Friday, September 2, 2016


Originally published December 31, 2015.

Face it, life is better after you have a good laugh.  Take a couple of minutes and enjoy today’s nugget courtesy of National Lampoon Radio Hour.

National Lampoon Radio Hour was a weekly one-hour radio program that was independently distributed from November 1973 until December 1974. At its carriage peak, it was aired on over 600 stations including many album rock and college stations. It was created by Michael O’Donoghue and Bob Tischier.

Among the performers and writers on National Lampoon Radio Hour were John Belushi, Bill Murray, Gilda Radner, Harold Ramis, Richard Belzer, Anne Beatts and Christopher Guest.

The skit below is Deteriorata, a parody of Les Crane's 1971 spoken-word recording of Desiderata, was popular at the time.

Video link:

Thursday, September 1, 2016


Originally published October 17, 2014.

If you were coming age in flyover country during the early 1970s you probably heard BEAKER STREET on KAAY AM 1090. 

From 11pm to 2am every night (except Sunday), KAAY in Little Rock departed from its usual Top 40 format for BEAKER STREET – a one-of-kind “underground” rock program.


50,000-watt KAAY had a huge coverage area stretching from the Rockies to the Appalachians.  An equally booming signal also went south bringing KAAY to listeners in Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.

Clyde Clifford was the host of BEAKER STREET. As you will hear in the video below, Clifford sounded perpetually stoned and talked over space music to amplify the effect.

BEAKER STREET had its own favorite tunes such as Legend of the USS Titanic by Jamie Brockett and Two Hangmen by Mason Proffit. Folks listened to In a Gadda da Vida by Iron Butterfly while shooting the loop, looking for munchies and locating a party.

Why did they have the cosmic space sounds on BEAKER STREET? To mask the noise made by the blowers required to keep the tube-type transmitter from getting too hot.

Here is a sample of BEAKER STREET from June 1, 1972: 

Link to video:

Wednesday, August 31, 2016


Originally published April 15, 2015

I cried a little when I read that the great Percy Sledge had passed away.  He was 73 and died peacefully at his home in East Baton Rogue Parish, Louisiana.

Back in the late 1960’s I was working as a Top 40 rock jock, my first job in the biz. I loved new 45s from Atlantic Records.  Atlantic discs felt  “heavier” than releases on other labels. They had an aura of loving warmth. Percy Sledge’s When A Man Loves A Woman was an Atlantic release. The song is part of one of my most vivid radio experiences.  I invite you to listen to it while I tell my story:

My story:

I had just started my first radio job as a KISD Good Guy in Sioux Falls.  KISD’s air studio was in a large glass display window on a busy street. We called it The Window on Main Street.

Me in The Window on Main Street

People would walk and drive by the showcase window all day and night. Folks liked to see the DJ live on the air.  I felt sort of like a monkey in a zoo.

The Window on Main Street was located in a seedy neighborhood close to several notorious strip clubs. 

I worked the graveyard shift, so sometimes the people watching got interesting after the bars closed at 2:00am. Sometimes drunk bar patrons would pee on the window.

That night I decided to play When A Man Loves A Woman. As usual, I walked the ramp, a DJ term for introducing a song by talking over the instrumental intro. Then I got up for the air chair and walked by the The Window on Main Street.

A beautiful young Native American woman appeared on the other side of the glass, just inches from me. I think she was a dancer at one of the bars.

There was a speaker playing outside the window and she was singing along with Percy while looking through the glass at me. I went with my vibe and started singing along with Percy too. She and I were both mouthing the words and sorta dancing with each other.  We both sang passionately. She and I both craved every word that Percy sang. We lived the song together. For a brief moment we had lonely connection. We were both crying as we sang together.

The song began to fade and I leaped back behind the control board. I hit a station jingle, and played the next record – Pushin’ To Hard by The Seeds. When I looked up, she was gone. But still think of her whenever I hear When A Man Loves A Woman. Thank you, Percy.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016


Originally published October 3, 2014

WBAI didn't always suck.  Back in the day it had a major impact on my life and career.  In late summer of 1969 -- a week after Stonewall -- I crashed for a while in Manhattan with a radio pal of mine. 

He introduced me to WBAI: Steve Post, Bob Fass and particularly Larry Josephson. I arrived in NYC a Top 40 DJ and left an FM believer.

Today we have a sample of WBAI’s cultural impact at the time. On New Years morning – January 1, 1966 – Bob Fass hosted Bob Dylan live on WBAI:

Video link:

Monday, August 29, 2016


Originally published February 12 & 15, 2016

We are now experiencing The Last FM Translator Gold Rush. Everyday there is news about the avalanche of new FCC filings by AM broadcasters seeking FM translators. Recently the FCC decided that the way to “save AM” is to move AM stations to the FM via translators. 

I know this sounds counter-intuitive, but that’s the way it is.

 FM translators can now repeat ANY station they choose, provided the owner of that station approves. They can rebroadcast commercial stations and HD channels.

When the FCC approved satellite fed FM translators in 1988 and 1992, they did not intend to establish translator networks, but that is what we have now. 

Satellite-fed FM translators now operate almost anywhere in the country. They are found in most the nation's largest markets, hardly under-served areas.

The chart on the right shows the dramatic growth in the number of FM translators year by year.


When and where did the FM translator business begin? Probably it started in 1963 in the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota.

Keith Anderson, Father of the translator
Keith Anderson was making lots of bucks with cable TV microwave systems and VHF TV translators.  Anderson manufactured “boosters” for TV stations in the Rocky Mountain West.  This was around the time John Malone (who founded cable giant Tele-Communications Inc. – TCI) was hooking up his first cable subscribers in Casper, WY.

Around this time, Anderson was approached by religious FM broadcasters who were seeking a way to cover more territory.  They suggested he manufacture translators similar to VHF-TV translators for FM stations. Keep in mind FM broadcasting didn’t come into vogue until the 1970s.

Anderson’s units were low power devices initially 1-watt.  Soon, at the urging of FM broadcasters, Anderson began building 100-watt and 250-watt units. They worked pretty well and religious FM broadcasters bought quite a few of them.

One of the religious broadcast engineers who saw the potential of FM translators was Harold Enstrom, an engineer at Chicago's Moody Bible Institute. He was in charge of expanding Moody’s radio coverage.  He began tinkering and improving Anderson’s devices.

In 1975 Enstrom moved to Rapid City, SD (near Anderson’s workshop) and became part of Tepco Electronics. A broadcast equipment manufacturer, Robert Jones, approached Enstrom with an idea: Build and market solid-state FM translators that were more reliable and had better audio fidelity. A $385,000 Small Business Administration loan started the ball rolling.

Enstrom, in a 2004 Radio World interview by writer/engineer Scott Fybush [link] spoke about the beginning of Tepco’s translator business:

“I began sending mailers to every FM station in the country. The pitch was this: If you locate a translator in the center of a small community, you can be heard just as well as a 100-kilowatt station 50 miles away.

Orders poured in and the Tepco translators became tremendous success. I was getting so many inquiries (about translators), after a while I didn't have time to write.”

Enstrom moved to Florida and founded FM Technology Associates. He continued selling Tepco Translators until his death in 2007. Keith Anderson, who died in 2014, became a major player in the satellite TV industry. Tepco is still in business.  See more about them at [link].


Moody Bible Institute (MBI) then opened the door for satellite-fed translators in 1985. MBI filed a rulemaking petition with the FCC to allow programming on translators from sources outside the local area. They called them satellators.

At the time MBI had seen the success of satellite distribution of radio programming. NPR was an early leader in the use of satellite distribution.  Satellite Music Network (SMN) and Transtar were distributing 24/7 music formats to stations. They were reliable, inexpensive and had far greater audio fidelity than telephone lines.

MBI’s proposed rulemaking met fierce resistance from the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), NPR and others. After extensive comment periods, the FCC approved satellite fed translators in 1988.  

Ironically, MBI never built their satellator network. But their FCC petition made possible today’s proliferation of religious noncommercial satellite-fed FM translator stations. MBI laid the foundation for K-LOVE and Air1 from Educational Media Foundation (EMF), American Family Radio, Pensacola Christian College and many others now clogging the FM dial.