Wednesday, August 30, 2006

KAAY's Sonny Martin Heard From...Jerry Sims

Well, one of four (I think there were's easy to lose count). Jerry Sims was Sonny Martin between Wayne Moss and Matt White. Wayne was the first. Jerry was at KXLR prior to KAAY. Jerry was involved with lots of stunts which we will share later and was one of the few serious basketball players on the Komando basketball team. Jerry is now media director for Hank's Finnnnnnnnnnnne Furniture and we can thank him for all those TV placements. Jerry writes: I
enjoyed the pictures of you and Barbara and the car pushing
shot. Richard spelled his name Wiethan and, as you probably
know, he was a newsman then and became Buddy Carr after Bob
Mullins left.
Thanks for the "Weithan" spelling correction. I knew it was wrong when I typed it, but I knew the phonetic spelling would bring out the correct one. Even though Richard was with us a short time, anyone who worked with him will always remember him.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Whatever Happened to KAAY's Phil North?

My computer crashed and has slowed my posting. I'll try to catch up.
Chris sent me an email as follows:

writing to say thanks
for taking the time to establish the site and contribute so
many nice
to it.
I grew up in Fordyce and remember listening to Sonny and
GJJ getting ready
for school. Graduated FHS in '72. The old 'breakfast
serials" were great
can just hear Sonny saying " . . . welllllllllll" when the
plot would
change and leave
the listener hanging 'till next time". I had an
opportunity to visit the
Big K studios
when Sonny and GJJ were on the air! What a pair those two
were. I'm
wondering -
whatever happened to Phil North? As I understand it, he
left for Detroit
in the early 70's. Wonder if he is retired now or just
what he is doing?
He did the
8-11pm slot as I recall.
So - thanks again. Just wanted to send you a quick note


Anyone know? If so, email me at

Saturday, August 26, 2006

George J. Jennings & Sonny Martin Remember

From the program "Timeless Tracks" explained below, George And Sonny remember some KAAY experiences: Tracks edit2.wma

Friday, August 25, 2006

From the "Timeless Tracks" KAAY 40th Anna. Pgm

Tony Warner currently does a radio program called "Timeless Tracks". Even though this is a music program, Tony has done more to preserve radio history, than anyone I know. He has even written a book on Buddy Deane, of Baltimore radio fame. (If you have any interest in the book contact Tony at Tony's show can be heard online at: or on the air: KOLL 106.3 (Little Rock AR vicinity)6-11 PM Sundays.

Tony did a 5 hour "TImeless Tracks" broadcast on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of KAAY. The following 8 minute clip tells of the sign on of KAAY, the consistent DJ name structure, and a rare radio appearance of long time KAAY manager Pat Walsh. Pat did appear on KAAY occasionally but it was only to do a mobile unit follow contest which he really enjoyed doing. This recording is very significant, do to the recent loss of Pat Walsh.
: Tracks edit1.mp3

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Emperor Holiday & Daphne

Remember the cast of characters for the Emperor bit? There was Col. Splendid, Daphne, & Lt. Cavendish. In each market the comedy material was the same, just the Emperor's name changed. Lt. Cavendish was the foil of many of the jokes. Daphne was the bright, sexy, one. When we made personal appearances we had staff members who often played the parts.

In the fall, Emperor Holiday made football predictions. Mostly local high school teams. However, what the public didn't know was that these predictions were made based on how we could get the most reaction. For example, Hall Hi was in Little Rock and always had a good football team in those days. North Little Rock Hi was across the river and had great school spirit. We felt we could get far more reaction by predicting NLR to loose. We appeared at the NLR pep rally and at the game, spent most of the time on the NLR side. We were booed, pelted with drinks etc. The Mayor of North Little Rock even entered into a wager. If NLR won, Emperor Holdiay would spend a day working for the street department. If Hall won, Mayor Casey Laymen would do the Emperor's radio show. NLR won and the Mayor did 3 hilarious hours.

Finally the story behind the picture. Emperor and Daphne cool it on the side lines. Daphne was played by Barbara Lewis the manager of the KAAY's secretary. She also did cheerleading for the Commando's Basketball team. Barbara was a great team player, and a good friend.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Those Wonderful RCA Microphones

These pictures are a before and after KAAY.On the top, I was in high school and working at KBBA, Benton AR, my first radio job when this picture was taken with a wonderful RCA BX-44 that could make even a teenager sound good. The left picture was taken a few years ago with an RCA 77D. The best mike ever. I still use it to this day.

KAAY used RCAs extensively. Mainly because they were there from KTHS. We also had a lot of Ampexes. A few from KTHS but we got several in a bonus deal from Jimmy Fidler.

Remember "Jimmy Fidler in Hollywood reporting for KAAY". When you signed a contract with him, you got a free Ampex. More on Jimmy later and an air check for those who don"t remember.

All this was prompted by an email from David:


I was told some years back that Jerry Sims was a Sonny
Martin. I do not know this for sure, but I seem to
remember the voice appearing under that name. This
would have been prior to the time when the RCA 77DX
ribbon mic in the control room was replaced by the
Electro-Voice 667 (or perhaps the short-lived 666

I always wondered why the voices on KAAY sounded so
large, even the higher-pitched ones. It was that RCA
ribbon mic!


Monday, August 21, 2006

Corrected Air Check

You log visitors are on the ball. Paul wrote: The other day, I downloaded the .wma of the Jennings blog, and found out that the file gets corrupt at around 15 minutes and stops playing. I just tried downloading it again, and it did the same thing.

Very alert Paul, the file should have been 32 min 19 sec. Part of the problem I am having is webspace to hold the tiles. That space filled up and wouldn't take the whole file. I reencoded it to a slower bit rate and a smaller file. It is now all there but the quality is not great. All this discussion about the air check link under George J. Jennings.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

The Jingle Post Vanished

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about jingles. For some reason it seemed to disappear from the blog. I have no record (or memory) for that matter of what I said. It was discovered missing, while I was checking the files that are used to link the audio downloads. There was the huge audio file and nothing on the blog linking to it. If anyone remembers what I said let me know and I'll try to reconstruct it. The audio is KAAY jingles from several years and several different companies. I am reposting it for any of you who would like to copy and save it.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

I Need Your Help

I need your help with the air names for a couple of people in this picture. It was a publicity photo, but I forgot why we were taking it. If anyone remembers email me.
From left to right: B. Bruce Jenkins, Howard Watson, Bertha Sims, Jerry Sims, Sammy Peters, Len Carl, Richard Weetan, Emperor Holiday, Barbara Lewis and Bob Mullins.

Does anyone know the "on the air names" for Jerry Sims, and Sammy Peters?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

George J. Jennings

George J. Jennings was the first newsman at KAAY. He was actually at KAAY twice. When he came back, he made the news position more than a news reader. Along with Sonny Martin he wes a co-host of the morning show. Later, George became Operations Director. He lives in San Antonio with his wife Nancy. I've ask George to write some history notes for us, but until he does enjoy an aircheck of Geeorge and Sonny as they play a KLIF aircheck and discuss a nude Cosmopolition photo spread.
: 4-17-1972.wma

Monday, August 14, 2006

A Car an Hour

Continuing the contests memories. KAAY signed on September (Labor Day weekend as I remember.) 1962. I was Program Director at KXLR. With KAAY, a total of four stations in the market were top 40. We had heard on the street, that KAAY was going to give away a car. So, we got our crack sales department to go out and trade out a car to give away. KAAY's contest was to give away a car a day for a month and ended the promotion with a car an hour for 24 hours. Mike McCormick (PD at the time) always thought big even for 1962. The run of the mill contests, the news tip,etc. were usually small dollars. Mike D. remembers:

I love listening to old airchecks where the prize is something like a dollar
and a half. They'd give the winner's name and street address out on the air.
Sometimes their phone number. In the '60s they used to have contests where
the object was to go knock on people's doors looking for something or asking
if this was the secret house. You'd get shot today. The "Mr. Whisper"
contests were popular too, or guess the record played at a different speed.
Sometimes they'd give way the entire Top 40 of that week on 45s. That must
have set the stations back a bundle.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Never the 91 caller!

Contests and promotions were contributing factors to the success of KAAY. There were always several contests going at once. A variety of contests with different ways to enter, were key factors. In those days, many of the proof of listeners was from the mail that was received from across the country.

One contest I found a picture to support was the "Christmas in August" contest. I don't even remember the details, perhaps one of you can refresh my memory. I know it involved Jim Pitcock whose air name was Ron Owens (I think). We thought it was so funny to dress skinny Jim in a Santa suit with NO padding and drive him around in a convertible in the heat of an Arkansas August.

Saturday, August 12, 2006


An emailer asked: Did you ever see the gravestone of little
Glaspie Dillard out under the west tower?

I've been to the transmitter site many times and have never heard this one.

Anyone out there have more details?

Ghost at the Wrightsville Transmitter

As you have seen in previous posts the transmitter for KAAY was in Wrightsville, AR (south of Little Rock) and Clyde Clifford's real name is Dale Sidenswartz. (the name Clyde Clifford came from the comptroller of Lin Broadcasting. Pat Walsh delighted in naming air personalities after Lin corporate types). With all this in mind here is a post from Bill S. shedding some light on the story:

Several years ago, I asked Dale Sidenswartz about the rumors I had heard like you of the Mighty 1090 transmitter building being haunted.

While I don’t recall the entire story, Dale did confirm that in his late nights at the transmitter as he kept the Beaker Street alive, there was on more than one occasion some unusual occurrences, if not, ghostly spirits, moving through the inside of the transmitter building. Never did he mention anything about a gravestone.

In 1969, as a teenager, having visited the Wrightsville three towers site during a tour of the grounds and building by Felix McDonald, I never noticed a grave marker.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Answer to Paul's Question

Thanks to David for the answer to Paul's question:

"House Of The Rising Sun" to
which Paul refers was done by a group called Frijid
Pink (I think that's the proper spelling). They had
maybe two albums on Parrot Records, a subsidiary of

David also raises questions about the haunting of two
studio locations and the grave stone under one of the
towers. I'll have to research that one. If anyone has
any experiences with this, please email me.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Beaker Street & KAAY

Any discussion of KAAY usually comes around to "Beaker Street". Here from a newspaper article are Clyde Clifford's (a/k/a Dale Sidenswartz) own words:

But the audience was enormous back in 1966, when Clyde Clifford got the job of hosting KAAY’s “Beaker Street” because the Federal Communications Commission required an engineer to be on duty at the transmitter.
“I was out there at the transmitter anyway,” he said.
The eerie background music of “Beaker Street” was used to mask the hum of the machinery since the show didn’t broadcast from a conventional studio.
“We wanted it to sound really trippy,” Clifford said.
Despite being in the center of the country, as far away from the recording centers of the East and West Coasts as it was possible to be, KAAY was bringing groundbreaking music to the heartland.
“I knew there was a lot of stuff we were doing that no one else was doing — that we were ‘out there,’” Clifford said of KAAY. “We were rocking, but we weren’t really a rock station. Some country would slip in, some soul would slip in, even some jazz would slip in. Nothing extreme, but not a strict format. We even aired farm markets.”
The advent of FM radio saw improved sound and steady — although less far-reaching — signals. Rock-formatted stations migrated to FM, a change Clifford calls “hard to explain. There was just change in the air at that time. It was like the change from spring to summer — you didn’t really notice.”
Clifford himself moved to FM in 1974 — to Little Rock’s KLAZ, 98.5 — and “Beaker Street” was abandoned.
The legend of KAAY and the prog-rock show only increased as KAAY finally “went pure religious” in the 1980s. There was a celebratory last day of broadcasting in the original format with original staff, culminating with the return of Clifford to do a final broadcast of “Beaker Street” on KAAY.
“I thought that was the last radio I’d ever do,” Clifford said.
Improbably, in the late 1980s, “Beaker Street” was resurrected on FM and again on Sunday nights. Now, Little Rock’s classic rock stalwart Magic 105 has aired Clifford’s “Beaker Street” longer than the original lasted on KAAY.
A block of religious programming airing earlier on Sundays helped pay for the airtime of “Beaker Street” on KAAY during the hippie prog-rock show’s initial run. Meanwhile, “the Mighty 1090” itself has exclusively broadcast Christian sermons since the 1980s. KAAY still carries on in its storied call letter form — and its storied power.
“It was a great time to be in radio,” Clifford said of KAAY’s heyday. “It was a great time to be in Little Rock.”

I received this email from Paul regarding "Beaker Street"
The one thing I am curious about is the version of "House Of The Rising Sun" that was used. This opening theme was used since at least 1973, and the whole song was usually played. Unfortunately, when I recorded it, it was not, and as an 11 year old, I stopped the tape. I wonder if anyone recognizes this version of the song. The only other time I heard this version was on an episode of the old NBC "Weekend" show during a feature on competitive frisbee throwing....

Here is the opening Paul recorded:

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Pat Walsh & Bumper Stickers

Several times in this blog I have made reference to Pat Walsh, long time manager of KAAY, who has passed on. One of the great tributes to Pat was an editorial cartoon in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Anyone who knew Pat, knew his love for the Razorbacks. This was often translated into a promotional bumper sticker for KAAY and the Razorbacks.

This is just one of dozens of Razorback bumper stickers. (For those of you much younger, in the 60s and 70s it was almost a requirement to have a bumper sticker of some type on your car.)

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Where did you hear KAAY?

Naturally I was always interested in where people were when they were listening to KAAY. One evening we were shocked with a record request from a part of the world where we knew we shouldn't be heard. After closer questioning, the caller revealed he was listening on an Air Force line that had KAAY patched into it.

Here is another email comment I received: Living on the West Coast, I wasn't able to hear KAAY due to co-channel interference from XERB in Mexico. My first impressions of the station were from bits and pieces recorded by a friend traveling along I-10 from Arizona to Florida, probably around 1971. That friend later worked at a station in Tulsa and would record stations he was hearing from that location during the night. Of course, KAAY was one of the stronger signals. He'd record a bit of KAAY before moving on to lesser signl stations he was hearing such as WING in Dayton, some of the Kansas City stations, and whatever else he was receiving. At the time, KAAY was using the PAMS Series 42 "The Igniters" jingle package.

In September of 1973, I had an opportunity to travel to Tulsa to visit relatives and took time out in the evenings to listen to KAAY which I thought had a great format at the time and was using the PAMS Series 44 "The Music's On Us" jingle package. As mentioned by another poster, I also remember quite well hearing the 8:00 pm station ID "Greetings QSLers..."

The airchecks, jingles and other audio you're posting on this site is great! Brings back a lot of memories of what radio was like back in the good old days of radio when clear channel stations actually meant a clear signal.

Hope you can keep up the fantastic job on this blog.


Today's download is 20 minutes of KAAY jingles. I love the old style jingles that built a station image not just bridged songs together. This covers a wide span of years and includes several companies including Pams and the great sonovox cuts. The quality is not the best coming from carts and dubbed to cassette before being digitalized. I have some better quality cuts of some of these jingles but this represents many together. Enjoy:

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Thanks & Another Air Check Gem

If it is easier to email me than to post a comment please do so at I received the following email comment:
For the record, I am 41, and first discovered KAAY as a seven-year old in 1972.

KAAY was a great, great radio station. It didn't have a strict "Top-40" sound, the way stations like WLS, CKLW, WCFL, or XEROK had. The station played the hits, and played mid-chart hits that other stations (at least any other 50 kW blowtorches) didn't touch. The jingles, the personalities, and songs all combined to create something that was truly magical.

Listening to airchecks of the station is like having a ice-cold 41 degree Coke on a summer afternoon (and I really enjoyed the Walt Sadler aircheck offered here). KAAY offered Southern hospitality in radio form.

When KAAY would reach into St. Louis through skywave, I usually heard religious programming (typically Garner Ted Armstrong), which I didn't care for, but now understand kept the bills paid. Then at 8 PM, heard "Greetings QSL'ers, this is KAAY Little Rock" kicking off the hour with music.

I also remember "Beakerstreet" which came on at 11 PM. By the time I started listening to the station, Clyde Clifford was gone, but the show remained on the air until 1977. It was not a show I listened to as a kid, but through airchecks and Clyde's current show, grew to really enjoy. Programs like "Beakerstreet" added a certain mystique to the station, and gave KAAY a certain degree of credibility to my friends who didn't care for Top-40 music, and were listening to Album-Rock radio instead.

Even later on, shows like "Blues Alley" had KAAY stand apart from other stations on the dial.

If Doc Brown's modified DeLorean really existed, I'd set the dials at some point in the early 1970's, drive 88 M.P.H. and put 1090 kHz on the presets and hang out there for a while. And I'd bring a tape recorder/hard drive and bring it back!

Best Wishes/73


Thanks Paul, and here is an air check of the second Buddy Karr, Bob Mullins. I also show up this aircheck reading the "Bannerline news" as Doc Holiday. News was not my favorite, but working the 6-midnight shift you did what was necessary. Notice in the background after the record as Buddy starts to talk, a KAAY jingle is playing softly behind him. This was a requirement of the program director Mike McCormick. The jingle was on a cart machine in a rack out of the way and no one was to touch it. A remote button, under the console was pushed as the jock started to talk. I saved nothing air check wise during the two different times I worked at KAAY.I am always happy to find anything from this era. The air check was made in October of 1963. Bob Mullins also worked for the Big Kay twice and did George J. Jennings.
Enjoy the air check by clicking on this link:

Friday, August 04, 2006

KAAY's 1st Program Director Mike McCormick

Mike McCormick a/k/a Jim Hankins, as mentioned previously, created the original sound of KAAY. He did the 9-12 AM shift. Here is his bio from 9/27/62. Click on it and then use the enlarge button to read:

Now hear Mike and some of the early KAAY production with some of his "seasonal" promos: Here is the link:

Thursday, August 03, 2006

The First Buddy Karr a/k/a Tom Bigby

If you click on the above and then the enlarge button, it should be ledgible.

In the original lineup of jocks that signed on KAAY, Tom Bigby was Buddy Karr. He did afternoon drive.

Now hear a short aircheck of Buddy: Karr.mp3

Rock Robbins a/k/a Tommy Riggs 6/15/43-6/29/00

Tommy came to KAAY 8PM to midnight to do something different for the nighttime. Tommy was a DJ but more important, he played piano by ear. If you could hum it, Tommy could play it. We put a small electronic piano on top of the console, and Tommy would play and sing short bits as he was inspired to do. Additionally Tommy created many songs and material for "Ear On Arkansas" (a 30 minute saterical view of the news airing on Sunday). I remember often at 2 AM being 15 minutes short of a finished program and calling Tommy who would come to the station and fill the void with great stuff.

Tommy's passion was live entertainment. Even though he left KAAY to do more with his band, he did go to Pine Bluff, AR to be program director and eventually manager of KCLA.

Tommy was living in Nashville at the time of his death and was remembered there as well as back home in Arkansas.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, saw fit to remember him in a lengthy obit subtitled "Singer, Songwriter, Ĺ’Prom King.' " The article recalled how the North Little Rock native gained local fame as the "Prom King" for performing at high school proms throughout central Arkansas. He earned a larger following in the '60s and '70s as Rock Robbins, a rock deejay on the high-powered Little Rock station KAAY-AM, which could be heard from Canada to Cuba.

A Nashville paper had this to say: Tommy Riggs (Tom Payton) is an Arkansan singer, piano and keyboard player who had several bands while performing around the state in the 1960s and 1970s. He also was working as a radio DJ (as Tom Jones) at the time, on KCLA, during 1968 through 69 &As Tom Payton on KXLR in North Little Rock in 1964, and in 1966 at KAAY]]. During this period, he promoted himself as Tom Payton and the Kingpins, Tom Payton with The Playboys, and several other names. He recorded while he was Rock Robbins from KAAY on the Little Rock label "MY Records" in 1966. Two songs from the session were released on a 45 rpm record, "My Little Girl" and "Good Lovin'"... The other songs and all tape masters are in private hands. Promoting himself as Tommy Riggs, he performed around the country From St. Louis to Las Vegas before settling down in Nashville, Tennessee and frequently playing at the Stockyards Lounge

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Emperor Record

As the Emperor Holiday promotion got into gear, promotional material begain to roll. This is a 45 record (remember those) recorded by a local band in the conference room of KTHV. The records were all given away,probably a pressing of 5000. If you want to save this or any of the audio clips just right click on the link, select "save target as" and save it on your computer where you want it.

Here is the link: Holiday.mp3

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Emperor Holiday Sticker

I received an email from David B. Treadway, who was program director of KAAY at the end of its existence as a top 40 station. He credits KAAY as inspiring him to get into radio. From his email message: (a time when it
literally was MAGIC to thousands of teenage Arkies,
myself in the forefront. I had an Emperor Holiday
sticker on my looseleaf binder in the 7th grade.
"maneuvers" was spelled wrong.)

More on the whole "Emperor" bit later. Interestingly enough the layout for the bumper sticker went though several hands at the station and the screen printing folks at Adcraft of Ar. No one caught the error. The stickers had been out for several weeks, when a loyal commando pointed out the error of our ways. Without missing a beat, we replied that was intentional. It was all part of the comedy of Emperor Holiday. (Holiday being spelled different from the historical Doc Holiday)