Friday, July 07, 2006

AZ Rock Radio Historians! What Do You Remember?! (before we all forget!)

There are zillions of really interesting stories about the Compton days. You all surely have some great stories to share. This is the place to do that, for sure! I know I'm not the only one who is interested!

So, go ahead already! Reminisce! Stir up a little of that magic KCAC spell and let's see if we can get some of the good memories pulsing through us again. So many of you have such deep ties to Bill and KCAC.

I am wondering about what you remember from that time. Like what's the weirdest thing you ever heard on KCAC? What were the most memorable broadcasts you heard on KCAC. And the funniest and most insightful things you ever heard said on KCAC? Your favorite commercial? (I liked the "Sugar Blues" - anyone remember that?) Whose live music did you hear on the air that you remember best? What kind of stereo did you listen to KCAC on? In the late 60's I'd listen to Bill on KRUX on my cherished Panasonic AM/FM (!) Radio with the nifty fold down turntable! I could take it anywhere, and I did!

I'm ready to recharge my sense of humor; swear off the news; download all the KCAC stuff; pull out the Firesign Theatre LPs for good measure and laugh myself silly. Any takers?

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

You bet Mariah...I play my Firesign Theater every other day and count the blessings that have come from being in this Great Stinking Desert for a lifetime or two....Yup, turn off the News full of Black Ops we cannot understand and turn up the Blues N RocknRoll !

My first stereo was a Motorola with detachable speakers that fit nicely in the back of the 54 Ford Customline Station Wagon we cruised from Riverside to Laguna, up the PCH and eventually Denver and on to NYC and that was in the 50's ! All we had to do was fire that jukebox up at Merles Drive-In in Riverside and Corona del Mar and we had a crowd...Maybe we were among the first mobile DJ's, eh ?

It is a fine service you do for us geezers when you remind us not to forget where we're coming from...
Your challanges to reflect and return to those golden days of yesteryear give rise to memorys that are indeed priceless to we who had a part in shaping our greater culture. Rock on , Mariah...

Bob Gately

Fran Bennett said...

Good Gawd...where to begin?

My time with Bill, Toad, Hank & Marty basically paralleled Nixon's second term. I was between 16 and 20 hanging at both the Camelback & 24th St locations (wuzzit 24th?) and early KDKB. Anyway, here The Beans taught me there were time signatures beyond 4/4, Firesign taught me about Radio Theater in a way old 30's radio tapes never did, and Bill et al showed me how to make free-form radio.

When traitorious infidels began telling radio owners they could make twice as much money playing half as many tunes back in the mid 70's I (like many of us) spent the next 30 years listening to them slice that pie ever smaller until now it's all Mellencamp and Collins and Janis Joplin only released three songs in her entire life.

In retrospect I sometimes wonder if those were possibly the worst four years to form one's radio style given that the whole free-form era (really, only about seven years) was both preceeded and proceeded by naked commercialism. I was in radio for 32 years but from a musical standpoint only the first six or seven were any fun. When index cards started showing up in the seventies, then Selector, then full-tilt, computerized automation, I often felt like the only one in the room saying, "But what about the listeners?" The metaphor I used was "We're selling Chevy's and telling them they're Porsches and they don't know any better so they believe us and doesn't that bother you?" "No" was always the answer.

When voice-tracking came into vogue and idiot PD's put their full-timers on 7 days a week I kept saying, "Do you really believe the listeners are so stupid they won't notice that I'm on the air seven days a week, 365 days a year including Christmas, Thanksgiving and, and...and they always said, "Ah they won't notice". (gggrrrrr)

I always has more respect for my listeners than any executive I ever worked for since the beginning which resulted in being #1 more often than not, but this also alienated me from my bosses, which never bothered me too much. I always said that anyone who can't tap their foot to a beat or whistle a melody in tune has no business running a music station. It's like, if you can't pronounce "Nuclear" then you shouldn't be put in charge of any.

Anyway, this is all a roundabout way of pointing out that I have Bill, Toad, Hank & Marty to thank for launching me into a career with a gentle heart, respect for the listener, the ART of the segue and respect for what we nowdays call "Live & Local".

I left radio after 9.11.01 when the American Media started scaring the living $#@t out of everyone from Maine to Maui. I was telling MY listeners to follow the money and prepare for an assault on their Civil Liberties and an unnecessary war of choice which had been in the making since Clinton beat Bush the elder in '91. Clear Channel let me get away with that for about a month.

I have the KCAC crew to thank for all of it. Gary, who said, "Sure, skip school and come pull my records". Bill who I hounded mercilessly to put me on the air...which he did, occasionally...bless his heart. Hank, with the dryest sense of humor known to man and Marty whose production style definitely influenced mine.

Over the years I had many young interns with big dreams and I made a point of being as kind to them as Bill and the guys were to me. It is their kindness to an eager teenager with big dreams that I will always and endearingly remember.

That and the opium.

freespeak@gmail.com said...

Damn! There was opium? I didn't get any.... no wait that was Ram**sh and that hash oil.. Hell, maybe it WAS opium. I get so freaked out at the memories and then the flashbacks start. I discovered that you can REMEMBER hallucinations. But they're never really clear and somehow someting gets added to them.

Gotta go, my goldfish is singiing to me. Prolly caught another spanish fly.

Ronco

Mariah Fleming said...

THIS IS GREAT!!! KEEP 'EM COMING EVERYBODY! There's a bunch of you who haven't written yet, come on, let's keep this going!

Marty, what were some of your personal favorite memories? Making some of those commercials had to be fun...Russ, what have you got to say about it all?

John Dixon? What were your favorite Johnny D with R and B shows? Best concert production memories? And Andy has a bunch of stories no doubt...come on y'all are the Valley's great radio historians. Give us the goods! (o:

Marty said...

There WAS opium. One of the things I remember relative to that and other things was that pretty much everyone who worked at KCAC got arrested at one time or another. Toad and I on a late night raid that was prompted by Gary's fairly loose check writing style (and we'll leave that at that). I believe Ron fell victim to traffic warrants and the rest escapes me.
No wonder one of our main sponsors featured a catchy :10 live read ...
"Music can get you through times of sadness, love can get you through times of loneliness .. but only DICK GARCIA BAIL BONDS CAN GET YOU OUT OF JAIL!"
(That is a paraphrase .. I'm guessing Wortham remembers the actual copy .. Ron, did you write that?)
I remember it was Dave Briggs' account. He later went to jail in Mexico (see?) on a drug bust and eventually wound up back in Phoenix painting big jet airplanes at Sky Harbor. Dave is in that famous photo from the Camelback studio. And by the way, we did call Dick Garcia and he did get us out. But not before we shared a joint in the joint (the old 3rd floor Phoenix jail in the old County courthouse)with some fans who were thrilled to be sharing a cell with Toad! Seems it slipped through in the search and there we were, puffin' away in the pokey. What could they do? Put us in jail?

Mariah Fleming said...

Marty,
That's a riot!! What else can you think of?! It's GREAT to hear these stories from those who were the roots of the whole thing! The Bail Bonds ad was one of my favorites.

Were you at KCAC when it got robbed of its albums? I lived near the station (the hippest thing to happen in the neighborhood!!) Heard 'em asking for LP's so I arrived with in my tin can Datsun (barely had a drivers license) w/ Joni Mitchell, Buffy St Marie, Pentangle, Leonard Cohen, Richard and Mimi Farina in tow. Bill and the others were thrilled.

I was offered some tres exotic sort of herbal compenasation in turn, but I said "no thanks" and asked if I could hang out and help file the LPS instead. They looked at me kinda weird. I was in awe of the station and everyone there...
shy and basically speechless (o:

Later I lived at 1st Street and Center in Mesa, several blocks from the KDKB. No longer shy or speechless (o: I'd often go down to visit various folks. Sometimes I got to answer the request lines. FUN! I didn't have the guts to ask if I could ever be on the air. But everyone was always so easy going and kind. Those really were the days, weren't they?

Fate (or Wonderful Russ & Dennis McBroom) twisted my arm and I did get to be a very small part of being on the air though. I'll never forget saying the line: "and for those of you who find procreation cumbersome and distasteful..." for the 1st Womens Nat't Credit and Trust Bank "opening soon" fake ads. Did the jingle too. A BLAST!!

I've got a copy of two of the three bank ads I did for those guys and of the Circle K candy/who ate the baby Love Workshop thing too. Do you know what happened to the one that went "Hi, I'm Shirely MacClaine, and in my travels thru the People's Republic of China, the one thing all peasant women everywhere said they wanted was their own bank!"?

So what kind of stereo was your first one? Do you remember the first FM 'underground" station that I think had KNIX call letters? It wasn't on as that very long...1967 maybe?

You guys made a big difference in a lot of people's lives...that's gotta feel nice...living legends for real. Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

OK. This is what I think I remember...

I was in college working weeknights at a station in Flagstaff, feeling really hip 'cause I was playing album cuts by Melanie. So I went down to KCAC and asked Bill for a weekend job.

I signed on Sunday mornings (remember KCAC was daytime AM). I walked in one day to do my shift and discovered that the record library had been stolen. So maybe it was me doing the on-air plea for people to bring in their albums.

I was in awe of Hank and Bill. I was still going to college in Flag and I really didn't socialize much with anyone. When I left KCAC Bill told me to come see him if I ever needed a job.

He was a man of his word. When I walked into KDKB a couple of years later, he hired me to do news. I did morning news for Toad (while he repaired to his car for a smoke), had lots of fights with Bob Dunn and shared many laughs and beers with Mike Goodman. I believe I might have been the only person at the station who got along with Nina.

I remember Springsteen, Zappa, Firesign Theater and many others who came through there. I seem to recall Zappa was very condescending and gave Bill a hard time because he hadn't heard of an obscure jazz artist. Springsteen didn't want to talk, just spin old R&B songs.

I was just a news guy. To me Toad, Hank, Bill, Scott, Nina and Dwight and a wild supporting cast of characters were the heart and soul of KDKB.

Those people taught me everything about radio's potential. God bless 'em all.

Thanks for posting the wonderful audio!

-Steve Zind

freespeak@gmail.com said...

Well in response to Marty's question about Garcia's Bail Bonds... No, great copy but I didn't write it. Wish I had known about him though. Got busted twice in Jerome at least once (for herbal tea) in Phoenix and really could have used a springer. Dunno if you remember or not but I LEFT KCAC for sex, dope and the Open Road shortly after encounters with Pappa Eric Harris, Peter Martin, Terros, Do It Now, Rebirth and Ray Thompson's artist sister from New York. It's all in my online book
http://plantyourseeds.blogspot.com/
if ya wanna see more.. probably beginning at about Chapter 20.

No Marty, the only traffic-related bust was when they found about ten lids that had been given me to distribute for free to "The Family" by a guy we (Bill, Hank Pegi and I) had known in Dallas. I had crashed the car into the rear of a truck and the rats at the wrecking yard busted the trunk, called the cops and gve them the grass. Nine lids of it anyway, probably hoping for a reward.

Ya know "Wild Times" are a lot like Mammon - the love of money. The more ya get, the more you want.
There is never enough.

What would I change about those times? I don't know yet. I do plan to go back and live them all over again. I might have forgotten something.

Ronco

Mariah Fleming said...

If you guys haven't read Ronco's online novel, it's a kick! I read it about a year ago...stick with it, it's long but it's worth it! (I can relate to the long thing-a writer's albatross-or the editor!)

MORE MORE MORE! C'MON THE REST OF YOU OUT THERE! And where is Nina these days? I just remember her signing off athe air abruptly one night like this "I'm tired of sitting here, I'm gonna go get high." or words to that effect!

Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

freespeak@gmail.com said...

Well just to keep the ball rolling, I remember doing interviews with Biff Rose, Alice Cooper, a contingent of people fron "The Chicago Times" announcing the death of Paul McCartney (the first death of the first Paul). An interview with Vangelis (Vangelis O Pappathenassieu - before he and Jon Anderson hooked up) re: his first album "Heaven And Hell" which he topped later...... Then there was the day at KCAC (Wallich's Music City startup location) when the studio caught on fire and we broadcast the entire event - the arrival of the firemen, etc. Then there was the in-studio bust where I got to interview my own arresting officer, and the time I married Peter Martin and some red-headed beauty on the air. Peter brought one or two other ladies into my life later but a lot of that is kinda foggy.... Kollassa was a triple Scorpio, Peter was a triple Virgo.

Wallich's Music City had DEMO records that you could take into a booth and play. We did that but played them on the air. Mike Kollassa and Scott Niccolson were our first two employees. We were SUPPOSED to be playing OLDIES until Bill and Hank could shake their contracts and make it over. But did Scott and Mike follow the format? NOOOOOOooooooo. They were telling me CREAM was OLDIES because Disraeli Gears had been out for SIX FULL WEEKS (ah, top 40).

Next thing I knew Pappa Eric and Peter Martin and Toad and a few others were taking over the station and that was a GOOD thing in my book. It was spirit-led. It was Magic and Eric was really wooing and winning a huge, devoted audience. To maintain control and preserve space for Bill and Hank though, I found myself in the unenviable position of having to fire Pappa Eric. Not fun. NOT what I would preferred but hey, allegiance to friends and all that.

God, I hate politics.

Ronco

Mariah Fleming said...

Ronco,
As soon as I stop laughing I'll post a reply!!!! (o:
You're terrific!