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Friday, February 24, 2012

Return of the Good Guys

Tonight at 7:00, several members of the old crew of KISN Radio -- way back in the '60s and '70s -- are set to launch their new internet radio station, here. They're currently warming up with some canned material, but they say they're "going live" this evening, with real human disc jockeys. The first hour, we're told, will be particularly "historic."

They're from way before our time in Portland, but not from before our time being glued to the radio. Growing up in the New York metro area in the early '60s, we always had one ear tuned to WABC 770 and the other to WMCA 570. (The latter, like KISN, called themselves "the Good Guys" -- perhaps it was a network or a franchise.) We can still sing you the jingle from the powerhouse WABC, and name that station's DJ's: Scott Muni, Cousin Brucie Morrow, Dan Ingram, Harry Harrison, and Ron Lundy. (Who came on at 10 at night after Cousin Brucie? Maybe a news show? We were fast asleep by then.) Over on WMCA, the main "Good Guy" was Murray the K, who called himself "the Fifth Beatle" -- huh, whatever. But his chant of "Ah-vey -- ho!" is forever etched on our brain cells.

Our love of radio grew substantially in the '70s and '80s, when we actually got to do some of it. We spent some time as a volunteer on KBOO here in Portland -- doesn't everybody? We even played straight-ahead jazz on the Yale University station, which had a commercial license, for a month or two in the fall of 1977. It was all great fun. When you're in the booth at the radio station, you don't have time to think about your troubles. You're answering the phone, answering the door, figuring out what music you're going to play next -- it's all-consuming, in a good way.

In the internet era, with YouTube and Spotify and iPods and Last.fm and Pandora, just about anybody can be a DJ of sorts. But the people who spun the platters and delivered the patter back in the day have a unique feel for music and for sound. We'll be listening tonight, and hoping for a spark as big as the ones that the DJ's are going to feel. Without a doubt, they'll be pumped.

Comments (15)

I can hear KISN's late night host "Preacher Man" Pat Pattee segue into the forecast with "Weather-wise, we do prophesize..."

Cousin Brucie is still on the air, currently doing a gig on SiriusXM's 60's on 6 station.

Murray the K was the Beatles' closest contact in the US when they first came here. The nickname is a little over the top but he was there in the middle of it.

(Everyone knows George Martin was the real 5th Beatle. Or maybe Billy Preston.)

Just think: All those years paying your dues in radio and it finally pays off when you get a chance to work with Rob Kremer.

They are already on the air running tests. They were playing lots of novelty records from the era. Hahaha! Some ridiculous, some ribald. At least as good as Dr. Demento.

Bill, I'm sure you met that in a nice way.

"Cruisin the KISN corner. 10 Northwest 10th. 15 minutes on the downside of the midnight hour, this is the Preacher comin to from the mighty ninety wonderful, lil tiny dew drops comin down on my window pane....."

I don't romanticize the old days of radio, but I have to admit I really miss the days where deejays were actual entertainers, and not just circus geeks with bigger paychecks. By the time I was old enough to have a radio of my own, most of the good deejays had either quit or moved to smaller and smaller markets, leaving nothing but bozos. (I'm ashamed to say that the most esteemed deejay in the Dallas area is a guy who spent twenty coke-addled minutes trying to explain the meaning of REM's "Orange Crush", both for listeners who were dumber than he was and for listeners freshly emerged from the birth canal since the last commecial break.)

Keep it going, KISN. You'll have at least one Dallasite among the Portlanders within your listening audience.

Of course, KISN is from the era when DJs actuallly played records and weren't just creatures of marketing consultants.

I'd love to hear Addie Bobkins and The Real Don Steele again. Too bad about that.

And picking up the KISN Fab Fifty flier (this week's top 50 songs on radio) at Baz'ar on 82nd and Division and seeing photos of the KISN deejays.

Once they had some kind of gimmick where Don Steele apparently left and was replaced by his "brother," Jon, who went on air as Emperor Real the First Jon Steele. Never figured out what that was about, but oh well. It was fun.

Compare that with current radio "shock jock" morons Opie and Anthony, who once offered coverage of a couple they paid to have live, on-air sex in St. Patrick's Cathedral. High-brow entertainment, that.

Jack, the one thing they DON'T do on the new KISN website is give their location on the dial. I doubt it's still 91, but does anyone know what it is?

Crusin' the KISN corner...NW 10th and Burnside...across from Wentworth and Irwin who sold Ramblers! and Chevys.

NW: It's not on the dial, it's just on the Internet. At least for now.

Jack -

Thanks for the memory cruise back through the New York stations.

Was Alan Freid (sp? Freede ?) before your time?

Used to be that the WABC broadcast tower was somewhere out there in the wilds on New Jersey, along either the Garden State Parkway or the Turnpike. Memory fails. When one drove by the site, the signal just overloaded the radio in the car, no matter what station it was tuned to. My fatgher, a big WNEW AM 1130 fan, would swear about
that damn music of yours" when we drove that route.

Good memories.

Can't wait! Even though dad (Addie Bobkins) and the Real Don Steele aren't here physically, they will definitely be there in SPIRIT! Even listening to the test phase is giving me goosebumps... six more hours! http://www.goodguyradio.com/radio.html

Not on the dial? Oh fudge. Well, maybe in the future . . .

Good news! Thanks for posting it and the trip down memory lane. I grew up in Central OR so could only get KISN on trips to the Valley, but thanks to the miracle of skip (not to mention massive wattage), I could get XERB and Wolfman Jack pretty clearly most days. Glad to see an old style DJ station coming back, even a bit.

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