Who would have thought that a book about a revolutionary radio station from Gilroy California 600 pages long would be such a great read?
Ed, AG6CX would – thanks Ed!
My family moved to the SF Bay Area in 1979, and for the couple of years after I graduated from High School in 1977, I listened to two radio stations from the New York City area – WNEW from Manhattan, and WLIR from Garden City, Long Island. I remember listening to bands like Television – that you just couldn’t hear on many stations. But at night I would go to the North Shore Boat House to see Bluegrass bands. Yeah – it was punk and bluegrass – later R.E.M and Uncle Tupelo would become favorites as would Son Volt and all manner of “Americana” music – all of which were played on KPIG, and similar music on KFAT.
WA2QHN in Newton, NJ, about 1975 or 76
I remember it because I already had switched from being a middle school and young High Schooler into Ham Radio to an older High Schooler with a girlfriend and everything except Ham Radio on my mind. But I still had a Rohn 40′ self standing tower, and on top of it I had an 11 element 2 Meter yagi – that I flipped from being vertically polarized to being horizontally polarized. I did that to pick up these NYC based FM radio stations. I had been working at Lafayette Radio Electronics, and I had built my own big homebrew stereo speakers, and has a cool old tube Marantz receiver.
WNEW was the “mainstay” for me – WPLJ was my brothers station. Then I stumbled on WLIR, and that was it – I found radio Nirvana.
In 1976 or so – when I proclaimed to my fathers EE friend that I was going to become an EE – he said “No you are not – you are going into software”. He plopped this down on our kitchen table, and that was it – I was now getting into software. Yes – Ham Radio did lead to my career
Fast forward just a few years later, and there I was in Northern California – in the East Bay (and soon after San Francisco). Unbeknownst to me, the Program Director from WLIR would end up defining KFAT’s radio format. The author of this book would also end up in Marin. Another connection was KSAN – “The Jive 95”, and that was another revolutionary FM radio station – and I was lucky to also catch it in its final years when I moved here.
In the early 80’s I listened more to college FM stations – like KFJC and KALX an KUSF. But I know that I also listened to KFAT in passing – and I thought it was kind of “hippy redneck”, but I do know it was interesting nevertheless.
As the years have passed, I find that even college stations don’t do it for me anymore – and that KPIG is my preferred station. I listen to it either on my National SW-3 for that full on nostalgic AM radio experience:
Or I listen to it streaming on my computer – which was more than worth the $60 I paid for a years subscription.
OK – back to the book. The reason why a 600 page book about a radio station is such a great read is that the writer is a very good writer – his character development and enthusiasm, love and yes, empathy for his fellow KFAT staffers could be a great book of fiction, and the book reads like a novel more than a history book – but a history book it is.
When I also read about the direct connection to where I moved from and to – that has added an additional fun dimension to the story. I feel like I was a part of a GREAT time here in Northern California – and yes, even NYC – the late 70’s and early 80’s.
I was a DJ at my college’s closed circuit radio station, WLHS – Lock Haven State College. I was lucky to get a Campus job at the college Radio and TV station. In fact, I was the cameraman for young (almost all female) student teachers – video taping them as they prepared to become teachers. What a great way to meet people at college.
Switching Yard – circa 1984 – we played The Hotel Utah a lot in San Francisco
Yes, many great memories have been unlocked by this book – and I feel very lucky to have been a part of this era. In 1984 I answered an advertisement in the SF Chronicle – for an unknown company called Oracle and became their 127th employee – then my 3 year old IT career really took off – and I moved to San Francisco – where I lived for 10 years. Yet anther Northern California connection and memory that I cherish.
(I looked Gilbert Klein up and found he passed away a year ago, and that he started Rock N’ Bowl in the Haight, which was another popular hang out in the 80’s)
I was in the right place at the right time – and yes, my kids have heard all of the stories about my “glory days”. The 1990’s and the “Dot Con” changed San Francisco and Northern California in such a drastic way that all I can say is that I am so glad I was here before the Big Change happened – because it was truly the end of a great era – and I was a part of it.