27 August 2006

Radio "Kazoo", part 2: Ancient Talmadge

Previously on Five Flavors: We analyzed the schedule of KASU radio in Jonesboro, Ark., circa 1986. The format resembled the sex child of the radio station in Good Morning Vietnam before Adrian Cronauer's arrival and WKRP in Cincinnati before Andy Travis darkened its door.

Come with me to Saturday, March 22, 1986. Chernobyl was on the verge of blowing its stack, Ronald Reagan still had two functioning brain cells (I'm feeling generous today.....), Arkansas State University's football team was experiencing a golden age at the helm of one Larry Lacewell, and a young, foolish, very green, talking-from-the-diaphragm, stodgy-sounding, hyper-stilted Talmadge Gleck was spending Saturday night inside the control room of KASU 91.9: "The Broadcasting Service of Arkansas State University."

All this came about because I found a single cassette tape. On a yellowed label was written: "3/22/86 KASU" That's right, it's a portion of an old aircheck of that evening's Moods in Music program. Inhaling deeply, gritting my teeth, and exhaling with a deep sigh, I press PLAY.

Holy crap, you mean I survived this musical molestation, night after night?????

Here are the super hits Talmadge Gleck, Hot-ta-trot KASU Good Guy, spun on a super Saturday night whilst the teens cruised Nettleton Avenue, 91.9 blasting on their Craig stereos:

ONCE UPON A SUMMERTIME / Frances Lai
Definitely not an easy one.
IF YOU GO AWAY / Jeanette Reno
Please.
AT EVERY END THERE’S A BEGINNING / Tom Jones
That's how I felt when I had to work the next evening's show.
I’M COMING HOME / The Living Brass
12:00 couldn't come soon enough. Either I'd go home (Twin Towers room #810), or I'd go walk the practice track behind the building, or sometimes meet up with Bolivar S. at Larry's Restaurant for a late-night meal.
ANNIE’S SONG / Placido Domingo
And now the sound of Moods in Music being strangled ... thank you.
I ONLY HAVE EYES FOR YOU / Art Garfunkel
There were a couple of contemporary-esque albums. For some crazy, mysterious reason, The Weaker Half of Simon & Garfunkel's cover of the 1958 belly-rubbin' standard "I Only Have Eyes For You" was kosher on the KASU format. The scary thing is, I lived for the chance to play at least one thing bearing a faint resemblence to .... music .....
BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATER / Kay Hart
Bridge, nothing. I was swimming in it.
ONLY ONCE / Robin Wilson
If only it were.
MAKE IT EASY ON YOURSELF / Frank Purcell Orchestra
Impossible. The night was still young. 11:45 was hours away.
THE HILLS OF YESTERDAY / Henry Mancini
RAINDROPS KEEP FALLIN’ ON MY HEAD / Boots Randolph
For KASU is like a cloud, and it has rained on me. (apologies to D. Killion)
MY REVERIE / Jim Nabors
Where was Sgt. Carter when I needed him? PYYYYYYYLE!!!!!!
TRACES / Jane Morgan
STELLA BY STARLIGHT / Bob Crewe Generation
The BCG was most well-known for the hit instrumental (and Diet Pepsi commercial) "Music to Watch Girls By." This girl was Stella. And she was no looker. Neither was the record.
THE HANDS OF TIME (BRIAN’S SONG) / Perry Como
Drop-kick me, Perry, I want to swing on a star.
??? / Englebert Humberdinck
(I'd intro'ed this song just by artist, and then segued into the selection below)
SUNSHINE / Francois Hardy
And now the sound of John Denver getting his throat back. Please. And thank you.
(THEY LONG TO BE) CLOSE TO YOU / The Living Strings (Plus Two Pianos)
I kid you not. This made me feel rather bulimic............
THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD / Julie Byrd
I think somewhere in the KASU library was the Jerry Vale LP containing his cover of "Revolution 9."
STRANGERS IN THE NIGHT / The Party-Timers
That was the name of the group. They recorded an album or two for the KAPP record label. If this was a party, why come I wasn't invited? I have a keg of some kickin' White House Apple Juice waiting for a rip-roarin' party.
PLEASE COME TO BOSTON / Roger Whittaker
Too bad this came before his last farewell.
LOVE WITHOUT WORDS / Johnny Mathis
Too much "music." Too little freedom. Too late, I'm stuck in here 'till 11:45.
CARA MIA / Mantovani Orchestra
Mi Cara fell asleep, too.

This was actually the 8:00 to 9:30 portion. There was nothing on the tape after this. Oh well.

In case you're wondering, there wasn't a dictated rotation; we had free reign to pick the music we played, so long as we didn't repeat any conspicuously, i.e. the 10-minute Carmen Cavallaro piano medley. "Free reign", of course, meaning "within the strict parameters of what's proper for the program."

Please do not misunderstand my feelings ... in my recent years, I've developed a closet fascination for classic "adult standards" (read: MOR) and some easy listening. Not all, just ....... some........ As you saw above, this was not even good MOR. Where's the bleedin' Sinatra??? Or Rosemary Clooney?? Ohhhh, but there was plenty of Jerry Vale, and a complete study in the recorded works of one Jim Nabors.

That's right. Back in my day, RTV majors at Arkansas State University learned radio by playing decrepit Jim Nabors albums.

I think the best comparison I could make here is that the KASU flavor of MOR was akin to a top-40 station playing nothing but the bottom third of Billboard's "Hot 100." All the stiffs and very little geniune hit product.

*********

When the chairman of the RTV department retired at the end of 1987 (coincidentally enough, the same time I finished my studies), that spelled the end of much of this insanity. Gradually, KASU began changing with the times. Dinner by Sunset was the first to go. And just one year later, while visiting Jonesboro, I heard something by Bobby McFerrin on Moods in Music -- something that would've gotten my balls cut off had I played him. By the early '90s, Moods had evolved even more ... becoming an awesome locally-produced version of Echoes. By the mid '90s, KASU completed its amazing transformation. Gomer Pyle has left the building.

And there you have it. Talmadge's musical hell. And you folks wonder why I'm so insane today.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Must ... have ... Led Zeppelin ...." Gleck

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