Friday, November 11, 2005

KCAC/KDKB Memories

Hi Folks:

I was born and raised in Phoenix, left there in '72 and have hardly looked back since. Anyway, the other day the name "William Edward Compton" just popped up in my head and I wondered "whatever happened to that dude?" So I Googled the name, came up with your site and also found out that Bill died tragically in 1977. Sad!

Anyway, your blog has really brought back some memories. It's not really accurate that KCAC/KDKB was the first attempt at free-form radio in the Valley. I remember that KRIZ-AM in 1967, feeling the winds of change, loosened up its playlist considerably. It wasn't exactly "free-form radio" but they did play the Doors, Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, Country Joe & the Fish and others of that Ilk, even the odd Zappa track! Then in the summer of 1968 KNIX-FM got going and AM radio in Phoenix was done for as far I was concerned! The thing about KNIX was so few people were listening you could really make out on the call-in contests. I remember winning tickets to a Who concert (where I saw Pat McMahon wearing a Nehru jacket-ha!), and I won all kinds of albums and stuff over the station's short lifetime.

I was even at that infamous New Year's Eve 1968 concert at Memorial Stadium that got the station in so much hot water! The Fraternity of Man (mainly known for the tune "Don't Bogart That Joint" on the Easy Rider soundtrack) did a song about a guy who'd just gotten dumped by his girlfriend. The refrain was "FUCK HER!" Then there was the Crazy World of Arthur Brown with their songs making fun of Jesus. I remember seeing a couple of 12-year-old teenyboppers in their "mod" gear wandering around the place with dazed looks on their faces, probably thinking "what am I doing here?" I believe Three Dog Night also played. This was before anyone had heard of them.

Well, after that concert the shit hit the fan. The Arizona Republic and Ev Mecham's throwaway rag the Weekly American made a big stink and Rock 'n Roll was banned from Memorial Stadium for awhile. I believe it was March or April of '69 that the plug was pulled on KNIX without any warning.

Even before KNIX there were a couple of lights in the darkness. There was a guy named Rich Rogers who did a jazz-R&B show (on KXIV?) that all of us hipsters at South Mountain High School listened to in 1968. I had a cool student teacher in my English class who was friends with Rich and brought him down to talk to us.

Then in the Fall of 1969 KCAC (and later KDKB) saved the day! I remember the old place on Camelback Road, then the studio at Tower Plaza and finally the place in an old converted Safeway store in Mesa. I got involved in the antiwar movement (I was friends with Morris Starsky, the college professor who was railroaded out of ASU) and I remember Bill Compton & KDKB were always happy to help out with publicity or whatever. We were always welcome down at the station to talk about whatever we were up to. I never really got to know Bill but he seemed cool & didn't let his fame go to his head.

Remember getting stoned and listening to bands down at the Encanto Park bandshell? The concerts out by Pinnacle Peak? Or for that matter, Wallace and Ladmo? Those were kinder, gentler times.

So long, and thanks for the memories!

John Beadle


vagabondvet said...

Hi, John!

What a great trip down memory lane. I didn't arrive in Phoenix until '69, so missed some of those earlier happenings, but I'm sure there are some here who do. Thanks for remembering for us!

Peace and Light to you, my friend...


Mariah Fleming said...

John, I can't believe someone else remembers all this stuff!! Good to know my memory is still right on target!
You've sure ot me thinking about those days now.

Poor Morris Starsky. He sure was used as a scapegoat, too broad minded for the status quo. A brilliant, one of a kind Sociology Professor, railroaded out for sure. It was so sad when he died, broke and unappreciated with just a small obit in the Az Republic.

During his time there do you remember when the anti war contigent at ASU took over the ROTC building? In spite of the college's attempts to shut up people like Starsky, some of us were pretty active (at least for Arizona at the time.) The ROTC takeover was peaceful and lasted overnight as I recall. The ASU cops took it in stride.

Ever see Starsky and the "End of the World is Near" guy trading diatribes? The doomsdayer spent every weekday at the ASU fountain harassing the students in an effort to "save" us? He never stopped shouting at people who were minding their own business. He'd get in your face and holler out his doomsday scripture. Starsky is the only one I ever saw actually leave that misguided religious zealot speechless.

Do you remember the anti was demonstration on the mall? Again, ASU kept it under the radar but I often wondered if it was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back for Starsky's ASU career. No publicity of course, except in the State Press, where the headline read "Doves Flock to Mall for Peace" with a photo of an ASU antiwar singer doing her thing,

One more anti war movement memory. Does the Campus Lutheran Peace Center on McCallistar by ASU ring a bell? It was a hub for conscientious objectors during the Viet Nam war, and a folk club called the Inner Ear was there, always packed. It was Tempe's answer to Scottsdale's folk hangout The Blue Goat.

By the way, do you know about Radio Free Phoenix? Check it out if you are yearning for programming a la KCAC/KDKB in the real days of form, commercial free, actual real people on the air. (o: Andy Olson has stepped in and created RFP to make a big difference in radio and it does. Check it out at

You could even do an hour show of your own...go to the Radio Free Phoenix website for details about Radio Freedom. Also on the RFP "news" link there's a story about Bill Compton you might enjoy. And the RFP web site has lots of terrific information and links. Not to mention zillions of songs in the station's library and a detailed artist's page you can look up.

By the way, did you know Bill Compton was inducted into the Arizona Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame last April? It was such a bittersweet thing-a wonderful video that brought tears to lots of eyes...and Bill's sister Carole there to accept it on his behalf. There's lots of info/archival AZ stuff on It will also keep you posted about the next induction ceremony.

Hope you'll stick with this blog, it's really something hearing from people like you. Thanks.

Think Peace...

John Beadle said...

Dear Mariah:

I remember reading about all those happenings at ASU but I didn't get physically involved until the 1970 Memorial Day Peace rally at ASU, the one the "hardhats" tried to bust up. I was involved in promoting the antiwar rally at the State Capitol on April 24, 1971, which was the high point of the peace movement in Phoenix. We had a broad array of community groups involved - Blacks, Chicanos, gays - it wasn't just students anymore. I sure do remember Joe Gerson & the Tempe Peace Center on McAllister. I don't know if Joe's still around but he continued to be involved with the War Resisters League for many years.

I continued to stay in touch with Morris Starsky in the various places he lived for many years until his death in 1988. Now I hear his son is going to school at ASU! What the FBI & AZ Board of Regents did to Morris was a crime - I hold them personally responsible for his death.

I'll have to give Radio Free Phoenix a listen. Unfortunately I'm one of those Neanderthals who still has dial-up. I didn't mention another way KCAC/KDKB affected me. I was a radio programmer myself for many years, doing a 1-hour program of African music for public radio here in Milwaukee from 1985-2001. You can rest assured those many hours of listening to Bill Compton and the gang influenced how I did my show. I had a blast spinning everything from dusty old Kenyan 45s to the latest in South African techno-pop.

Thanks for bringing back those great memories

Jacob B. Starsky said...

Hello everyone! My name is Jacob Benjamin Starsky. I am Morris Starsky's son...and yes, I am attending ASU.

Feel free to contact me at: