Friday, October 7, 2016

Beaker Street as heard from Cuba!

Much has been written here on the Blog about KAAY's influence in Cuba -- how strong its' nighttime signal was on the island, how the US Government used KAAY to broadcast to Cuba during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, and how listeners in Cuba wrote fan letters to KAAY, especially for Beaker Street.

Recently we were contacted by someone who not only listened to Beaker Street in Cuba -- he even recorded some of it!  He found his old cassette tapes of Beaker Street and digitized them for us to share.

His name is Gueorgui Lazarov Stoychev, George for short.  He's from Bulgaria, lived in Cuba from 1966 to 1975 and again in the late 70's.  Here is his story:

"Every Cuban in ages from 16 to 30 was into WQAM (that's Miami) during the day, and KAAY during the night, especially for Beaker Street.  So was I.  The recording of the 3 files I sent you are mp3's and were done some time between 1970 and 1975 in Havana where I was living at the time. I edited them now, just for this purpose. At the time I didn't own a tape recorder or a radio cassette recorder, so I always had to borrow one from some friend that had one. Sometimes there was only a tape recorder and I had to use a mike to record from the radio. Cables? No such luxury. 

The purpose was to tape all the music that I liked but there was no way to get in Cuba or in any of the communist countries, and by the way, was forbidden.  Cassettes were expensive like gold and scarce, so space in the cassettes for music was more important and not the DJ's comments or any commercial or radio station ID. Anyway, being the show very late at nite, it began at midnight Cuban time, sometimes I fell asleep while recording and some things got recorded and survived at the end of a tape.

Decades later, when I was digitizing the tapes whose music was nowhere to be found on any format, I discovered KAAY The Mighty 1090's Beaker Street's relics. Not much, but it's something new for anyone interested in preserving what was, if you ask me, the radio station and the radio show that made a mark and history in the industry never unbeaten by no one. People living in America or anywhere else outside the Iron Curtain took all that for granted, but for me and a whole bunch of Cuban friends, all those bands, songs, albums, were something like given by God. The DJs knew what they were talking about, knew about music, had and gave information, not like now when radio is ... there are no words to describe the kind of crap radio is now days. 

So, that's basically, there are many other details, perhaps some other time, if I find something new, undiscovered.  Thank you for allowing me to share with all the KAAY and Beaker Street fans the few minutes I have with the hope that if there are some people out there, that have Beaker Street shows or/and daily programming, please share them complete with the music, not only the airchecks. Listening to complete shows is like traveling in a time machine to better times and better music.

Thank you. Kind regards,
Gueorgui Lazarov Stoychev"

Here are 3 airchecks George recorded in Cuba, around 1974 or '75, one with DJ John Roberts and two with Ken Knight:

After living in Cuba, George also spent time in Mexico where he worked in radio for a while and was involved in the music business:

Thank you, George, for keeping the KAAY flame going and for bringing those old Beaker Street tapes back to life.

Greg Barman


  1. It's great to hear recordings from other than U.S.-based listeners...what a great signal into Cuba! Of course, we knew that, didn't we? KAAY was the best!