I did my first radio show on KCRW in April, 1977. Does that make me a jurassic deejay? Probably. But being the longest-serving KCRW staff member, I’ve been able to watch KCRW grow from a small station in a cramped middle-school classroom with a tiny stoned-out and lackadaisical staff to an NPR powerhouse and tastemaker, with some of the most creative people I’ve ever been fortunate enough to meet and work with. Ruth Seymour came in about six months later, in fall, 1977. She had a big vision for a little station: and she proved that KCRW was the little station that could.
Before that first fateful music show, I’d listened to KCRW from my lifeguard tower in LA County’s Central Section. There were network shows like “French in the Air”, situational conversations. There were some local call in shows. If you went east of Robertson Blvd, however, the station pooped out……no signal from the directional tower. In one journalist’s words, “the station faded out like a junkie on a cheap fix”. I did overnight shows and shut down the 1946 RCA tube transmitter, a humongous dinosaur next to Master Control, when the 6 a.m. guy didn’t show up. I did an all-night music show during a driving rain and lightning storm. Sitting only 20′ from a steel radio tower with 26,000 watts going out of it, with lightening overhead, I wondered if I would die doing radio.
I had the honor of becoming KCRW’s Music Director from 1979-1991, and devised an eclectic format that broke all the rules. But KCRW’s other programs broke all the rules too.
KCRW has grown from small to big because of creatively gifted people working there, but mostly because listeners were willing to become members. My first fund drive was 1978. That makes it 35 drives I’ve been in. There is nothing better than seeing listeners come out of the workwork, so to speak, put their names and dollars on the table. KCRW has grown up big and strong because of listener support, but we’ve never gotten so big that we don’t have to hold two fundraisers a year. We even cut them down to 9 days from the original 11.
My show comes up this Sunday at noon and I’ll be pitching with our G.M., Jennifer Ferro. I hope I can read your name off over the air and read your kind notes. But KCRW is a lot bigger than just my two hours, so I hope you’ll come out and support whichever shows you enjoy regularly. I tell people, “if you don’t listen, don’t bother to join”. You don’t have to. But if you use radio to enrich your mind and make your commute and your life better, renew or become a new member. There’s nothing I like more than this.
IF YOU LISTEN, PLEASE CALL AND SUPPORT KCRW!!!!
Here’s me in the old KCRW studio ca. 1978; reel to reel, cassettes, even 7″ 45 rpm singles………pretty old school and primitive compared to now. Click twice on photo to enlarge and see the 7″ single that’s spinning on the cruddy old Rek-O-Cut industrial turntable, a dinosaur if there ever was one.