KAMP - El Centro , CA: 1977 - 77

KAMP was the first commercial radio station I worked at. Steve Kessler was the Program Director and midday on-air personality. Gene Raymond, who's dad owned the station, was doing afternoons, and morning entertainment was provided by Greg Gardner and his alter ego Festus. I'd drive in 90 miles from Riverside on Saturdays to do the Saturday afternoon shift. Then I'd turn off the station when my shift was done. Since I had no money at the time, I'd sleep in my sleeping bag on the KAMP studio floor and wake up Sunday mornings, turn the station back on at 6 A.M. and broadcast until Noon. Then I'd make the drive back to Riverside and go to my Radio & TV Broadcasting classes at Fullerton City College Monday through Thursday. It always reminded me of the George Carlin line from his AM/FM album, "I was earning a living when I should have still been learning about it."

All I can say about these air-checks is that they are of a very nervous eighteen year-old kid with six months of broadcasting under his belt; but, the second one was apparently good enough to get me hired at KDES.

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KDES - Palm Springs , CA: 1977 - 79

I worked at KDES, Palm Springs from fall of 1977 to spring of 1979 under Program Director Ty Stevens back when KDES was owned by Tourtelot Broadcasting. KDES was an Adult Contemporary station at that time on the AM side and Beautiful music on the FM side. The station's on-air talent over the years has included Mike Wagner, Thom Pinto, Stephen M. Smith, Mike "Music" Mason, Charlie Knox, and Amy Hiatt.

When Ty Stevens hired Amy Hiatt to replace Thom Pinto and placed her ahead of me into the 7 P.M. to Midnight slot I felt passed-over and began plotting my exit. I knew I wanted to work in a top 10 market and at an FM rock station, so for two weeks straight I brought in rock albums from home and began rocking the Palm Springs desert from Midnight to 4 A.M. and would then return to the regular format for the remainder of the show. You see I knew that my boss lived in Palm Desert (30 miles south of Palm Springs) and could not receive a signal from the station at his house once the antennae power was reduced to adhere to FCC regulations for night time operations. What I later found out was that Ty had a recorder in his office and periodically would record an air-check of my show.

I still remember vividly that faithful Wednesday morning when Ty asked me to see him in his office after he had completed his morning shift at 10 A.M. I entered into Ty's office and sat down in a chair facing Ty from across his desk. Ty then reached into a desk drawer and pulled out a cassette tape which he flung across the desk at me as he stated "I air-checked your show Monday night and I don't recognize any of the songs you were playing as being on our playlist." Needless to say I was fired, but my revenge was sweet.

I strolled next store to the Record Alley, one of KDES's biggest advertisers, and informed the owner, Jim Jameson whom I had befriended while working at KDES, that I had been fired and Jim bless his heart promptly canceled all of his advertising with KDES. As I was getting ready to leave the KDES parking lot Ty Stevens stormed out the back door red-faced and livid demanding to know what I had said to Jim. That was a great feeling of power and my revenge felt so very sweet.

It was from the air-checks that I had recorded during those two weeks that I got my next job at the FM rock station in San Antonio, TX - Z100FM.

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KZZY - San Antonio , TX: 1979 - 80

These pics were taken while I was working at Z100 FM in San Antonio, Texas. Z100, "The Home of the Buzzard", was an FM Rock station in a top ten market and where I turned of drinking age. Needlesswooden plaque with a cutout of the Z100 buzzard and the Z100 logo. Inscription reads “For those who give the rewards are high. Here's yours” to say it was party central for awhile. I worked there during the years of 1979 and 1980 under Program Director John Lodge who had recently come from “The Loop” in Chicago, IL. "The Loop", aka WLUP, featured Steve Dahl amongst it's luminaries of the time. Steve Dahl you might remember blew up a bunch of disco albums during a White Sox's game at Chicago's Comiskey Park during the anti-disco era of the early 80's. I was fortunate to have interviewed Steve while working at Z100. What sticks out in my mind most about that interview was Steve's claim that he had arrived at our studios in San Antonio by driving his "mobile abortion clinic" So I told him his hands were a mess and that he should have cleaned up first.

The gentleman sitting in the background is Rick Laquer a family friend of my dad's who lived in San Antonio and was gracious enough to give me a bed to sleep in when I first arrived in town.

The plaque you see was given to me by Z100 Program Director John Lodge. If I remember correctly, I believe it was given to me in lieu of a Christmas bonus. The engraving reads “Bill Bennett For those who give the rewards are high, here's yours!”

Yep, that's me in the buzzard costume sitting in the stands of a San Antonio Spurs game. That is Z100 drive-time personality Keev Kristy's wife Gina sitting next to me.

wooden plaque with a cutout of the Z100 buzzard and the Z100 logo. Inscription reads &lquo;For those who give the rewards are high. Here's yours&rquo;

The aircheck below represents one of several formats that KZZY went through in the year-and-a-half that I was there. It also includes my NAB nominated spot for the new ZZ Top Deguello album - an honor I am very proud of.

 
wooden plaque with a cutout of the Z100 buzzard and the Z100 logo. Inscription reads “For those who give the rewards are high. Here's yours”
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KBLF/KSNR - Red Bluff , CA: 1980 - 81

I was hired at KBLF/KSNR in Red Bluff, California after working a few part-time gigs for WOAI-FM on my way out of San Antonio after new management took over at Z-100. I was hired to do afternoons on KBLF (KSNR was automated) and be the Production Manager for both stations, a position I held briefly at the end of my stint at Z100 FM. I was kept busy cutting radio spots 4 to 5 hours every day followed by my 4 1/2 hour afternoon shift on the air; the time used to fly by because I was having a blast. Bruce Allen was the Program Director and mid-day on-air personality, newsman Jim McClaren was the morning anchor, and Griff Rogers was one of several night time jocks on the air during my employment there.

I did a remote broadcast for an entire week from one of the local department stores on Main St. In the first photo you can see the setup that engineer Bob Orchard had configured for us in the store's corner display window.

KBLF was nice in that it had a real family-run business feel about it, but the owner ranked the opinions of certain members of his sales staff above the rest of us when it came to programming decisions. For this reason I quit the station and left my radio career in the rear view mirror.

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