Jock / Production / sometime Music Director
(posted 20 SEP
1-The interview 2-Sign
on 3-The music
7-A few thoughts
8-Jeff Clarke's farewell
9-The National Lampoon Radio Hour
In the Summer of 1972 I had been at
KPFA in Berkeley for two years. Working (for no pay) for
Pacifica was a trip…covering the strike at U.C.
Berkeley…broadcasting the People’s Park demonstrations live in
stereo…recording Alan Ginsberg’s memoirs…getting Mose Allison and
Peter Serkin to do Saturday Night jams in the music room. But,
it was time for a change. No money and too much politics
(sound like a community radio station you know?). Good times
though with Dr. Bob Sitton (of Northwest Film Study Center fame),
Charles Amarkanian, Claude Marks and others.
My wife (first of many) had just completed her degree in Victorian
Literature at Berkeley and been accepted into the Masters program at
PSU. So in August of 1972 we came to Portland to find a place
to live and to see if there was any work. A friend told me
about this new FM station starting in Lake Oswego. I called
and got an interview.
If you could call it that. I agree with others…KQIV was doomed
before it ever went on the air. I met with Jack Malone and we
chatted for a while. He admitted he had no radio experience
but kept referring to “promotion” as being the key to business
success no matter what the business. He described the format
as “freeform”, “progressive”, “album”, “dynamic”, a real “ratings
maker” and many other expressions no doubt garnered from music
publications of the day.
Then Walter came around…slapped me on
the back and gave me one of his cigars. The wrapper was
printed in gold leaf: “Walter J. M. Kraus – Entrepreneur –
phone number”. Walter claimed to have been in the OSS
during WWII and kept telling me stories about Wild Bill Donovan.
Then he proudly showed me his white Rolls Royce and drove off.
(Walter had a fight with the State of Oregon…they only allowed seven
places on a vanity plate and he wanted eight…Walter lost the
argument so he had a phony Oregon plate made and mounted it below
his real plate on the Rolls…it read “HUMILITY”.)
Walter's other car was a metallic gold Citroen-Maserati SM. He
had the chrome stripped and gold-plated. Humility, indeed!
They didn’t hire me because they said
the startup staff was set. After the bizarre few minutes with
Jack, Walter and the Rolls that worked for me. We went back to
September 15, 1972 we drove into
Portland dragging a U-Haul with all our worldly possessions.
As we moved our stuff into the apartment I hooked up the stereo and
tuned it to 106.7. Wow! There was a carrier…but no
modulation. I thought they were doing transmitter testing.
But, about an hour later KQIV Lake Oswego, 106.7 FM, KQ4, Rockin’ in
Quad signed on the air. I was probably one of just a few dozen
people who heard that.
This all seemed like a SIGN to me…so
the next day I drove out to the studio to check in with
Jack/Walter/whoever. I was told there had been “some changes”
in the staffing. (“Some changes” would soon become a very
familiar phrase.) They hired me on the spot. The money
was pretty bad but enough to live on.
I’m a little hazy on who was PD…I
think it was Norman Flint…although this position seemed to get
passed around a lot. I actually had that position a couple of
times for a week or two. I was the “night guy” and on the air
from 7PM-MID, or 8PM-MID or 10PM-2AM depending on who was PD and
what their philosophy on “day-parting” might be at the time.
Things were so confused that they kept switching us around. I
did the Morning Show for about two weeks. What a disaster!
Even though I had told the powers that be that mornings were not my
gig! What a mess!
When I walked into the studio for the
first time I was shown a wall of records and told to play them.
To say that KQIV had a format is like saying President Bush has a
plan for getting us out of Iraq. The general philosophy was:
“Hey, man. There is so-o-o-o-o much far out music in the
world! We have to pass on this great gift to the people.
Right on!” (Insert toking sounds at appropriate times.)
There was some talk of “rotations”,
“A” and “B” and “C” lists (I never saw one) and what constituted a
“recurring”…but there never was a format. If you wanted to
play Funkadelic “Maggot Brain” and follow it with some mellow Hubert
Laws you did it…and I did it. The only saving grace (not
enough to save the station) was the incredible music knowledge of
most of the jocks.
Some of the jocks: Norman
Flint, Faith, Gloria, Jeff Clarke (the best), Jim LaFawn, the Big BA
(Bob Anchetta), Ron Maita (where is he?). Then the San
Francisco invasion from THE BIG 610 KFRC: Steve O’Shea who had
done mornings, Ed Mitchell (Ed Hepp) who had done midday and was the
Music Director and Joe Collins who was an engineer. I know
I’ve forgotten many so apologies in advance.
They came and they went. Some
quit. Some got fired. Some just disappeared into the
night. Some went to jail. Some went to live on communes.
Some found Jesus. Some found drugs. But…all of them
added their bit of personality to what should have been a great
radio station and a market powerhouse. That was not to be……….
Over 30 years later it would be easy
to blame “bad management” or “money problems” or just lay the whole
thing at Walter’s feet. It was a combination of everything.
It was out of control from the beginning and just got worse.
So we round up the usual suspects.
There was bad management. There were money problems. Add
personality conflicts: Big ego and big talent vs big ego and
little talent or any combination of the above. And we had
drugs…lots and lots of drugs. Not everyone did drugs.
But most did…weed, coke, poppers…you name it. Add booze to the
mix and any situation was ready to ignite. Most of the time
the frig in the back room was full of beer until Walter put a stop
to that. Then we’d just bring our own or go downstairs to the
Elks bar and order up. Actually it was easier than that
because the main waitress downstairs, Sherrie (sp?) Campbell would
bring up whatever we ordered.
But, through all of this crap…it WAS
the MUSIC. The music world was changing rapidly and KQIV was
there to chronicle it in real time.
At this point I would like to pay
special tribute to someone who really helped make KQIV the great
music station it was. That is the late, great Don MacLeod, the
original owner of Music Millennium. Don was always buying
spots on KQIV. He was spending co-op money on KQIV. And
more than that, he was always turning us on to new music.
Don was always stocking new music
from all over the world at MM. He had this incredible section
of imports…bands from England, Germany, Italy, the Scandinavian
countries and sometimes (I think) from other planets! And he
had the wonderful habit of giving KQIV free copies of the latest
imports. For a good part of the time I was at KQIV I was Music
Director (but this was always fluid) so I got my hands on the
Don was responsible for introducing
the KQIV audience to the new wave of German bands like Neu,
Kraftwerk, The Scorpions and others. From England we played
The Strawbs, Tractor (great power duo) and a guy named Al Stewart
who was a legend in Europe but almost unknown in the States.
From Scandinavia came Golden Earring (KQIV broke the album Moontan
and “Radar Love”), Focus including solo work by their leader Thijs
Van Leer and let’s not forget Jukka Tolonen.
I could go on for page after page.
The great thing about this was that
because of huge sales of import albums at MM many labels were
actually forced into releasing the albums in the U.S. Nice,
huh? Portland was really a powerhouse in the music business
And, you must remember the radio
formatting situation back in’72. The FM album giant was KINK.
Their idea of rock was Joni Mitchell. Their idea of hard rock
was Gordon Lightfoot. And, they were automated for overnights.
(KQIV did the “Absolutely Live – 24 Hours a Day” advertising
campaign and KINK bitched like hell claiming it was unfair.
Huh? We were live…they weren’t!)
So, this new station with this new
music, much of it loud and proud, got lots of attention from
There were no limits on the music!
Well, we DID edit “You’re Breakin’ My Heart” by Harry Nilsson.
And there was some heavy razor blade work on “Luang Prabang” by
Patrick Skye. Other than that…play it if it works.
The music was put together in
sets…and, unlike today where a set is just the number of tunes you
play between spots, the sets on KQIV had a purpose. Of course,
this depended on the jock. The set could have a feel...mellow
or heavy. Or, they could have a meaning…anit-war or social
change. But, music was always a messenger. A set about
social change could have Mickey Newbury’s “Heaven Help the
Child”…mellow could be “Children of the Night” by the
Stylistics…loud and heavy could be Nugent or Deep Purple or Canned
And we always went for the perfect
segue. The greatest compliment another jock could give you
was: “Great segue, man.” The smooth flow from one song
to another was extremely important. Since we didn’t use
transition jingles or talk over the ramp (the unforgivable sin) the
segue was everything. I remember one of the great sets that
lots of us used…the theme was money…it would start with “Money” by
Pink Floyd…segue into “For the Love of Money” by the O’Jays…and then
segue into “It’s Only Money Part 1” by Argent…and segue with much
careful timing into “It’s Only Money Part 2” by Argent.
This may sound like something from
another world to those who weren’t around to listen in the 70s.
But the music was the message and the way it was presented and mixed
was as important as the music itself.
Also, important to this whole scene
were…CONCERTS. KQIV wasn’t on the air long before it became an
integral part of the concert scene…co-promoting…the old “Brought to
you by KQIV and…..”. The station worked with Paramount
Productions and presented some great shows at the old Paramount
Theatre. There were a number of other promoters in town and we
also did gigs at the Coliseum and the PSU Ballroom not to mention
lots of clubs. A few notable concerts here…..
Jethro Tull and Robin Trower at the
Coliseum was a great one. Trower was a virtual unkown except
in the UK and Portland. Don MacLeod had given me a copy of
Trower’s first album, “Twice Removed From Yesterday” on the
Chrysalis UK import label. We played the heck out of it and MM
sold a huge amount of copies. Chrysalis wasn’t sure if they
were going to release this in the U.S. but import sales in Portland
helped them see the light. I MC’d the show and the place went
crazy when I introduced Trower. He received as much hoopla as
Jethro Tull. After the show Robin told me he’d never had an
audience that enthusiastic ANYWHERE. Way to go Portland!
Robin stayed in town for a few days
and played at a local club (name forgotten). The interesting
thing here was that during the sound check with all his Marshall’s
cranked up to 11 (just like Spinal Tap) they blew a transformer on a
pole outside the club. PGE had to come in and make quick
repairs so the gig could go on.
Steve Miller Band, Boz Scaggs Band
and the James Cotton Blues Band at the coliseum was another night to
remember. The encore was ALL THREE BANDS doing “Livin’ in the
USA” including a Steve, Boz and James chorus line.
Killer! But the real killer was the all-night party Capitol
Records threw at Jake’s. Portland was the last city on a
nationwide tour and the bands blew it out at Jake’s until about 5AM.
The last thing I remember was a very drunk Steve Miller handing out
$100 bills to all the busboys and multiples of that to the waiters
Then there was Golden Earring at the
PSU Ballroom. Way loud and very impressive…especially the
drummer being catapulted up over the entire band on the last chord
of “Are You Receiving Me?”.
Elton John at the Coliseum was a
winner. Elton was in a “big boob” snit and wasn’t allowing any
women with ample bosoms backstage. I was a few feet away when
Elton walked out of his dressing room, saw a young lady with much
cleavage exposed and started yelling, “She’s got tits! She’s
got tits! Get her out of here or I won’t do the show!”
Security grabbed the poor young lady and escorted her outside.
And the CTI Summer Jazz Festival at
the Paramount. To the best of my recollection this included
George Benson, Billy Cobham, Airto, Milt Jackson, Hubert Laws, Don
Sebesky and many others. WHEW!
And, let’s not forget George Carlin
and Al Stewart (forgot venue). Al had just released his first
album in the U.S. after having many huge sellers in the UK. He
could fill soccer stadiums and here he was opening for Carlin.
Al sat on a stool with an acoustic guitar (no band) and knocked them
out. Carlin, however…when I went to his dressing room to get
the drill on how he wanted to be introduced, he was insufflating
from a mountain of coke on a mirror and didn’t share with anybody.
However, he did like the “Rockin’ in Quad” T-shirt I gave him.
Let’s get back to the studio.
The studios looked like a spaceship. We had Langevin mix-down
boards for our air boards…12 in and a discrete 4 out…with a joystick
in the middle to make the sound bounce around. Sounds great,
huh? Well, as was mentioned earlier the Langevin boards were
made for sound studio use and not the brutality heaped on them by a
24-hour, 7-day radio station. The modules kept coming
unplugged and we had to bang on them to make sure all the
connections were good. And the slider pots failed with great
regularity. Because they were mono sliders we had connecting
bars that allowed you to slide the two pots (left and right) in
Adding to the problems with the
boards was the general lack of order in the studios. You could
smoke…no pot because we shared the air supply with the Elks
downstairs and that would have been interesting. Any kind of
food or drink came and went. It must have been an engineer’s
nightmare. So…a big HATS OFF to Joel and others who managed to
keep things running with NO money and even less support from the
I remember Scully decks in the
production room. Maybe that was after something cheaper to
start with. ITC carts. Russco tables which was fun…being
on the second floor of the Elks Lodge there was no real way to
isolate them. I remember some heavy duty weighting in the
bottom of the cabinets they were set in. But, even then, if
you stomped into the studio they would rumble like crazy and would
even skip at times.
And, we all brought our own cans.
Koss PRO4-AA were in vogue. And there were a few Sennheisers
floating around. The Koss was preferred because they were
closed ear and you could crank the H out of them and not get any
feedback with your mike open.
As to Quad sound…HUH? I thought
we had a piece of gear at the transmitter (I have since been told it
never existed) that supposedly generated an encoded Sansui QS Quad
signal. So if I understood it right, IF we played a record
encoded in QS (mainly Capitol records I recall) the encoder would
spit out the signal BUT you had to have a Sansui QS decoder system
in your home. There was some claim that the phantom encoder
took any signal and fudged with some ambient information and encoded
it for rear channel play on the home system…Quasi Quad? Of
course, QS didn’t take off too well. The most popular Quad
system was Columbia Records SQ system.
And then, there was RCA’s CD4
discrete Quad system. But the problem here was the rear
channel information was carved into a 30khz carrier groove on the
disc. You had to have an expensive Shibata cartridge/stylus to
make it work. The big problem was that the Shibata stylus was
really fine and sharp…and RCA, like other labels at the time, was
using a high percentage of recycled vinyl (poor quality) to produce
their blanks. Basically the Shibata stylus would just scrape
the 30khz carrier grooves right off the disc.
For good technical info on all this
Quad stuff go to:
Was KQIV really “Rockin’ in Quad”?
IF we played the right record and IF the listener owned the right
gear…YES! Other than that….figure it out……no matrix decoder
meant no quad.
Some interesting things stand out
after more than 30 years.
There was an incident with a young
man who told us on the phone “I have the Word”. After many
calls he showed up in the office and scared the heck out of the
staff. Then, one night, he got into the station and just had
to get out “the Word”…ask BA about the rest of the story.
I have always been a classical music
buff and coming into the Christmas season in 1973 I realized no
radio station was going to play Handel’s “Messiah”. I called
Don MacLeod at MM and he said he didn’t know of any station doing
it. So, I suggested KQIV do it on Christmas Eve. Don was
ecstatic and bought the entire three hours and presented it without
commercial interruptions. We got some good press. But, the
interesting thing was, the phones went off the hook…our listeners
were just delighted to hear the “Messiah” on Christmas Eve.
Kinda strange. But, good music is good music.
The groupies were amazing! I
won’t say much more or mention names of jocks or groupies…after all,
the groupies are probably all married to Nike executives, have four
kids, live in big homes in Beaverton and drive Volvos.
And the payola thing. I never
saw money change hands. But, every record company promo person
had huge slush fund accounts. So there was lots of dining out,
booze, drugs, vacations, stereos and thousands of “un-clipped”
records that could be sold for cash as new to the record stores.
Let me paraphrase Don Imus on this issue: “There’s no such
thing as payola. The record company may take you out to
dinner, ply you with booze and drugs, hand you a Rolex and then set
you up for the night with a chick that can suck the chrome off a
trailer hitch…but there is no payola.” I agree. I feel
kind of sorry for the local jocks and PDs and MDs who have to play
what the home office says. Now all the goodies go to the
executives instead of the little guys.
I got fired sometime in 1974...not
long before the change to a soul format. Don’t remember why.
Didn’t matter much. At the moment I figured it was just my
turn to hit the revolving door. Worked at KVAN for a while
(something I really want to forget) and then did a show called
“Other Worldz of Music” which aired on KINK then KGON. It was
two hours a week of new progressive music and was sponsored by…guess
who?...Music Millennium. Did my thing in the Army…jocked and
did news in Indianapolis…then made it to 66 WNBC Radio in New York
as a News Anchor.
Any questions? I’ll try my best
to answer them. And, my email is open to anyone. Thanks
for letting the old hippy ramble on. Guess I’ll go find my
tie-dyed T-shirt and string some love beads.
thought: (posted 27 SEP 04)
One quick addition The "Classiest Farewell" award goes to Jeff
Clarke. KGON had hired Jeff and he gave his notice.
As was usual, management wanted to let him go a day early so
he couldn't do a "farewell" gig and maybe put down the station
or talk about his new gig. Cooler heads prevailed and
Jeff did his last show. I wondered what his last song
would be and sneaked a peak through the glass and saw a 45 on
one of the Russcos. What could it be? Jeff just
said a regular goodbye and played the Beatles, "You Know My
Name, Look Up the Number." PURE CLASS!
thought: (posted 13 DEC 04)
THE NATIONAL LAMPOON RADIO HOUR.....
The National Lampoon
Radio Hour ran from November 17, 1973 to December 28, 1974,
and was broadcast weekly on hundreds of stations.
It introduced many
talented and now well-known performers to a national audience
for the first time. Among the performers that appeared
regularly or irregularly were Chevy Chase, John Belushi,
Christopher Guest, Michael O'Donoghue, Bill Murray, Brian
Doyle-Murray, Gilda Radner, Harry Shearer, Harold Ramis, Joe
Flaherty, Richard Belzer, Tony Scheuren, Windy Craig, Flo &
Eddie, George Coe, Gary Goodrow, Norman Rose, and Alice
Playten, just to name a few.
grabbed the contract for Portland. KINK tried to get the
contract but my remembrance of the situation was the National
Lampoon people felt their show wouldn't work on a soft-rock
station. KQ4 was the only "heavy" progressive
album station in town and the show was a perfect fit.
The NLRH was hysterically
funny and extremely rude at the same time...as only the
aforementioned group of crazies could produce. Almost
all of the NLRH crew went on to Saturday Night Live.
The Christmas show in 1973 was a perfect example of the
"something to offend everyone" mentality that was the hallmark
of the show.
The show began with a
reporter on a jumbo jet with hundreds of orphaned children
that had been rescued from a third world country. They
were being taken to the United States for Christmas and then a
new life with adoptive families. But...the jet was
hijacked by terrorists who demanded a ransom for the children.
This bit segued in and out of the entire hour...each new take
an update on the hostage situation that was not going well as
no one would pay the ransom. So...at the very end...you
guessed it...the show ended with a terrible explosion as the
terrorists blew up the plane. Merry Christmas!
There was the Cocaine Etiquette Guide...advice on nose candy.
QUESTION: If offered cocaine at a party, is it polite to
refuse? ANSWER: We don't know. No one ever
But the best bit of all happened in February and March of
1974. The NLRH was a full hour for the first 13 weeks.
But, it was difficult to produce an hour of really great
comedy every week so the producers decided to cut the show to
a half-hour. They sent a letter to the stations
explaining their decision.
I did 8pm-midnight,
Monday to Saturday, so I was at the controls when the NLRH
aired at 8pm on Saturday night. On week #14, sure
enough, the tape was a small 30-minute reel. I cued it
up and aired it as usual. After the last spot break, at
about 28 minutes into the show, they begin a bit. I was
getting worried because I couldn't figure out how they could
finish the bit by the end of the show. They didn't
finish the bit. The tape ran out right in the middle of
the bit...and I was left with a few seconds of dead air as I
grabbed the mike and started talking.
I explained the situation
to the listeners. All this while the phones were ringing
off the hook. I explained about it being just 30-minutes
and, obviously, that we had fallen victim to a NLRH prank.
I got back to the music and answered the phones...for over TWO
HOURS. No one believed me. They all thought I had
screwed it up and cut the show. Actually, I thought it
was very funny...except I had to try to calm down all the
The next week, when the
NLRH tape arrived in the mail, there was a letter of
explanation basically saying "Ha, Ha, we got you," and
thanking us for being good sports. I believed it.
I should have previewed the end of the show, but I didn't.
That Saturday night I
aired the NLRH as usual with an explanation at the beginning
that it was now just a 30-minute show. After the last
spot break, Chevy Chase introduced himself and said
(paraphrasing here), "Hello. I'm Chevy Chase. It
has come to our attention here at the National Lampoon Radio
Hour that many stations around the country refused to air the
last half-hour of last week's show. Evidently they felt
the content was too provocative. I must remind you, this
IS a one-hour radio program. It is a full 60 minutes in
length. If your radio station is just playing the first
half-hour, please call the station immediately and register
your complaint. Thank you." They went into a bit
and the tape ran out!
All HELL broke loose!!!
The phones were still going when I got off the air at
midnight. And were the listeners angry. I
explained, on the air, how, once again, we had fallen victim
to a great prank. No one was buying. We actually
got calls in the office all the next week complaining about
cutting the last half of the show.
The next week I previewed
the ending of the show...and they set it straight...telling
everyone about the prank. Something like this could only
come from the warped minds of the people at NLRH. I
understand all the shows are still available on cassette and
CD. Check the web and you'll find them. Great
Where's Larry now?