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!
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.
Happy National Radio Day, fellow Radio Geeks! How do we celebrate National Radio Day? Turn off the HDTV, get away from the Xbox, put the iPod down, and listen to good ‘ol AM and FM terrestrial radio! For some of us, it’s been awhile since we’ve scanned the dial. You might be surprised what’s out there!
Because it always falls on August 20th, National Radio Day has special significance for me. It was on August 20, 1983 that I left home and began my multi-decade radio adventure. Packed up the U-Haul and headed west, young man, to KNAB AM/FM in Burlington, Colorado. For the princely sum of $750 per month, I worked 6 days a week doing a DJ show, news, sports, and production. I also shoveled snow, burned the trash, and occasionally washed the boss lady’s Lincoln Town Car. Oh yeah, that $750/month was BEFORE taxes. I received a paycheck twice a month for $306. Would I do it again? Absolutely! The thrill of accomplishing my lifelong dream and getting on-the-air was worth 10 times my meager salary. Truth be told, I would have done it for free. Besides, when you’re 19 years old, all you need is enough for a flophouse apartment, fast food, gas, and cheap beer. Mission accomplished!
National Radio Day only comes once a year, each August 20th. If you’d like some more ideas on how to get involved, check out the official website at NationalRadioDay.com.
Just wanted to give a quick shout-out to Ali and Joe Sugg who made their dream come true earlier this week. After months (years?) of hard work, Arkansas’ newest radio station became a reality on Monday, May 9, 2016. KSUG-FM, better known as “The Lake 101.9” serves the Heber Springs and Greers Ferry Lake area 24 hours a day, 7 days per week.
The format is Classic Hits. Effective radiated power is just 9,400 watts, but the antenna sits 1,268 feet above sea level. As you might guess, coverage is fantastic for a Class C3 FM. With a car radio or other sensitive receiver, KSUG’s signal is easily listenable 50+ miles from the transmitter.
The Lake 101.9 does not yet stream online, but that’s coming soon. In the meantime, if you happen to be in Central Arkansas, be sure to give this new station a listen. Here at RadioGeekHeaven.com, we LOVE it when local, independent owners put new radio stations on-the-air 🙂 Congratulations, Ali and Joe!
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.
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.
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.
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!
I learned yesterday that my alma mater is closing. Brown College in Mendota Heights, Minnesota (formerly Brown Institute of Minneapolis) will discontinue operations following a teach-out of existing classes. The roots of this heritage institution go back to 1946 when it was founded as American Institute of the Air. In 1954, the name was changed to Brown Institute. The school became Brown College in 2001, then Sanford-Brown College in 2014.
Back in the day, Brown Institute was the place to go if you wanted to pursue a career in broadcasting. Their instructors were top-notch. Under the direction of Mike Kronforst, Brown was able to achieve a student placement success rate of more than 95%. Over the years, literally tens of thousands of new radio and television broadcasters were able to find jobs after successfully completing their course of study at “The Voice Factory of the Midwest.” I personally enjoyed a successful 16 year career behind-the-mic after graduating on June 17, 1983.
I guess the demise of Brown shouldn’t surprise me. We all knew this day was coming. Due to corporate consolidation and resulting automation of radio stations, the number of available jobs in the industry has shrunk dramatically over the past 15 years. There just isn’t much demand for entry-level broadcast talent anymore. Still, it’s sad to see a school go down after 69 years. Especially when it’s the school you graduated from.
R.I.P., Brown College. You had a great run. On behalf of broadcasters around the world, I’d like to take this opportunity to say ‘thanks’ for the opportunities you made possible for us.
I’ve been a fan of Dan O’Day’s columns for many years. Dan tells it like it is. Recently, he wrote a column regarding the use of copyrighted music aka “popular songs” in commercials. Anyone who has worked in radio has a story to tell about the insistent salesperson who demands that a client’s favorite song be used in said client’s radio commercial. I personally have had this argument many times in many markets with many AEs, GMs, and PDs.
Typically, the sales rep will give you all kinds of excuses about why “this time it’s legal.” Reality: it’s nearly always a violation of copyright law. If you participate, YOU can be named as the defendant in a lawsuit. Dan’s comments should be required reading for anyone who does commercial production.