Airwaves: May 6, 2016
KCBS-TV Channel 2’s Rick Garcia sat down with former longtime morning man Rick Dees to “share past and present memories.” You can see it online at http://tinyurl.com/DeesCBS
Interesting, though incomplete and incorrect.
“When did you start to conquer the radio world in the morning?” asked Garcia.
“Well, I remember getting a call and it was a ... kind of a disco station. They called it KIIS,” explains Dees.
Don’t get me wrong - I love Rick Dees. I can’t figure out why a talent like him is not on the air somewhere here in town with the freedom to do a show like he once did, not the shell they allowed when he was last waking Los Angeles at Movin’ 92.3 a few years ago. But Dees is wrong, and he knows it.
He really got “the call” from RKO’s KHJ (930 AM), as part of master programmer Chuck Martin’s plan to revitalize and restore KHJ’s glory. This was in 1979. Dees -- and an entire airstaff of excellent DJs led by the expertise of Martin -- actually propelled KHJ up in the ratings, at a rate that caught owner RKO by surprise. Unfortunately, it was so much of a surprise that RKO heads in New York had (unbeknownst to Martin) already committed to change the format from top-40 to country. Dees left after the change in November, 1980 but did not start on KIIS-FM (102.7) until July of 1981. By then, KIIS had already dropped disco.
Not that this really means anything. But it does give me a chance to mention KHJ, Martin and Dees in one story. I like that.
Airchexx.Com has an amazing recording of KRTH (101.1 FM) from the era that I particularly like, running a format I would like to hear today. Check it out at http://tinyurl.com/KRTHPast.
This was a time when KRTH was playing a lot of current music, mixed with the occasional “gold,” or what we used to call oldies. In some ways, as it says in the description, it is the “KHJ on FM” that many wish was still on the air ... and that was tried on K-WEST (now KPWR, 105.9 FM) at roughly the same time. Interestingly, this aircheck from 1981 features Pat Evans playing “more music in the morning” due to the former morning team of John London and Ron Engelman moving to K-WEST. Also featured: Brian Bierne, “Mr. Rock and Roll.”
What made the station great? First off ... the jingles: I love the old KRTH jingles from the era. Current music was the majority of the mix but with plenty of oldies as flavor. This allowed weekends to be particularly good because weekends could be something different than the weekday format. You could hear the “runners up of rock” one weekend, a “souvenir of the seventies” the next. It was great radio, a format I think would still work today.
Cal State Long Beach is gearing up for their annual K-Beach fundraiser, which will take place the weekend of May 20, 21 and 22. More details will come as the weekend approaches.
K-Beach is a student-run station on the campus and broadcasts using the digital HD stream of KJAZ (88.1 FM). So you need either an HD Radio tuner or online access to hear it, but just having a student-run station at Cal State Long Beach is wonderful.