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Unless otherwise indicated, all commentary and photography on this site are by Grady McAllister.
Added December 2, 2011
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:
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?
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)
Above: Galveston in 1980. The Last Days of Disco had begun.
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!
DANCING WITH MYSELF: Galveston's Hut Club at Stewart Beach in 1982.
"For all the dreams and schemes,
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:
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.
Revised November 21, 2009
KAUM drives us to the edge of the 80's: "Let's Go!"
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:
And so it goes . . .
Grady McAllister. M.S.
Remarks revised October 29, 2012.
KNUZ as an oldies station
In addition to Bob Edwards, you can hear Richard Dobbyn toward the end of his radio news career.
KULF at the end of 1981
His KILT talk show is history, but 1981 finds Beau Weaver running the midday show at KULF.
Roger Reini sent this material from Michigan.
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.
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?
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