Saturday, June 27, 2009

McQueen Signs Off

Dave McQueen, late evening news anchor on KCBS, did his last reports Friday, capping a radio career dating back to Houston in the early '60s. By decade's end, he was on KSAN, in its free-form rock years, a standout, with his authoritative newscaster's voice, on a station known for its laid-back DJs. "I had the good fortune to spend more than a decade at KSAN getting paid to spend time and scheme with some of the brightest, most talented people in radio history, at a time of musical and journalistic ferment not seen in a century," he said.

When those times changed, McQueen adapted, taking on carpentry jobs between radio stints. "I've worked in just about every radio format," he said, from country (on KNEW) to rock (on KFRC and KKCY, "The City"), and including smooth jazz at KKSF. As he reasoned: "A microphone is a microphone." But few announcers made radio sound better. In his blog on SFGate, Rich ("Big Vinny") Leiberman quoted media analyst Paul Stern saying that McQueen had the "best pipes" in the world.

-- Ben Fong-Torres

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Radio Unnameable Film

Radio Unnameable tells the story of legendary New York City disc jockey Bob Fass, who pioneered free form FM radio on his long running program of the same name.

For nearly fifty years, a devoted following of night people have tuned in at midnight to hear Fass’s spontaneous mix of music, politics, poetry, social activism and open dialogue amongst fellow listeners.

Bob Fass has consistently served as a conduit for the culture at large, whether it be playing an instrumental role in the early careers of Bob Dylan and Arlo Guthrie, launching the Yippie movement with Abbie Hoffman or remaining a steadfast enthusiast for young activists and artists of today. Since it’s conception, there have been no boundaries for Radio Unnameable.

Fass’s unique and influential program has blazed a trail for everything from NPR to Howard Stern. Yet even so, whether against the FCC, the changing landscape of FM radio or the countless station managers at listener sponsored WBAI, Bob Fass has had to fight many battles over the years to keep his show on the air.

The documentary film Radio Unnameable is not only about Bob Fass and his legion of listeners but also the story of FM radio, it’s evolution, and the struggle to keep free expression on the airwaves.

For more information and to donate to the project, please go to:


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Birth of KFML

Recently, I received email from Patricia Bancker, the wife of the original owner of KFML before it was freeform, when it was a classical station. Here is what she wrote:

"I was noting some of the information you have online about KFML and I never see you mention the actual birth of the station, which you may find of interest. My husband, Evert Abram Bancker, Jr., purchased the station while he was living in Chicago attending the University of Chicago and moved it lock, stock and barrel from Chicago to Denver.

"His vision was of a purist classical radio station, which is what KFML was originally. He also had, in the lower below ground level beneath the station on Fillmore Street, a record/hi-fi store which also sold high end electronics and furniture. That was known as the Allegro Music store. It had two huge fish tanks at the entrance and usually had a huge lizard whose name was Quazimoto tied outside at the entrance. The lizard finally broke loose one day and made the front page of the Denver Post as it was captured and placed in the zoo.

"As Evert was well in advance of his time, the station of course didn't make any money. He tried to manage with subscriptions but was certainly ahead of PBS and that didn't work very well. KFML ended up in receivership and was purchased sometime in the early 60s by a family who maintained some of the classical repertoire, but gradually it evolved into what I heard (we had moved to Europe by then) it became, which is what you are speaking about.

"... My husband's first wife, Janet, is still living and might remember some of the old staff that worked there. I simply cannot recall any names, but some of them did stay with the new owners after it went into receivership. I recall the attorney in the receivership, who remained a friend, was Leslie Gross. Leslie was killed flying into Aspen in a small plane from Denver in the 60s. Not that that makes any difference. If Janet recalls any details however that may be of interest I will pass them on to you..."