Jon Pearkins and Randy Raine-Reusch at 9
Jon Pearkins (left), 9, and best friend, Randy Raine-Reusch (right), now World Music guru, Coquitlam, B.C., 1962.

Jon's listening post
First listening post, Burnaby, B.C., 1966.

Robert O. Smith on KOL Seattle Record Survey, 1968


CFPR Prince Rupert 1968 QSL Card
CFPR Prince Rupert 1968 QSL Card

Jon Pearkins 1995 picture
Jon Pearkins, publicity shot, Edmonton, Alberta, 1995.

The Jon Pearkins Collection

Jon Pearkins grew up in greater Vancouver on Canada's West Coast. Radio was a huge part of his life for 13 years, first as a Top 40 listener, then a DXer and finally a DJ. Unless otherwise indicated, the airchecks heard here were recorded by Jon, but since he never collected and traded airchecks, they are exclusive to REELRADIO.

Over the years, beginning February 9, 1962, his favorite stations have been CFUN Vancouver, KJR Seattle, CKLG Vancouver, WBZ Boston, WLS Chicago, KYMN Oregon City, TGJ Guatemala, KOL Seattle, CJOR Vancouver, KGA Spokane, CKLG-FM Vancouver, CKVN Vancouver, KTAC Tacoma, CKRA-FM (K-Lite) Edmonton, CBX-FM Edmonton and CKUA Edmonton.

For more than 30 years, his favorite DJ was the late Robert O. Smith, known best for his 1966 hit record "Walter Wart, the Freaky Frog", which can still be heard regularly on Dr. Demento's syndicated program.

From 1968 to 1971, Robert O. did afternoon drive on KOL Seattle. Jon remembers, "Listening to Robert O. really taught me by example what I needed to know about working in radio. Here was a guy without a big ego who could react, second by second, to what he was saying just as a listener would."

Jon started out in 1969 at 5 watt pirate station CFAY in Surrey (as George Walker). His next stop was Simon Fraser University's CKSF (now CJSF), then UBC's carrier current CYVR (now CiTR).

His big break came in June 1971, when CHQM AM & FM hired him as an operator. After nearly a year at QM while going to university, a friend got him a summer job announcing at CJAT AM & FM in Trail, B.C. CJAT-AM was a well-run Top 40 station that even charted songs no one else played, but Jon was stuck in the lackluster FM station most of the time. That only lasted six weeks, and he spent the rest of the summer on the air at CFPR in Prince Rupert, managed by a rising star from CBC Toronto. His final radio job was part-time at CFYK in Yellowknife in Canada's Northwest Territories in late 1974.

Since then, Jon has been in computing in Edmonton, but hopes to retire soon and get involved in radio again. "After reading that famous Billboard article about starting in radio at 18 in Fresno for $600/month and ending up back in Fresno at 30 for $850, I was too scared to think of radio as a career. Even though my best friend thought I would never come back from CBC Prince Rupert in 1972, the idea never entered my mind to do anything other than go back to UBC for third year Computer Science."

The Repository thanks Jon for sharing!

[Descriptions by Jon Pearkins, with input from Bruce Portzer, Ted Wendland and
KOL DJs Robin Mitchell, Lan Roberts and Robert O. Smith;
Graphics supplied by Ted Wendland, Bruce Portzer and Jon Pearkins]

TOP STREAM 16.2 Kbps (8 Khz)
Daryl B., CKLG Vancouver, 1969, 1968 (4:19)

...Ladies and Gentlemen, during the next 48 consecutive will experience the history of rock and roll...
Picture of Daryl B.
Daryl B.

Although not typical Daryl B., this composite combines two unique events in his career. The aircheck begins with the only time that CKLG ever made #1 in the official Canadian BBM (Board of Broadcast Measurement) ratings for Vancouver: the broadcast of the original History of Rock & Roll during Ratings Week. Not a small feat, considering it marks the only time in more than 45 years that information station CKNW was not #1.

Picture of Rick Honey.
Rick Honey
The remainder of this composite is Daryl's only guest appearance on CKLG-FM, doing the second of three monthly specials that the station did using AM DJs. Events dictated the topic: supergroup Buffalo Springfield had just broken up on May 5. Daryl knew group member Neil Young through his best friend Rick Honey, who played in a Winnipeg garage band with Neil, hence the "we" references during the special. Because the original recording was made for the music, not as an aircheck, the commercials were removed, which accounts for the awkward transition between certain sentences: there was actually a commercial in between.

Daryl Burlingham came to Vancouver and CFUN in late 1965 from CKY Winnipeg, having previously been at CKRC Winnipeg and CFQC Saskatoon. In March 1967, he moved to CKLG, staying until he got the opportunity to join CKLW Windsor near the end of 1969. But he missed the West Coast and returned to CKLG in August 1970, moving back to CFUN shortly after CHUM Toronto bought them in 1973, then to CHUM itself in the early '80s until Post Polio Syndrome forced his retirement.

Even if you do not remember the distinctive voice, you always knew it was Daryl because he ended his show with the phrase "Stay out of Trees". This CKLG-FM broadcast may be the only time in his career that he did not say it.

CKLG 73CKLG-AM had just celebrated its 10th anniversary when it changed format from The Foreground Sound to Top 40 on August 22, 1964, the day the Beatles first came to Vancouver. Lloyd Moffat had purchased the station in 1961, but his unexpected death earlier in 1964 left his young song Randy with 8 radio stations across Western Canada that he quickly changed to Top 40. CKLG remained with its format and call letters until it became the All News sister station to CKNW on February 1, 2001.

Meanwhile, the Muzak-inspired Foreground Sound moved to CKLG-FM, still unable to compete against CHQM's dominance in that format. In 1967, LG-FM tested the appeal of an Underground format with a weekly program of New World African music, as host Bill Reiter likes to call it. Groovin' Blue expanded to daily and, by early 1968, the station hired John Runge from CKUA Edmonton as Music Director and went Underground full-time. They explored the full range of the format, even playing some classical, but eventually settled into progressive rock -- popular cuts from popular rock LPs -- before self-destructing in the mid-'70s in a failed unionization attempt. Their focus and call letters changed to CFOX shortly after.

Picture of Daryl B.
Daryl Burlingham, May, 1970
At age 58, Daryl B. passed away February 27, 2001, in Winnipeg, having suffered a massive stroke shortly after hearing of Rick Honey's death. Rick spent most of his career, more than 20 years, at CKNW, where he was usually heard on afternoon drive. CKNW hired him from CKLG during a period of recruiting top young local radio personalities. Rick started out at 16 at CJOB Winnipeg, then to Northern Ontario and the Maritimes before CKLG. Rick died in Vancouver after a long battle with throat cancer February 24, 2001, at the age of 54. His last air shift was morning drive Feb. 22 on CKBD Vancouver.

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TOP STREAM 16.2 Kbps (8 Khz)
Shane, KGA Spokane, January 15, 1969 (8:15)

...We, the Radio KGA hereby rebel against this edict...
KGA Spokane July 1968 Superhit survey
KGA Superhit Survey with Shane listed as Music Director

For exactly one year, 50,000 watt clear channel KGA was the finest Top 40 station in the Pacific Northwest: great jingles, great DJs, great music, great chart -- several excellent singles never made Billboard's Hot 100 but were heard on KGA. The Superhit Survey was a Top 30 with another 11 DJ picks and a list of 10 albums.

Listen and hear how they flushed it all away in less than 10 minutes. They stuck it out for another month, but their credibility and listeners gone, KGA switched formats to C&W and the air staff left. According to a book on Promotion, this same scenario was tried at a Texas station several months earlier, with similar results. They should have known better.

Outside of Spokane, you had to wait for sunset to hear KGA, but then it usually came in like a local from San Diego to Vancouver and through the Rockies. That made Shane's 6-10pm program the station's most popular. He ended each night talking emotionally over most of Barbra Streisand's "People". He was always extremely competent, so he must have been very nervous about this plan, given all the mistakes in this aircheck. Rumor has it he went to Top 40 CKXL in Calgary, to capitalize on KGA's listeners there, but no one has heard of him since.

On a personal note, more because I thought it was a good idea than as a tribute to Shane and KGA, "People" was the last song on my last show -- in November 1974 at CFYK in Yellowknife in Canada's North West Territories.

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TOP STREAM 16.2 Kbps (8 Khz)
Mike Lundy, KGBS Los Angeles, February 24, 1969 (8:01)

...This is Mike Lundy, known around the radio biz as "Who?"...


KDKA's tower
KDKA's 718 foot tower

It would be hard to imagine any worse on-air assignment than to sign a station on at 9:00 p.m. on a Sunday night and sign it off again at 2:00 a.m. The last half hour is heard here and, from what he says, it sounds like Mike Lundy's only weekly shift at KGBS. At 5:12 into this aircheck, he names the announcers who work weekdays at KGBS.

The "Now Sound" format seems like an adults-only version of Top 40: an emphasis on current songs from across the musical spectrum, including country hits not played on Top 40 and new material not yet on Billboard's charts. Plus, lots of jingles.

KGBS was one of those uniquely U.S. institutions: the daytime-only radio station, only with a twist. Their FCC license for clear channel 1020 KHz gave them the right to be on the air while KDKA Pittsburgh was off the air for weekly transmitter maintenance -- midnight to 5:00 a.m. Eastern time Monday morning. Presumably, if they were not on the air then, they could lose that right. But, it is hard to imagine any Manager ever forseeing any money to be made by being on the air then.

It is also hard to see any money to be made running a 50KW daytime-only station in a major market. Like KGBS, most had simulcast FM stations that did not have to sign off at sunset, but the minority of Americans who did own FM receivers in 1969 usually had only one, and it was located in the living room. But, better times were coming soon for KGBS: the teaming of Bob Hudson and Ron Landry on mornings. Two of their comedy bits hit the Billboard Hot 100 in 1971 and '72.

As Mike mentions, this weekly time slot was heard far and wide, making KGBS well known among long distance radio listeners. It undoubtedly drew more mail than all the rest of the station's programming put together.

[Uncle Ricky adds: Mike Lundy produced radio programming for Japanese stations in the '80's and '90's. He also managed Ted Randal Enterprises (an early consulting company) in the '70's and hired Bob Wilson at KAFY in the 60's; in short, he was actively involved in Top 40 radio before and after this aircheck. As of 2002, Mike is "anchoring and writing every shift imagineable at KFWB while trying to figure out what I want to do with my life when I grow up." We thank Mike for visiting the Repository and helping us update this exhibt.]

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TOP STREAM 20.7 Kbps (10 Khz)
Lan Roberts, International Garbage Record Festival, KOL Seattle 10-31-1969 (1:03:29)

... a lot of eeking, you'll experience a lot of eeks ...

Lan Roberts Promotional Picture, 1969
Hallowe'en 1969 was a day to remember on KOL. Lan Roberts (d. December 30, 2005) created the ultimate promotional vehicle with "The World's First International Garbage Record Festival" to draw listeners to "The World's First International Garbage Film Festival". At midnight Hallowe'en night, a chain of six local theatres was showing a double bill of rotten films. "Billy the Kid versus Dracula" and "Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter" were both misguided attempts from three years earlier to combine Western and Horror genres.

Amongst the rotten records aired, only two ever made Billboard's Hot 100, and were not on that week's KOL chart. Certainly a major departure for 7:03 a.m. in Morning Drive, when this aircheck begins. It ends with more usual morning fare, including two songs from the chart that week, even if one starts at 78 rpm and the other was a local hit in the Jet City.

The commentary on current news items was a Lan trademark, heard as the aircheck tape rolls off the end of the reel. Other trademarks, heard during the festival itself, include Lan's Hollywood Reporter and Phil Dirt characters. As well as two songs about Phil, you will also find that Phil finds something definitely erotic about the sound of trains.

As odd as this hour is, the height in oddity is reached as listener Patty McKnight drops by during Lan's show and lends him her copy of "The KJR Concerto", which Lan airs, complete with dated KJR jingles. When it's over, the Hollywood Reporter even refers to KJR's most famous name: Pat O'Day.
Lan Roberts and Robert O. Smith
Lan Roberts and Robert O. Smith

Hallowe'en had been heavily promoted for more than a month on KOL. In addition to the International Garbage Record Festival, Afternoon Drive was highlighted by two airings of Robert O. Smith's Hallowe'en Horror Movie.

As for KOL jingles during this period, they were often experiments and changed frequently. You will only hear two here, one following the first "train" record and a second at 56:38 into the aircheck. The truth is, several of the DJs just did not like jingles.
KOL Letterhead
KOL Letterhead

Don Chambers does news headlines at 20 past the hour and complete news at 20 to the hour. Production Manager and 9-noon DJ Terry McManus promotes an upcoming Moody Blues concert at 29:28 into the aircheck. Newspaper columnist Emmett Watson is heard at 8:00 a.m.

This was the start of KOL's most successful period against the unbeatable KJR. Lan Roberts had been PD for several months, but just started on Morning Drive after a KJR lawsuit was settled. It was an about-face from their earlier Drake style.

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TOP STREAM 20.7 Kbps (10 Khz)
Lan Roberts, Mr. Science & Jimmy, KOL Seattle November, 1969 (02:14)

... a little experiment in beating the odds, Jim ...

The highlight of every morning on KOL was Mr. Science and Jimmy. Around 8:10 a.m., an elderly scientist and a little boy were the vehicles for political commentary by Lan Roberts who, many mornings, put it all together himself.

Lan Roberts, WTIX, 1961
Lan Roberts, WTIX, 1961
On this occasion, it is Washington State legislators who are the target of Lan's wrath. With the latest gambling laws, even charitable bingos in churches were illegal. Another popular religious fund-raiser was the Cake Walk, portrayed here.

Lan Roberts arrived at KOL in 1961 from WTIX New Orleans, but moved to KJR within six months. He returned to KOL in 1969, again returning to KJR a few years later, only to move to Hawaii then Taiwan not long after.

Lan passed away December 30, 2005 after a decade-long fight with cancer in his home town of Bonham, Texas. Right up to the end, he continued his daily Editorials, which he had moved to written form on the Internet. Some things never change.

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 TOP STREAM 32Kbps (16Khz)
Robert O. Smith, KTAC Tacoma, November 23, 1972 (6:27)

...I guess in the next couple of days or so, we won't have to sing our own [jingles] anymore. I understand these guys from the back room have gotten a barber shop quartet together in Texas...
Robert O. Smith, 1975
Robert O. Smith, 1975

From a number of perspectives, AM Top 40 Radio never sounded this good. First, thanks to FM simulcasting, frequency response holds steady to 14,500 Hz on this aircheck; many studio checks of that era do not sound this good. Second, Robert O. has every attribute I look for in a DJ: both a knowledge and love of the music, a smaller than usual ego and technical competence with something interesting to say. Plus much more: intelligent humor, political satire and voices of famous people and those of his own invention.

This being Thanksgiving morning, Robert O. is a little more laid back -- "casual", as his Eloise Hugaboom character puts it -- than on his typical weekday morning drive show. But he has not left his regular cast of characters at home. He even makes the most of the fact that the new jingles are late by trying his hand at singing his own. Commercial buffs will enjoy the classic Janet Leigh ad, especially with Robert O.'s great Hitchcock Psycho lead-in.

By my calculation, I listened to more than a thousand hours of Robert O. Smith on KOL and I never once heard him "lose it" on the air. But, you will here, as he plays a new record by Hurricane Smith. Bad enough he has the same last name, without a saxophone that sounds like flatulence, hence the remark about being self-propelled around the track.

Tacoma shared Seattle's airport, making it almost a suburb. KTAC hired Robert O. as simulcast AM/FM morning drive, FM afternoon drive and Program Director. With a night-time power of 1KW on 850, KTAC-AM could be hard to hear. 850 was also then home to a station just outside Vancouver. And at night, 50KW KOA in Denver often caused interference in Seattle.

When it was not simulcast, KTAC-FM was Underground album cuts. Today, it is KMTT The Mountain, the favourite Seattle-area station for many of us, playing an interesting mix of current and classic album-oriented rock.

As always, in those years, KJR was the Seattle area Top 40 station to beat. Ironically, KTAC-AM is now KHHO, simulcasting Sports Radio KJR.

After KTAC, Robert O. Smith continued in Seattle radio at KIXI and KVI, before being hired by another long-time fan, Ted Wendland, for CFMI-FM Vancouver morning drive in 1982. After lengthy stints at Vancouver area Oldies stations CISL and Radio Max, Robert O. has retired from radio and spends his time doing commercials, animation voices and powerlifting.

As a teenager, Robert O. was a fixture in my life. I tried never to miss his afternoon drive show on KOL Seattle, but suddenly one day in 1971, he was gone and I had no airchecks of him. Despite good ratings, he had been transferred to FM, to make room for Tom Murphy, who had been PM drive at KJR before a very brief stint at KRLA Pasadena; Tom's stay at KOL was also brief. Neither KOL-FM nor KTAC AM/FM was listenable in Vancouver, but Bruce Portzer recorded this aircheck for me from Seattle.

Robert O. Smith lost his life to cancer on May 30, 2010.

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Additional Exhibits in The Jon Pearkins Collection...

Bill Reiter Soul Christmas, CHMB Vancouver, B.C., December 9, 2001
Ed Mason Forgotten 45s, CHQT Edmonton, August 25, 2002
Robin Mitchell, KOL Seattle, February 22, 1971
Max Ferguson, 50 Years Plus One Day, December 7, 1996
CHQT The Doors 40th Anniversary, March 30, 2007
CKUA Edmonton Alberta Canada, Beatles Routes, September 13, 2009
Porky Chedwick, WAMO Pittsburgh, PA. (re-creation)

The Jon Pearkins Collection has been part of REELRADIO since February 27, 2000

Reel Top 40 Radio Repository ©1996-2014 REELRADIO, Inc.