“Radio: When FM was King!”

Well I drove out to the courthouse in Rancho Cucamonga this morning to take care of my traffic ticket. When I arrived the parking lot was pretty full so I anticipated a long wait but there was no line at the security check point at the entrance and I was able to walk right in. When I got to the traffic division there were two people at the windows being taken care of and only one person in line ahead of me. My lucky day! When I got to the window I learned the reason for my good fortune. The clerk informed me that they don’t have walk in traffic court on Fridays so it was the best day to come. I showed her proof of insurance, paid my $25 service fee and was out of there. It probably took me less than ten minutes. Nice…

On the way home I was listening to the radio but there was too much chatting going on. FM radio certainly isn’t what it once was back in the 60’s when all we had was AM and before KFWB became an all news- all the time station. Yeah, KHJ, KRLA and KFWB ruled the airwaves with their top forty format and rocking, smooth talking deejay’s personalities! Remember KHJ Boss Radio with Charlie Tuna, Humble Harv, Robert W. Morgan and the ‘Real Don Steele’?  How about KRLA with their top jocks, remember Sam Riddle, Wink Martindale or Dave ‘the Hullabalooer’ Hull? How about Casey Kasem or Emperor Hudson?  I don’t remember much about KFWB it was my least favorite, but I did enjoy one of their DJ’s, B. Mitchell Reed, not from KFWB but from a new station he moved to on the FM airwaves in early 1968.

I remember the buzz about this new free form underground radio station that broadcast from the basement of an old Presbyterian church in Pasadena, KPPC, 106.7 on your FM dial. It was nothing like the AM top 40 rock stations, KPPC was the, cool hipper radio that played the longer songs that AM wouldn’t play, whole album sides or a string of five or six songs with no interruptions and fewer commercials.

What Kind of Person Listens to KPPC ?

The deejay’s were so much mellower and often sounded a little stoned. They didn’t ruin the tunes by talking over the music intros, repeating the station call letters all the time, playing jingles or acting like idiots. Yes this was a more sophisticated radio, radio for the counter-culture, a station we could identify with. Finally, radio for the younger generation who opposed the draft, the Viet Nam War, social injustice, Nixon and anything anyone over thirty had to say. FM had arrived.

No access to FM radio? No problem. Since FM was relatively new and many radios were made only to receive AM broadcasts, KPPC FM was simulcast on AM as well. They were the first AM station to broadcast this underground format. Yeah FM rocked back then!

So what the hell happened? Why was I madly pushing buttons on my radio and finding only chatter? Button 1 Jack FM 97.1 commercial.   Button 2 KLOS 95.5 Kevin and Bean playing some stupid trivia game with a listener. Button 3 KRTH 101.1 some dumb interview. Button 4  100.3 The Sound   commercial.   Button5  102.7 KIIS Ryan Seacrest babbling! I don’t even know why I have this one preset!  Button 6  KROQ 106. Kevin and Bean chatting about Coachella.                                                                                                Round Two    1.  chatter   2.  trivia game still going.  3. Finally some music! but nothing I want to listen to.  4. 5. & 6 More Chatter!  What a morning to leave my Ipod at home! It’s sad to say, but FM is dying. It’s morphed into sixties AM radio. FM was king for several decades but it’s time has passed. Welcome the age of mp3’s, Ipods and the only radio left that is still more music than chatter, Sirius XM, radio you have to pay for. But even some XM stations are more chatty than they were when XM first hit the market. We’ll have to wait and see what happens with XM.

So what did I do on the rest of my drive home? I did the only thing I could do with no Ipod or CD’s to aid in my rescue. I kept punching buttons!

J S

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One Response to “Radio: When FM was King!”

  1. Bob Lloyd says:

    I love how you remind me of all the details of our youth!

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