As long-timer bloggers know, Jeff and Jennifer Crawford of Phoenix have preserved an amazing collection of KCAC tapes, and they have very generously made the tapes available for archival copying. There have been some major technical glitches, but I'm finally making significant progress on getting the tapes digitized.
The tapes I've worked on thus far are almost all public-affairs programming with very little music (although one tape has a pretty wild live-in-the-studio session with the Beans, just before they left for San Francisco). But the public-affairs material, recorded in 1970, is stunning. Most notably, there are lengthy Bill Compton interviews with Ted Mote, Executive Director of the Arizona Chapter of the ACLU; Morris Starsky, the ASU professor who was fired for having attended an antiwar rally; and Gary Peter Khlar, all-around gadfly to the powers that be, who later served in the State legislature and the Phoenix City Council. All three interviews discuss civil rights, free speech, the political use of fear and intimidation, biased media reporting, and the erosion of Constitutional liberties. (Sound familiar?) Bill also interviews two army wives, identified only as Karen and Brenda; Karen's husband was a POW and Brenda's had been MIA for three years. Hank interviews some local Yippies (Randy Overmeier and Frank Fiorre - these may not be the correct spellings; anybody remember these guys?) and U.S. Senatorial candidate Sam Grossman, just a few days before the 1970 election. There's a good deal of programming about the dangers of speed, including taped announcements from Frank Zappa and an interview with a local speed freak who warns everyone else not to touch the stuff.
On a lighter note, there are many episodes of "Switchboard", the audio bulletin board that ran every two hours where Bill or Hank (or whoever was on the air at the time) would read various announcements: "dude needs a ride to Houston tomorrow, will buy gas; Linda has some groovy free kittens; Doug needs two roommates, long-hairs only, $45 a month each; 1957 Chevy, runs fine, $100"; and so on, always followed by a phone number. One of the announcements is that "Toad Hall needs a place to live, 2 or 3 bedrooms, refrigeration, and a fenced back yard, $125 or less a month".
From a historical perspective, these tapes comprise an oral history of Phoenix during the Nixon/Vietnam era. The people who were deeply involved in the issues of the day tell their own stories, in their own words and their own voices, while the events themselves were still unfolding. The tapes also prove, for today's audiences, that once upon a time radio was creative, community-based, intelligent, challenging, and FUN!
The Crawfords have been extraordinarily generous in allowing others to have access to these irreplaceable tapes. We are discussing ways to have them permanently preserved and to make copies available (as mp.3s) to interested parties. Please join me in thanking Jeff and Jennifer Crawford via new posts to the blog, and keep checking in for more news!