John Records Landecker National Radio Hall of Fame

This past Sunday, John Records Landecker was voted into the National Radio Hall of Fame. It was his first appearance on the ballot.

FINALLY, my all-time #1 radio idol gets the recognition he deserves. Across 38 states, gazillions of kids listened to JRL every night and said “I want to be on the radio like THAT GUY!” I was one of those kids. Largely because of John’s antics on The Big 89, I spent 16 years behind-the-mic.

As most of you know, I grew up in Minneapolis. In 1976, we had FOUR Top 40 stations: KDWB WYOO, WDGY, and KSTP. I believe we were the only market with 4. By 1978, we were down to one. WYOO sold and their FM became KDWB-FM. WDGY went country. KSTP was transitioning to a more “adult” approach by mellowing out the music and adding more talk. That left KDWB AM/FM. Under Doubleday, it was a very “safe” Top 40 with a strict liner card format. Even True Don Bleu was muzzled. I already knew I was going to be on radio “when I grew up” and needed inspiration beyond what was now available locally.

This is where John Records Landecker came into my life in a big, BIG way! When the sun went down, I’d tune in and listen to the master work his craft. I was amazed at how he would jingle out of every song, then talk PERFECTLY up the intro of the next record. I’d record his shows, listen back to the intros, then practice. I’d drop the needle on my record player and talk…again and again and again until I finally got it right. Then, I’d get on my “undocumented” pirate station and do my best to emulate him. This is how I learned to be a DJ.

“Boogie Check, Boogie Check, ooooooh, aaaaaah!” “Are YOU talkin’ to ME?” “Can I Get a Witness News!” Congratulations, John. This is a well-deserved honor that should have been given to you years ago. You’re the best!

Jimmy Reed of KDWB KRSI WDGY Passes Away at 80

Three days ago, James Arthur Rud passed away. Many of us knew him as “Jimmy Reed”, a Minneapolis/St. Paul DJ with a career spanning over 4 decades.

I started listening to radio when I was 3 years old. This was back in 1967. I heard many DJs, but there were two whom I quickly learned to recognize by name and voice. One was Twin Cities radio legend True Don Bleu. He spent 10 years at KDWB prior to his 1978 gig with KHJ in Los Angeles. The other was Jimmy Reed. Jimmy also worked for KDWB and then KRSI. By the time I knew his name, he was on WDGY. First on the evening show and then afternoons, Jimmy spent 15 years at WDGY. He even stayed on when Storz flipped the format from Rock to Country in September, 1977. WDGY going country was a BIG deal to us kids who had grown up with the station. Jimmy Reed could do it all. He also owned and operated Reed’s Pizza in Prior Lake.

Jimmy Reed’s obituary announcement from the Red Wing Republican Eagle can be found here. R.I.P, sir. You were an inspiration to countless kids like myself who grew up with Twin Cities radio in the 1970s. We heard you on WDGY and immediately knew what we wanted to be when we grew up.

UCF Tailgate Hamfest & Swap Meet

If you’re in the Orlando area this Saturday, don’t forget about the biannual hamfest and swap meet at the University of Central Florida. This event has been happening for as long as I can remember. The UCF Tailgate is a great opportunity to buy, sell, and trade electronics equipment of all types. Ham radios, old CB radios, computers, and other electronic items are available. Back when I was living in Florida and selling on eBay, I always attended this hamfest. I was never disappointed. Next to Orlando HamCation in February, it is the most well-attended amateur radio event in Central Florida.

The key to the UCF Tailgate is to GET THERE EARLY! People arrive well before sunrise. All the “good stuff” is gone by 9AM. By 10, it becomes a social event. By 11, it’s over until next time. People will leave early if the weather is bad and stay late if it is an exceptionally nice day. Admission is FREE. There is no cost to buy or sell items. You do NOT need to be a licensed amateur radio operator to attend or participate.

Date for the summer UCF Tailgate is Saturday, June 10, 2017. Talk-in on the UCF ham club’s repeater: 443.375 Mhz. PL tone is 103.5. Besides being free, this event is a lot of fun. I used to attend every January and every June. If you’re in the area, be sure to check out the UCF Tailgate & Hamfest!

Radios Included in 2017 Florida Sales Tax Holiday

The Florida Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday will be held June 2-3-4, 2017. This newly-created tax free weekend gives you the chance to save money on a variety of hurricane and storm preparedness supplies. Of special interest to us RadioGeeks is the provision applying to radios and batteries. According to the Florida Department of Revenue, radios up to $50 that are powered by battery, solar, or hand-crank are included in the sales tax holiday. In addition, two-way and weather band radios also qualify for the tax break. Batteries up to $30 in sizes “D”, “C”, “AA”, 6-volt, and 9-volt are also included.

If you live in or are visiting Florida during this time, it would be a great opportunity to update your radio equipment. FRS and GMRS walkie-talkies are included. Amateur (ham) and CB radios, too. Inexpensive handheld 2-meter and 70cm radios are available from Baofeng and other manufacturers for under $50.00.

Don’t miss the 2017 Florida Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday. Stock up on batteries, get some new radios, and enjoy a tax break on your purchases!

Are Memorial Day Radio Specials Still a Thing?

When I was a kid, holiday weekends meant special radio programs! Not syndicated shows, but genuine, live and locally-produced specials. In Minneapolis, KDWB had “The Memorial Day 500 Countdown.” Obviously, this was a play on the Indy 500 which also took place over Memorial Day Weekend. Starting at 3:00PM on Friday, KDWB would count down what they determined to be the Top 500 songs of all time. #1 was always “Stairway to Heaven”, of course. Also in the Top 10 were “Free Bird”, “Layla”, “Roundabout”, and “Hey Jude.” The usual suspects. After Number One was played, the jock would start over with Number Five Hundred.

There was nothing magical about this. Several markets did it. But it WAS an annual event that we looked forward to. Most importantly, it was live and local radio. The song list in Minneapolis was different from the song list on WLS in Chicago. Which was different still from WABC’s list in New York City or KHJ’s in Los Angeles. Just as their weekly countdowns were different. That’s what made radio fun and interesting.

Do you know of any stations which still do local holiday programming? Or does it all come via downloaded .mp3 files from a national syndicator? I strongly suspect the latter. Please tell me that I am wrong.