Whew! It was a pleasure to meet you all last night, even if it did run WAY past my bedtime! Thanks, Mariah and everybody else who had a hand in organizing this event, and to Kim at the Alwun House for hosting it!
For those who couldn't make it, or who were there but didn't get my hand-out, posted below is my modest proposal for an organized effort to compile an archival history of KCAC, KDKB, and related topics. As a separate post (due to its length) is the list of tapes I currently have available. I was gratified last night to see that other folks also have tape caches and other antiquities that they're willing to share. I damn near fainted when Michael Collins casually handed me a professionally recorded, 10-inch master tape reel of him on the air with Compton at KDKB ca. 1972. I'll be getting together with Marty Manning and Andy Olson sometime soon to compare collections and trade copies.
Keep the faith,
A MODEST PROPOSAL
September 26, 2006
The Alwun House
The KCAC Lives! blog has provided a new forum for the community that originally coalesced around underground/progressive radio in Phoenix between 1969 and 1977. Several of the principal members of that community are no longer with us, and the rest are well into middle age. If the history of those days is worth preserving, the time to do so is now.
A book would be the best, but most difficult, way of documenting the people and events important to that scene during those years. However, there are a number of simpler options that can be mixed-and-matched in whatever ways turn out to be feasible. These should be considered preliminary ideas, very much subject to discussion and change. With that caveat, here are some possibilities.
(1) Creation of an archive of documents, correspondence, photos, newspaper clippings, audio and video tapes, legal papers, business records, and whatever other relevant materials still exist; and permanent curation of this archive in a public institution such as the Arizona Historical Society or the Arizona Room at Hayden Library, Arizona State University. (I’d lean toward the Az Historical Society, largely because they’ve already shown an interest in post-World War II Phoenix-area popular culture with their "Wallace & Ladmo" collections and exhibits.) This alternative would involve approaching an institution to explain our goals and determine if they would have an interest in housing such an archive. If so, we would then need to identify sources of archival materials, persuade as many people as possible to donate their collections (if necessary, copies can be submitted rather than treasured original photos, letters, or recordings), get everything properly labeled, and work with the curation staff to get it all organized and cataloged.
(2) An oral history project consisting of audio- or video-taped interviews with people who played significant roles in the history of KCAC, KDKB, and any related entities. Interviews could be conducted one-on-one or with groups of people (3 to 5 at a time). Interviews would be guided by a list of questions or topics, but would be flexible enough to allow for the free flowing of memories and ideas. The interviews should ideally be conducted by an interested outsider, someone who can ask the right questions and facilitate discussion without any particular bias or pre-determinations. The resulting tapes could be added to the archive discussed above, thus creating a record far richer than mere documents ‘n stuff ever could.
(3) A written questionnaire that can be submitted to whoever is interested in providing some basic information and observations, with room for them to expand in whatever direction(s) they deem appropriate. This would be easier (especially in this era of email and blogs) than actual interviews, and has the advantage of being available to people regardless of geographical factors or other circumstances that would make interviews difficult. Disadvantages: some people don’t like to write, or wouldn’t have the time to write; and this technique necessarily lacks the spontaneity and interaction of live-in-person interviews.
(4) Find a graduate student in the history department at ASU (or at one of the community colleges) looking for a thesis topic. Stress that this is not an matter of aging hippies reminiscing about the good ‘ol days, but about examining local responses to national issues and trends during a time of great social and political turmoil. (That’s right, make it sound dull and academic to hook them; then lay on the sex-drugs-and-rock’ n roll). Phoenix is notoriously conservative and resistant to change; how did these radical new ideas about radio, music, politics, lifestyle, and community get established here, and how did those initial ideals play out over a period of time? Historians love this kind of stuff! If an interested grad student can be found, he or she can do a lot of the work involved in gathering an archive and doing interviews, provided of course that we all cooperate and contribute.
So: is this worth doing? What goals, techniques, and ideas would you support? Who’s interested in helping to organize such a project? Anyone know people at the Az Historical Society, or in the ASU history department? Think about it. Let’s talk.