Saturday, July 05, 2008

Jeff and Jennifer Crawford's KCAC Tapes

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!



Fran Bennett said...

Go Jeff & Jennifer...I remember "The Switchboard" well. What a great service. Three beds, AC & a fenced yard for a buck and a quarter? Hah! Were we EVER that young? I hope you find some of Bob Dunn's old "Newsviews" broadcasts too...those were exceptional.

I'll always be grateful to have been schooled by radio guys who scheduled their public service for prime time rather than burying in at four o'clock on a Sunday morning. (grrrrr)

Can't wait to hear those tapes:)

PhotoFlashbacks said...

I would love to hear those recordings as KCAC was before I arrived in Arizona. My Lady was born & raised in Scottsdale and I know she would remember them.

"Thanks!" Jeff & Jennifer... I look forward to progress being made.


Liz Boyle said...

Imagine radio content, at one time, deemed important enough to tape! Imagine, radio as a catalyst for social and political upheaval!
Imagine, radio playing a large part in a gereation's consciousness!

Thanks to people like Jeff and Jennifer who had the interest and foresight to tape, so that our children can hear how radio made a real human connection and how radio made a difference.

Handy Paul said...

Hey moderator, what happened to the topic on the AMEHOF? If it was not pertinent to the Bill Compton video post, why not just make it a separate thread? Heck, that was interesting stuff.

But speaking of Bill Compton, I don't know if this is 'off-track' or not, but I read where Governor Napolitano approved the bill last week that would provide state funding for the Decades Rock 'n' Roll Theme Park between Phoenix and Tucson. I wonder how other KCAC lives viewers feel about this rock 'n' roll theme park? From one of the preliminary maps, there will be a Compton Terrace Amphitheater, and something called "Az Walk of Fame," I have no idea what the latter might be. I guess famous Arizona rockers? How many readers remember Legend City?

In case you are not familiar with Decades Rock 'n' Roll Theme Park, you can check out the park at the following URL,


pseudomine said...

I am wondering if I can get a copy of the interview with Ted Mote. Is that available anywhere? Ted is my dad. I would like to hear that and would like my kids to hear the grandpa they never had a chance to know. Tomorrow will be 26-years since my dad died. He had some amazing experiences and inspired so many, as a teacher, coach, civil libertarian, advocate and activist. He was also a great father. I miss him, and I would like to hear him again.

vagabondvet said...

Hi, pseudomine,

I sent Tom an email, hopefully he'll reply to you here. Keep checking back!

Tom Wright said...

Pseudomine - sorry for the long delay in responding. The good news is that the audio recording is available for free listening and downloading at (Look on the right side of the page. The Morris Starsky interview is also there.) I hope you and your children enjoy hearing this piece of Arizona history.