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Houston Retro Radio

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My Accidental Archive: A Night in the Life of KILT

KILT, Houston, March 25, 1980

A Night in the Life of KILT-1,
Captain Jack

A Night in the Life of KILT-2,
Captain Jack

A Night in the Life of KILT-3,
Beau Weaver

A Night in the Life of KILT-4,
Beau Weaver

A Night in the Life of KILT-5,
Beau Weaver

The first two KILT segments above feature DJ Captain Jack, and the last three are the Beau Weaver Talk Program. This is over 4 and a half hours altogether.

This was originally one long continuous recording on a 10.5 inch reel of .5 mil tape. I was gone during most of the taping. I didn't use a timer. I just started recording and left.

I recorded at 3.75 inches per second on a German-made Revox. I didn't own much in those days, but I always had at least one good reel to reel recorder.

These airchecks show a legendary top 40 station in its twilight phase. By 1980, the days for AM top 40 in Houston were numbered. For KILT, the McLendon era glory days of the 1950's and 1960's were long gone. KILT-AM was losing ground to FM and was clearly in a state of decline. The KILT call letters would survive the new decade, but not as a top 40 contender.

Nonetheless, the KILT of 1980 still held a loyal following. Many people had grown up listening to KILT, and it seemed to satisfy a more mature audience than an FM top 40 monolith like KRBE.

Also, their strong signal kept KILT popular with people in outlying areas. Personally, I spent much of the late 70's in Bay City, 80 miles southwest of Houston. FM reception there was so poor than many people didn't even bother with it in their cars. For me, KILT was the radio voice from home.

I was back in Houston at the time of this recording. Going over the material, it almost sounds like The Captain knew someone was recording the night for posterity. Notice the "gospel" sing-a-long (in which "AM" replaces "Amen"), the references to KILT's wide listening area, and songs that rhapsodize about radio.

By the way, the Beau Weaver incursion into talk radio held the same slot, 10:00 PM to 1:00 AM, which Alex Bennett had filled thirteen years earlier.

This recording was preserved by sheer chance. It was made long after I had lost interest in making new air checks to keep. As it happened, my last reel to reel machine was stolen in a burglary. I had no way to record over this tape, so I kept it. When I heard it again after 23 years, it had acquired new value.

Although the date of these recordings was not cataloged, I determined it by researching the presidential primary story mentioned on the newscast. The recording begins on March 25 and ends shortly after midnight, March 26.

A Message from Captain Jack

KILT DJ Captain Jack appears on my "Night in the Life of KILT" recordings in the column to the left.

Below is a message from Captain Jack and the responses his message generated.

Received April 30, 2009

Dear Grady McAllister,

I noticed on your Houston radio web site the following comment….

Going over the material, it almost sounds like The Captain knew someone was recording the night for posterity.

FYI….I air checked my show EVERY NIGHT, not for posterity, but to listen and critique when I’d get off the air…then, plan a better show the next night.

I hope it sounded like I was having fun….’cause I did, every night. You’re kind to include me as part of your web site and Houston radio history.

‘Captain Jack’ Rick Candea,
The New Customer Company

Response to the above message

On May 1, 2009. Robert B. McEntire wrote:

Grady, thanks for the salute to Captain Jack/Rick Candea.
Cap'n Jack worked his butt off. Old fashioned shoe leather and wheels on the pavement work. And it paid off in ratings. Later as PD he was a tremendous 'boss' and leader. He could chew your butt with the best of them, then when the issue was settled he would you give you a big hug and grin. The staff wanted to win for him and would go the extra mile to do so. He was 180 degrees from so many of today's PD's who seemingly try to manage with intimidation, humiliation and bullying. To this day, Candea maintains his energy, people skills and leadership in all endeavors.
RBMc

Robert B. McEntire was one of the main newscasters at KILT from 1967 until late 2008.

On May 1, 2009, Bill Young wrote:

Grady...you are so right about the "Capt." Rick is a consummate professional who always makes everything he touches better!

He replaced me as PD when I left KILT and it could not have been a better choice.

Bill Young

I also received messages from former listeners...

On May 11,2009, Greg Todd wrote:

Grady,

As someone who was a teenager listening to AM radio as I dozed off on a school night, your &;A Night in the Life of KILT&; is absolutely priceless. I remember every stinger, sounder, catch-phrase and reference made by Rick &;Captain Jack&; Candea on those recordings – from &;Get down like a dog&; to &;Arrrrrriiiiiiba!&; It’s an amazing trip back in time. Thanks for posting that gold!

Greg Todd

On May 16, 2009, Cher Ferretti Poff wrote:

Dear Sir,

Thank you so much for the memory. It made my heart skip a beat to hear the voice of the dear Captain Jack. And yes, it sounded like he was having fun! I never missed a show between January through the end of October in 1980.

He humored me through the lens of my camera as I put to film his appearances not for posterity, but for my practice. I followed him everywhere and shot many rolls of film. I wanted to be a photojournalist. Captain Jack was my purpose. And later, many years later, I became a photojournalist at a small newspaper in Winter Haven, Florida.

I have of few more photographs from 1980. If you are interested in display purpose, I only ask for a credit line.

So thank him for me, please. Without Captain Jack at KILT in 1980 my life would be greatly different. Let him know too, I finally discovered who I am! They finally told me the entire story.

Sincerely,

Cher Ferretti Poff

 

On May 18, 2009, Cher Ferretti Poff wrote:

Dear Grady McAllister,

Thank you for remembering and including Captain Jack on your web site. It's brilliant! I remember that night (3-25-80) very well, as I was a regular caller.

All that Rick did, in addition to other radio duties, made him a success. I know I have the Oiler rally from the Astrodome... remember? It was massive. The staff from every TV and Radio station were standing on top of their vans and all the vans were on the field... and it was all so BIG! I think those are chrome that need to be scanned. I'll look for them. And if found, I'll be sure to send only jpg. Thank you.

The boys with Captain Jack in that chili cook-off pic, I think I can identify. The one on the left is Doc Morgan, he was on the FM side of KILT in 1980, but the one on the right is another cook-off regular, and I don't remember his name. I'm sorry I wasn't a better record keeper of names, but my practice was in images that "tell a story". The Houston media were very kind to me during that time as I seemed to "appear" at their events. KILT and Captain Jack were my personal favorite.

Thank you for posting The Captain's image. It's how it was in 1980 for Rick Candea.

Warm Regards,
Cher Ferretti Poff

Note: Cher's photos are now on our Facebook page.

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Unless otherwise indicated, all commentary and photography on this site are by Grady McAllister.

Added December 2, 2011

KRBE, Houston, recorded in the 80's

Tom Mckenzie has sent us this from Arlington, Texas. He recorded this KRBE material sometime in the late 80's. My guess would be 1988.

Not counting an oldies recording from 1991, this is the newest aircheck on this site. In other words, it is the newest recording with music that was still new at the time of the recording. It includes New Order, the Information Society, and—can you bear it?—Samantha Fox.


Summer turns you upside down!

To help get us into an '80's mode of mind, below are videos of three my favorite songs by The Cars, all of them shot live in Houston.

I was a little slow in getting used to The Cars. My first Cars album was Heartbeat City in 1984, their last commercially successful LP. That was the year I started to catch up on music after neglecting it for several years.

And it happened to be a very good year for pop music. Long time rock critic Robert Christgau wrote of of Heartbeat City:

With hooks recurring as predictably as zebras on a carousel or heartbeats in a city, the glossy approach the Cars invented has made this the best year for pure pop in damn near twenty, and it's only fair that they should return so confidently to form. They still don't have much to say and they're still pretty arch about it, but that's no reason for anybody to get unduly bothered...

The two main band members were about my own age, but The Cars seemed to be aiming mainly at teenagers. I had first seen a Cars record while I was still at KIOX in Bay City in the late 70's. I had thought, "What a clever name. All teenagers think about cars."

By 1984 the band had matured enough for me to take them seriously.

"Magic" from Heartbeat City is one of those songs I never get tired of. It's a car driving song if there ever was one.

It is not about any particular subject. It alludes to everything that is exciting: The midnight hour, the summertime, summer magic, merry-go-rounds, and much more that is not specifically mentioned. For someone my age, to combine the words "summer" and "magic" so prominently can even suggest an old fashioned movie with Hayley Mills.

The whirling techno sound at the beginning of the song -- barely audible on the video -- is the same sound a flying saucer makes whenever it hovers over your roof and takes you aboard for a ride. Likewise, "Magic" whisks you away into an alternative universe where anything good can happen.

"Magic" plays on, and you emerge as the magician who drives and finally arrives at Heartbeat City.

What took you so long?

Grady McAllister

July 12, 2009

Note: If the above essay made little sense to you, listen to the songs below. Then, you'll understand.



"And now you find yourself in '82,

The disco hotspots hold no charm for you,

You can't concern yourself with bigger things,

You catch the pearl and ride the dragon's wings..."

— Asia, Heat of the Moment (1982)

Disco 23

Above: Galveston in 1980. The Last Days of Disco had begun.

Female student on spring break in Galveston, 1981.

Above: An A & M student on spring break in 1981.

Technical note: I shot this using a standard 50mm lens. I mention this because many digital SLR users would never think of using anything but a zoom.

When I bought my first 35mm SLR in 1980, it was a Sears camera made by Ricoh, and it came with a fast normal lens, not a zoom. I used it for most of the Galveston seawall photos on the Radio Home Page. The normal lens is good for emphasizing a main subject while throwing a background out of focus.

I kept the background out of focus by using a low F-stop number. In the background are the rocks and surf below the Galveston seawall.


A favorite song from the 80's... I saw this video once in 1986 and did not see it again until recently. My, what blue eyes she has!

Large version of arrow image

Mainly '80's


DANCING WITH MYSELF: Galveston's Hut Club at Stewart Beach in 1982.

Girl dancing alone

"For all the dreams and schemes,
people are as they seem
On a hot summer night
Don't be no fun, don't forget you're young
On a hot summer night

"A sometime someone you're not
Don't wait to see what you got
'Cause you know that you're

"Hot in the city, hot in the city tonight, tonight
Hot in the city, hot in the city tonight, tonight"

— Billy Idol, 1982

Click here for the complete lyrics

East Beach, 1985

Above: East Beach in Galveston in 1985.


This page includes radio recordings from New Years Eve, 1979, to the early 90's.


Winds of Change in the '80's

On June 24, 2009, Bill Young wrote:

It's been many years since I heard this. Some of the guys at Bill Young Productions, the company I founded after leaving KILT in 1981, pulled out some my old commercials from decades ago and sent them to me this week. If you loved rock and roll excitement, you may find this period work fun to listen to. Had to share it with some of you who I know will 'get it'! (check out the attached ad for Scorpions)What a wonderful time in our industry, a time when we were all inspiring each other to create work that I am proud to say still gets the blood pumping! Our company shipped out (no exaggeration here ... over 50,000 concert commercials a year) ... distributed all over the US and to much of Canada, Europe and South America! After thirty years, the company, with a whole new crew of talented people, is still doing it! Thanks for allowing me to share a very exciting time of our industry with you. Bill

Bill Young Productions

Ad for Scorpions concert, 1985

I set up this Mainly '80's page so I could put more emphasis on that exciting decade.

In the mid 80's, I was entering into a Second Youth after pretending to be a middle aged adult for several years. For one thing, I was paying more attention to current music and was surprised to find it as good as the music of 60's and 70's.

I found The Scorpions worthy of special attention, and I have several albums by that German band.

Let's all thank Bill Young for sharing this material.

Personally, I can still remember other Bill Young music promotions from an earlier period. I am thinking of some ads which I did not record and which are probably lost to history that are nonetheless part of the mental soundtrack for the days of my youth.

As for my personal aircheck collection, the only Bill Young concert ads I know about are the ones for Jimi Hendrix and for the Fever Tree. Both are on the KILT Ron Foster aircheck for August 4, 1968.

Bear in mind that those commercials were cut almost two decades before that Scorpions ad. As Bill pointed out in an email, his full blown production style was not yet developed at that time.

There may be other concert ads buried among my airchecks which I have not yet noticed.

One thing I hope to do eventually is to go through all of my long recordings and cull out all the ads (especially local ads) and newscasts. They would be listed separately from the long items from which they are are cut. It's hard to find the time for all that.

If you know how to edit mp3 audio and would like to contribute to this site, feel free to edit out some short items and send them to me. If you have worked with mp3 at all, you'll find it easy to learn to edit on a computer. It is definitely easier than using a razor blade to attack a 10.5 inch tape reel on an Ampex as big and as old as the proverbial dinosaur.

Grady McAllister

Revised November 21, 2009


KAUM drives us to the edge of the 80's: "Let's Go!"

KAUM, Houston,
December 31, 1979-1, Rick Lambert

KAUM, Houston,
December 31, 1979-2, Rick Lambert

KAUM, Houston,
December 31, 1979-3, Rick Lambert

KAUM, Houston,
December 31, 1979-4, Rick Lambert

It's 1980 straight ahead.

Taped during the last hours of 1979, Rick Lambert counts down that year's hits and rings in the new decade. Although recorded mostly on the 70's side of midnight, we group these New Years Eve recordings with the 80's.

Over the years, KAUM underwent periods when its format changes seemed more uncertain and more frequent than its rivals. The Wikipedia article on KLOL describes the two distinctive periods when that station battled KAUM (later KSRR) for album rock supremacy. The two stations also competed with the KILT-FM rock format before that station "permanently" switched to country.

KAUM had evolved out of the old KXYZ-FM. That station switched from beautiful music to album rock in 1969. Local programming eventually replaced the syndicated ABC Love format and the new call letters emerged.

As this broadcast indicates, the KAUM format had changed drastically by the end of the 70's. These recordings show it between its original album rock format and its role as 97 Rock (KSSR) in the 80's.

It would be safe to say that KAUM was an album rock station during most of the time it used those call letters. However, these recordings capture KAUM at a way station between two album rock periods, and here we find it fighting it out in the top 40 arena.

The inclusion of disco music is a dead giveaway that this is no album rock format. It sounds more like the KILT-AM of the early 80's than like the FM rock KILT of the same period.

You might want to compare this KAUM material to the KILT Captain Jack airchecks on this page. I personally recorded that collection three months into the new decade.

For more about the early album rock days of KXYZ-FM and KAUM, go to the Album Rock page.

These KAUM airchecks came on line for the first time anywhere on December 15, 2007. Recorded on Phillips audio cassettes. Roger Reini sent the material from Michigan.

According to XM Radio, here is what happened to Rick Lambert at KAUM:

After relocating to Houston, TX, to be music director of 97 Rock, Lambert was run out of town when he started playing "odd" bands like the Cure and the Smiths.

And so it goes . . .

— Grady McAllister. M.S.
(Occupational Technology Education)

Remarks revised October 29, 2012.

Wikipedia article on KILT-FM


KNUZ as an oldies station

KNUZ, Houston,
November 20, 1991, Bob Edwards

In addition to Bob Edwards, you can hear Richard Dobbyn toward the end of his radio news career.


KULF at the end of 1981

KULF, Houston, December, 29. 1981, Beau Weaver

His KILT talk show is history, but 1981 finds Beau Weaver running the midday show at KULF.

Roger Reini sent this material from Michigan.


KLOL Rocks the Beach

Above: A huge KLOL banner high above Galveston's East Beach, 1983. Click for the complete picture. Photo by Grady McAllister.

Below: The Galveston seawall, a summer Sunday at dawn in 1982.

Galveston Dawn, 1982. Photo by Grady McAllister.

Below: Shot near the Flagship Hotel, the young woman was on spring break in 1981.

One of our airchecks is missing!

On 8/4/2010 10:42 PM, Ken Tyner wrote:

Hi Grady, Was on Houston Retro Radio web site today and cannot find the Bob Edwards/Richard Dobbyn tape when they were on KNUZ in 1992 or 1994, I think.

Did you get rid of it or was it put somewhere else?

Ken Tyner

My Response:

That aircheck is actually 1991.

One thing thing that I am trying to do is get the materials more logically organized as I go along. Sometime during the first half of 2009, I created a Mainly '80's page. It now includes my five KILT segments from March 25, 1980, and the KNUZ recording you are seeking.

I realize that an apparent 80's collection might not be the first place you would look for a recording from November 20, 1991.

I'll have to try to explain my logic: The inclusion of the word "mainly" is a hint that there may be some things which are not exactly the 1980's.

Since the Edwards/Dobbyn recording was my only item from the 90's, it seemed to make sense to keep it with the 80's material. It doesn't make sense to create a 90's page for just one aircheck.

That Mainly 80's page also includes a KAUM New Years Eve countdown from 1979. Although most of the recording was made during the last hours of the 70's, I wanted to put the emphasis on the fact that the show was leading us into the 80's.

There are probably people who would like me to just list all of the airchecks for a particular station on a single page, but I am avoiding that.

I decided a long time ago that this site would never become a shrine for a particular radio station, a particular format, or a particular personality. And I definitely don't want shrines to mere call letters.

The KXYZ-FM of 1964 is nothing like the KXYZ-FM of 1970, so they hardly belong on the same page.

I am trying to put the materials in their historical context. That means organizing according to programming patterns and the spirit of the times in which the stations operated.

Grady McAllister. M.S. (Occupational Education)

August 5, 2010
Revised October 27, 2012

 

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