Saturday, December 30, 2006

Chicago Fan From The Beginning

Here is an email of a KAAY listener from Chicago, who heard the change from KTHS to KAAY:

I saw some of your information about KAAY on the Internet. It brought back many memories. I listened to KAAY here in the Chicago suburbs during the early to mid-sixties. I was just a young kid at the time, and I used to try to pick-up AM DX on my radios at night. I first discovered KAAY as KTHS. I was captivated one night when KTHS kept playing "The Baby Elephant Walk" and the announcer kept reading names out of the Little Rock phone book. One of the promos that night was, "What in the name of backward radio? YAAK."
The DJ said, "Tune in tomorrow night for a big surprise." I couldn't wait. I was sure there was going to be a call letter change. I was not disappointed when I tuned in the next evening. In fact, I couldn't wait for it to get dark, so there would be good signal propagation between here and Little Rock. I was not disappointed that evening. I was never sure what they meant about the legendary "Big KAAY elephant" coming to Little Rock. Somewhere lost in my house, I have about one minute of a tape recording from that night before the call letter change. I wish I could find it.

I was always disappointed when I would try to tune into KAAY, and find the Spanish programs intended for Cuba during the Cuban Crisis. Even as a kid, I realized those broadcasts were important, but I wanted to here Rob Robbins. I made the best of it.

I have been searching for the "Big KAAY Twist" for many years. My parents were not happy with the long distance phone charges I incurred trying to get one by calling Franklin 5-5311. That phone number is engraved in my brain along with Franklin 2-1090.

Would it be possible to send me an MP3 of "The Big KAAY Twist" and any early jingles? Thank you for taking the time to post all of the information. They brought back many memories.



Ron, If you will check out the "archives" over on the right, and click on "April" you will see "The Big Kay Twist". You can save the file by right clicking on the link and choose "save target as". Also, scattered through out the archives are jingles like the Pams sonovox "Big Kay".

I will mail you the 45 of "The Big KAAY Twist" if you can find the recording of the change of KTHS,(the reading of the phone book that you mentioned.

Let me make this a contest for everyone. The first person to get me a recording of the reading of the phone book change from KTHS to KAAY, will get a 45 record of "The Big KAAY Twist.

Also, it is interesting to note a listener from Chicago, since that city had two fine rock and roll stations WLS and WCFL.

The reference to the "elephant" was to tie in "Baby Elephant Walk" to the elephant symbol that was used on the early surveys (see archives for March). The elephant was a symbol of size also, so that's why it was chosen. It was dropped in later years.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Clyde Clifford in 7th St. Studio

Clyde Clifford a/k/a Dale Seidenschwarz Beaker Street

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

What did you listen to KAAY on?

Maybe you listened to KAAY on a transistor radio as above. Most had a speaker and an earphone jack. Today the kids have ipods and play just the music they want. In the 60s we listened on transistor radios or on the car radio. Do you remember the sound from an older car radio? Even one with tubes. Remember the old juke boxes with tubes. Today, some of the most expensive amplifiers have TUBES. At KAAY we couldn't wait to get rid of tubes.
To hear your favorite song you just called the radio station. At night at KAAY, we had to hire a teenager to come in and answer the phone. He kept counts of what songs were requested and passed them on to the music director. A 45 record of a hit cost 99
cents. Isn't it strange, today a single downloaded from ipod cost 99 cents.(Only 88 cents from Walmart download services. ) In view of the entertainment business today, what is radio doing? Looks like to me, more consolidation. Voice tracking multiple stations from hundreds of miles away by talent who has never set foot in the city.

Thanks Doug Krile

Thanks Doug Krile for you comments on KAAY. Read it:

Christmas in August

KAAY had a contest in August (or July) probably 1964, where listeners were asked to place a sign in their yard with KAAY 1090 on it. The mobile unit and skinny Santa (played by Jim Pitcock) would drive around and award prizes to the best sign. Above you see one of the winners.

Signs showed up all over and it gave us great exposure. We all loved this promotion except for Jim. Those of you involved correct me on any of the dates or facts.

My Best Christmas Memory

It was Christmas Day and my wife and I had only been married a few months. I was doing the Emperor Holiday stick on KAAY. We decided to put on the Emperor robe and crown and my wife wore the Daphnie get up. (short cheerleading skirt and white go-go boots). We spent Christmas morning at the Arkansas Children's Hospital. Understand that every child who could possibly be sent home, was gone. The remaining children were very, very sick. They gave us so much more than we could ever give them. Through all their pain, they was excitement and joy on their faces. To this day, its one of my best Christmas memories.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

More Felix Memories...this time from David

Thank you so much for the piece on Felix McDonald on
12/23. He is just the epitome of Renaissance Man, a
wonderful, warm, down-to-earth person with a
WELL-developed sense of humor.

Felix is widely regarded as one of the most
knowledgeable engineers in the country when it comes
to RF (for the uninitiated, that's Radio Frequency
energy; the stuff that comes off big metal towers to
carry the signal to your radio and which can cook your
skin if you get too close). During his time, when
anybody had a problem with their antenna array, Felix
was the man they called.

There's a legend at KAAY concerning the time that
Felix was called to Lin Broadcasting's sister station
KILT 610 in Houston to troubleshoot their directional
array. About the time he got started down there, the
KAAY transmitter developed a problem switching from
day to night mode. It became "stuck" between the two,
taking the station off the air.

Apparently, none of the other engineers had seen this
happen before; no one knew how to fix it. Pat Walsh
chartered a plane to Houston to pick up Felix so he
could set things right again.

According to the story, Felix picked up a big wooden
stick (about the size of a boat paddle) from a rack
behind the door, walked over to the "contactor" switch
assembly that nobody else could get to move, and
struck it a mighty blow. It immediately moved into its
proper position and Walsh's money machine was back in

After that, some of the other engineers began a
protocol wherein the first order of business
concerning any balky equipment was to figure out where
to HIT it, marking the spot with a big "X."

The way I hear it, Felix is not in the best of health
these days, but he is never too busy to help young
engineers along.

My fondest memory of Felix is seeing him wearing a
pith helmet, driving a Ford tractor, towing a huge
round hay bale across the pasture that held the four
KLRA (1010, now defunct) towers. He always used these
"antenna farms" to graze his cattle!

I hope he lives a thousand years, for we will not see
the likes of him again.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Ring up the Transmitter!

I was thinking today, if you can believe sometimes things got board during an airshift at KAAY especially if it was night or over night. Even during the day, sometimes you would reach down and crank the hand crank on a telephone that was direct wired to the transmitter at Wrightsville. In those days, 24 hours a day an engineer was required to be on duty. These guys were rather isolated and only able to listen to one station. Felix McDonald, the Chief Engineer lead the pack. He was with the station when it was KTHS. Felix also was one of the first players on our Komando Basketball team. (see earlier posts). I have so much respect for Felix as did Pat Walsh. Felix still does some engineering for the current owners. He also built an FM station in Little Rock and has since sold it (I believe). The above photo shows Felix standing in front of the old RCA 50,000 Watt blowtorch transmitter at Wrightsville. I can't say enough about Felix, thanks for all you have done for radio.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Merry Christmas from KAAY

Repeating a previous post:
Relive the Christmas season at KAAY. Here is 2 minutes of holiday cheer.
Sing along with the last cut for a happy new year.

Click Here

For some Christmas music on your computer try this: (it's not KAAY, but KUDL in Kansas City:

Click Here

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Part 2 Beaker Street Aircheck

Here is Part 2 of the Beaker Street aircheck as described in message below. Recorded off the air and is presented here for educational purposes only:

Click Here

Beaker Street Air Check

Here is the first of the airchecks referred to in the message below. As always it is recorded off the air and is provided here for educational purposes:

Click Here

Beaker Street Memories

A few reminiscences. I grew up in Evanston IL, a northern suburb of Chicago. And while the big city rockers like WLS and WCFL provided no shortage of great listening, I was an active DX-er and was fascinated by that exotic station from Little Rock that boomed in every night on 1090. What really made KAAY unique was Beaker Street, which sounded like nothing else on AM in Chicago or anywhere else. In the early 70’s, album rock and “progressive FM” was on the air locally but it lacked the mood of Beaker Street with the “Head” music bed, Clyde Clifford’s laidback style, and the blues and country-flavored music that rarely made it on the air in Chicago. It was strange and spooky, and I loved to listen to it at night as I went to bed. For a young man who was fascinated with radio and eager to work in it, Beaker Street and KAAY was radio magic for me. I occasionally airchecked KAAY and years later I was glad I did.

Here are two airchecks of Beaker Street. Both have mostly good skip reception with some fading. The first is Clyde Clifford from June 1, 1972. The music selection is tremendous, including Eric Clapton, the Grateful Dead, The Flock, Robert Johnson, Leon Russell and Judy Collins. It’s interesting to hear the spots for the New Orleans club called “A Warehouse”, with the $4 concert price tickets - imagine that!

The second aircheck is with Ken Knight, from December 1974. Note the Spanish ID and “Greetings QSL’ers”, the ad for a hard rockin’ local band, and the intro for Beaker Theater.

I’m looking to trade Beaker Street airchecks with other collectors, so feel free to email me at: click here


Note: I will be posting the airchecks later. We are working out transfering one of the checks.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Return With Us Now..........

Return with us now to the days of the AP news teletype. This was the primary source of news at most stations including KAAY. It was usually in a closet, or cabinet to muffle the sound because it was noisy. It consumed a lot of paper from fanfolded boxes. The ribbon always needed changing because no one wanted to do it. It ran 24 houra a day spewing out not only news but all kinds of features and assorted material. AP had a seperate radio wire that contained news that was written for reading on the air. Even the state AP had radio writers. When there was a bulliten, a bell would ring or an alarm would be set off. There were various stages of alerts with "Flash" being the highest degree of alerting. This was usually reserved for the death of presidents, etc.

Thanks to Jerry Sims for saving several AP wire stories on the assination of President Kennedy. Below is the PDF file that you can printout and save for the future.

Click Here

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Greg in Denver heard from!

It's alway interesting to hear from listners to KAAY's sky wave and especially when they went into radio. Here's Greg's email:

I'm a KAAY listener from the midwest back in the 60's/70's, when I grew up in Iowa and Chicago. I recently discovered your blog while researching stuff on the 'net pertaining to KAAY. It's a station that always fascinated me, especially when Beaker Street was on.

I worked in radio for more than 17 years as a jock and newsguy, and have collected several airchecks of KAAY which I would like to contribute to the site, along with my reminisinces. It's not clear to me how I can post on this blog, can you help me with that?

I currently live in Denver. You can see some of my aircheck collection on the site.

Monday, December 04, 2006

27 Minutes off the Sky Wave 1963-1971

Here is an interesting collection of short airchecks that span 1963-1971. This differs from other airchecks I have posted in that these are all off the air from the skywave. That's why the quality is not so great. Enjoy and let me hear your comments.

Click Here