Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Alwun House Gathering

Hi everybody-

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,


September 26, 2006
The Alwun House
Phoenix, Arizona

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.

Tom Wright
Tempe, AZ
(480) 947-0155

4 comments: said...

Hi Tom..

I really like the PROFESIONALISM of this concept and the way it is presented. I would be more than happy to donate the time and energy to put this together in a digital format but it seems distance is a factor. Plus Andy, Marty, Jimmy and others (or the material) do not have to be Fed-Exed from point to point.

If I may suggest - KCAC Lives! blog is an adequate repository for now for ANYTHING digitized be it audio, pictures or even video. I recall Bill did a few TV shows along the American Bandstand format lines that would be great to see again if they could be found.

It seems the DIGITAL version of a very spontaneous museum is happening right here. The Arizona Music Hall Of Fame, Johnny Dixon or as you mentioned a wing of the museum might become dedicated to the ARTIFACT [backup] version. It just seems more and more that people are more likely to seek the experience as the Spirit guides them, from their home and classroom computers.

Then too, there is the contribution aspect... such as Pegi's Vault of pictures. It's not THAT much work to scan and archive those memories. Gotta be bunches more out there, even if in bits and pieces.

ONE ENTIRE SECTION could be created for videotaped memories of people like Bob Gately or me, Mariah Fleming and many others. Aspects of relationships, psychic experiences and memories that few others got to share in. When you put these things together in a grab-bag of factual testimony it lends a hint at least, of some of the spirituality and synchronicity of the times.

I think you've started something here that a number of people are going to chime in on as they realize "Hey, I couold do that!, ya know? Might be a good way to get my name on The List for the next party!"

'Tis an honor to be associated with you, sir. Many others of Astute Perception I am sure, will be joining in!

Ron Wortham

Mariah Fleming said...

Hey Tom,
How lucky we are that you found us! It was really wonderful to meet you and talk to you. You have terrific ideas.

I suggest you contact the Az
Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame asap about archives you have in your possession. At Alwun House did you meet AMEHOF's Terri Sussman and Ken Beals?

Terri and I would like to meet with you regarding something we and several other long time valley artists are doing which we hope you would find interesting. We're both Az natives; a couple of veteran 'valley people' as opposed to 'mountain people" (o:

As you know, there are more of us around than most people suspect. Sure hope people like you will get more involved with AMEHOF. It's our Arizona, after all, and thanks to people like yourself some of the rare gems in our cultural history are not lost.

You can contact AMEHOF at

Tom Wright said...


(...and they call the wind Mariah... and the winds cries Mariah... no, wait, that's Mary... well, close enough)

I spent quite a bit of time talking with Ken Beals, as well as Marty Manning, Andy Olson, and Michael Collins. Yes, we will definitely be getting together, in various combinations, to discuss where we go from here. I'll post more when I know more. Thanks again for helping to arrange the Alwun House event, and by all means let's do it again soon!


Mariah Fleming said...

You got it right Tom...
"the wind cries Mariah" works 'cause Mariah is simply a derivation of Mary...same name! Mine is spelled the Irish way. The other way is Moriah, which is Hebrew for Mary. As for Marya, I think it's a modern combination. Who knew? And who really cares? (o: Anyway, a little useless trivia about names of the day. Thank God I wasn't named
something EVERYONE is named (LOL...thanks Mariah Carey!!! Sheesh!)