Wednesday, April 30, 2008

For everyone who did NOT work at KAAY

If you worked at KAAY you know the legendary Felix McDonald, the chief engineer. For all of you who didn't have the opportunity to work there, pay very close attention to the following story from Dave Montgomery:

Felix was the chief engineer for KAAY before my arrival, and he took care of the transmitter plant for many years after my departure. He and Pat Walsh were my two mentors, and responsible for aiming me on my career path in broadcasting.

Felix was soft spoken and would never say anything bad about anyone. I don’t remember ever seeing him angry. He was patient, methodical, and hard working. He knew the transmitter plant better than anyone, including the RF service engineers at RCA. Pat Walsh respected Felix like no other employee – they had their occasional differences, but Pat knew to take good care of Felix and to listen to what he had to say.

One time Felix was out of town, and the transmitter just stopped. We were off the air, and no one could make it come back on!

All of the KAAY engineers, myself included were at the transmitter trying this and that, and no one could figure out what went wrong. Before long a couple of chief engineers from other stations showed up, including a couple of TV transmitter engineers. No one, in a room full of transmitter engineers could figure out what had gone wrong. This eventually turned out to be the longest single span of time that we were ever off the air (that I know of). Felix was out of town but on the telephone advising people to first try this and then try that.

Nothing was working. Felix was called and ordered to take the next available flight home, and “hang” the ticket price. We were off the air and he was needed urgently.

When Felix finally walked into the transmitter building all eyes were on him. He walked around the transmitter, getting a good look and listening to reports of everything that had been tried. He was reading meters, checking settings on circuit breakers and warning indicators, and it was so quiet in the building you could hear a pin drop. After a few short minutes he finally spoke – “Someone get me a broom.”

A common broom was produced in a flash. Felix took the handle of the broom and jammed it into one of the main power contactors, lifted it into its ready position, and told someone to “Press the button”. Immediately the transmitter sprang to life! There was a cheer and applause. Then he said, “We’ll fix this properly this weekend when we shut it down for maintenance”.

The transmitter never even whimpered for the rest of the week, even though it had a broom handle jammed into one of its high power contactors. I think it knew that Felix “the boss” was back in town.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The KAAY "Sound"

I’ve seen many comments about the “sound” of KAAY. We worked hard on getting the sound just right, and we had some audio processing tools that let us tweak the audio to just the right sweet spot we wanted. We monkeyed with adjusting the sound all the time, and Wayne Moss was an expert at dialing in the sound!

KAAY used reverb in the background, and when the announcers were talking you could hear a slight “echo” behind their voice. That was one of the secrets. It was a steel plate reverb unit, and we could control very precisely how much reverb could be heard on the air. Echo was turned off during the farm and religious programming blocks.

We also used a stock Ford Philco car radio to see if we had the right sound. Back then, the Philco car radios had the best sound, but the DELCO car radios could pick up stations from farther away. It was a trade-off, but we always used a Ford Philco when doing listening tests. Yeah, they were subjective, but the Philco car radios were consistently the best sounding!

Thanks Dave,
You're right on!
Prior to Wayne Moss and back to the beginning of KAAY there was always echo on the jocks. AND, if the jock forgot to turn it off it was behind the preachers too. I think later the echo unit was moved to the transmitter so the jocks couldn't forget or play pranks with it. I have written many posts about reverb. To read those just enter the word "reverb" in the window in the upper left and click on the search this blog button.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Comment on KAAY Board post below this one

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "The board or console at KAAY":

Yes, tube gear is making a come-back! I noticed in a radio trade journal back in the '90's where Manley Labs started advertising as building tube amps and radio gear again, because artists and audiophiles wanted that warm sound again!

By the way, being an old radio lover myself, it is widely known that "real radios glow in the dark" (just like that old Zenith bakelite table radio did when I listened to KAAY as a kid)!

Long live tubes! Bud (Ham callsign KC4HGH), Mobile, AL

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Comment on the KAAY board post Below

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "The board or console at KAAY":

The original KAAY board is in the Museum of Science and History in the River Market in Little Rock.
It was there several years ago when I was last there. It is the one that came out of the Channel 11 building. There are also old Channel 11 cameras there. On the wall by the board, there is a letter from President Kennedy thanking KAAY for being a source of information during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The board or console at KAAY

Why is it called a board or console?

Beats me. We all spent many hours behind this board and I'm not sure when it was taken out of service. It worked great. Being a truly dual channel board it was more fitting for the KTHS days when they had the CBS network.

It did come in handy to record a show while something else was on the air. I.E. During the religious block, I often recorded Stan's Record Shop, to play back at 11 PM.

In those days of course. everything was analog. We used a lot of Ampexes except for George in the newsroom preferred an old Magnacorder. If you look closely at the picture of him below, (scroll down several posts) you can see it and some ITC cartridge machines.

Most of the equipment used vacuum tubes. They did have a nice warm sound. Now days, folks pay premium bucks for an RCA 77 D microphone. I have one I'll sell for premium bucks. (No, it did not come from KAAY) I see tube amps and preamps also going for big bucks. Guess solid state is not as great as everyone thought.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Felix McDonald & KAAY Transmitter Comment

Felix McDonald was proud of the transmitter plant, and he kept it spotless. When touring a visitor through the plant, Felix would point out a very large grey metal enclosure and ask - "Know what that is?" It was the modulation transformer (the audio section of the transmitter) and it weighed 6,600 pounds!!
/Dave M/

And very important. At another station I worked for. the modulation transformer went out and we were off the air for days while another one was located and trucked in.

The KAAY Transmitter was built into the Wall

Here is a comment from a reader:

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "What The Old KAAY Transmitter Looked Like":

Holy Smokes! What a dream transmitter for Ham radio operator! It'd just loaf along, since we're only allowed 1500 watts PEP, buy, hey, a guy can dream, can't he?

Some stations are letting old transmitters go just for someone to pick up and get out of their way...lots of AM afficianados on 80 and 160 meters rescue these transmitters and put them into service at their QTHs ( operating locations), refurb and retune them and use them at proper power levels for the service...and they sound GREAT! Bud, KC4HGH, Mobile, AL

Thursday, April 24, 2008

What The Old KAAY Transmitter Looked Like

AJ, for those interested, here is a photo of a RCA-50F RCA-BTA-50F transmitter, the same model used at KAAY during the 60’s and 70’s. This transmitter was retired and replaced with a Harris transmitter in the 80’s.
KOMO Seattle – RCA-BTA-50F transmitter
(unknown source) The transmiter was so big you could walk inside several of the cabinets!

This door opens to allow access to the power supply control section. All doors were interlocked

To shut off power to prevent accidental shock.

At full power the power supply produced about 10,500 volts DC .

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Vanashing Breed

Someone left this comment to the post below:

Trapped at the transmitter site! I've felt like that a few times

This comment was unsigned, but I'm sure it was from a transmitter engineer. In my book, the engineers were radio's unsung heros. If you were a listener, you never knew they were there. If you worked at the studio, you might have known they were there but probably never had much contact. The 50,000 watt transmitter for KAAY is at Wrightsville, a very small town a few miles South of Little Rock. In the 60s and probably up to the 80s a First Class Commercial Engineer had to be at the transmitter 24 hours a day. The F.C.C. at some point in time relaxed that requirement all at least the daytime non-directional signal could be controlled by remote from the studios. Pat Walsh was never real excited about the prospects of saving a little money. He always said the value of the station was at Wrightsville. If something happened, it could burn to the ground and it would be awhile before anyone knew what happened. This is why there was so much attention to auxiliary power, and keeping the transmitter and building spotless. When I first started at KAAY, I found the crank up telephone that was a direct line to the transmitter. When I got bored, I'd ring up the transmitter to see who was there and shoot the breeze. When we first started the KAAY Komando basketball team, Felix McDonald, the Chief Engineer was on the team along with one of the other engineers and Eddie Graham, who was a studio engineer at that time. They played when some of the air personalities would not. In fact, I think they would use an air name that wasn't playing on the team. Most broadcast stations view engineers as a necessary evil. NOT KAAY! Pat Walsh always had lots of respect for Felix and his crew. I had the pleasure of touring the transmitter with Felix and Pat a year or so before Pat's passing. I took several digital pictures but they were lost a computer that has long since bit the dust. If I sent any of you one of those pictures please send it back. Let that be a lesson to all. Back up those pictures with a hard copy.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Thanks to Dave Montgomery for this comment. If you enjoy reading this blog, please contribute. Over 40 people daily visit this blog. Comments are rare. I can't even get a simple yes or no vote. So, please contribute. As you can see from the comment below a comment from INSIDE Cuba sparked this memory which needs to be perserved. I have heard a lot of stories of the KAAY transmitter, but I have never heard this one. Thanks again Dave.

Apropos nothing, the Cuban missile crisis comment helped me remember a day in the life of a KAAY Engineer.

Arkansas Power and Light had been asked to replace the three big pole-mounted transformers at the back of the KAAY transmitter building in Wrightsville. This would among other things help our raw AC input power consumption by providing more stable regulated AC to the transmitter inputs. Our 50kw RCA transmitter used about 135kw of raw AC input to produce its 50kw output.

AP and L showed up early one summer morning with a big truck and began the process of removing the old transformers from the poles, then they set some new stronger poles and began mounting the new larger transformers. When they were hoisting the third transformer into place, well, that’s when the accident happened.

First, though, I must digress and make the tie-in with the Cuban missile crisis.

KAAY transmitter had a monster generator set behind the building. It was HUGE and fed by an underground propane tank. The AP&L truck was parked over the spot in the ground where the propane tank was located. Felix used to tell me stories of how long the transmitter would run at full output power on that propane tank – days stretching into weeks! The underground tank was eventually replaced with an above ground tank nearby, but the underground tank was never removed from its resting spot, next to the generator set. Felix said the generator would power the transmitter during a national emergency and KAAY was designated one of the “Conelrad” stations because of its clear channel status. The generator set would also be useful in case a national emergency such as the Cuban Missile Crisis would cause the country to plunge into war. We would have power when others did not.

(KAAY also had a fallout shelter in the transmitter building, with a food and water supply - - did you know that?)

Now, back to the action: When the transformer fell off of the boom arm of the A P and L truck, it also fell through the overhead AC main line coming into the property – 14,000 volts! The main power line broke and fell across the top of the A P and L truck, and the 14,000 V electric charge on the truck’s wheels and chassis arced across the tires and caused the tires to catch fire. Eventually the diesel tanks on the truck caught fire and burned the truck to the ground.

In the meantime, the now broken AC main line was draped across the barbed wire fence surrounding the transmitter property, causing the wire fence to be charged with the same 14,000 volts! Several small grass fires broke out. All the A P and L workers were trapped inside the fence and could not leave because the fence was still electrified. One of the A P and L supervisors called the fire department by radio, and the fire trucks came, but would not put out the fire until power was removed from the broken AC main line – at the substation about 10 miles from the scene.

You can imagine the feeling when we crossed the railroad tracks at Wrightsville, and off in the distance all we could see was a huge pillar of thick black smoke coming from our transmitter building! It put a very real lump in our throats! At the time of the fire, the transmitter was running on the big generator set’s power, since all the commercial power had been methodically removed for replacement of the transformers.

The generator set’s radiator cooling fan blew “away” from its huge cabinet, so it blew some of the smoke and flame of the truck fire away from the building. Nonetheless the truck was in full blaze only a few scant feet from the back of the transmitter building. We were very concerned about the truck fire, sitting right on top of the underground propane storage tank and so close to our running – locomotive sized generator set. It could have been much worse than it was! If our generator set caught fire, it would put us off the air, and we would have a much worse situation to deal with.

There were some comical overtones to the story – one of the AP and L supervisors hopped into his pickup when the fire started, and raced around the grassy side of the building and promptly got stuck to the axles in our very soft side-yard.

There was one man on the boom truck when the accident happened. When the boom truck tires caught fire he was able to jump free from the truck’s boom operator position to the ground. In the incident no one was injured except the truck which literally burned to the ground, and KAAY listeners never lost a moment of air time!

We finally went home after dark, and the property was still swarming with A P and L supervisors and insurance investigators snapping pictures and asking a lot of questions. Somewhere in a shoe box I still have some pictures of this “day in the life”.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Comment from Cuba

RAUL MONTESINO RODRIGUEZ has left a new comment on your post "Another Beaker Street Article":

like a dream of liberty under comunist represion

Thanks Raul for your comment. It is great to hear from inside Cuba. KAAY has always come into Cuba like a local. Be sure and read the posts about the Cuban Missile Crisis. Just enter that into the search box in the upper right and search this blog.

Raul if you will write us and tell us what radio is like in Cuba. Just add it in a comment to this post.

Interestingly, this blog is read in many foreign countries and is often translated into the native languages. If may not make much since to foreign readers who have no previous knowledge of KAAY but this is kind of what we did on the air on KAAY. We threw up a lot of stuff of interest to us in English and hoped other countries could appreciate it and get a glimpse of what life was like in Little Rock Arkansas.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

George J. Jennings on WDGY remembered

(George J. Jennings in KAAY newsroom when it was in the KTHV building)

My good friend and former KAAY News Director, and Operations Director. George J. Jennings and his wife Nancy passed away last year. I have written and posted many items on George in the past. (Please do a search by typing in George J. Jennings in the box at the top right and click search this blog)

Yesterday, XM in their weekly feature of old top 40 stations, featured WDGY. It's a rerun that I have heard before. And sure enough, their was a morning drive newscast with George. George was in the original crew that opened KAAY. He was there a few years and went to WDGY. He and Nancy hated the weather and jumped at a chance to return to KAAY.

Oddly in this newscast is a kidney story (one of George's ailments) and of course bad weather.

Sorry for the quality, I think I have a better recording and will try to find it.
Meanwhile here is a clip from yesterday's broadcast.

Click here to get your own player.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

More assorted airchecks

I ran across this composite that is fun:

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Yesterday there were over 40 visitors to the blog and just a hand full of votes.
So.....please everyone who visits this blog vote once please... Scroll down on the right.

Here is a comment related to the poll:

I just read your blog about putting some of the old KAAY programming. Hopefully
something will work out. if it does, include during the program that time has to
be bought to keep the program on the air. It is a way to get the donations in
to keep it on. Since it will be on at night, there sould be soem out of area response.
I put on the blog to include Radio Yesterday in also.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

New Poll

Scroll down and on the right is a new poll.

I have been in conversation with KAAY about airing some of the old programs such as Beaker Street. Since that would be a radical departure from their current religious programming, the time would have to be purchased.

The poll is to determine if you would be interested in seeing these programs broadcast again on KAAY to mid America and several foreign countries.

The idea is to buy the time and air the program on Saturday night after midnight. As an example, if 5 people contributed $100 each, we could broadcast several hour long programs for a month.

I'm not asking for any money yet. This is just a poll to see if it is feasible. Your vote is completely anonymous and is not a commitment of any kind.

So least the choice is easier than a political vote.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Rerun Pams Jingle My Hometown

Several months ago I posted this but I didn't get the comments I felt it deserved. A comment from someone on You Tube prompted me to try it again.

First it predates KAAY by 8-10 years. Second, you must know that I am a terrible historian. I saved nothing from my time at KAAY. Almost all you see on this blog is from others and mostly from Pat Walsh, former manager.

The fact that I have a 45 record from KVLC with the Pams jingle for "Little Rock..My Hometown" is truly amazing.

KVLC was the first top 40 station in Little Rock. It was then owned by Lenord Coe and the "VLC" stood for the Voice of Lenord Coe. Herbie Byrd started as a newsman at KVLC. Incidently if anyone could write a bit about any of these people for my new blog it would be greatly appreciated. Lenord went on to own KLRA. Herbie moved also, and Brother Hal at KLRA was a thorn in everyone's rating side.

Back to the Pams my hometown jingle. These were done for zillions of cities all over the states and foreign countries.
When I ran across the jingle I converted it to digital and have posted it on this blog. A few months ago, I was teaching a computer class for Seniors, on how to use Windows Movie Maker. As I was trying to think of an example to use to make a movie the jingle came to mind. I laid down the sound track and went to the web to search for pictures of Little Rock to fit the jingle. Everything fell into place except for the Boys Club. I never found a picture or understood why that was significant enough to use in the jingle.
I would appreciate any input you can give me on this. I don't even have an exact date. I would put it 1955. Because of the line "fabulous" Central High, I would assume it was before the intergration crisis.

Here is a link to Pams history of "my hometown" :
There is a reference to Euel Box in the Pams story. Sometime after I left KAAY, Tommy Riggs, J.T. Rose and I had a jingle company called Creative Concepts. One of our first efforts was the music track for a film Arkansas Power & Light produced about their nuclear power plant. We went to Dallas and Euel Box helped us put it together....violins and all. We spent more money than we made and got out of the jingle business.

With all this effort in moving a bit of history forward, I would appreciate your comments.

Record Shops

I have read with interest that vinyl record shops are returning. Some companies are dusting off the presses and starting to press vinyl again.

To me, Cds are very cold and the sound (even though it is technically great) lacks warmth.

As a DJ there was something about the physical handling of records, cueing them up, and
starting them to play.

As records were cued a lot they even developed a cue burn which was annoying. We finally found a cartridge didn't have that problem.

When I was growing up, record shops were almost as important as a radio station. In Little Rock, Moses Melody Shops grew to several locations. At the record shop, you could go into a booth and play a record or listen to it over earphones.

Cliff Ford, a Little Rock D.J., had a record store called "Cliff's Spinner Santum".
I remember going there at midnight when a certain record would be available.

Radio stations and record shops worked closely together to promote rock and roll.
All top 40 stations had a record survey sheet, published once a week. The ranking of your favorite song was a big deal.

Today, music companies complain sales are down. Hmmmm let's see. Independent record shops have largely been replaced by corporate giants. No music surveys.... Little if any cooperation with radio stations. Large corporate it hard to figure out.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Did you ever wonder?

Did you ever wonder why I wrote so much about the KATV tower collapse? Simply it brings in lots of readers....and still does.
Recently a Austrian visitor read the German translation of the posts. Another foreign visitor was searching "Doc Holiday" and another was looking for Pams jingles. I am always amazed at the towns in the U.S. that I have never heard of. Truly the web has greater coverage than KAAY.

I have recently been working on a DVD project that has taken all my time and some. I hope soon to get back to the stacks of tape and seem what I can find and transfer.

A note to several who wrote email messages about the tapes I have that were used for Beaker Theater. I just haven't had time to dig them out but you are not forgotten.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

KATV Tower Collapse

From a reader:

KATV received approval from the Little Rock Planning Commission to build a new tower on Shinall Mountain to replace the one that collapsed in Redfield on Jan.11th.
There still needs to be approval from the FAA and FCC.
Since the collapse KATV has been leasing the analog signal from KTHV's
other tower.
The proposed new tower would be anchored by guy wires that extend 600 feet from the tower at three points. The triangular tower would have multiple antennas and dishes at various heights.
A 3,600 square feet transmitter building and a ten space parking lot would also be at the tower sight with security fencing.

Is channel 7 still licensed to Pine Bluff/Little Rock? I thought that is why the tower was located at Redfield. Did I miss the reallocation of Channel 7 to just Little Rock?

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Rare Book

Hello, A.J.! I just saw where you started the new blog! Nice, I hope it blossoms into what you want it to be!

Even though I grew up right here in Alabama, near Mobile, for some reason, I believe that part of me was in Arkansas...or, at least, my heart was! No station like KAAY made the impact on me like any Alabama station did.

You mentioned the book, "Arkansas Airwaves". I searched Google briefly, but didn't see it. Is it out of print, or just an industry publication? Is it even available any more? Sure would like to know!

Thanks for all you do. Visiting your blogs are a highlight of my day!

Thanks for the comment.

KAAY obviously had a big impact on my life, it was happening to me and I was fortunate enough to be a part of it. I am always happy to hear from someone totally removed from Arkansas, that shares that impact.

Arkansas Airwaves has long long ago been out of print. Occasionally, I see one go through Ebay but it is for big bucks. A suggestion for those of you who might have the opportunity to go to library book sales. Look for books with radio topics. You can usually pick one up for 50 cents and it may be one of those that are out of print and worth some money. A book about Larry Lujack called "Superjock" sells for around $100 when you can find one.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

New Blog established for the Archiving of Ar. Broadcast Personalities

At the suggestion of a reader, I have started a blog devoted to Arkansas broadcast personalities. To make this work I need your input. This will not be limited to KAAY or radio.

Ray Poindexter wrote a book called Arkansas Airwaves and traced radio personalities from the beginning of radio in Arkansas, until the hayday of top 40.

My intention is to take up where he left off. I have the first contribution so the blog has started.

Please visit the blog then drop me an email with a contribution the the blog.

For starters how about someone writing about Gary Weir. Gary started in radio at KXLR and became TV's Bozo the clown.

My email address is

Here is the blog link:

Another Beaker Street Article

I found an interesting blog with a Beaker Street article. Nothing new here but it does combine several sources:

Monday, April 07, 2008

The Sales Department at KAAY

Even though I have mentioned various sales people at KAAY, and rate cards, I have never devoted a post to the sales department which is really dumb.

I worked in the sales department. I was a D.J. first, then program director, then a salesman. At most stations and KAAY, there seems to be a real divide between sales and programming. Pat Walsh, long time manager, was from a sales background, never programming. However, he did have a good understanding of programming and it's people.
Len Carl the second manager, had programming and sales background. (read previous posts about Len) Len also voice commercials, especially the PI's that ran after midnight, because no one else wanted to. Len still called on a few accounts after he became manager and knew first hand how to deal with programming.

Len and Pat both knew the real money in broadcast is in the sales department. You have to be a high rated jock to make what a freshman salesman will make. Unless corporate radio has changed that too.

Joe Dickey, one of the original team,was a salesman at KAAY who was also a character voice heard often on the air and on Ear on Arkansas. I have written about Joe previously. (search this blog to read more) Eddie Graham also part of the original team, started as studio engineer, then production manager, then into the sales department. Pat Walsh was part of the original crew, and became General Manager when Len Carl went to manage a new LIN Broadcasting purchased TV station WAND, Decatur IL. Len came to KAAY as a salesman and replaced Tom Bishop the first manager.
Ray Brown (now deceased)replaced me as a Doc Holiday and then moved into the sales department. He went from KAAY to KARK-TV and became local sales manager and then became owner of Bartercard of Arkansas.

The moral to all this, if there is one, sales offers opportunity for real money and advancement.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

A comment and My response on XM/Sirius

There isn't much more you can hear on XM/Sirus that you can't hear on your local radio station. The days of the dominant Top 40 station are gone. There used to be three or four that played the latest music, now there is only one. Radio Stations now are after the niche audience. The formats now are classic rock, country, hit music, and talk radio. The formats that have become popular recently are classic country and sports talk radio.
The car talk show that is on XM on Saturday mornings is probably the same one that airs on the current KAAY. America's Car Talk is the one that airs Saturdays at 11AM CT on the current KAAY. Really one is free to listen to and the other you have to subscribe. Why pay for it when you can listen to the same thing for free.

Thanks for the comment although I must disagree.
I can't hear the 50s, 60s and 70s the way XM does it on local radio. And that is large, large, playlists, authentic jingles, DJs with a style that fits the decade, features from the decade, i.e. "chickenman" and much, much, more. I have no interest in Howard Stern or Oprah. The money, in my book is well spent even though I only listen to a few channels. I think XM and Sirius have both missed the boat is knowing who there potential audience is. The last demographics I saw on XM had a definite skew to older adults. There advertising seems to be to a much younger audience. Perhaps that is who they see as their potential subscribers but I doubt it. XM,Sirius, and AM/FM radio need to understand they cannot out "jukebox" the Ipod. Their content must be unique. If it is unique enough and it appeals to the audience, They will even pay for it.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Son of Hickory Holler's Tramp by O.C. Smith

The year was 1968. A lot of the music of those days told stories. Here's one:

More Teletype

Chris has left a new comment on your post "A thought about the old teletypes:":

I too did my share of changing AP machine ribbons. I worked for a station in south Arkansas beginning in 1970 while in high school. I learned fast the need for Playtex gloves. During my tenure there I only let the fan-fold paper run out twice. When working the evening shift till local sun-down sign off that was one of the main things to check - always make sure there was enough paper to get through the night.
Ahhh - the good old days of radio!!

Thanks Chris, and I would like to hear your memories just click on the "comments" below.

I think everyone should serve in the armed forces and every DJ should start at a daytime radio station. For those of you too young to remember "daytimers", they were AM radio stations that had to sign off at sundown and could not sign on until sunrise. As you can imagine they were at a great disadvantage in markets where there were ratings. The D.J. that signed off had a lot of responsibilities to shut down the station and secure it for the night. Anything that was wrong when the morning man came in was the fault of the jock who signed off. (usually the lowest man on the totem pole)

As I grew up in radio the next station I worked for was also a daytimer but at least it was in Little Rock or North Little Rock. Then I advanced to a full timer but it shut down at midnight. Same tasks make sure the AP machine would make it through the night.

Then I went to KAAY which was 24 hours. The first in the market to go 24 hours.
And a newsman who took care of the teletype.

Friday, April 04, 2008

A thought about the old teletypes:

Russell W. said:
A thought about the old teletypes:

I got started in radio back in 1982, just in time to have changed more than my share of AP ribbons (since that duty most often fell to the underlings at a given station). At the same time, I became a believer in the power of pumice.

Also, those boxes which held the fanfold paper were the perfect size to hold 45s when their supply of paper was spent.

AP just isn't as fun on the computer.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Your XM/.Sirius Comments are so good I want them as a main post

Russell W. has left a new comment on your post "XM/Sirius Merger Comment":

I have a lot of thoughts about satellite radio, where do I start:

* Satellite will never kill terrestrial radio. Two things will smother it first: 1) personal media players, and 2) the industry itself.

* One appealing thing about satellite is that it's more family-friendly, and gives you MUSIC in the morning. Most commercial stations have given up music in favor of often raunchy morning shows. Some people don't like toilet humor, especially with their chirren in the car. Advantage: satellite.

* I find it puzzling how the NAB has been so puffed up against the Sirius/XM merger. If anything, a monopoly satellite service would be highly likely to raise prices and reduce services, alienating their customer base. Shouldn't the NAB be ROOTING for that to happen???

* I work in radio (public radio) and yes I have a Sirius subscription. Two of 'em, in fact (one for each of our cars). Does this mean I'm betraying terrestrial radio? Of course not. I wonder if the GMs of KARK, KATV and KTHV have cable service at home?

* Do I listen to Sirius all the time? Of course not; my wife listens way more than I do. In town I'm usually listening to my own station...

* ... but when I'm going to and from Alabama each month to see my son, Sirius is my best friend. I'm hooked on the Radio Classics channel (118). OTR shows, 24/7. I'd pay just to have Radio Classics ALONE. Jack Benny weekdays at 5 PM. Life is good.

* What does make me cringe is when I see NPR competing with its own member stations. The highly-popular "Car Talk" each Saturday morning is fed live to Sirius at the same time it's fed to our stations! Ain't too crazy about that part.

* I think "Free To Air" is a no-brainer. Put the "basic" stuff on there, and have it advertiser-supported. Then tease for the "premium" services.

* Don't get rid of the 'niche' channels -- that's satellite's ace in the hole! Throw 'em overboard, and that would make Sirius/XM no different from terrestrial radio, which has shot itself in the foot (if not heart) through its over-researched music and over-leveraged clusters.

* A la carte? Great idea. Many people who have satellite radios like more than one kind of music. While it's good for whatever musical mood hits, I doubt 99% of XM or Sirius subscribers listen regularly to more than a dozen or so channels, myself included. Lower the price and more will come on board.

* Even if I don't like a channel, I'm glad it's there for others to enjoy. Sirius has a liberal talk channel, and two conservative channels .... everyone is happy. (I don't like talk shows too much, tho'; music and OTR are my elixirs while on a lonely interstate)

Who knows what this merger will hold. I do know a couple of things: if they raise the rates, I'll howl. If they get rid of Radio Classics, buh-bye.

In the end, I do have my Sirius baseball cap (got it as a subscription bonus). That'll become an instant collector's item. :-)

Old Disc Jockeys

Old disc jockeys never die they just segue.

I made that up, I think. A comment from a reader started me thinking about a project. He suggested a blog about broadcast personalities.

I think that is such a great idea. I will need some help from all you broadcast folks to do this.

Ray Poindexter some time ago (40 years maybe) wrote a book "Arkansas Airwaves". It was basically short biographies of radio people prior to the main onslaught of top 40.

It would be great to be able to take up where Ray left off.

If you would be willing to help on this project, please email me at


Tuesday, April 01, 2008


(this has little to do with KAAY)
This afternoon I met Fred Baker Sr. right here in Alma, AR. Fred and Fred Baker Jr. started KISR in Fort Smith Ar. You would have thought our paths would have crossed before. While I was working at KAAY, I was in the Army Reserve. Summer camp was usually at Ft. Chaffee, just outside of Fort Smith. We had heard of an upstart FM station that had their tower on a utility pole. We drove by to see it. The studios were in a house. It was an interesting excursion. Better than Moffet Oklahoma. The few FM stations that were on the air played "good music". Fred was playing rock and roll. The rest is history. Few AM's play music anymore. KISR became the dominant station in Fort Smith. AND they are the only Fort Smith station that is not owned by some conglomerate.

During a serious ice storm in the Fort Smith area, some 30 signals were off the air. Only three were on, and only ONE had local news and weather. The other two were voice tracked from who knows where. Fred was the only LOCAL voice. Thanks Bakers for living radio in the best of local traditions. I asked Fred if he would ever sell out. He said he would never say never but the price would have to be right. Way to go Fred. They are finally moving out of the house to a shopping center.

Take a look at what a real local radio station is doing; wwww.kisr.nwr