The weirdest station I ever worked for was KAGO-Klamath Falls, Oregon. “K-Go!” – Probably cool, right? In the winter of 1964-65, not so much.
It was Top 40–I would do no other–but it hamstrung that with this jukeboxy thing, containing the whole playlist. It was in the room next door from the control room, maybe 60 vertical slots for the records. It would cue up the next side in line in its own good time, and want the line played in order–no priorities for the bigger or hotter hits. You’d come out of a newscast with some sleepy downer because that was what was next. The jock would press the play button about 3 seconds before he wanted the next sound (a lifetime against the tight pacing I held myself to). After the song ended, you had to do time, temp, ID, & blah blah while the next record in line cued up. Having few commercials, no jingles or anything to fill that time between records, I’d usually stay on the play switch for the entire break to bypass the time for backwards cueing, and just wait to be relieved from my banal rapping. (I never had that many non-banal radio raps.)
Yes, I’d sneak into the juke machine, moving some sides onto regular turntables for better control, being careful to put them back in the official order, plug side toward the rear. What a hassle. Even the hits seemed to sense the malaise, not rocking: You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling, Amen, Leader of the Pack, Come a Little Bit Closer, The Door Is Still Open to My Heart, Let It Be Me, Mr. Lonely, Goin’ out of My Head, Hurt So Bad….
The station was atop a steep hill–unnecessary for an AM. Snow made the trip uphill a real adventure. Once, the jock before me put on an album (complete with dead air between cuts) to deliver the station’s AWD Jeep to me at the bottom of the hill. Even the Jeep got stuck 40 feet up. The album ran out ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch long before I could get in to take it off. Riveting radio.
The boss was an angry hardass. Had me cleaning all the equipment with rubbing alcohol. Got me woozy & urpy–during my show. He had me trek out to the towers every night, even in deep snow, to take meter readings after my shifts, after midnight, power on. But he did provide big snowshoes. Sometimes I just didn’t. No other station made me do that. Of course he knew when I skipped that by looking at the undisturbed snow.
To help cut voice-killing congestion, sometimes I’d secret some brandy into the studio. Boss would make surprise checkup visits late at night. When he saw my bottle, he totally freaked. Called me in next morning to fire me.
Fine with me. I had just lined up my next job anyway.