Floodgates Open

As a kid tuned to KPUG, Kirk Wilde was the first jock I ever listened to. We have stayed in touch over the years. I hear people argue “what was the ultimate time for rock music.” In the past, if Wilde entered the fray, he’d say something that made sense like: “The Big Year is SO subjective. It tends to be whenever you started really paying attention. Age 13-19. Or when you finally got liberated. 20-24.” But he does locate the heaviest hit period. For Wilde, the floodgates opened for six memorable months in 1965….Steven L. Smith, editor Puget Sound Media

I don’t think there was ever such a time in music, before or after. And I was fortunate to be there for it, touching it, dealing it out like the Candyman.

Spring and summer of 1965, the most astonishing cornucopia opened for monster hit after hit after hit. I mean, Satisfaction, Like a Rolling Stone, I Can’t Help Myself, Wooly Bully, Game of Love, I Know a Place, Eight Days a Week, Ticket to Ride, What’s New Pussycat?, Help Me Rhonda, California Girls, Nowhere to Run, We Gotta Get Out of This Place, It’s Not Unusual, You Were on My Mind, Mr. Tambourine Man, Cara Mia, For Your Love, Down in the Boondocks, She’s About a Mover, Seventh Son, Yes I’m Ready, I Got You Babe, It Ain’t Me Babe, Hang On Sloopy–on and on–History, every day in the mail.

Music director of KFLY-downtown Corvallis, I got to open those packages. Christmas every day. Iconic gems I could bring to life and then share as first-time eargasms to all the chicks at Oregon State. I got to introduce them to the Who. Got to upend them with Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag. To shock them with Them’s Gloria, the Sonics’ Psycho. Intrigue them with the Zombies. Patronize them with Herman’s Hermits. I got to open yet another guaranteed #1 from the Supremes and breathlessly bring it to the control room.

Was there ever a more concentrated booty drop? Or a bigger sense of professional satisfaction?



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Kirk Wilde

Author: Kirk Wilde

Kirk Wilde, Tacoma boy, was in the Top 40 wars in the Pacific Northwest and Denver. He never stopped following the music.

12 thoughts on “Floodgates Open

  1. Kirk,
    For me I think the best year ties in closely with your original comment: “The Big Year is SO subjective. It tends to be whenever you started really paying attention. Age 13-19. Or when you finally got liberated. 20-24.”

    I was 13 in Feb or March 1966 when I began casually listening to the radio, got interested because I had a cousin who was an announcer in Calgary. So one day I was walking down the street in downtown Bellingham and you were doing a live remote for the March of Dimes from Newberry’s as I recall. I watched you for a half hour maybe. You were playing the hits of the day….Boots, California Dreamin’, Lightning Strikes, Nowhere Man, My Love, 19th Nervous Breakdown, Listen People, Inside Lookin’ Out.

    Those may not compare to your list of hits, but those songs I heard in 1966 do hold a spot in my heart as a great year for the hits.

  2. Cool stuff, Kirk! ’65 was a great year and about half the tracks you mention were in our garage band playlist. That was in Cedar City, Utah. I knew about “Boss Radio” and KHJ in LA… The boys in school teased me about it (actually I think they were envious of my name). At night, I listened to KOMA Oklahoma City and Fabulous 95 KIMN when I spent summers in Denver. I fantasized about being a Top-40 jock. And I did a bit of it here and there but only in dayparts–never on a station dedicated solely to Top-40. It would be 15 years before I hit the airwaves over Los Angeles on the Mighty 690. By then, we were into the New Wave. It was big time but not the same. Never again will there be anything like the classic Top-40 era. It really was golden and I don’t have to ask you if it was fun!

  3. I was on the air in 1965 on The Voice of Denver — KIMN with Chuck Buell, Jay Mack, Hal Baby Moore, Ted Atkins, etc. Great sound. Great tunes. Memorable!

  4. It’s difficult to argue with Kirk’s premise of 1965 … basically year #2 of the British Invasion. Motown was continuing to release great product … plus the folk-rock influence of Dylan (The Byrds, Barry McGuire, etc.). There certainly was a flood of great Top-40 music that year.
    Personally, I also need to give a nod to 1959. The 1st year NW Top-40 type talent began making an impact on the national music scene. Olympia’s The Fleetwoods with “Come Softly To Me” (#1-4 wks), “Mr. Blue” on (#1-9 wks). The Ventures ~ “Walk Don’t Run” (#2 nationally) & Tacoma’s Wailers with 2 national charted rock instrumentals, “Tall Cool One” & “Mau-Mau”. Kids all over the NW began thinking: “I could maybe have a hit record too!” … and teen garage bands began popping up in nearly every NW burg. (I realized beginning in ’57 Jimmie Rodgers from Camas, WA had a #1 hit with Honeycomb” followed by “Kisses Sweeter Than Wine”, “Oh-Oh I’m Falling In Love Again”, “Secretly” and “Are You Really Mine”. But, at the time, most didn’t realize he was a NW product.

    Kirk’s mention of KFLY-Corvallis reminded me of the time I stopped by the station in the early ’60s, seeking my 1st radio gig. There wasn’t an opening at the time, but they took my resume & showed me around. My indelible memory is the main control room with egg cartons stapled to the ceiling and walls for soundproofing! Aah, great times… great times!!

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