Wednesday, December 27, 2006

"Something In The Air"

[ Excerpt from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, December 26, 2006, By Roger K. Miller ]

There's a new book out about radio that focuses on the rise and fall of FM rock, and also touches on freeform's place in the history of it all...

By Marc Fisher, Random House ($27.95)

"Virtually everyone in radio," Marc Fisher says, "believes the medium has become less fun, less creative and just plain less worth listening to than at any point since its birth."

Surveys show that listeners believe it, too, and have been turning off, tuning out and dropping out at an increasing rate for the past decade.

So why do station owners, in that popular definition of crazy, keep doing the same thing over and over, hoping for a different outcome? Fisher's highly informative and insightful book provides some persuasive answers.

Although radio seems closer than ever to the death that has been predicted for it since the advent of television, writes Fisher, a journalist and radio columnist for the Washington Post, "like most old media, radio defies predictions of its death."

The book centers on the rock revolution in radio, but that topic is actually only a fraction of its coverage of the medium from the middle of the last century down to today, taking it through several stages:

The early 1950s, when it first struggled to reinvent itself; the development of the Top 40 format and the rise of rock 'n' roll, which became a "bonding agent" for American youth; the emergence of FM, the counterculture and free-form radio; niche specialization and dependence on market research; and digital and satellite technology.

Along the way he discusses dozens of personalities and phenomena, including Todd Storz, pioneer of Top 40, men such as Hunter Hancock and Alan Freed, champions of the "race music" that morphed into rock 'n' roll; the hand-held transistor radio as an instrument of individualism, freedom and rebellion; the night talkers, most notably Jean Shepherd; and much more.

As for the fine mess radio finds itself in today, basically it comes down to radio executives' market-researching, Balkanizing and consolidating the medium nearly to death, although Fisher does not summarize it in so many words.

Research has taught stations to chase after the same demographics using the same music or talk shows presented in the same format, in the process slicing themselves into ever narrower sections of the market.
Radio mostly ignores one-third of the recorded music sold in this country -- jazz, bluegrass, zydeco and others. About half of all stations offer one of three formats -- talk, adult contemporary and country; add oldies and religion and you're up to 71 percent.

Exacerbating this is a 1970s innovation: computers. They make possible stations that are "fully automated robots of pop culture" needing no on-air talent.

Tying it all into a neat, bland bundle is consolidation, whereby a media conglomerate owns many, most or even all of the stations in a community, all of them broadcasting the same pap, sans personnel, from a remote computer...

It shows, coincidentally, what a time of ferment and creativity the supposedly bland 1950s were.
"Something in the Air" ends, appropriately, with a throwback, station WLNG in Sag Harbor, Long Island, run for decades by Paul Sidney.

It is a throwback to not only the 1950s and 1960s, but to a time before standardization: "Everything the consultants say to do," Sidney boasts, "I do the opposite."

Sidney and WLNG have achieved what Fisher maintains has been sorely lacking -- radio's long-ago emotional bond, its sense of intimacy and community with those who by law are supposed to be the true owners of the airwaves ... the American public.

(Roger K. Miller, a former newspaper book-review editor, is a freelance writer, reviewer and editor. )

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Bill Ashford Live Today

For all of you who are moaning and growning about the lack of freeform in the present day, you have not checked into Bill Ashford's "The Rock Garden." The following are excerpts from how the project depicts itself:

"... the Rock Garden... is the outgrowth of a chance telephone conversation between John Sutton and Bill Ashford in 2004. Sutton and Q Hutchison were already working together on quality jazz streams from studios in Parker, Colorado, and dispersed world wide by Warp Radio.

"During that first conversation from Florida to Colorado,, the rock stream came up and how it was just languishing because there just weren't enough hours to devote to what would obviously be a major start up. Deals were struck and the project, still unnamed began. Ashford, Sutton and Hutchison poured every laser stroke and vinyl tic when absolutely necessary, obscure to some, but not all, into a mountain of music . Ashford then agreed to work with Hutchison to develop flow streams, that have absolutely nothing to do with playlists. This is a stream of consciousness presentation that rarely sounds the same from day to day...
"Ashford already acknowledges that he was here before the cooling of the earth's surface. Dinosaur Rock indeed. John Sutton jumped into radio with both ears around 1969 and just will not go away. He was one of the men with an impeccable taste and understanding of Jazz, that made KADX-FM, one of the finest jazz stations, ever. Not unlike other trailblazing gems, few though they were, this man and this station were thrown into the water, with an anchor attached. Sutton discovered there are many ways to peel the layers of the onion, so came Oz Productions, in partnership with Jonas Olmsted and the hired gun musical sensibilities of Ashford and his wife, Gail, and others, made tapes for clubs, parties, bar mitzvahs, front range frozen faced week long parties and any other requests. Good, but gone too.

"Sutton eventually hit on a syndicated big band jazz show that aired throughout the nation, primarily on am. Sutton and the real talent in the family. Denise, formed Warp Radio and it would be easy to say the rest is history, but it's not. Warp is currently one of the top 5 and still growing radio broadcast streaming companies on the internet. Next comes Q. Hutchison, whom we're not entirely sure about at all, except to say he wrangles all five current streams on Warp Radio, including his own new offering, Continuum, which is his own uniquely twisted stew of music new and old, balanced with a strong interest in audience participation that keeps Continuum fresh and fun. Q started in radio at 16 at WLBH in Mattoon, IL starting as a staff announcer and board operator. Over the next seven years Q wore many hats, Program Director (making sure programming and staff were in the right places), Music Director (picking out good tunes), News Director (writing and reporting news), Sports Director (reporting sports, sometimes even play by play and color commentary at local sporting events) and the occasional engineering job wiring and rewiring studio equipment. Q moved on to Warp Radio in July of 2000 and still wears a lot of hats. Good thing he has a size 7 7/8 noggin!
"Bill Ashford has been around so long that his rumors have grown their own extended legends. When asked about the many sites, quotes, tribute pages and blogs that exist in remembrance of stations he has been seen in and the man himself, he simply replies that all stories are true, but some actually happened. A couple he will admit to are that he really did believe there were people living in the family console radio and that he did get his first radio job as a teenager in Fayetteville, NC when he just walked in and asked for it. Any experience? Yes sir, listen to it all the time.

"There was a folk music club in Fayetteville, kind of a halfway house for artist to have and extra gig each way between the clubs of New York and Coconut. Most stayed with Ashford when in town and he started traveling to New York and hanging with the first wave of folk-rockers... He heard Bob Fass on WBAI and Rosco and Muni [on WOR]. It was spiritually obvious that THIS was how radio should sound. Ashford's battle cry became "you don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows..." Actually, the CIA suggested a few changes to his show being broadcast just outside Ft. Bragg, NC.
"He took his family to Denver, where he became one of a very small circle of people to start one of the first five 'underground/freeform' fm stations in America. New York, San Francisco, L.A., Detroit and Denver, where he and that small group of the obsessed, assembled to set Colorado on fire. They were all eventually bastardized by corporate America and what you have now is Album Rock radio.
"During that chance phone call in 2004, it was decided that what we were missing was a freeform station. Not a copy, tribute or heavy guitar metal death machine. What was needed was an outlet that did as it did in the beginning, play whatever the moment called for lyrically, rhythmically and spiritually. We have not stopped building Rock Garden for one day since we agreed in 2004 to treat listeners as we would like to be treated. We have made only one conscious deletion and that has been to leave most jazz out as we already have four fine jazz streams (,, and and some pop stuff heard on Continuum...
"Just like '68 or '70 or now, everyday is different. Currently Ashford is the primary player/programmer at The Rock Garden, with considerable help from Q, who listened to Bill talk, then created and weighted categories and style rotations to create something that sounds like Ashford is there, which he is in the mornings, or not. John and Denise Sutton, Q Hutchison and Bill Ashford are the Rock Garden, open twenty- four hours a day, playing music you love, or just don't know you do yet."

Image at top of Bill Ashford at KFML-AM & FM, Denver, Colorado circa 1971 courtesy of:

Monday, December 11, 2006

Bob Reitman's 40 Years

"Knockin' on retirement's door -- Reitman is knocking on retirement's door after 40 years on local radio"

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Bob Reitman's daily conversation with listeners ends Wednesday, when the 64-year-old Reitman wraps up 26 years as the lead guitar on the WKTI-FM (94.5) morning show.

In the 40 years since he began talking into a microphone at one station or another on Milwaukee's FM dial, he's played out much of his life in public. Still, like everybody, there are things he hasn't shared, and won't share now.

What he's more than willing to talk about are the twin passions that have shaped him: poetry and rock 'n' roll and, especially, the blending of the two in the songs of Bob Dylan.

To look at a life that's been broadcast on the radio since the 1960s, it's helpful to break the story down into its five decades, a period where the evolution of FM radio paralleled Reitman's career:

The '60s

The setting: Bob Reitman came of age in the very first wave of rock 'n' roll. "The guys a year ahead of me didn't get into it, because it wasn't cool, because the freshmen were into it," he recalls of his days at Whitefish Bay High School.

As he moved into his 20s, poetry became important to him. "One of the big things for me back in the '60s were poetry readings at the Avant Garde Coffee House, that was critical."

It was there that "a guy came up and told me his friend was running that show and was leaving town and would I like to do the show." That poetry program, "Sense Waves," on WUWM-FM (89.7) started Reitman's broadcasting career in 1966. He was soon doing a music show on WUWM, "It's Alright Ma, It's Only Music."

As the decade progressed, he made the move into commercial FM radio at the old WZMF, then in a free-form style where deejays were their own program directors.

Influences: While Bob Dylan is the broad canvas of his influences in the 1960s, Reitman points to one song that shows the merger of poetry and the music: "Chimes of Freedom."

"I remember the girl upstairs in my apartment building was a beatnik. I was sick, I had a cold or something, and she brought that down and said, 'Why don't you listen to this?' I mean I'm just listening (to) this song and all of a sudden these words come out, and I've never heard anything like it," he recalled. "Stopped me cold, I mean, I froze in my tracks. It was like a revelation."

He reads from the lyrics: "Through the mad mystic hammering of the wild ripping hail, the sky cracked its poems in naked wonder."

A quote: "It was the crucible, because that's when I went to WUWM and then we went from there to 'ZMF, that all happened in the '60s. At WUWM, we got ratings. That's because there was a significant amount of people out there that wanted to hear that kind of music. They weren't getting it from top 40."

The '70s

The setting: Starting off the decade at WZMF, he moved on to the old WTOS and then to WQFM, as FM rock radio moved steadily from that unencumbered style to the strict formats of modern radio. His visibility was rising, with Reitman earning a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records for an on-air stunt, staying on the air at State Fair Park for 222 hours and 22 minutes in 1976, while he was at WQFM.

Influences: While there are musical forces that shaped him in the 1970s, from Dylan's "Blood on the Tracks" album in 1974 and Bruce Springsteen's 1975 concert at the Uptown Theater, Reitman points to the birth of his daughter, Jessica, in 1972.

"That was beyond words. We spent a lot of time together because her mother and I got divorced when she was about 3. So we spent at least three days a week together until she was 18. The great thing about having children is getting to see the world again through the eyes of a child.

"Her mother, Lois, was instrumental in Jessica's growth as a person. Her mother and I have remained friends all these years. Jessica showed me that even if you come from a broken marriage, if both parents are really close to the kids, and they both love that child, then the kid will be OK.

"That was more important for me than being a disc jockey or anything, was being there for her and trying to be a good father."

A quote: "That whole decade went from free-form radio of the '60s into formatted radio in the late '70s. It was painful to watch it. It went away an album at a time, almost a song at a time. If the ratings would drop a little bit, they would panic, and start pulling albums out of the library, or marking only certain cuts that could be played on the albums that were left in there."

The '80s

The setting: WQFM fired Reitman in early 1980. He took a few months off and traveled the country, returning to Milwaukee. He was picked up later that year by WKTI-FM, where he was partnered with Gene Mueller two years later. Producer Gino Salomone joined the team, adding a third personality to the mix. (WKTI, like this newspaper, is owned by Journal Communications.)

Reitman and Mueller did a cameo appearance on NBC's "Cheers," hosted a pioneering broadcast from the Soviet Union well before the end of the Cold War, and got national attention for a bit during the height of the Cabbage Patch Doll craze.

In that legendary stunt, Reitman and Mueller announced during the holiday season in 1983 that a B-29 would drop 2,000 of the hot Christmas toys over County Stadium. Shoppers were told to show up in the parking lot with a catcher's mitt on one hand and a Master Card in the other. Two dozen people showed up.

"That was lightning in a jar. That was something we did on the air. We made it up. We did it and we were done with it - went on and did the rest of the show and forgot about it. The phones started ringing around noon, and it ended up being on two of the network news programs, over 100 newspapers all over the world, Sports Illustrated. It was ridiculous, but it was the antidote for the poison that was going around."

Influences: Professionally, it would be Dallas Cole, then WKTI's program director.

"Dallas knew how to teach me to do morning radio, and he also brought a guy over named Gene Mueller," Reitman said. "It didn't take long to realize that this guy was a genius. He just filled us up and we were receptacles. We went with the game plan, and it worked."

A quote: "The thing that I loved about doing the mornings with somebody like Gene was the spontaneity, the seat-of-your-pants kind of radio. We were never held on a short leash. Nobody ever came to us and said, 'Don't do this.' It wasn't out of control, but there were enough double entendres that I felt worked because the older people would get it and it would go over the kids' heads."

The '90s

The setting: While the morning show continued on through the decade, Reitman began to focus on his health, after he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, the disease that had killed his father in 1988, six months before the birth of Reitman's son, Bobby. A third child, Johnny, was born in 1993.

Influences: Again it's Dylan. You can't get through a decade of Reitman's adult life without him. And in a decade of personal changes, including another divorce, the music obviously helped him get through it.

"After a series of albums that were maybe not his greatest, 'Time Out of Mind' blew me away," Reitman said.

A quote: "The cancer gave me the chance to go on the air and tell guys to get this thing checked because I caught it early and I'm cancer-free for seven years."

The '00s

The setting: The show changed dramatically in 2002 with the addition of former WTMJ-TV (Channel 4) anchor Amy Taylor to the team.

"The dynamics of the show change when somebody else comes in, and I think Amy brings us to a whole new level," Reitman said. "I think it's good. I didn't get to work with her long enough to get to know her as well as Mueller and Gino. It takes a while."

But for Reitman, who was wrestling with personal problems that he doesn't want to go into, he focuses on a sunny September morning in 2001, when a plane slammed into one of the towers of the World Trade Center.

"That was comparable, in my mind, to the Kennedy assassination. We were on the air, we watched the second plane go in. It was rough times for me at that point.

"The only thing I could think of doing, and what I did, was I got in my car and I drove out to Holy Hill. Not to pray, but to go somewhere that was stable, something I could look at or feel that was stable, because it was so terrible.

"Mueller took over, you know how good he is, and he and Gino stayed there all day. I couldn't. I couldn't do it. And I couldn't do it because I wasn't as emotionally strong those couple years. It was a tough time in my life."

Influences: There are two of them, both intimate. The first is his mother, Alicia.

"She went through the prostate cancer, she lost her husband, my dad. She went through it again with me, and we won, you know, we came out OK. She's helped me through a number of divorces. I think the world of her, I take her out to dinner once a week, talk to her every day. It makes me really happy that she's 88 and I'm going to be 65 and we're still really close. There's years, you know, when you're in your 20s, you're off on your own. Maybe you come home for Thanksgiving, maybe you don't. But as you get older, maybe your parents get smarter."

Then there's his wife, Nancy. He met her the week after the Sept. 11 attacks.

"This darkness that I've alluded to, a person that really got me out of that and basically made me believe, I guess, I could love again, was my wife, Nancy. I told my mom if I ever mention the 'm' word, shoot me. That really was a monumental thing in my life. I had basically given up in terms of any kind of relationship."

A quote: "During my toughest times, doing that show gave me solace, it gave me comfort. Which you would think would be maybe the last thing I'd want to do, is go on the radio. But, in fact, that was one of the only things I could do. Eventually I got better, and now I'm fine. But radio, thank God, was a source of strength for me."

Epilogue: The end of Reitman's run in the mornings comes with a few years left in this latest decade of his career. And he's not exactly signing off for good. A new version of his old WUWM radio show, "It's Alright Ma, It's Just Music" debuts Jan. 25 in the 7 p.m. Thursday slot on the public station.

Reitman will again be playing records, real records, of the music that's been so important to him.

And, yes, he'll be playing more than Dylan.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Milwaukee DJ Stories

Milwaukee, Wisconsin, FM disc jockey recollections, mostly about 93QFM are at:

93QFM: The Halcyon Daze.

Also contains a great video of the Isley Brothers doing "Who's That Lady"... remember the extended play version? Gets me going even now...

93QFM: The Halcyon Daze.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Bob & Lynnie Fass

Just received this from Lynnie Fass:

"Hi, Malcolm! Great story about Bob Fass (and me) in this weeks December 4, New Yorker AND there're be a book out in January, "Something in the Air" by Marc Fisher , Random House about progressive radio. Thanks for being here, I hope you are well. Lynnie"

(Bob Fass and Abbie Hoffman back in the day, image courtesy of

Link to Fass audio at THE NEW YORKER: FASS: New Yorker

KFML, July 1971 - Part 2

Ed did a follow-up video tribute to KFML. It is at Ed's collection of videos on YouTube. The exact path to the video is:

KFML, July 1971 - Part 2

Ed did a follow-up video tribute to KFML. It is at Ed's collection of videos on YouTube. The exact path to the video is:

Saturday, November 25, 2006

New KRNW-FM Website

Finally got it together. Here's the place for KRNW Vets to share their stories and network. Go to:

KRNW-FM, Boulder

Thursday, November 23, 2006

KFML, July 1971

KFML AM & FM, Denver, Colorado, July 1971...

Ed's at it again, this time with a video retrospective with an actual aircheck of The Warhog's, circa July 1971.

You gotta check this out:

KFML, July 1971

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

'Whiter Shade of Pale' in Court

'Whiter Shade of Pale' now a court case By JILL LAWLESS, Associated Press Writer
Mon Nov 13, 12:55 PM ET

LONDON - Two former 1960s rock stars appeared before a music-loving judge Monday for a showdown over authorship of one of the decade's most iconic songs.

The organ strains of Procol Harum's "A Whiter Shade of Pale" sounded through Court 56 of Britain's High Court as the band's former organ player, Matthew Fisher, sued an ex-bandmate for a share of copyright in the multimillion-selling song.

Fisher's lawyer, Iain Purvis, said the song "defined what is sometimes called the summer of love in 1967," and had achieved cult status.

He said Fisher had composed the organ melody, and particularly the eight-bar Hammond organ solo, which gives the song its distinctive baroque flavor.

Purvis said the solo "is a brilliant piece of work and it is crucial to the success of the song."

"Our case, in essence, is that Mr. Fisher wrote the entirety of the organ tune," he said.

Fisher is suing Procol Harum singer Gary Brooker and publisher Onward Music Ltd. for a co-author credit and a share of the song's copyright and royalties.

Brooker, who is credited as the song's author with lyricist Keith Reid, says the pair wrote the song before Fisher joined the band in March 1967.

Brooker has said the melody was inspired by Johann Sebastian Bach's "Air on the G String" and "Sleepers Awake."

Defense lawyers said the fact Fisher had waited almost four decades to bring his claim was "bizarre and obviously prejudicial."

"Mr. Fisher's claim should fail on that ground alone," they said in court papers.

The song, renowned for its mystifying lyrics — beginning "We skipped the light fandango, turned cartwheels cross the floor" — topped the British singles chart for five weeks and was a top 10 hit in the United States. Rolling Stone magazine has ranked it 57th in a list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.

Purvis said a Web site compiled by a fan lists 771 recorded cover versions, "most of them, sad to say, disastrous."

Fisher, now a computer programmer, left the band in 1969. Brooker, 61, still tours with Procol Harum. The two sat facing Judge William Blackburne and did not look at one another on the first day of the five-day hearing.

Blackburne later asked Fisher to play the organ melody on an electric keyboard near the witness box.

Blackburne, who studied both music and law at Cambridge University, requested access to the keyboard and sheet music of "A Whiter Shade of Pale" so he could run through the song after court hours.

Judges are not always familiar with popular music, and Purvis noted that "one always risks in these cases a 'what-are-The-Beatles' moment" — a reference to a famous but possibly apocryphal story of a judge who purportedly asked that question during a case in the 1960s.

"But I'll hazard that your lordship is familiar" with "A Whiter Shade of Pale," Purvis said.

"I am of an age, yes," said the 62-year-old judge.


On the Net:

'Whiter Shade of Pale' now a court case - Yahoo! News

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Wireless Internet Radio

Wireless Internet Radio is here. - Tune In To The World:

"The InFusion allows users to listen to any radio station in the world that streams through the World Wide Web, without the need for a computer. Its compact and stylish design (around the size of a business card) allows maximum portability to travelers and those stationed abroad who want to stay in touch with local news, sports, and music.
InFusion Features
Access any Internet radio station from around the world without the need for a computer

Select from thousands of stations

16 presets for your favorite programs

MP3 player and storage

FM radio receiver

Time shift recording feature with timer option

LCD backlit display (blue)

Stereo headphones

Internet Radio feature requires appropriate WiFi hot spot
Audio Playback MP3, RealAudio, AAC, OGG.
Audio Capturing Format MP3
FM Frequency Range 87.5 – 108 MHz
Display Backlit LCD (Blue)
Storage Media/Capacity SD MMC Card / up to 4GB
Wireless LAN WLAN 802.11b
Connectivity 3.5mm earphones, Mini USB
Dimensions (L x W x H) 77.6mm x 59.5mm x 22.7mm
Weight 100 grams
Battery Life/Type Li-ion/5 hrs iRadio, 8hrs MP3 "

Monday, October 30, 2006

Wolfman Jack

Just finished reading Wolfman Jack's autobiography, published in 1995, just a couple of years before his death.

Any of us who were roaming The West in the late 1960's and throughout the 1970's well know Wolfman. Reading the book, though, was eye-opening to me, as it connected a lot of dots. You know, disc jockeys keep track of other disc jockeys on some level, so I knew a lot about Wolfman, already. But, reading the autobiography was just a lot of fun and explained a lot about what I already knew. I highly recommed Have Mercy!: Confessions of the Original Rock 'N' Roll Animal

Remember "Earth News" from the '70's? Here's the Earth News bio of Wolfman that is pretty accurate (click player button twice):

powered by ODEO

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


NPR's Tom Moon wrote a nice short retrospective on Gregg Allman's Laid Back, one of my most favorite albums of all time. The interview includes links to full versions of "Midnight Rambler," "Please Call Home" and "These Days."

NPR : Gregg Allman: A Classic in a Quieter Space

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Steven Fromholz

Received a comment to a previous FreeFormRadio Blog posting from Steven Fromholz's sister. As comments tend to get buried, I wanted to pass along a lot of the relevant info and some more that we have traded via email:


(Steven with the late B.W. Stevenson, image courtesy of

"... came across the comments left last year on Steven. Thought I'd let everybody know that he's back entertaining, writing music and accepting gigs again! He's spent the last 3 years recovering from the stroke he had in April, 2003 -- but tough as always he's right back at it again -- including guiding rafting trips and trail riding gigs -- and a most happy man! I've just finished a new website for him at if anybody wants to check it out and you can email him directly on the first page of the site. I know he'd love to hear from you guys -- thanks so much for your interest and caring!"

"I'm making an attempt to get his name back out there so he can go forward again. The music business is tough, as you are aware and although Steven says "It's not so
much of a coming back as a going on" -- the truth of the matter is it's a
coming back! It's the folks like you and the "posters" on your site that
have kept him/his name going during the recovery period. Thank you, thank
you, thank you..."

(Steven Fromholz with dinner, image courtesy of

Steven Fromholz appearances (see website for more):

October 7, 2006 - Tommy Alverson's Family Gathering at Tres Rios, Glen Rose, Texas

Nov. 10-12 - Gourmet River Trip, Terlingua, TX

(Steven with Kinky Friedman, image courtesy of

Monday, September 18, 2006

FBI vs. John Lennon

Historian Jon Wiener was a consultant on the new documentary "The U.S. vs. John Lennon." Wiener spent 14 years fighting to gain access to the FBI's secret files on the former Beatle.

NPR : Probing the FBI's Files on John Lennon

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Mike Heron, 1971

... this nearly forgotten LP of London rock circa 1971 should have been huge. Among the A-list friends gathered to support Mike Heron -- the guitarist, singer and songwriter of the Incredible String Band -- on his solo outing are Richard Thompson, Steve Winwood, John Cale of The Velvet Underground (then in the middle of making the Nico record), Ronnie Lane, Elton John and members of The Who...

NPR has drawn a bead on this "Shadow Classic"... their coverage includes three full song excerpts that are great to listen to!

NPR : An All-Star Rock Jam That Transcends Egos

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Laurel Canyon, Late 1960's

NPR has a fine review of Michael Walker's book "Laurel Canyon..."


"In the late 1960s, just as San Francisco was having its own Summer of Love, a rustic canyon at the heart of Los Angeles was also in bloom with songs that defined the moment, written and performed by the bands that defined a generation.

"High above the city, the Byrds, the Mamas and the Papas, Frank Zappa, Crosby Stills and Nash, The Eagles, Jim Morrison and a host of other talents found a wild refuge just a short hitchhike from the noise and neon of the Sunset Strip.

"Laurel Canyon was home to entire bands, and the hangout of choice for every rock 'n' roll legend, or wannabe, who passed through Los Angeles. Michael Walker's nonfiction book Laurel Canyon: The Inside Story of Rock and Roll's Legendary Neighborhood charts the highs and lows of a celebrated part of music history..."

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

PF Sloan's Back'

Some 30 years later, one of the best song writers of the 1960's is back in action, writing and performing.

PF Sloan notably wrote "Eve of Destruction," "Secret Agent Man," "You Baby" and "Where Were You When I Needed You."

NPR has an audio interview with him, with some samples off his new CD "Sailover." I listened to "Eve of Destruction" thinking about how much I wished he would have rewritten the song to fit today's issues, keeping some of the original, but not all. Oh well, it's a good idea. Maybe someone will take it on and it will become a hit again...

NPR : PF Sloan's Long Road Back from 'Destruction'

Friday, August 18, 2006

Wolfgang's Vault

Wolfgang's Vault owns the master recordings to more than 5,000 live Audio and Video performances from concerts that Bill Graham Presents promoted from the '60s through the '90s. Also, they have era T-shirts, posters and other memorabilia.

My mind has been blown just by listening to a half hour of the collection. To hear King Crimson do "Epitaph" at the Fillmore West in December 1969 was near a religious experience... They're streaming live at:

Vintage T-Shirts, Rock Posters, Concert T-Shirts, Concert Posters, Rock T-Shirts, Concert Shirt, Music Memorabilia, Concert Tees

Saturday, August 12, 2006

KFML 1972-0408 Audio

A rare KFML audio discovery has been made by Fred Fell who recently got in touch with me. Here's what Fred wrote:

"I actually found tape of a show from April 8, 1972 (which I deducted from the promo's from upcoming events) which is hosted by "Bill Bard". It is about 45 minutes of a great set and includes the original commercials as well. There is one slight flaw in the tape, but other than that it is in really good shape and still sounds great.

"I had slapped on a tape hoping to get some good music to take along on an outing to Gross Resevoir above Boulder that evening. I did have a chance to listen to it before we left, but once we got there and set up (it was a quasi band practice with lots of refreshments) we turned it on and just were amazed at the flow of the set. There were three 45 sets in total on the tape but the quality of the last two were sadly beyond salvaging. The 45 minutes I have are in order:

God is alive, Magic is afoot - Buffy St. Marie

Commercial Break
Budget Tape and Records - Melody on Budda Records
Shane Diamonds
Promotion for Leslie West, Corky Lane & Jack Bruce and Free, Sunday, April 9, 1972
Public Service announcement - Ride to Washington D.C. for David Harris

Water Song - Hot Tuna
Box of Rain - Grateful Dead
Heart of Gold - Neil Young
Tonight I'll Be Staying Here with You - Dylan
Colorado - The Flying Burrito Brothers

Commercial Break
Promotion - Continental Divide Raceways - Drag Racing (man we really caught a rush off this bit if memory serves me)
Up Your Alley
Pierce Volkswagen

Many A Mile to Freedom - Traffic
You're Only as Pretty as You Feel - Jefferson Starship with Papa John Creech

"And sadly that's where it ends....but it is just so great to listen to it and catch the wonderful eclectic spirit of such a great station that made such a big impact in my life.

"If you're interested in it get back with me. I have moved it to wave format and cleaned up a lot of the noise but that's about it. As I said there is one tape flaw that occurs during one of the commercial breaks.

"Thanks for the great website and the pictures and sound bites!"



"... I went ahead and converted this to 160kbs mp3 just to give you a chance to see if it is worthwhile or if anyone has any interest in the original tape. As near as I can remember this was originally recorded in my home studio on a TEAC tape transport at 15ips (I think...maybe we only had 7.5ips then I don't recall). I know we had a lot of strange filters and wah-wah and reverb boxes and other various do-dads around that may or may not have been involved in this but from listening to it and playing with it a bit I think the original recording is pretty true to what came over the air. I think the receiver was a Kenwood and was run through a pre-amp before it was sent to outputs (I am showing my age here cause I am struggling to remember just how it was set up that day). I dropped the tape to a 120 minute cassette which is what we took up to the mountains that evening... Maybe someday that cassette will turn up and it may yeild even more of this session. As near as I can rememeber the recording started early on a Saturday morning and finished before noon, cause then I transposed it onto cassette and went out the door around 3pm that evening. I do remember that the West, Lang and Bruce concert was the following Sunday night, cause we even mentioned that perhaps we should come down from Gross Resevoir and catch that show (we didn't); Bill Bard also notes "this Sunday night" so I deduced that the tape had a high probability of coming from April 8, 1972.

"I had to keep this under 100mb to be able to send it via yousendit, if you like what you hear we can work out another arrangement for the wave file.

"Let me know what you think of it."



Message from Malcolm to everyone:

I've put this up on the server I use for the KFML files. You can download it by either clicking on the following URL or right clicking and designating download:

Can anyone fill some info about what they hear? Was this during the strike? I don't hear any of the vets on this recording... Add your comments under "comments," below...

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


Arthur Lee has passed on. LOVE was and still is one of my most favorite groups. I never lost an opportunity to play them when I spun records in freedom (freeform).

Ed Ward did a good audio bio of Arthur Lee, broadcast over NPR. Follow the link at the bottom of the page to listen.

Arthur Lee/LOVE Links:

Recommended Listening:

NPR : Honoring Rock's Arthur Lee

Friday, July 21, 2006

Lee Abrams

(CNN) -- Lee Abrams, Congress and capitalism played major roles in shaping today's AM and FM dials.

As a consultant in the '70s and '80s, Abrams (with his business partner, Kent Burkhart) devised the "Superstars" album-oriented rock format that many FM stations, once bastions of free-form radio, followed.

The stations became incredibly successful, pushing once-powerful AM music stations to news, talk and sports. (Those AM stations, looking for programming, in turn made stars of syndicated talk-radio hosts.) But they were also slammed by many critics and listeners for marketing a rather homogenized sound.

From there, money and Congress took over. The 1996 Telecommunications Act relaxed limits on radio station ownership and radio companies sometimes bought several stations in the same market. Criticism of corporate radio deepened in the '90s, especially after companies tightened playlists and automated or simulcast functions.

Well before that time, Abrams had moved on. He defends his early work -- "If anything, we saved [FM radio]," he says, noting that free-form stations were too "out there" for many listeners -- but says that terrestrial radio now has "way too much discipline." - How terrestrial radio got here - Jul 20, 2006

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Legendary KFML newsman Ed Chatham is working on another KFML-related website called "KFMLNOOZE."

Here's what Ed wrote about KFMLNOOZE:

"The object of this site is to continue to act as the guy next door and let you know of stuff I think may be of interest to you as I did back in 1971 at KFML in Denver. As a newsman I will be featuring video and audio glimpses of some of my favorite individuals out here in the San Francisco Bay area as well as folks I have videotaped over the last 20 years from here to Louisiana and beyond. So kick back, smoke em' if ya got em' and join me as I mosey on down memory lane..."

Please visit:

Monday, July 10, 2006

KPIG Cuts Staff

This just in...

By Brad Kava, 11:20 AM in Brad Kava, Music, Radio

The firings of two KPIG disc jockeys last week may seem like a small thing, but it was front page news in the Santa Cruz Sentinel Saturday---and rightly so.

KPIG-FM (107.5) is one of the nation's last bastions of freeform radio, where music is chosen with some panache and integrity. It was one of the first roots rock music stations in the country and, despite corporate ownership, has maintained some quality in playing serendipitous rock, bluegrass, blues and country.

But bit by bit owner Mapleton Communications, which owns 27 mid-sized stations and has owned the Pig since 2001, has been hacking away at the quality.

First, it dropped its annual summer concert, the "Swine Soiree." Now, it got rid of its overnight DJ's as a cost cutting measure. Never mind that they made $10 an hour, or at most $10,000 a year and the savings don't come near outweighing the loss of real quality radio. Deejays Jessie and Terrence were let go, and afternoon jock Ramblin' Ror was cut from full to part time.

This is one of the last stations to maintain an overnight deejay, but as real radio fans know, that is one of the most important times to hear a live voice, or have someone to call and ask what that great song you just heard was.

"There's no other radio stations from Seattle to Los Angeles that has one," corporate spokesmouth Dale Hendry told the Sentinel.

Remember when owners competed and tried to offer the public something better than the other guy had? Nowadays it seems like the corporate objective is to cut things to the barebones and make as much profit as possible, so you can fly off into the night to your Hawaii pad on your private jet with your $100 million when you sell your "beloved" media property.

Sad days indeed.


Tuesday, June 20, 2006

KRNW Image

Stumbled on this classic reminder of Boulder's legendary KRNW-FM:

... at:

KPPC-FM 1967-71

On another Technorati run, I found the following sites that go into a little bit of KPPC-FM, Pasadena's history:

KPPC-FM 1967-71
Mike Callaghan, KPPC Engineer

Monday, June 12, 2006

Old Leadfoot

While searching on Technocrati for "Bob Fass," I stumbled on Lead Foot's Radio Circus. Checkout his downloadable podcasts (in mp3 format):

Radio Circus-Old Leadfoot's Radio Circus!

Monday, May 29, 2006

KHUM Humboldt County

This heads-up from Soundhound:



Your blog on freeform radio is excellent. I'm 24 but I'm hoping someday when this over-valuing of radio and the threats from Ipods and satellite sinks in, maybe some brave FMs will go back to freeform radio - theres tons of music out there that could be played, it's not like music got worse, but radio did. I worked in it, tried to branch out into playing some KPIG style music but the upper management canned me pretty fast.

There is one freeform commercial FM besides KPIG - KHUM in Humboldt County, CA. Check them out at

No playlists, just radio without the rules. Wonderful station and they do stream. Play plenty of new music and have in-studios often, along with coverage of Humboldt's infamous "kinetic sculpture race."

All the best,


KHUM 104.3 104.7 FM - Humboldt County California

Friday, May 19, 2006

Travus T. Hipp

Travus T. Hipp can still be heard on stations KPIG, KVMR, KMUD and KTHX. He also has a weekly column in the Sparks Tribune, Reno, Nevada. Recently, he was featured in the March 2006 issue of the Bay Area's THE MONTHLY:

The Monthly - March 2006

(Travus image courtesy of KPIG)

Other Hipp links include:

-- The Official Travus T. Hipp Story
-- Travus T. Hipp Technorati (Listen to Travus, now!)
-- Travus' Cabale News Network
-- Travus' Guest Writings
-- A Sample of Travus in the Internet Archive

(Travus image courtesy of THE MONTHLY)

Friday, April 21, 2006

Reno X. Nevada

This posting about RENO X. NEVADA was transferred from the original thread from May 2005, at the now-defunct Freeform Radio Forum.

If you've got any personal memories of Reno, please add a comment at the bottom of this post...



There was so much "right" about the sounds KFML bounced off the Rocky Mountains in those days that it seemed inevitable they would collide with the Federal Government at some point.

Unannounced, an inspector from the Federal Communications Commission's Denver office knocked on the studio doors one early morning.

It would have created chaos whenever it came. But the urgent murmurs amid helpless scurrying to make the place presentable were only compounded by the fact the FCC had chosen to "inspect" on the shift that extended from past the midnight hour to the break of dawn.

Reno X. Nevada's shift.

Reno's hoarse, cigarette-burnished voice wasn't heard over the nervous, "No! You don't say! Well, I certainly will look into it..." replies heard from the office of station owner Joe McGoey.

The KFML support staff, the secretary outside that office and a young woman who logged the commericals in traffic did their best to appear calm and, in doing so, looked guilty as hell.

It wasn't that anyone thought something might have been amiss during the FCC inspection of the premises.

Hell, no. Everyone suspected that everything was wrong. There were endless possibilities. Frightening possibilities that would, could, should lead to the shutdown of KFML, we thought.

Reno was inside the control room, putting albums spun overnight back in order in the library. Calm, cool and collected.

"What's going on?" I asked.

"Oh, the FCC surprised me...came knocking on the door at dawn," he said. It was accompanied by a nervous laugh that Reno tucked beneath a tight grin that flashed his dentures. It was embellished with a quick, wide-eyed stare beneath arched brows.

"The first thing he wanted to see were the logs," said Reno. Damn, I thought, those certainly weren't up to least not on Reno's shift.

When I asked about that, Reno said "Oh, yeah they were up to date allright. I filled them all out when I got here last night."

"Whew!" I said, "Well, that's unbelievable! You had them up to date?"

"Well, actually, said Reno, laughing quietly at first until the grimace started being interuppted by spittle flying between his teeth. The laugh gave way to Reno's trademark coughing as the fallout from a couple of packs of Marlboro's interrupted.

"...I had them filled out all the way through 8 o'clock!"

Uh, that would have been transmitter readings miraculously entered on the log 3 hours before they should have been taken.

"Oh, did he threaten to suspend your Third Class Radio Operator's License?" I asked.

"Nah," said Reno.

"After about an hour of him snooping around here it was obvious there was so much ELSE wrong with this place," Reno smiled, "he forgot about it!"


Reno has gone to that great, free-form place in the sky some years ago. But his friends still remember him. From San Francisco to the Rockies, he carved out his own niche in the music, and the memories of radio that are repeated in stories to this day.

I was only 22 or 23, full of ideas and energy but eager to hear of Reno's vast experience, er exploits, in the field.

He just always seemed to know the right way to get the point across while maintaining the liklihood he would survive, unscathed.

Riding alongside me in my tattered old VW, he spotted a police car and said urgently: "I'll yell 'HEY!" and you give 'em the finger!"
Jim Clancy
former KFML Newsman





JIM CLANCY, RENO AND MYSELF I AM PROUD TO SAY WERE ROOMMATES IN MILL VALLEY IN THE EARLY 70'S... [Although Reno worked at KMPX and KSAN, there is] ALMOST NOTHING WRITTEN ABOUT RENO [at the Jive95 Website (KMPX and KSAN Archive Website). I hope this changes in the future, as no story about San Francisco or Denver radio would be complete without Reno.]


Who doesn't have a memory or 6 of Reno X. Nevada, of the infamous Hursh gang. One is particular comes to mind. One evening as I was stumbling toward oblivion (as usual) on my 6-10P shift at KFML, Reno appeared. He seemed to be on a mission and he was. He seemed to think it was time for me to take a vacation from the mess that KFML was becoming, so He and I began playing every song that celebrated the F Bomb that we could think of. There were actually more than I realized. We culminated this unabashed hootenanny with the Mother of all F Bomb Tributes, Nilsson's 'You're Breaking My Heart, You're Tearing it Apart so.........". That was one of several "last shifts" that I pulled at KFML. I always loved Reno and his brother, Buffalo and now I guess I especially do.

Bill Ashford



Another Reno story from Jim Clancy:

Reno told me the story of having gotten a parking ticket a DAY while
working at KSAN.

He got caught.

He came up before the judge who said something to the effect of $1500 or 30 days in jail. Reno replied, "I'll take the jail time, your honor,
I've never made that much in a month!"

I'm sure there are plenty of KSAN people who could weigh in. As noted,
I can't remember whether it was Reno or Buffalo that fell asleep at KFML
on the early shift and the police broke down the glass doors to get into
the building, only to discover them sleeping on the floor.




I can't speak to the sleeping thing at KFML, but I do remember when Trunnel, Burke, Mitchell, Don Bridges and I went full time at KMYR. The studios were located in office space, 2nd floor of the old Villa Italia Shopping Center. Great place to be a hippie. One of us got punched out at the lunch counter and another got screamed at in the donut shop by some hysterical woman who was convinced the length of the hair equated with the depth of the war. Jefferson County Sheriff's deputies used to put us on the wall and search us at night on the way into the shopping center. They finally stopped when Craig Bowers called the sheriff and complained.

Anyway, Craig called me at 3 in the morning one night and said I had to go to the station right away. Why? asked I. Apparently the sheriffs office listened to us and called Bowers, concerned that Bridges might have killed himself.

The inside groove to the British Sgt. Pepper lp was playing over and over and they were certain the Boys were chanting over and over..."it's the only way out". What am I supposed to do? Go see if he hanged himself of something, sez Craig. Great. So off I went. Deputies waiting outside, where they stayed. I went upstairs, unlocked the door and found Bridges sleeping in the studio. Probably a crash from being up for a week. He started another record. Everybody went home or where ever. End of story.



Oops, I left Kreizenbeck off the KMYR staff list. Unforgivable.



Where is Brian?

The last I heard he married a Polish girl and was living there.

Brian was great. Creative and always entertaining. But that went for you, Bill, Thom and the rest of the gang as well.

I wish corporations were banned from owning media. Both the employees and the audience would enjoy it more.
Jim Clancy
former KFML Newsman

Monday, April 10, 2006

Bill Ashford's Top 10

A while back, someone posted a comment asking Bill for his Top 10 All Time Albums. It took him a while, but Bill zero'd in and recently wrote (Thanks, Bill!):


OK,it's gotten silly, at some point you just have to stop and claim. So, for the time being, knowing that at least 6 of these will stand for all time with me, here is the list I'd take with me today.


I can live with it. Have a great day!

Friday, April 07, 2006

Bill Ashford Time Change

(Bill Ashford, KFML AM & FM, Denver, Colorado, circa 1971. Image courtesy of

Good news for those of us from the Rocky Mountains westward: Bill Ashford's show on the Rock Garden has shifted to 10am-2pm Florida time (where the program originates). Please go to:

Bill Ashford in The Rock Garden

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

San Francisco Liberation Radio

Keeping the tradition alive of Bay Area avante garde radio programming, San Francisco Liberation Radio can also be heard via Internet. Check them out:

San Francisco Liberation Radio