REMEMBER RADIO?

My career — such as it is — began in a black widow spider infested shack not far from the cemetery in Walla Walla, Washington.  I was also raised in a cane break by an old momma lion. KTEL radio’s transmitter building is the lovely arachnid sanctuary to which I refer, and yes, I did sit there with a pellet rifle and shoot the spiders on the wall. It is amazing what we took for granted in broadcasting. For example, we took for granted that a rack of Scully tape machines would never replace live radio personalities. We were right. Satellites did what Scullys only attempted.

KTEL, the mighty 1490, had 250 watts of power. I have hair dryers with more power than that, and we typed our program logs as we went along, entering the start and stop time of every commercial.

We had local rock stars in Walla Walla — among them Jeff Hawks of Hawk and the Randellas. When Paul Revere and the Raiders played to 11 people at the Natatorium Roller Rink, Hawk had over 700 at the VFW hall. He was a star. I saw Jeff the other day. He looks great, and no different than he did forty years ago — except he looks more mature. He gave me the world’s best haircut, honest. I mean that guy can cut hair as good as Craig Tarwater plays guitar, and that’s saying something.  Yeah, small world after all.  Jeff left Walla Wall back in the mid 1960’s for short term fame on ABC TV  with DON AND THE GOODTIMES and national tours.

Dgt

Now he is a famed hair stylist here in "Hollywood." No, he’s not gay. He was, however, in a good mood.  I have the distinction of having played his first ever record on KTEL back in probably 1963 or 64.

15 Responses to “REMEMBER RADIO?”

  1. Mike Barer

    By the time I had started listening to KTEL, they had 1000 watts in the daytime and had to cut down to 250 at night. In Walla Walla, you could put on Ina Godda Davida, drive down to the Ice Burg for a hamburger and fries, drag the gut and still make it in back to the studio for the next record.

    Reply
  2. Susan Balcuns

    Hey Good Looking….
    You need to change your Blog…something more interesting…….Like how to open a bottle of wine with your…well…OH! and also….Damn! I forgot what I was going to say!………..
    Looking forward to the Deli and the sausage in Santa Monica!
    Stay in touch!
    Suzi
    you X Isis XX (She’s a tad special)

    Reply
  3. dave zarkin

    You need to tell us what Craig did with Don and the Good Times and also what became of KTEL? Were they bought by Clear Channel and what’s their format? Christian rock? Did KTEL print Top 10 lists for local record stores and did you ever keep any? KSPO with 500 watts in Spokane also did Top 10 hits and the call letters exist today. I was a big KSPO fan too many years ago. A few years later I tried to get a job at KSPO (then KLYK) and visited the manager in the studios at the Reality Bldg. downtown Spokane. What a bitter disappointment: He was the only employee and it was totally automated with large reels of tape interspersed with news from Mutual and ABC. Shattered dreams.But I have a letter from KLYK from the early 60s regarding a contest I won. I took a picture of the Reality Bldg. with the KSPO tower atop it just 2 years ago.

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  4. dave zarkin

    As a silly youth, I had radio dreams that were dashed when a guy who owned a radio station in Colfax, WA told me that my nasal monotone was too effeminate. I should have listened to more Duke Wayne and less Joan Crawford as a boy. My mistake. Then I interviewed with a 250-watt “coffee pot” Top 40 station in Pullman, WA, where they used “consumer” type reel to reel tape players in an old farm house. It was primitive even by late 50s standards. As the manager explained it would be great experience but I would not receive any money for my efforts. Upon graduation from the UW I took a job with UPI in the KXLY Bldg as a reporter in Spokane where I shmoozed with the radio news guy Bob Baker and that’s as close as I got to radio except listening on my Arvin. Many years later I worked for a year as an assistant producer on a series of radio documentaries for University of Minnesota KUOM-AM (NPR) in Minneapolis. The station is now alternative rock.

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  5. Mike Barer

    KTEL, which was run in a very bizarre way (I worked there in 1978 and again in 1985 was sold to Denny Widmer who had an FM station in Milton-Freewater and he changed his FM call sign to KTEL from KEXI.
    The owner Jack Keating was totally hands on even though he was never there. We would call him at ja9-2744 whenever he had something to tell us. His wife would bring our paychecks. The on-air jocks would work typically 10 hours or so, starting with Country music and finishing with kick-ass rock and roll. But I probably should make a post of my own on that. Keep your eyes on http://www.mvbarer.blogspot.com

    Reply
  6. dave zarkin

    Appreciate further information on KTEL which is not to be confused wth mail order outfit that sold LPs and cheezy gimmicks on late night TV. Interesting reference to Paul Revere and The Raiders because Pual hailed from Caldwell, ID, and I worked in nearby Boise as a news reporter for four years. Check out Mom and Dad Save the World on http://www.cheezymovies.blogspot.com

    Reply
  7. Mike Barer

    Speaking of Spokane, I never lived there. Probably been there less than a dozen times, but I still remember the phone number to the Boyle Fuel Company. Fairfax-8-1521. However dreamed up that campaign had to be a genious.

    Reply
  8. Burl Barer

    Sponsoring “Starlight Stairway,” the Boyle Fuel Company utilized twins in live singing commercials. Originally the slogan was “When you need coal or oil, call Boyle.” Later, this was changed to “When you need fuel or oil, Call Boyle — Fairfax 8-1521, that’s fairfax 8-1521.”
    Excellent advertising! And who can forget the call in number for Les Crane (and later Ira Blue) live from the Hungry I in SF: Exbrook 7-2860.

    Reply
  9. discount watches

    I love you articles, he has deeply attracted me. I believe you will be published out more and more excellent works, I’m looking forward to it! Hope you can live a happy life!

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  10. Spike Friedman

    Spike Friedman here . . . I worked at KTEL full time when going to Garrison Jr. Hi and continued through my senior year at Wa Hi. What a trip; speaking of Burl – aka “The Saint” … we had a great time at the “250 Watt Voice of the WW Valley” and enjoyed every minute of it! I’ve since retired from radio, adv., etc.; am living happily ever after in Portland.
    “And so we come to the end of another broadcast day… this is Spike Friedman wishing you & yours good evening & good listening.” Then it was off the Pizza Pete’s. Yes!

    Reply
  11. במות הרמה

    It’s awesome what I took for provided in transmitting. I took for provided that a carrier of record models would never change. Thanks for sharing with us this post.

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  12. מתקני הרמה

    There with a pellet gun and take the robots on the walls. It is awesome what we took for provided in delivering. I took for provided that a carrier of scully record devices would never substitute stay stations individuality.

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  13. Hank Unck

    I just discovered this blog while I was googling for some Northwest radio info. I worked at KTEL from August 1971 to July 1972. Long on-air shifts were definitely KTEL’s trademark. And, yes, DJ Central (the transmitter building) was still infested with Black Widow spiders.
    My shift started at 7:15am. From 7:15am until 9:00 I handled morning farm report features, fishing and hunting reports, and a live news feed piped in from the station’s Book Nook studio.
    At 9:00am to Noon it was the “Coffee Break Show”, which also included “Pet Patrol” at 10:30, and “Radio Trading Post”, at 11:30, always sponsored by The Groseclose Funeral Home. I had to read very somber live copy for their spots.
    From Noon to 1:00pm there was another live news feed from the Book Nook studio, Paul Harvey, and some other features. I ate my lunch during the 15 minutes Paul Harvey was on.
    At 1:05, directly after the ABC World News break, I kicked off the Blue Mountain Roundup Show, which, as it sounds, is Country & Western music, as it was still called back then.
    At 3:15 my 8-hour shift was over when Dave Cochran would start his shift. At 6pm he kicked off “Nightflight 1490”, the local Rock program, until 10pm sign off.
    When Cochran left for six weeks, to acquire his 1st Class FCC license, I worked from 7:15am until 10pm sign-off – 15 straight hours on the air. To say I was mentally drained, is an understatement. But, after sign-off I often had to spend another 30 to 45 minutes to record commercial spots.
    In July 1972 I graduated from radio to TV to become the News Director/Anchorman at KNDU-TV in the Tri-Cities, using the name “Hank Hollander”.
    I knew Burl because we both attended Wa-Hi. He was one year ahead of me. I listened to him and Dale Unruh every night as they spun the top hits of the day. One thing that impressed me was the interview they had with The Beatles. It sounded like a live interview via telephone. It wasn’t until I worked at KTEL that I stumbled across the promo record on which The Beatles responded to scripted questions for DJs to ask, in this case Dale and Burl. You can call me naive, but that’s the magic of radio.
    I originally started in radio in 1968, and eventually left broadcasting in 1978. Since then I’ve had a very successful business career with Chrysler, Nissan and Hyster Company. I’ve been retired for three years and am busier than ever with consulting work; as a member of the board of directors for an international standards institute; and my hobby of recording music where I am the entire band (play all the instruments).
    Even after all these years, I still have a soft spot for radio,and sometimes wonder if there might a part-time opportunity for a 64-year-old ex DJ. One of my fellow Phoenix area residents (Alice Cooper – yes, that one) does a syndicated radio show but, then, his name has quite a bit more attraction power than Hank who?

    Reply

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