Like most of you, I was first surprised and then horrified yesterday morning when I learned of the passing of Prince. He was only 57. Nobody expected or predicted this.
“Little Red Corvette” came out a few months before I began my first radio job. On the day I started my first CHR gig, “Purple Rain” was at it’s peak position of #2. The “Purple Rain” soundtrack was sitting at #1 on the album chart. Over the next 15 years, I would play a lot of his music on various stations across the country. Truly, he was a one-of-a-kind talent.
I was never a major Prince fan. Even so, I always felt a connection with him because we grew up less than 20 miles apart. As a baby DJ coming out of a Prince song, I would often say “Prince is great, isn’t he? Of course! Prince is from Minnesota!” I never met the man, nor have I ever been to First Avenue. I didn’t get the chance to see him perform live. Because of this, the “connection” is difficult for most to understand. But if you’re from Minnesota, you get it. Prince was one of us.
Another week, another question regarding mobile CB antennas. A few days ago, I received the following e-mail:
“What can you tell me about power antennas for CB radios? I would like to get one for my vehicle so when not in use it is safely tucked away. Thanks, Bob.”
These were offered as optional equipment on cars of the late 1970s and early 1980s. It was part of a package which upgraded the standard car radio to an AM/FM stereo unit with built-in CB radio. Some also included an 8-track or cassette tape player. The antenna was usually mounted on the right front fender, retracting into the fender when not in use. It looked like a standard radio antenna except for a gray plastic “capsule” in the middle. This capsule protected the loading coil which made the antenna electrically longer so that it could be used on the CB frequencies. Performance was so-so. Using the same antenna on three very separate frequency ranges (AM, FM, and CB) compromised it’s abilities. In addition, the mounting location gave this antenna a slightly directional signal pattern. A quality dedicated CB antenna mounted on the trunk lid or roof of the vehicle would easily outperform these all-in-one models.
General Motors in particular installed quite a few of these in their intermediate and large cars. I’m trying to find a photo but no luck so far. As for where to find one for your vehicle, I’m not sure. Does anyone know if these are still being sold as aftermarket equipment? If so, please let us know. Thanks for writing, Bob!
Letters! We get letters here at RadioGeekHeaven! Actually, e-mails. Annette wrote recently, asking about an item she found in grandpa’s basement:
I came across your site while I was trying to find out some information about a vintage CB antenna I found in my grandfather’s basement. It’s a model CB-320 new in its original packaging and I can’t find anything about it anywhere. I’ve attached a photo as well. Can you help me determine what its value might be, if anything?
Believe it or not, I have never seen one of these before. Can anyone help Annette and I identify this vintage mobile CB antenna from the 1970s?
Cue the intro to Elton John’s “Funeral for a Friend.”
Recently, a great broadcaster passed away. Michael Kronforst passed away at the age of 71. Mike was my Placement Director at Brown Institute in Minneapolis. 33 years ago, it was he who found my first radio job at KNAB AM/FM. During his 41.5 year tenure at Brown Institute/College, Mike helped literally thousands of students begin and advance their broadcasting careers. You can view his obituary notice here.
In 2009, Mike was inducted into the Pavek Museum’s Minnesota Broadcasting Hall of Fame. Be sure to watch the video.
In addition to giving me my start in radio, Mike was a personal friend of mine. In recent years, we had reconnected on Facebook. Just like the rest of us, he enjoyed sharing old radio stories as well as talking about the future of the industry. Mike never missed a Conclave! He will be sorely missed. Thank you, Mr. Kronforst, for all you have given us over the years. Rest in peace, sir.
Time again for Drew to put on his “Old Radio Guy” hat and wax nostalgically about something we all knew and loved back in the day. The “Opportunities” section of Radio & Records magazine was where all the job openings were posted. As my friend Rob Walker said, “”it was always the first page you flipped to.”
Unless of course your PD or GM kept it locked in his desk. Many did, including a few whom I worked for. This is where being the night jock proved advantageous. Since there was rarely anyone in the offices after 5PM, the night jock was able to devise ways of opening the desk and retrieving the R&R. As a wayward youth who was always searching for a better radio gig, I must admit I became an expert at jimmying locks which supposedly protected the contents of managers’ desk drawers.
R&R Opportunities could also serve as a vehicle for assorted dirty tricks against your competitors. Did anyone ever post a fake “Situations Wanted” ad for a competitor and then make sure their PD or GM found out about it? How about responding to a job posting by sending an aircheck of the guy across town because he was good and you wanted him out of your market? I plead the Fifth on both of these questions.
It’s not very often that I personally endorse a radio station on this website. But I’ll make an exception for Gainesville’s 104.9 WOW FM. This is one of those rare projects that put all the elements together and got it right.
To the FCC, this station is known as WYGC-FM 104.9 in High Springs, Florida. Although only spoken at the top of the hour, the call letters themselves have a long and interesting history. The WYGC calls were originally attached to the 100.9 frequency in Gainesville. The format was country and the calls stood for “We’re Your Gator Country.” Gainesville is home to the University of Florida Gators. 104.9 was originally issued the confusingly similar WYOC calls. Those stood for “We’re Your Oldies Channel.” Format at the time was satellite oldies. Asterisk Communications formerly owned both stations. They moved the WYGC calls to 104.9 when it became a simulcast of WTRS, their country station in neighboring Ocala. Now, back to the present day:
Under current owner JVC Broadcasting, this station has become 104.9 WOW FM, positioned as “Gainesville’s Classic Hits.” I consider it Classic Top 40, due to the station’s broad playlist and personality-intensive approach. Believe it or not, WOW FM features real live air talents behind real microphones! Longtime North Florida air personality “Leroy the Love Toy” handles mornings. Program Director Chris Chaos (another well known talent in the region) does middays. Legendary Top 40 jock JoJo Cookin’ Kincaid is the afternoon host. Yes, THAT JoJo Kincaid. The one whom I used to steal bits from when he was at KKLQ in San Diego! Their night guy is Doug Clifford, formerly across town at WSKY-FM 97.3. WOW FM’s airstaff complements the format quite nicely. Listen for just a few minutes and it become obvious these guys love what they do. They’re good at it, too!
Many stations have experimented with the Classic Hits/Greatest Hits format. Most have failed because the playlist was too narrow and leaned towards a Classic Rock wannabe sound. Or because the station was voicetracked, lacking live personalities who could interact with listeners in real time. WOW FM “gets it” with this format. The result is an upbeat, energetic station that’s FUN to listen to. Very reminiscent of Top 40 radio during the 1970s and 80s. The music is dead on. All your favorites are there along with plenty of “oh, WOW songs” to keep things interesting. They even play disco! I haven’t heard Debbie Boone yet, but I’m sure she’s in there somewhere.
I believe JVC has created a winner here. Give WOW FM a listen when you have a chance and let me know what you think.
As most of you know by now, legendary DJ Charlie Tuna passed away on Monday, February 19, 2016. He was 71. Charlie’s resume reads like a “who’s who” of legendary southern California radio stations: KHJ, KROQ, KIIS, and finally, KRTH. He also hosted shows for several other stations across the region.
Growing up in Minnesota, I had heard of Charlie Tuna but didn’t actually get to hear him live until 1982. For me, the highlight of family vacations in those days was getting to hear stations in other markets. Needless to say, I was not disappointed. Charlie was smooth and tight. I recognized his distinctive voice as soon as I heard it come out of my boombox speakers.
Charlie Tuna truly was one of radio’s greats. He will be missed. Thank you for all you have contributed to our industry over the years. R.I.P., sir.
Okay, so this doesn’t directly involve radio. However, it is certainly a geeky, guilty childhood pleasure that many of us can relate to. Do you remember the joys of the Columbia House Record and Tape club?
When I was a kid, buying a new record was always cause for excitement. There was just something about the smell of new vinyl and dropping that needle for the first time. However, the ULTIMATE thrill was getting my introductory shipment from Columbia House. I’d tear the postage-paid card out of the magazine, fill out my name and address, put it in the mail, then wait…wait…wait…
When the magic day finally arrived, it was was like Christmas in July or April or October. I’d come home from school, walk in the front door, and Mom would say “You got mail today!” There it was: right there, on the kitchen table, in all it’s glory! That beautiful brown box which contained not just 1, not just 2, but ELEVEN brand new record albums!
The most difficult part of the Columbia House experience was deciding which one to play first. Should I open them all at once and have a record-playing marathon? Or should I open one per day, giving me a new album every day for the next week and a half? (Since I’ve always been a saver at heart, I chose the latter.)
In a world filled with instant .mp3 downloads (legal and otherwise), kids will never know the sheer ecstasy of opening that package from 1400 North Fruitridge Avenue in Terre Haute, Indiana!
How about a MW DX test to kick off the new year? WBOB-AM 600 in Jacksonville will be testing their new 35kW daytime pattern this weekend. This test will be conducted on Sunday, January 10, 2016 from 12:00AM (midnight) until 3:00AM Eastern Standard Time. Program material will consist of Morse code, sweep tones, plus big band and orchestral music. In other words, it should be easy to pick WBOB out of the pile of stations.
Here at Radio Geek Heaven, we love these late-night AM DX’ing opportunities! Much thanks to Station Engineer Jerry Smith for making it possible. QSL verification is available via e-mail only at: jerry [at] jerrysmith [dot] net.
RadioGeekHeaven.com would like to wish a Happy 68th Birthday to KXXX-AM 790 in Colby, Kansas. KXXX was the original radio station in northwest Kansas, signing on for the first time July 14, 1947. KXXX-FM 100.3 (later KQLS and then KRDQ) was added in 1970. Both stations are currently owned by Rocking M Media, LLC.
KXXX enjoys a huge daytime coverage area. I have personally received them on my car radio in Colorado Springs, Wichita, Topeka, and Lincoln. Those 5,000 watts on 790 travel a long way because the tower is anchored in some of the most conductive soil in the world! Country music, farm news, and agricultural information has been their format for as long as I can remember. “The Mighty 7-90” is one of few remaining heritage AM stations that’s still playing music and making money in 2015. Happy Birthday, KXXX!